6 min read

The world is abuzz with automation. It is everywhere today and becoming an integral part of organizations and processes. Software testing, an intrinsic part of website/app/software development has also been taken over by test automation tools. However, as it happens in many software markets, a surplus of tools complicates the selection process.

We have identified top 5 testing frameworks, used by most developers for automating the testing process. These automation testing frameworks cover a broad range of devices and support different scripting languages. Each framework has their own uniques pros, cons, and learning approaches.

Selenium

Creators: Jason Huggins
Language: Java
Current version: 3.11.0
Popularity: 11,031 stars on GitHub

Selenium is probably the most popular test automation framework, primarily used for testing web apps.  However, selenium can also be used in cloud-based services, load-testing services and for monitoring, quality assurance, test architecture, regression testing, performance analysis, and mobile testing.

It is open source; i.e., the source code can be altered and modified if you want to customize it for your testing purposes.

It is flexible enough for you to write your own script and add functionality to test scripts and the framework. The Selenium suite consists of four different tools: Selenium IDE, Selenium Grid, Selenium RC, and Selenium WebDriver. It also supports a wide range of programming languages such as C#, Java, Python, PHP, Ruby, Groovy, and Perl.

Selenium is portable, so it can be run anywhere, eliminating the need to configure it specifically for a particular machine. It becomes quite handy when you are working in varied environments and platforms supporting various system environments – Windows, Mac, Linux and browsers – Chrome, Firefox, IE, and Headless browsers.

Most importantly, Selenium has a great community which implies more forums, more resources, examples, and solved problems.

Appium

Creators: Dan Cuellar
Language: C#
Current version: 1.8.1
Popularity: 7,432 stars on GitHub

Appium is an open source test automation framework for testing native, hybrid, and mobile web applications. It allows you to run automated tests on actual devices, emulators ( Android), and simulators ( iOS). It provides cross-platform solutions for native and hybrid mobile apps, which means that the same test cases will work on multiple platforms ( iOS, Android, Windows, Mac).  Appium also allows you to talk to other Android apps that are integrated with App Under Test (AUT).

Appium has a client-server architecture. It extends the WebDriver client libraries, which are already written in most popular programming languages. So, you are free to use any programming language to write the automation test scripts. With Appium, you can also run your test scripts in the cloud using services such as Sauce Labs and Testdroid.

Appium is available on GitHub with documentations and tutorial to learn all that is needed. The Appium team is alive, active, and highly responsive as far as solving an issue is concerned. Developers can expect a reply after no more than 36 hours, after an issue is opened. The community around Appium is also pretty large and growing every month.

Katalon Studio

Creators: Katalon LLC.
Language: Groovy
Current version: 5.4.2

Katalon Studio is another test automation solution for web application, mobile, and web services. Katalon Studio uses Groovy, a language built on top of Java. It is built on top of the Selenium and Appium frameworks, taking advantage of these two for integrated web and mobile test automation. Unlike Appium, and Selenium, which are more suitable for testers who possess good programming skills, Katalon Studio can be used by testers with limited technical knowledge.

Katalon Studio has a interactive UI with drag-drop features, select keywords and test objects to form test steps functionalities. It has a manual mode for technically strong users and a scripting mode that supports development facilities like syntax highlighting, code suggestion and debugging.

On the down side, Katlon has to load many extra libraries for parsing test data, test objects, and for logging. Therefore, it may be a bit slower for long test cases as compared to other testing frameworks which use Java.

Robot Framework

Creators: Pekka Klärck, Janne Härkönen et al.
Language: Python
Current version: 3.0.4
Popularity: 2,393 stars on GitHub

Robot Framework is a Python-based, keyword-driven, acceptance test automation framework. It is a general purpose test automation framework primarily  used for acceptance testing and streamlines it into mainstream development, thus giving rise to the concept of acceptance test driven development (ATDD). It was created by Pekka Klärck as part of his master’s thesis and was developed within Nokia Siemens Networks in 2005.

Its core framework is written in Python, but it also supports IronPython (.NET), Jython (JVM) and PyPy. The Keyword driven approach simplifies tests and makes them readable. There is also provision for creating reusable higher-level keywords from existing ones. Robot Framework stands out from other testing tools by working on easy-to-use tabular test files that provide different approaches towards test creation. It is the extensible nature of the tool that makes it so versatile. It can be adjusted into different scenarios and used with different software backend such as by using Python and Java libraries, and also via different API’s.

Watir

Creators: Bret Pettichord, Charley Baker, and more.
Language: Ruby
Current version: 6.7.2
Popularity: 1126 stars on GitHub

Watir is powerful test automation tool based on a family of ruby libraries. It stands for Web Application Testing In Ruby. Watir can connect to databases, export XML, and structure code as reusable libraries, and read data files and spreadsheets all thanks to Ruby. It supports cross-browser and data-driven testing and the tests are easy to read and maintain.

It also integrates with other BBD tools such as Cucumber, Test/Unit, BrowserStack or SauceLabs for cross-browser testing and Applitools for visual testing.

Whilst Watir supports only Internet Explorer on Windows, Watir-WebDriver, the modern version of the Watir API based on Selenium,  supports Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera and also can run in headless mode (HTMLUnit).

All the frameworks that we discussed above offer unique benefits based on their target platforms and respective audiences. One should avoid selecting a framework based solely on technical requirements. Instead, it is important to identify what is suitable to developers, their team, and the project. For instance, even though general-purpose frameworks cover a broad range of devices, they often lack hardware support. And frameworks which are device-specific often lack support for different scripting languages and approaches. Work with what suits your project and your team requirements best.

Read Next

Selenium and data-driven testing: An interview with Carl Cocchiaro
3 best practices to develop effective test automation with Selenium
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