Book Review : Visual Basic For Testers


Visual Basic For Testers

  • Author: Mary Romero Sweeny
  • Publisher: A! press
  • Published: 2001
  • Edition: 1
  • Pages:
  • Target Audience :Testing Practitioners
  • Contents:

    Automated Software Testing Overview
    Getting Started With Visual Basic on an Automated Testing Project
    Introduction to the Visual Basic Development Environment
    Understanding Visual Basic Application Essentials
    Creating Test Utilities
    Testing with the Windows Registry
    Introduction to the Windows API
    Introduction to Database Testing
    Introduction to Testing COM Components
    Testing the Web with Visual Basic
    VB.NET: Brave New World
    From Tester to Tester: Advice to the Visual Basic Automator
    Resources and References
    More Controls
    File Access and Management
    Required Reading: Automated Testing Essays
    o Seven Steps to Automation Success by Bret Pettichord
    o Test Automation Snake Oil by James Bach
    o Advice for Automated Testers Learning Visual Basic by Elisabeth Hendrickson

Review Date:  04/02/2002 13:44:02
Short Summary:
A little out of date now
Short Description:
But still useful 

When I originally started programming professionally I had a 'C' background and was used to embedding 68000 assembler within the C to avoid the O/S that I was writing on, consequently I was used to lots of text files which I included within each other and make files to control the build process.

My IDE was a text editor and a set of batch scripts set off the compile/link cycle.

And then I started programming in Visual Basic in VB 3.0.

I can still remember my confusion after having installed the software, leafed through the manual, and after drawing a command button on a form, thinking, "OK, so now where do I write the code?"

I'm confident that no such confusion will affect the readers of "Visual Basic for Testers". It is suitable for all; from new fledgling programmers who haven't cut any code, to cynical old testers that have been programming for longer than they have been shaving.

Visual Basic is the ideal language for a tester to know, that and Perl, PHP or some other scripting language. All of the sites I have worked on have used the Microsoft Office Suite which uses Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) as the macro language.

At every single site I've been on, I have either written, or helped to write, macros to take information out of testing tools or defect tracking tools and populate spreadsheets or word documents. I've used MS Access and VBA to generate test data and to verify test data. I've even written test repositories, defect tracking systems and VT52 script playback tools, all in Visual Basic.

VB is an essential skill for testers working on MS Windows based sites.

I've read many programming books and this is unlike all of them. I've never encountered a Visual Basic programming book that has introduced the programmer to COM, the registry and API calls before explaining how to do drop down menus. But the approach works well here.

VB in this book is being taught as a means to a very practical, and often very technical, end. When you build the solutions in this book you are not building "Applications" you are building focussed tools.

Good practise is stressed from the outset and the book sharply reminded me of a few coding and GUI practises that I haven't really been doing of late in my own VB solutions.

Some of the items covered have been treated in greater detail by other very technical books and articles. These are often offputting to the beginner but they are well introduced in this text.

One difficulty that beginners to programming often have is in identifying appropriate programs to write which will exercise the skills that they have learned, push them to learn more but not be too unachievable. This should not be a problem to the testers learning Visual Basic here. The techniques are explained in such a way that the uses and immediate applications to the tester's own site are apparent.

This book is a first step. The reader will have to supplement the information here with other reading and plenty of practise, I have attached a few follow on sources at the bottom of this review but there are many good pointers in the book itself and on the companion web site.

But this is not just a book that teaches VB, this is a book which teaches practical test automation. There are many pages devoted to effective use of automation and also in tempering the tester's desire to automate everything with their new found programming skills. The articles by James Bach and Bret Pettichord are particularly good in this respect but Mary Sweeney offers much council throughout the book.

I thoroughly recommend this book to testers of all programming experience: from none to some, and much to lots. And for those testers who think that programming is only for programmers and has no benefit to the practising tester, then I encourage you to read this and get coding.

Compendium Developments' favourite VB web sites:

All the above sites have excellent follow on links

Recommended Supplemental Reading

Supplement your knowledge by reading "VB & VBA in a nutshell" published by O'reilly. This is the best desktop reference to have by your side when coding in VB and covers all the facets of the language. It does not cover the many controls that are available for VB but learn how to use the help system and search the web.

Compendium Developments' Hints for Testers using VB