Which Automated Testing Framework is Right For You?

Posted May 24th, 2022

The increasing popularity of shifting testing left to the earlier stages of the software development lifecycle (SDLC) has given rise to a proliferation of test automation frameworks. While software developers have no shortage of tooling choices, it can be difficult to know which solution is best for your organization when many offer similar features and test coverage.

Choosing the right test automation framework starts with knowing your organization’s goals – with these in hand, you can more easily identify the best test automation frameworks for achieving your objectives.

Top Test Automation Frameworks and Who Should Use Them

Here’s a quick overview of some popular test automation frameworks and the coverage they provide, as well as some pros and cons for each.

Selenium

Selenium is the industry-standard, open-source automation framework for web application test automation. It has been around since the beginning of test automation. Selenium allows you to automate your CI/CD pipeline and run automated web tests across all browsers and operating systems.

Selenium 4 made the tool more flexible. It natively allows developers and testers to write tests in different languages (Java, Python, C#, PHP, etc.) that can run on different operating systems and browsers without modification.

Over the past twenty-plus years, Selenium has grown from a technology designed to drive a single browser and execute tests, to a standard protocol for programs to interact with a browser as if they were a human, an in-browser test record/playback tool, a distributed computing grid to run multiple tests at the same time, and more. Selenium is now a full suite of products that combine to create something much more powerful.

Being an open-source project, Selenium has very few, if any barriers to use and contribution. In addition, both open source and commercial companies have built frameworks on top of the core open source products, in particular frameworks, our focus today.

When to Use Selenium: To get started with automated testing, work with an open-source framework, and test web applications.

Cypress

Cypress has become one of the most popular JavaScript testing frameworks in recent years, due largely to the fact that it is simple to set up, especially if you’re a front-end developer. Another benefit is that writing automated tests with Cypress doesn’t require Selenium knowledge.

Cypress can also perform both front-end and (to a certain extent) backend testing. This makes Cypress a good choice for developers who use JavaScript (or Node) for both server-side and client-side development.

The main limitations of Cypress include limited support for testing mobile apps: it can handle mobile apps that run natively in a browser, but not other types. It also currently only supports three types of browsers: Chrome, Edge, and Firefox.

If you want a simple yet powerful JavaScript test automation framework that will meet most standard testing needs, Cypress is a great solution. If you need full application and browser coverage, however, Cypress on its own falls short.

When to Use Cypress:  To automate testing without Selenium, scale up quickly with limited resources, and test web applications on a browser 

Playwright

Released by Microsoft in January 2020, Playwright, which is open source, is one of the newest JavaScript-based test automation frameworks available.

In addition to JavaScript, Playwright also supports testing in .NET C#, Java, and Python, which makes it handy for developers who need to work with multiple languages. Playwright also supports all of the major modern browsers except Internet Explorer, and it can handle both desktop and mobile testing.

As of right now, perhaps the biggest drawback of Playwright is that, because the framework is relatively new, it is still evolving, and it doesn’t offer as many integrations as more mature frameworks. The lack of Internet Explorer support is also a limitation, as is the fact that Playwright requires a custom browser that must be downloaded each time you want to run a test. This adds time to testing routines, and also means that you can’t test in the actual browser that your users are using. Finally, like Puppeteer, Playwright needs to be integrated manually with test frameworks like Mocha, Jasmine, or Jest.

Playwright is an attractive choice for developer-friendly, cross-browser testing that supports multiple languages, including but not limited to JavaScript. But if you need to test for Internet Explorer, you’ll need a different framework. You may also want to wait a bit for Playwright to mature further if you are worried about handling rapidly changing APIs.

This automation framework is used for cross-browser, cross-platform, and mobile web testing. It allows you to test across languages using the Playwright API in TypeScript, JavaScript, Python, and .NET, in Java. 

When to Use Playwright: To test across multiple languages, mobile web applications, and platforms.

TestCafe

TestCafe is similar to Cypress in that it is easy to deploy. It provides intuitive syntax that simplifies usage for all skill levels and also runs concurrent tests. TestCafe also offers the advantage of supporting both JavaScript and TypeScript as the languages for writing testing scripts. The TypeScript option may be attractive to developers who prefer strongly typed languages.

A major benefit of TestCafe is that it supports cross-browser testing out of the box, no WebDriver or manual timeouts required. TestCafe supports all of the major desktop browsers, including Chrome, Internet Explorer, Edge, and Safari. TestCafe has some limited support for browser-based mobile apps, but in general, it is not designed for mobile testing.

A drawback of TestCafe is that it only supports client-side apps. It’s also designed primarily to be an end-to-end and regression testing framework and does not work well for unit testing or integration testing.

TestCafe is an excellent choice for testing any desktop or mobile JavaScript apps, provided they are client-side only. If you need server-side testing support or mobile testing, look elsewhere.

When to Use TestCafe: For teams that don’t have knowledge of JavaScript, to run concurrent tests, and to run a test recorder built into your tool.

How to Choose a Test Automation Framework Tool

Choosing the best automation framework for your organization shouldn’t be a major challenge if your team knows what it needs and understands what they can achieve with the solution. 

Keep in mind that different teams and team members may need to use different test frameworks depending on their role in the SDLC and the objectives they need to achieve. This can be done by proactively adopting best practices to eliminate compatibility potential issues, particularly when using multiple test frameworks with a cloud platform like Sauce Labs. Check out our blog on How to Test with Cypress on Sauce Labs. 

Ready to get started? Sign up for a Sauce Labs free trial and start testing in minutes.



Written by

Kunal Jain


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Automated TestingFrameworks

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