In 1998, the band Iced Earth released the record Something Wicked This Way Comes. The final song on the record, “The Coming Curse”, contains the lyric “Savior to my own, devil to some”. I’ve always found that line thought provoking. Though I’m taking it out of context of the larger story line, as a standalone phrase, I interpret it as “for those people who have a similar outlook as me, I’m considered a good thing; to some of the other people, I’m the scourge of the earth”.

We’ll get back to that in a minute.

This blog post was prompted by some tweets that I’ve seen lately. Their sentiment is not new, I’ve seen it for the last few years, but the mention of it seems to be more frequent now. There seems to be this trend of branding automation as “wicked”, i.e. a bad idea. Where is all the automation hate coming from? I think it stems from a few general areas:

  • Unrealistic expectations of automation’s business value
  • Not understanding the staff’s strengths and limitations regarding automation
  • Thinking that automation is a replacement for testers.
  • Using hype instead of business value when deciding on an automation approach

It’s from these general areas, that we often hear the following:

  • Business leaders don’t agree with the “slow down” that automation causes
  • Testers have to re-interview for their jobs because “now we only have SDETs”
  • Using a particular tool because someone read about it in CIO Magazine or because “that’s what everyone is using”.

When people have lived and worked in this kind of unhealthy environment, often more than once, it’s easy to see how these people may now have disdain for automation. Automation has left a bad taste in their mouth.

It is up to us, the value-focused testing and automation professionals, to be responsible in our application of automation; we need to show restraint and make conscious business decisions pertaining to automation. If we don’t, we risk of perpetuating the stereotypical, short-sighted and Pyrrhic automation initiatives which really are “the devil”.