6 Popular Test Automation Tools, Their Pros and Cons, and When to Use Them
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6 Popular Test Automation Tools, Their Pros and Cons, and When to Use Them

Przemysław Pliński
Senior Automation Engineer
Aleksander Jess
Senior Content Marketer & Technical Expert

In the QA world, we divide testing into manual and automated testing (a rather high-level distinction). As extensive manual testing is not suitable for most projects, due to the lack of scalability, most modern software is tested automatically. Growing automation trend is clear and led to rise of great tools that help to achieve complex QA goals.  

Below, we wrote down some of the most popular that are among the best ones (if not the best) in their category.  

Selenium

Selenium is one of the most popular and mature tools out there used for web automation. It all started in 2004 and until this day is actively developed and maintained. It is open-source and can operate across different browsers and operating systems. Few people know Selenium in fact is a set of tools that gathered are giving us a powerful automation solution.  

Selenium WebDriver

WebDriver is used for testing web applications across different browsers, and support many programming languages like Java, .NET, PHP, Python, Perl, Ruby. So, in short, with WebDriver, we can write our test cases using our preferred language that will interact with the browser directly.

Selenium Grid

Selenium Grid helps run tests in parallel on multiple machines. It consists of two main components. Hub accepts test request and runs them in parallel on multiple nodes. Node is a remote device with both OS and browser instances.

Selenium IDE

Selenium IDE does not require using any programming language. This tool can record your interactions with the browser and create test cases based on that. It is super simple to use and comes as a standard browser add-on extension.  

Use Cases

Selenium has a wide range of testing capabilities, but is mainly used for web app test automation. Even though, Selenium can be successfully used for web performance tests, mobile testing, and web scrapping.

Pros

  • It is free and open source  
  • Supports multiple programming languages  
  • Large community  
  • Cross browser and parallel capabilities  

Cons

  • Might be hard to set up for non-experience engineers    
  • No reporting and lack of test runner (needs to be wrapped by some test framework)  
  • Improperly manged may lead to huge complexity and code base  
  • Test cases are not legible for non-technical people

Cypress

Cypress is a JavaScript based testing tool that operates directly in the browser. Since the tool is operating in the browser, there is no need for a driver; an intermediary here. The framework uses DOM events to execute test commands. This makes it faster and easier to use, while it also has an interactive test runner, which makes this tool even more user-friendly.  

Use Cases

Cypress is a purely JavaScript-based framework, so you would mainly use it for the web app test automation.

Pros

  • Built-in await management  
  • Great documentation  
  • Snapshots that provide details of every test action  
  • A visual test runner

Cons

  • No multi-tab capabilities  
  • Cannot open two browsers in parallel  
  • Supports only one programming language - JavaScript  
  • Does not support all commonly used browsers  

Appium

Appium is a Node.js-based tool used for testing native, hybrid, mobile web, and desktop applications. It supports multiple programming languages including Python, C#, Node.js, PHP, Java, Ruby, and JavaScript. In over 10 years of existence, it has grown to be a leader in the Android and iOS testing world.

Use Cases

It's another big framework with a lot of capabilities, and it is mostly used for Mobile Testing (iOS and Android).

Pros

  • It is Open source with huge community  
  • Using same API for different mobile platforms.  
  • Can be integrated with any testing framework  
  • If you know Selenium, you will have an easy time learning Appium

Cons

  • Does not support Android versions prior to 4.2  
  • Testing hybrid apps might be challenging    
  • Test execution time might be a bottleneck  
  • Lack of Appium inspector on Windows machines  

Robot Framework

Robot Framework is an open-source test automation framework mainly used for acceptance testing. Test cases primarily follow a keyword-driven style, but you may easily choose the behavior-driven and data-driven styles. As the test cases are written in a tabular format with the usage of keywords, it makes it extremely easy to read and understand even for non-technical stakeholders. Robot Framework supports many libraries, including Selenium.

Use Cases

Thanks to the framework’s flexibility and the possibility to use Python for extending the library, it is successfully used for testing both frontend and backend services.

Pros

  • Free and open source  
  • Keyword-driven with support of Gherkin  
  • Basics are easy to learn  
  • No previous strong coding experience needed

Cons

  • Improperly manged can be extremely hard to maintain  
  • HTML reports might be hard to read  
  • Debugging can be a struggle  

Cucumber

Cucumber is a Behavior-Driven Design framework that supports Gherkin’s Given, When, and Then notations. BDD proved to be highly efficient and helps agile teams to decrease complexity and maximize productivity. Cucumber is an excellent choice for the BDD approach. With the support of Gherkin, it makes test cases creation much easier. Additionally, as it supports multiple programming languages, it's one of the best BDD frameworks out there.

Use Cases

Since, Cucumber is more a BDD wrapping for our tests, and the test logic itself is implemented using one of the supported programming languages, Cucumber is successfully used in frontend and backend testing.

Pros

  • Requirements and test cases in a human-legible form  
  • Multilanguage support  
  • Reusability of code  
  • Helps technical and non-technical members works more closely  

Cons

  • Some complex scenarios might be hard to express using Gherkin  
  • It requires user involvement to describe scenarios correctly

Playwright

Playwright is a relatively new tool on the QA tools market, but quickly made its mark. It is a front-end automation tool that supports Java, Python, C#, and Node.js (JavaScript, TypeScript). Even though it is fresh, it already has all the things needed to be a great automation tool.

Use Cases

Playwright along with Cypress are mainly used for testing web applications and are on the rise to become one of the most popular tools out there.

Pros

  • A GUI debugging tool  
  • Easy to set up and configure  
  • Multi-language and multi-browser support  
  • Parallel browser testing  

Cons

  • Still very new, so limited community support

Closing words

There you have it. The top 6 test automation tools, their pros, cons, and their use cases. Have we missed anything? Have we missed your favorite tool? Do you prefer to have automated, manual testing in your projects, or maybe both? We would love to hear your opinion. Tweet us your opinion @ITMAGINATION or tag us on LinkedIn.

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