Comparing an ATF to Commercial Products: Documentation and Support

Comparison: Documentation and Support

As part of an ongoing blog series, we will delve into a discussion of the differences between an ATF and the various commercial products on the market. This blog series will discuss one area of comparison each week. This week’s discussion will be on Documentation and Support.

The Commercial tool vendor’s and their supporters standard message is as follows: Since the commercial tools are a complete solution and don’t need to integrate with any other components, all of their materials are up-to-date, mature and complete. The commercial tool vendor’s documentation contains how-to instructions, tutorials for beginners and advanced users, and context-sensitive help. Online materials, user groups, and forums are available in abundance for the commercial tools.

Reading what the commercial vendor’s and their supporters have to say regarding documentation and support you would be very impressed if you were evaluating automated tools to implement in your organization. What they don’t tell you is the fundamental problem with their documentation, support, implementation processes and the way they build their tools. Since these are commercial vendors who build software to make money, they are going to do what’s best for them and also maximize their profits. What this means is that they follow the traditional software development process, where the business side develops requirements and the development side implements them. The question here is simple, who actually believes the business side at these commercial vendors knows how to test software, knows proper agile processes and isn’t listening to the wrong customers feedback?

On the ATF side it’s true that many open source projects don’t have extensive documentation, but this can be a benefit. The reality is that most of the open source projects are being developed by individuals from numerous companies who test software for living. Yes, you’re actually getting software developed from individuals who test software for a living and even more important they take input on fixes, changes and new features directly from the software testing community. Wow, imagine that, software being developed by people who actually test software for a living!! As far as support goes, you have to wonder if the commercial vendors and their supporters have heard the standard expression everyone else in the world seems to know, if you have question on how to do something just “Google” it. It truly is that simple, the amount of resources is almost limitless between Stackoverflow, Google Groups, the Selenium support group, YouTube, Slideshare, blogs etc…

In comparing the documentation and support between the commercial vendors and ATF, the commercial vendors and their supporter’s arguments simply don’t hold water. At best the Commercial vendors documentation is more formal, but to say the open source community has no documentation or less information available is simply not true. When you look at support and also how the tools are being developed, sorry but the ATF side wins this comparison.

Posted in best practices, testing

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