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Is there a difference between automated tests and test automation?

If so, what are the main goals of the individual tests?

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Some linguistic analysis might also help clarify:

Automated Tests - in this case, "Tests" is a noun; the test is a thing. "Automated Tests" are particular types of tests; ones whose execution has been automated via some kind of code so that a person does not have to manual execute the test. You can have 1, 2, 3.... hundreds of automated tests.

Test Automation - this can be a noun as in the subject of "Automation" with "Test" indicating the type of automation. But, it is also refers to an activity; the activity of automating a given test or set of tests. As said previously; "Test Automation" is a broader concept than "Automated Tests".

Hope this helps.

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Automated tests are tests that can be run automated, often developed in a programming language. In this case we talk about the individual test cases, either unit-tests, integration/service or end-2-end tests.

Test automation is a broader concept and includes automated tests. From my perspective it should be about the full automation of test cycles from check-in up-to deployment. Also called continuous testing.

  • Continuous integration server picks-up changes in the source code
  • Starts running the unit-tests
  • Deploys (automated) to an integration environment
  • Runs automated integration tests
  • Deploys (automated) to an acceptance environment
  • Runs automated end-2-end tests
  • Deploys (automated or manual) to production

This is a combination of making automated tests by developers or testing engineers and DevOps people automating deployment.

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    I've also heard the term "automation" used to mean using software to help with testing. That might include things like generating fake data or putting the system in a state that makes it easier to perform a manual test. Really, the concept is more important that the specific term. – user246 Dec 9 '15 at 15:31
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    Good point, using and writing test tools might also be under the test automation umbrella even if not used inside automated release train. – Niels van Reijmersdal Dec 9 '15 at 15:41

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