Low code vs. No Code Testing Explained: Similarities and Differences

Posted Mar 16th, 2022

No code and low code test automation are becoming widely adopted and will help address the evolving challenges faced by businesses today. However, what is the difference between no code and low code? When is it useful for an organization to adopt? How useful are their capabilities? Will this dampen the need for skilled Automation Engineers, Software Development Engineers in Test (SDET), or traditional Quality Assurance (QA) Specialists?

Business leaders should focus on evaluating these tools based on the stage of their company, the skill sets of employees, and the challenges they face.

Software is already eating the world. 

IT delivery timelines are becoming increasingly unrealistic. Consumers are demanding bespoke, user-friendly experiences.  Developer shortages are a real and growing issue. As Ryan Ellis, SVP of Product Management at Salesforce states: “the pandemic has created a tipping point in awareness [about low code]” as a solution to challenges organizations face today. 

As similar as no code and low code test automation platforms are, they do have some differentiating factors. Most of these differences are not so obvious at the user interface level which makes it difficult to evaluate the two. This blog post will help address the nuances that set low code and no code test automation apart so that you can better understand where they can fit in your organization.

What is no code test automation?

No code test automation tools allow non-technical team members to test software applications without coding. These solutions contain a visual drag-and-drop feature set and cater specifically to non-technical team members — also classified as Citizen Testers — that have a strong understanding of the product intent. 

Citizen Testers are typically product managers, business analysts, administrators, etc., and surely, they are empowered by a codeless studio to play an informal, yet critical role in the software development lifecycle. Citizen testers have a deep understanding of the use cases that need to be tested and low code test automation democratizes the ability for them to do so at scale.  

No code equips testers with the tools they need to test applications without traditional test automation script-writing experience. Not to be confused with manual testing, however as the no-code test automation journey does not stop after the first test is created and executed. No code test automation tools make it possible for the citizen tester to generate end-to-end cross-browser and cross-platform testing that is executed concurrently without writing a line of automation code. A manual tester would not have the ability to automate the test using traditional frameworks.

Watch here: creating an end-to-end automated test using AutonomIQ’s Low Code Studio

Disadvantages arise when a higher degree of customization is needed when designing testing strategies. Automation engineers that write bespoke test automation scripts are only limited by the scripting languages themselves. No code platforms do not have the same flexibility because users are constrained based on the product interface presented to the citizen tester. In other words, what you see is what you get.

No code test automation tools are also more susceptible to vendor lock-in: a team has no choice but to continue using the tool because switching away from that product is not practical. Compared to a low code platform which requires some knowledge of standard code that works anywhere, no code drag-and-drop assets are only useful within the user interface that they are created in. More so, various low code test automation vendors will not let you edit your test cases once you stop using the tool. Interoperability is generally not an option.

Amongst an array of other benefits, there are lower barriers to entry to kickstart and scale test automation that matches the pace of the development cycle. The tester can start creating automated tests as soon as the UI development is finished without spending time on complex coding practices and frameworks. Overall, the advantage of no code is that it is a paradigm shift in thinking the same way that Windows 95 applied a visual interface to a complex operating system: designed with the no-code user in mind.

What is low code test automation and how does it differ from no code?

Low code test automation provides a user-friendly interface for non-coders to plan, generate, and execute end-to-end tests. The primary difference between no code and low code is that there is more extensibility and customization available with low code tools yielding increased collaboration between developers and testers. Collaboration can happen in the following ways:

  • Technically-savvy developers can programmatically add variables that can be called within the test flow to further empower the citizen tester. These variables can be recognized globally across the test automation tool and can be modified or deleted at any stage in a user-friendly manner. See here for the variety of variables users can set in the AutonomIQ Low Code Studio.

  • Automation scripts generated in the low code studio can be downloaded, transferred or edited based on the preferences of the QA team. These automation scripts can be further utilized across various tools as needed.

  • XPATH and CSS Selectors can be referenced in test cases to identify objects and elements in the UI for more accurate test results. 

  • Developers can integrate the CI/CD pipeline to a low code test automation tool to help citizen testers better recognize changes that happen on the UI that impact the script. 

More complexity, however, can lead to more roadblocks for testers. This complexity contributes to one of the biggest misconceptions and challenges when it comes to understanding low code. Since low code is very synonymous with no code, prospective users can conflate the two causing disappointment in the evaluation or implementation stages. 

The other disadvantage of low code is a security risk. As more individuals without a lot of quality assurance experience start to generate business vital test assets, there will inevitably be situations where the best testing practices are not implemented. This inexperience may cause more rework for the already overwhelmed QA team. 

Low code can play a significant role in driving collaboration across the organization with fewer barriers to entry. Cross functionally, more diverse skill sets — admins, business analysts, product managers, product owners, etc.— can contribute to the culture of quality in the organization, complementary to the work of the QA department. The old adage of testers are not programmers is long gone and low code test automation frees up much-needed engineering resources. Low code test automation is more admissible in environments where the role of the technical QA & development team can be augmented by collaborating with citizen testers. 

More reading: For a more in-depth read on low code test automation, read our Best Practices and Buying Guide: Harness the Power of Low-Code Test Automation <insert link here>

How to choose between no code and low code

The ideal test automation platform enables all team members to adapt the software according to their roles. This can be done through the same collaborative interface that provides exclusively no-code options or one that allows both programmers and citizen testers to interact on the same tool. 

Here are some questions to consider when evaluating the organizational fit of a no-code or low code test automation platform:

  • Is your team made up of both non-technical and technical members?

  • Are the test assets created transferable to other tools to prevent vendor lock-in?

  • How accessible is the platform to various user profiles in your organization?

  • To what extent are coding skills necessary and to what degree can your team create all the test assets needed?

Key Features to Look for in No Code and Low Code Test Automation Tools

Key Features No Code Automation Low Code Test Automation
Ability to add custom code
Codeless user interface
Point and record interface
Reusability
Scalability
Transfer of test assets
Cross-platform accessibility
English-to-code test cases
Self-maintaining scripts
End-to-end testing
Designed for Citizen testers, business users, QA specialists Citizen testers, business users, QA specialists, developers, automation engineers

Conclusion

Today, quality assurance teams are more resource-crunched than ever, but the pressures to deliver quality at speed are only increasing. No code and low code test automation offer a compelling solution to this problem by lowering the barriers to testing across your organization. 

By making everyone a developer and every developer a tester, low-code testing effectively democratizes the quality assurance process and breaks down organizational silos, empowering cross-functional teams to collaborate more effectively and achieve the quality that would not have been possible before. Understanding where low code or no code fits within your organization can bring enormous value to your business through an empowered and democratized workforce and producing solutions that provide the company with happier customers. 


About AutonomIQ Sauce Labs

Low-code is not futuristic wishful thinking. AutonomIQ helps deliver this winning formula to cross-functional teams: remove bottlenecks to innovation and delivery by encouraging simplicity in an environment riddled with siloed activity and overwhelming complexity. Furthermore, it expedites the delivery of an elevated user experience and digital confidence that surpasses customer expectations and drives community growth. Lastly, this allows teams to overcome the challenges with growing test debt and seeding the positive outcomes of test automation from day one and into the future. It’s only a matter of time until we start to witness the citizen code breakthroughs that enterprises can leverage to exceed their digital transformation goals at the same time popping the test debt bubble.


Written by

Sahr Saffa


Topics

Low-code Testing


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