The idea of creating automated software tests in steps is a unique approach by Zeenyx, which today released version 6 of its AscentialTest software.

Plenty of automated testing tools exist, and no one knows that better than Brian Le Suer, cofounder of Zeenyx, which makes AscentialTest. Le Suer cofounded Zeenyx with Dave Laroche, who founded automated testing software company Segue Software back in the 1990s. That is where the very successful SilkTest was built.

The step approach is explained here (from the company’s website):

“It’s time to retire the old keyword-driven testing paradigm with its messy layers of spreadsheets. We’ve come up with an innovative approach to building software tests from reusable steps that does not rely on recording or scripting. By interacting with graphical representations called snapshots, users build steps by dragging and dropping objects in a visual test editor. Actions and data objects are automatically generated. All the user has to do is provide the test data. Reusable steps can be combined to form a multitude of manual and automated tests that are easy to create and maintain.”

The drag-and-drop approach allows domain experts—the folks who really understand what the software needs to do—to develop effective tests.

Le Suer told me that Zeenyx, based in Hopkinton, Mass., “wanted to create maintainable tests that could be reused even if the application changed. That’s where the step idea came to us.” For instance, he pointed out, a user doesn’t have to know how to write an “if” statement; it can simply be dragged into the test editor.

The new version of the software includes new test-management capabilities, enabling users to drag collections of tests, or collections of collections of tests, into a test set so items from different operating systems or data sources can be tested. AscentialTest supports Java, .NET, WinForms, WPF and PowerBuilder, along with most browsers, Le Suer said. He added that requirements management and bug-tracking are the next capabilities on the list. He did say that before the company builds its own bug-tracking capability, it will first integrate with Atlassian’s JIRA and the open-source Bugzilla defect-tracking software.