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Table of contents
What Is UI Automation Testing?Manual vs. Automated TestingUI Automation Checklist: What You Need to KnowAutomated UI Testing ToolsIs Automated UI Testing Enough?How to Overcome UI Automation Challenges
Not long ago, most software tests were performed locally by replicating an ideal environment and running several UI tests. Today, with rapid development models and short release cycles, organizations are replacing conventional manual testing techniques with more effective approaches. UI test automation is quickly becoming the new norm.
This comprehensive guide dives into UI automation, one of the hottest trends in the world of software testing. It is designed to provide you with knowledge across the broader UI test automation spectrum, including what it means, how to perform it, and the various challenges it presents.
As you will realize, this guide provides valuable insights for decision-makers looking to invest in test automation as well as developers who want to increase their knowledge in this field.
Read along or jump ahead to the section that interests you most. If you already know that you need to make the switch to automated UI testing, learn how Perfecto Scriptless can help your team get started.
To understand the concept of UI automation testing, you first need to understand what UI testing means. So, let’s start by breaking everything down.
A user interface (UI) is the front-end of an application that facilitates interaction with users on their screens.
UI testing is the process used to verify whether the end-user interface is running correctly.
When performing UI tests, we check that every bit of logic, UI feature, or flow of actions works as expected. Here, testers focus on validating every click of a button, data entry, navigation, calculation of values, and other functionalities used for user interaction.
UI automation testing is a technique where these testing processes are performed using an automation tool. Instead of having testers click through the application to verify data and action flows visually, test scripts are written for each test case. A series of steps to follow when the verifying data is then added.
A simple example would be something like this:
The UI automation testing process simplifies the process of creating UI tests, running the tests, and viewing results. At its core, it allows testers to:
Development and testing teams choose to automate UI tests for several reasons. The most notable include:
According to the Global Quality Report, organizations are benefiting from automation testing in different ways. Around 60% of organizations cited an improved ability to detect application defects due to increased test coverage.
Another 57% saw an increase in test case reuse after applying automation. At the same time, 54% recorded a decrease in the time spent on testing cycles.
A question that most development teams ask is whether they should perform testing manually or automate it. There are many aspects to consider when making this decision. These include time constraints, economic feasibility, type of tests to be performed, and more.
To make the right decision, business leaders should first understand the difference between manual and automated testing.
In manual testing, Quality Assurance (QA) specialists create and execute test cases by hand. The QA specialist or test engineer describes several scenarios in the application and creates conditions in the test cases.
It involves preparing scenarios and datasets, then triggering the right actions or inputs to verify the described scenario. While this kind of testing may seem primitive, it is vital in cases where automation cannot be applied.
The advantages and disadvantages of manual testing are summarized in the table below:
With automated testing, as its name suggests, pre-scripted tests are run to validate different functionalities in an application. This means using tools and test scripts to create different states and prepare data.
Once done, a set of steps are executed to validate the scenario. By doing so, QA teams can determine where an application works as expected or not.
The table below summarizes the main strong points and downsides of automated testing:
Now that you completely understand the difference between manual and automated testing, it can be easier to decide when your team should shift to automated testing.
Here are some scenarios where automated testing is the best option:
Before automating UI tests, the QA team should conduct an automation feasibility study and prepare a test strategy.
The feasibility study confirms whether automation testing can exhaustively cover the application to be tested. By doing so, testing teams can determine whether UI automation will be successful or not.
From here, testers should continue with the automation process by preparing a checklist.
An automation checklist outlines the steps you should follow to make your automation journey successful. Following these steps will ensure the transition from one testing stage to the next is smooth and efficient.
Here is a standard UI automation checklist that can be applied in any testing project:
The QA team and all stakeholders hold a meeting with automation experts to define the purpose, plan, and requirements for test automation.
The UI automation team collects project requirements based on the architecture and technology used for application development.
