On the long-term use of visual gui testing in industrial practice: a case study
Journal article, 2017
Visual GUI Testing (VGT) is a tool-driven technique for automated GUI-based testing that uses image recognition to interact with and assert the correctness of the behavior of a system through its GUI as it is shown to the user. The technique's applicability, e.g. defect-finding ability, and feasibility, e.g. time to positive return on investment, have been shown through empirical studies in industrial practice. However, there is a lack of studies that evaluate the usefulness and challenges associated with VGT when used long-term (years) in industrial practice. This paper evaluates how VGT was adopted, applied and why it was abandoned at the music streaming application development company, Spotify, after several years of use. A qualitative study with two workshops and five well chosen employees is performed at the company, supported by a survey, which is analyzed with a grounded theory approach to answer the study's three research questions. The interviews provide insights into the challenges, problems and limitations, but also benefits, that Spotify experienced during the adoption and use of VGT. However, due to the technique's drawbacks, VGT has been abandoned for a new technique/framework, simply called the Test interface. The Test interface is considered more robust and flexible for Spotify's needs but has several drawbacks, including that it does not test the actual GUI as shown to the user like VGT does. From the study's results it is concluded that VGT can be used long-term in industrial practice but it requires organizational change as well as engineering best practices to be beneficial. Through synthesis of the study's results, and results from previous work, a set of guidelines are presented that aim to aid practitioners to adopt and use VGT in industrial practice. However, due to the abandonment of the technique, future research is required to analyze in what types of projects the technique is, and is not, long-term viable. To this end, we also present Spotify's Test interface solution for automated GUI-based testing and conclude that it has its own benefits and drawbacks.
Visual GUI testing