The agile pace of the application development process is driving companies to substitute traditional software testing types with automation tools. Test automation enhances the effectiveness of a software application. 

The IT market has hundreds of available test automation tools catering to a myriad of use cases. That’s why choosing which testing tool is right for your specific project can be a challenge. Making the wrong decision can slow the development and operations process. In this article, we’ll cover what test automation is and how to choose the right tool for your organization. 

What Is Software Testing Automation?

When defining software testing automation, we need to make a distinction between manual and automated testing. Both methods imply using software to perform tests on applications. Manual testing means a person controls and executes the testing steps. On the other hand, in automation, a software tool is in charge of executing the test case suite. 

Automating the test suite reduces the chances of human error by eliminating the need for human intervention. The automation software compares the actual results with the expectations, generating test reports. 

Sometimes, development cycles require executing the same test repeatedly. A test automation tool enables the developer to replay the test as many times as required. 

Why Automated Testing?

Manually testing all workflows for all possible negative scenarios can be a time-consuming task. People get tired of repetitive tasks, usually resulting in mistakes. Controlling your software quality is crucial, especially in a DevOps environment. One of the main benefits of test automation is taking care of these resource-consuming tasks, reducing errors. 

Other benefits of test automation include:

  • Timeliness—automating tests let you run testing at off-hours, for example overnight, reducing impacts on other workloads. 
  • Increased test speed—automation streamlines the testing, reducing the time it takes. 
  • Increased test coverage—a person cannot test all possible scenarios for an application. A software solution can. Automation enables the execution of more tests pertaining to an application. 
  • Improves test efficiency—testing is a large part of the development lifecycle. Improving its efficiency can have an impact on the timeframe of the project. Automated tests take up little time, running virtually unattended, improving the efficiency of the overall testing. 
  • Quick results—implementing automated testing is a relatively quick process. The tools are usually easy to install. The team then gets the results faster, improving the development process. Test automation gives feedback and validation across the pipeline, enabling the team to fix flaws on the fly. 
  • Faster time-to-market—test automation allows you to deploy continuous testing, effectively reducing the time-to-market of your application.

Which test cases should you automate?

Not all test cases have the same priority. You can use the following criteria to select which test cases should be prioritized for automation:

  • Require constant testing—test cases that need to be executed repeatedly
  • Time-consuming—test cases that take a lot of time or are difficult to test manually
  • High Risk—test cases that are critical for the organization

Automating tests seems to be the ideal solution to improve overall testing in the development pipeline. However, not all test cases are suitable for automation, for example:

  • Newly designed tests—tests should be executed manually at least once before running them automatically 
  • Changing requirements—variable tests with changing requirements are not suitable for automation
  • Ad-hoc tests—some tests are only required in specific cases, which makes them not fit for automation 

How to Choose the Right Test Automation Tool

When faced with choosing the right automation tool for your project there are some considerations to take. Understanding the requirements of your project is crucial to select the right tool.

Factors such as project type, scope or code language can give you an indication of exactly the type of tool you need. You should ask yourself what exactly you need to automate and how many test cases will need automation in your project.

There are several criteria to take into account for choosing the right tool. You should list the criteria that best adapt to your project needs. Here are some of the capabilities you should consider: 

  • User-friendly—the test should be easy for non-technical users to execute 
  • Cross-device support—the test should work across desktop and mobile devices
  • Cross-browser support—testing should work across different browsers and operating systems 
  • DevOps support—a critical factor to consider is the test integration to DevOps and agile planning 
  • Visibility—a test should enable tracking and analysis of the testing process 

Top 6 Test Automation Tools

The following list consists of free and paid test automation tools that cover several of the criteria we mentioned above. These solutions enable multi-browser support and mobile-app automation support among other features.

  • Winium—this free tool is used for testing Windows applications. It is based on Selenium Remote WebDriver. Winium supports Java, Objective-C, JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby, C# and Perl. 
  • Jubula—this free desktop test automation tool is based on Java and open-source. You can use Jubula to write tests from the user perspective. 
  • Selenium—this free tool is designed to work with web applications. It supports Java, Groovy, Python, C#, PHP, Ruby and Perl and provides multi-browser support. The downside of Selenium is the level of expertise it requires to be used.
  • Unified Functional Testing (UFT)—this commercial testing tool for functional testing works with desktop, web and mobile applications. An interesting feature of UFT is its image-based object recognition. The tool supports continuous integration by integrating with tools such as Jenkins. 
  • LambdaTest—this commercial tool works as a cross-browser testing cloud. It enables developers to perform cross-browser testing on real browsers and operating systems. LambdaTest works for desktop, web, and mobile, including iOS, allowing for cross-device testing. 
  • IBM Rational Functional Tester (RFT)—this enterprise-level tool works as a data-driven testing platform. Developers can perform functional and regression testing, supporting Visual Basic, .NET, and Java as scripting languages. An interesting feature called Storyboard testing records the user’s actions on the platform to visualize them later through application screenshots. 

Wrap Up

The main benefit of test automation is that it allows developers to produce better quality code by fixing the issues as they happen. Automated testing helps to streamline the development process, ensuring consistency in the code and ultimately, a better product. Software development companies can benefit from test automation to effectively gain a competitive advantage in a highly competitive market.