During this stage, testing teams identify the testing and product knowledge at their disposal to determine whether external technical assistance will be required.
The requirements listed are used to select an appropriate tool for automation. The right automation tool makes it easier for testing teams to accomplish their testing goals.
Test cases provide a better understanding of the structure and logical flow in your interface.
They provide a visual depiction of how an application works and serve as the basis for your project’s scope and strategy.
After listing potential use cases, the QA team determines the best strategies for conducting automated UI tests. This includes the languages and test data to be used.
After outlining the automation strategy, testing teams proceed to develop a basic framework for automation.
Frameworks are essential for the success of any testing project and should only be developed after a diligent analysis of the application.
The testing team uses the test cases outlined in the initial stages for creating test scripts.
Upon completing script development, they are executed in batches. During this step, it is crucial to analyze the results for feedback purposes.
Additionally, check for defects to ensure no test script failures are encountered.
Organizations can also opt to leverage AI during UI testing with self-healing tests. These AI-driven tests will make the test scripts more stable and scalable.
The final step of UI automation involves generating and presenting test reports. This is done after the completion of the test suite to facilitate the future training of stakeholders. Teams can leverage AI in UI test reporting as well to help teams detect and fix issues faster.
Shifting from manual to automation testing might seem daunting at first. However, by following these elaborate steps, you can easily pull through.
The success of automation testing largely depends on the choice of tools used. With dozens of automation tools in the market, QA professionals should take time to evaluate every tool’s features and capabilities.
This way, it becomes easier to pick a tool that meets your testing needs and benefits your software development projects in the long run.
Here are some of the considerations to make when evaluating automated UI testing tools to make a decision that will best fit your organization:
Here’s a quick demonstration of how Perfecto Scriptless handles automated web UI testing. In this example, we will be testing the process of signing in to a Google account.
*Note: The images in this guide are from the TestCraft platform, which is now Perfecto Scriptless.
The testing process on Perfecto Scriptless begins by creating a new project on the Perfecto Scriptless dashboard. To start building the test, we provide a project name and test name.
Perfecto Scriptless also prompts you to add the URL to the test. In this case, we add a link to the Google account sign-in page. Next, we select the platform or browser we’d like to run our tests on:
After supplying the necessary test details, the project initializes and Perfecto Scriptless directs us to the canvas – the platform’s main page where you can create and modify test scenarios.
The canvas allows Perfecto Scriptless users to perform offline test planning as well as online visual capturing. More specifically, you can do the following on the canvas:
While on the canvas dashboard, users can start creating scenarios for processes to be tested. For every test scenario, create a spec that includes all user actions that you’d want to check or validate.
The process of creating specs and modifying the steps involved in a test case is pretty straightforward.
Perfecto Scriptless also provides step-by-step visual modeling, so you only need to click on the elements shown on the screen to add action flows to your test case.
Below is a simple spec created for testing the Google sign-in page. It starts by checking user input typed on the “email or phone” textbox.
Perfecto Scriptless allows you to modify or add as many testing steps as you want on a single element, although we recommend that you create short tests built from reusable components that you can use for more complex scenarios in the future.
After adding all of the required steps into the spec, you can now publish and run your test suite.
Configure the execution parameters and provide input data (if needed), then hit the run button as shown.
After running the test, you should see the test results indicating whether the test was successful or some steps failed. If there are errors, they will be clearly indicated in the error log.
Perfecto Scriptless provides a number of features to help you manage your testing processes. Other than specs, you will find the suites, execution, assets, and system management dashboards.
All these dashboards have valuable tools for test management. In the suites section, for instance, you will find the scheduling feature, which allows you to automatically run tests at a specified time.
The CI/CD integration dashboard allows you to integrate your testing processes into your development workflow.
The UI testing capabilities of automation testing tools like Perfecto Scriptless are unlimited. How you use the tool depends on the nature of your project, the scope of your testing, and your creativity.
