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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
  • 1
    Good point, using and writing test tools might also be under the test automation umbrella even if not used inside automated release train. Dec 9 '15 at 15:41
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In software testing service, we can define the below terms as follows:

Automated Tests: Automated tests are tests which we automate/develop using some programming language. We develop end to end tests to cover the user scenarios. Automated tests are categorized in broad ranges like unit tests, regression tests etc.

Test Automation: In simple word, we can say that Test automation is a practice of executing tests automatically, managing all test data, and utilizing results to improve software quality. It’s mainly a quality assurance measure, however its activities involve the commitment of the entire software production team. Also, from business analysts to developers and DevOps engineers, getting the most out of test automation takes the inclusion of everyone. Additionally, we can say that it is a continuous testing.

Here are some general criteria for test automation.

  1. The test must be repeatable. There's no sense in automating a test that can only be run once.
  2. When a function is determinant, it means that the outcome is the same every time it’s run with the same input. The same is true of tests that can be automated. For example, say we want to test an addition function. We know that 2 + 2 = 4. Addition is a determinant function.
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To the best of my knowledge testing, in general, can be classified into two, Automated testing and Test Automation. Automated testing is the act of conducting specific tests via automation. Test automation refers to automating the process of tracking and managing the different tests.

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