Silk – delivering successful test automation in agile development

In agile projects, managing quality is an integral part of producing code. SilkTest and SilkCentral Test Manager offer powerful capabilities for automating tests and test management, delivering software without compromising on quality.

In agile projects, managing quality is not a discrete discipline, but is an integral part of producing code.  The rate of change and flexibility associated with agile development means that teams must automate when possible.  Too often traditional test automation and test management tools cannot accommodate the required changes to processes, skills, attitude, and responsibility that the shift to agile management practices brings.

How do you succeed in test automation in agile development?

The goal of agile development is to deliver production-ready code at the end of sprints. This requires rigorous testing throughout each sprint.  Agile development projects have no choice; they need to automate their testing or they risk falling short on quality.  As agile projects deliver customer value with every iteration they also deliver features that must be tested from the functional/UI perspective with each iteration. 

Test automation permits more testing earlier in the process.  This greatly reduces software costs because time periods between introducing and identifying the defect is slashed.  Changes must be checked in regularly, which trigger frequent builds that include test automation runs. The earlier you begin and the more often you run test automation runs, the sooner you identify defects and support agile development processes.

Starting early with UI testing and in a Continuous Integration approach will help to eliminate defects early.  This does require easy script creation and the ability to reuse your scripts.  You must also minimize and identify failures that were actually caused by your automation tool to avoid false positives.

How does SilkTest support continuous test automation?

Agile teams demand test automation results on a per-build basis (at a minimum, for nightly integration builds). SilkTest delivers the fastest playback speed for UI automation available on the market. So more testing can be achieved in a shorter period of time, providing the timely test results that agile teams require.

In agile teams, where there is strong collaboration between developers and testers, developers can improve the testability of their applications.  SilkTest provides the strongest support in the industry for custom UI properties.  It also provides the most flexible approach to building reliable and stable identifiers for UI controls. This is in contrast to other test tools that rely on a small subset of properties for object identification.

The more test results you receive, the less effort you can expend analyzing test failures. SilkTest provides not only the fastest playback speed, it also provides the most reliable test execution, minimizing test failures related to test-script synchronization issues. SilkTest’s out-of-the box synchronization is unique in the industry.

What are the benefits of SilkTest and SilkCentral Test Manager in agile project collaboration?

Agile teams are cross-functional; they include developers, testers, doc writers, and domain specialists. Every team member is responsible for quality and so each team member contributes to the assurance of quality. To manage the process, agile teams rely on agile project management tools to manage releases, user stories, defects and tasks. They also rely on tools to help them manage testing efforts that aren’t directly related to user stories in the current iteration. These testing efforts include regression testing, configuration testing, and performance testing.

SilkTest enables agile teams to generate scripts using their preferred method based on the skills of team members – either visually or using a scripting language such as VB.Net, C#, Java, or 4Test. This fosters collaboration between team members that work in different environments (i.e., testers and developers).

All leading xUnit testing frameworks, including JUnit, NUnit, and MSTest, are supported by SilkTest. Silk4J tests use JUnit as a testing framework, making it easy to integrate Silk4J tests with CI/Build Management systems such as StarTeam TeamInspector, Hudson and Cruise Control. Silk4J and Silk4Net offer lightweight solutions that do not get in the way of test automation engineers’ work. This is why Silk4J and Silk4Net are so easy to integrate with agile development tools and processes.

Like SilkTest, SilkCentral Test Manager, supports all leading xUnit testing frameworks as well as FitNesse out-of-the-box. Test authors work in their preferred environment adding tests to the xUnit test suite; SilkCentral Test Manager automatically recognizes that new tests are available and adds them to the test plan. Agile teams can use SilkCentral Test Manager’s distributed configuration testing capabilities to increase test coverage applying their unit tests to cover multiple configurations.

SilkCentral Test Manager establishes traceability between tests and user stories managed in agile project management tools such as VersionOne and Rally. Unlike agile PM tools, SilkCentral Test Manager provides a cross-iteration, cross-release view of requirements coverage. Even when agile teams attempt to automate as much as they can, manual testing tasks remain and require appropriate planning.

SilkCentral Test Manager is built from the ground-up to support different source control management systems (SCM) for storage and version control of automated test scripts, including popular SCMs such as Subversion, Microsoft TFS, and StarTeam. This assures that tests and code remain in sync; the current version of a test checked in through source control is automatically executed against the current version/build of the code base. Agile teams view tests as part of the code base and manage them jointly.

SilkCentral Test Manager provides Web services interfaces that allow easy integration into build management/CI systems. This allows build management/CI systems to trigger test executions inside SilkCentral Test Manager while querying the results of test executions that can be displayed within the build management/CI system.  

The Silk product line offers powerful capabilities for automating tests and test management. It means that you can take advantage of nimble methodologies like Agile and accept no compromises on the quality of the software you deliver.

Join the Visual COBOL R3volution

Over 2500 free trials of Visual COBOL R3 have been downloaded to date. That’s 2500 people who are learning how to start benefiting from Visual COBOL.

If you have not yet had a chance to download the Visual COBOL R3 trial, you can still do so at Download it, take it for a test drive and don’t forget to tell us what you think about the product by writing a product review. We will be awarding the best review a Livescribe Echo Smartpen. For more information about how to submit your review and how to win please visit the community site. We’ve extended the the deadline for submitting reviews to 15th April 2011.

The winner of our February prize draw for a Kindle ebook was Matthias Geoerg from bb online in Germany. Matthias entered the draw simply by taking part in one of the Visual COBOL R3 launch activities.  You can be in with a chance to win Amazon Kindle in the March draw by signing up for any of the ongoing Visual  COBOL R3 activities.  

There will be a series of roadmap webinars from March 15th – 17th highlighting the future plans for Visual COBOL as well as existing COBOL products. You can register for these webinars, along with other events, by visiting:

Once you have registered you will also be able to access recordings of all our previous webinars as well as the launch day videos.

For all the latest news and information about Visual COBOL, don’t forget to visit

Announcing Silk 2010 R2 – webcast

Find out what is new in the latest release of SilkTest, SilkCentral Test Manager and SilkPerformer.

Silk is a comprehensive automated software quality management solution comprising an integrated testing suite to ensure that software is comprehensively tested and delivered to the highest standards of quality.


  • Ensures that developed applications are reliable and meet the needs of business users
  • Automates the testing process, providing higher quality applications at a lower cost
  • Prevents or discovers quality issues early in the development cycle, reducing rework and speeding delivery

New versions of SilkTest 2010, SilkCentral Test Manager 2010 and SilkPerformer 2010 are now available.

To hear  ‘What’s New’ in these releases download the webcast

What’s happening in the Micro Focus Community?

Find out how the Micro Focus community is growing and get involved.

In the seven weeks since its launch, the Micro Focus Community has been steadily gaining momentum and providing users, customers and partners with a forum for articles, comment and discussions.

There are over 600 regular users and, not surprisingly the Forums are the most visited parts of the site. There are several ongoing discussions about Micro Focus and our products underway on the forums, with over 20,000 thread views recorded to date. The Blogs are also proving very popular and are a great way to engage with Micro Focus product experts to get the inside story on what is happening.

Most encouraging, and useful for our customers, is the real sense of community that is being engendered. Experts and power-users among our customers as well as Micro Focus staff are taking the time to share their expertise and answer questions to help others.

Despite being launched on the same day as Visual COBOL R3, the Community is not just for COBOL customers. So, if you are using one of our other products – such as Caliber, Silk or StarTeam, or DevPartner and VisiBroker, for example – and you haven’t yet visited the Community, why not head over to the and get involved in the discussions?