Although UI test automation is an essential component of the CI/CD pipeline, it isn’t the only type of test that can be automated. You can bring value and scale your QA process by automating more software tests.
Below are some guidelines to help you identify ideal candidates for test automation:
Based on the conditions outlined above, you can automate the following types of tests:
Automated unit tests are performed to test an application at the code level. They are designed to test individual functions, methods, and all modules in your software.
Unit tests are performed by developers during the initial testing phase and are generally cheap to automate.
What are APIs? They are an essential component in modern applications. They facilitate communication between different software modules or web services.
APIs should be tested thoroughly to verify their performance, functionality, security, and compliance.
Integration tests are performed to verify that different application modules work well together. The main focus here is to verify data communication between different microservices. For instance, you can check whether your application can query the database.
Functional tests are performed to verify whether all application functions work as expected. They focus on the application’s business requirements and are more specific.
For instance, instead of only testing whether an application connects to the database, you could check whether it gets values from the database appropriately as per the application’s requirements.
Regression tests are performed to verify that changes pushed to the codebase do not affect existing features in an application.
The aim is to check whether the old code works as it was before changes were introduced.
There are several challenges that testers face when automating UI tests. Most of these challenges can have a significant impact on the success of your testing process and development project at large.
The 2017 Global Quality Report identified the following main challenges hindering most organizations from achieving the desired level of automation.
Today’s marketplace is filled with tons of open-source and commercial UI automation testing tools. Although these tools are designed to support different types of tests and technologies, choosing the right tool to support an application under test becomes a challenge.
It is therefore important to perform enough research before selecting a UI automation tool. Choosing a suitable automation tool that satisfies your technical and business needs will make your testing efforts more productive.
A common development practice when developing applications is making constant changes and improvements to the UI and the app logic. This creates a contact challenge of adapting the test automation to those changes.
Just like in manual UI testing, the increasingly diverse combinations of devices, operating systems, and other software are a serious challenge when automating UI tests.
There’s a common myth that UI test automation can be handled by anyone because it involves recording test scripts and playing them back. This is utterly wrong.
Most automation tools require a substantial level of technical expertise and strong knowledge of the testing framework. Without the required technical skills, creating accurate test scripts and maintaining becomes a top challenge.
For successful UI testing, you must use the right tool and employ the correct automation approach. This should always be one of the top concerns for test automation engineers.
Testing teams should think about reducing the effort required to implement and maintain test scripts. It is important for testers to develop an automation solution that detects issues automatically and revalidates the tests without human intervention.
Another thing to consider when selecting a proper testing approach is the generation of useful test metrics and reports.
Automated testing is crucial for quality assurance in today’s agile development. However, despite its huge payoff in terms of long-term benefits, the cost of implementing test automation in the initial phases is usually high.
Creating a test lab with the right devices, browsers, and OS's is your foundation for testing your mobile and web applications. But lab issues alone cause more than fifteen percent of automated tests to fail.
While the above are not the only challenges found in UI test automation, they are the most common. Testing teams should, therefore, find solutions that can overcome these shortcomings to ensure the test automation project is successful.
Codeless automation tools like Perfecto Scriptless can help address these challenges by providing a more efficient way of testing. This is because they are built to empower every tester, including those with the least testing knowledge.
In addition, Perfecto offers a robust testing platform that offers everything you will need to succeed at UI automation, from thousands of real devices in Perfecto’s Smart Lab to integrations with all the major solutions making up your DevOps toolchain.
Other important benefits of UI automation with Perfecto include:
UI test automation is an efficient and cost-saving way to verify the performance and functionality of your application’s interface. Although setting up automated UI tests and creating the necessary scripts requires a considerable amount of effort, it will streamline your testing cycle in the long run.
Want to start or streamline your UI automation tests? Sign up for a free trial of Perfecto, or get instant access to the Perfecto platform with flexible monthly or annual subscription plans starting at just $83.
Note: Perfecto Scriptless is now available for mobile testing!
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