Selecting the Right Test Automation Approach

Updated: May 1



A quality engineering team has a crucial role in improving the time to market for services and products and ensuring customer delight. Architects have been developing new practices to automate the life cycle processes to reduce test cycle time and improve product quality. Scriptless test automation is one such practice that is an alternative to the traditional automation, which was programming language-dependent. The adoption rate of Scriptless frameworks has improved in the last couple of years, but there are still apprehensions around its capabilities.


Difference between the Working of Scriptless and Scripted Automation Tools


Scriptless automation tools use auto-generating test scripts instead of an automation engineer writing a test script manually utilizing a programming language. The language used in the tool might be proprietary or open, depending on the tool strategy of the vendor. The Scriptless technique is slightly different from the record and playback feature in the first generation automation tools like Silk Test, Rational Robot, or Winrunner. These tools' recording and playback feature worked as an accelerator that helped engineers enhance the recorded scripts by using programming languages like Test Script Language or SQA Basic. Some Scriptless tools do not reveal the source code of the automation scripts to the end-user, whereas some provide enhancement flexibility.


Challenges Faced while Using Scriptless Test Automation Tools


The current test automation coverage levels of most of the organizations are low and need improvement to enjoy all the benefits of Agile or DevOps. Organizations are now focusing on improving the regression automation coverage levels to implement continuous regression testing on their daily and weekly builds.Talent availability is a significant challenge faced by most organizations. Most of the engineers in today's market started their careers as manual testers, and many did not have a programming background. The developer community also does not prefer to shift their career towards automated testing as they feel that automated testing kills their creativity.


Way to Address the Challenges Faced by Companies While Using Scriptless Test Automation Tools


One way to address the shortfall is to upskill the manual testing engineers on programming and automation. Many organizations have succeeded in upskilling the mid and junior level engineers falling with a success rate of around 70%.

The highly experienced manual testing community comprising of mostly test managers is still not very open to learning a programming language or an automation tool as they are nearing the end of their IT Career. The manual testing engineers should understand that manual testers' existing testing team cannot be replaced with automation engineers as domain/application expertise is also a key ingredient in ensuring quality and trying to learn new skills.


Benefits of Using Scriptless Test Automation Tools


One of the significant benefits of Scriptless test automation is that it bridges the gap between technical knowledge and domain expertise by enabling business analysts, manual testers, or subject matter to participate in the testing automation activities. The technique helps quality engineering teams reduce the overall cost of automation and improve collaboration and automation coverage.


In scriptless test automation, the time required to design automation scripts is reduced by 40% compared to scripted test automation as there is no need to write scripts or programs. This helps the organizations which are running regression test automation initiatives to reach their coverage goals faster. It also allows teams engaged in-sprint test automation to improve the sprint automation coverage as the automation throughput increases due to reduced effort. We have seen that the Agile model of software development causes frequent changes to both the application under test and the regression test packs. Agile teams are often seen struggling to keep their automation regression test packs up to date due to the high effort involved in maintaining scripted automation packs. The scriptless test packs are relatively easy to maintain and cut down the overall maintenance efforts by half.


Limitations of Scriptless Test Automation Tools


There are also some limitations associated with Scriptless tools that influence the testing tool or automation approach's decision. The Scriptless tools have a complex underlying coding that must be maintained and updated regularly. This maintenance is quite expensive, and this is one of the reasons which make Scriptless automation tools a bit pricey. The open-source world also does not provide many choices when it comes to Scriptless automation tools.


Many Scriptless tools do not offer support to port automation assets to a format supported by another tool and create a vendor locking. It also does not provide much flexibility to testers to write custom functions required to automate complex scenarios. The alternate approach to getting additional capabilities implemented in the tool is to have the vendor implement the feature, often time-consuming and expensive.


Summary


The Scripted or Scriptless automation approaches have advantages and limitations, which might differ from organization to organization. The decision to adopt an automation approach should be made after considering the team's appetite for the upskilling, methodology used, availability of budget, and the complexity of applications selected for automation.


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