Are you looking to automate UI tests for your mobile applications? Great! Today we’d like to take a few minutes to talk about the most popular solutions available on the market and compare them against each other. The goal of this article is to give you enough information so that you can make a well-informed decision that will benefit you and your team the most.
In a nutshell, there are only a few dependable tools on the market, and each of them is very different from the other. The most popular options are Appium, XCUITest / UIAutomator & Espresso. Alternatively, there is another, much more well-rounded solution which is testRigor. But before we explain why, let’s first take a minute to talk about the first two options.
XCUITest and Espresso / UIAutomator
These are completely independent of each other UI automation frameworks, officially supported by Apple and Google.
The main advantages are test execution speed (extremely fast under certain circumstances) and test stability.
Both tools were initially targeted towards mobile developers, but it's not uncommon for QA teams nowadays to utilize them as well. It's important to mention that you have to be familiar with the app codebase to unlock the full power of these frameworks.
Relatively easy initial setup (compared to Appium).
These advantages come with a hefty price, however. Let's dig into it.
Since those are two separate tools, you won't be able to re-use the same code between your iOS and Android apps.
Tests are extremely complex to build the right way (especially on the Android side) and require a skilled senior QA Engineer / SDET. Espresso supports Java and Kotlin, while XCUItest supports Swift / Objective-C. It's most common that each person has proficiency in only one of the two frameworks.
No cross-platform testing.
Since these solutions are initially built for developers, they aren't nearly as QA-friendly as Appium or testRigor
To sum it up, these native OS testing frameworks are great if test execution speed is your absolute highest priority, however require highly skilled engineers for each platform. Tests are platform-specific, and these tools won't work for you if you need end-to-end tests (say, initiate a password reset within the app and then open the web browser to confirm).
Now let's look into the most commonly used test automation framework: Appium. For those not familiar, Appium works on a client-server architecture model and acts as a virtual server that sends commands to XCUITest and UIAutomator2 under the hood. However, it also supports a lot of other features, such as gestures, and can be used for cross-platform testing.
Tests can be written in one of the widely used programming languages (Python, Java, Ruby, JavaScipt, PHP, C#), and can be re-used between your iOS and Android apps.
Appium being the most widely used open-source solution has a wide user-base and strong community support.
Cross-platform testing is supported.
Appium supports end-to-end testing, including a rich set of gestures and other various behaviors.
Being an extra layer, execution speed is much slower than native OS solutions (such as XCUITest).
Initial setup is complex, tedious, and time consuming.
Test architecture is very important and requires senior QA engineer(s) beginning from the initial setup, otherwise, test maintenance will very soon become a daily burden.
Test stability is not uncommon to be an issue, meaning the same tests will occasionally fail with the same parameters.
There are a lot of reasons for Appium's popularity - it has a broad set of behaviors for end-to-end tests, and tests can be re-used between the two platforms. Although execution speed isn't quite on par with XCUITest or Espresso, most companies won't need that anyway. Also, keep in mind that test stability and maintenance can easily become a drag if tests are not coded the right way.
testRigor is the only tool in this comparison that doesn't require any coding knowledge and is built for manual QA, not QA engineers or developers. Tests are written from the end user's perspective, in plain English. It's also the only tool that supports mobile apps, mobile browsers, web browsers, and API testing for truly end-to-end testing possibilities.
Since tests are created in plain English, anyone on the team will be able to participate in creating tests, even product managers. This is possible thanks to a massive AI engine behind the scenes. There are a lot of sophisticated technologies involved, such as OCR (optical character recognition), auto association of labels with inputs, usage of relative locations, etc. You don't need to search for XPaths and test attributes or create complex methods (which is necessary for all other tools in today's comparison).
Initial setup is as easy as it gets.
Test maintenance takes little to no time compared to Appium.
Tests are very stable.
testRigor is the only solution here that's not open source. However, once you factor in Senior QA / SDET's salaries required for other solutions discussed, it quickly becomes the most affordable amongst all of the options we've discussed today.
Test execution speed is fast, but not as fast as with Espresso or XCUITest.
testRigor is not just a standalone framework, but rather a powerhouse capable of being the only test automation solution for most companies. Built for manual QA, there are no setup or test maintenance implications that are typical for such tools. It packs the latest technology to make the test creation process as seamless as possible, and thus achieve the desired automation coverage faster.
See our summary table and decide for yourself.
Manual QA Product Managers
Web, API, iOS, Android, Mobile Web
iOS, Andrioid, Mobile Web
iOS or Andrioid
Free with paid options
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