Do you even (need to) automate the GUI?

Over the past eighteen months, the single greatest lesson I have learned about software was in the gym. That is, the human body works as a system. When you lift a heavy box, every muscle group in the chain lifts the box. The best way to strengthen those muscles is to work the body as a system; the first muscle group to fail is the weakest. Strengthen that, and the rest of the body will see an increase in performance. If you strength other muscle groups, with, say, machines, there will be no real increase in lifting capacity.

Substitute “lifting” for “delivery”, and the muscle groups for roles in the delivery process, and suddenly this is kind of big deal. Before we may any change designed to improve the overall delivery process, we should ask if this improvement will make an impact — or if it is an illusion. Inspired by the (PG-13 rated) BroSciencLife Video Do You Even Lift, I created a conference talk titled “Do you even (need to) automate the GUI?” and delivered it at the Agile Alliance Technical Conference, at SQuADenver, and Agile Testing Days in Potsdam, Germany.

Yes, I delivered the talk in the persona of a Gym Bro.

It was fun.

Only one person took me aside and said he agreed with me on my technical points, but I was “kind of a jerk.” After that feedback I moved the Do You  Even Lift video to the front-end of the presentation, where I explain the persona!

For more details on exactly what I say during the talk, check out my articles Is GUI test automation a recipe for continuous delivery failure? and Are You Over-Testing Your Software?

While the articles have slightly hyperbolic titles selected by editors – in the case of the latter, a very hyperbolic introductory sentence – the general content of the articles fills out the gaps you might see watching the slideshare.

For the most part, I’m proud of this work. In addition to pointing out a challenge in software delivery, I point out options, ways to rout around the cultural default and improve delivery, quickly and cheaper.

And there’s a problem.

At least, there is a problem if you look at it from a certain angle, a certain perspective, that is common in software and applies to many of my readers.

Before I delve into it, I thought I would throw this out to the readers. Critique my work and tell me what’s wrong with it. You’ll probably find even more problems I didn’t think of, but I’m curious. Before I reveal a weakness in my presentation — what problems can the community find?

Let’s get serious.


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