A Tale of a Deceptive End-to-End Test Automation Engineer

There is no shame in lacking the ability to perform user end-to-end test automation, but deceitfulness is certainly unacceptable.

Zhimin Zhan
11 min readJul 20, 2023

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As a software engineer and test automation engineer, I believe it is essential to emphasize the term “engineer” in our job titles. Engineering, according to widely accepted norms, involves a systematic and reliable approach that aims to create durable and lasting solutions. For instance, if a visually appealing bridge were to collapse merely three days after its inauguration, the “civil engineer” responsible for its design would not only lose their professional qualifications but could also potentially face legal consequences, such as imprisonment. However, the software industry often exhibits a more lenient attitude towards such matters. Therefore, there is a high percentage of fake automated testers.

Long-time readers have witnessed me citing world-renowned agile and testing experts multiple times, these experts have conveyed the same message: implementing genuine and valuable end-to-end test automation via the user interface (UI) is an exceptionally challenging endeavour. Few succeeded.

“In my experience, great developers do not always make great testers, but great testers (who also have strong design skills) can make great developers. It’s a mindset and a passion. … They are gold”.
- Patrick Copeland, Google Senior Engineering Director, in an interview (2010)

“95% of the time, 95% of test engineers will write bad GUI automation just because it’s a very difficult thing to do correctly”.
- this interview from Microsoft Test Guru Alan Page (2015), author of “How we test software at Microsoft

“Automated testing through the GUI is intuitive, seductive, and almost always wrong!” - Robert C. Martin, co-author of the Agile Manifesto, on his blog (in 2009)

Sadly, many software professionals, due to their limitations, did NOT have this realization. Quite a number of people thought: “Test Automation is just record-n-playback, easy”. How wrong is that?

“Testing is harder than developing. If you want to have good testing you need to put your best people in testing.”

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Zhimin Zhan

Test automation & CT coach, author, speaker and award-winning software developer. Help teams succeed with Agile/DevOps by implementing real Continuous Testing.