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Test Automation Tools: Definition And Top Tools To Consider

Test Automation Tools

For any team looking to ensure quality throughout a software project, understanding the role that test automation tools play in modern software development is a must.

Whether you’re already using test automation tools or just starting to learn about them, this post will guide you through all the essential details you’ll need to know. We’ll explain what a test automation tool is, what types of test automation tools exist, and why your team should be using test automation tools.

What Is a Test Automation Tool?

A test automation tool is a software that reduces or eliminates manual effort in the software testing process by automating aspects of the testing process. As such, test automation tools are an important way for teams to reduce repetitive manual tasks and improve quality, reliability, and speed during the testing process – since manual efforts can often result in inconsistency, human errors, or simply much slower performance.

Test automation tools are particularly well suited for automating software tests that are repeatable and performed frequently. Therefore, smoke and regression tests are typically the first to be automated. Once created, these tests can be executed as often as needed and even included in the CI/CD model. If your test automation suite is built correctly, which means tests are reliable, you might even decide to include this test suite as a gate for every software build or commit.

When people think of test automation tools, they sometimes think about the tools that enable your team to run tests automatically, but now there are test automation tools that are becoming smart enough to create and improve the tests themselves, further automating the process. testRigor is a good example of a test automation platform that can further streamline the test creation and test quality improvement process by leveraging artificial intelligence to study real user interactions with the software.

Many test automation tools require programming skills, while others provide a Graphical User Interface (GUI) to facilitate the work that the user needs to perform to set up or configure test automation. A common example of a GUI-facilitated test automation process is recording actions during testing and then playing the actions back using GUI controls to record and play.

Another key aspect to consider about test automation tools is that they come in a wide range, serving a variety of different functions and across different platforms, like web, mobile, desktop, and so forth.

What Types of Test Automation Tools Exist?

As already alluded to, there is a wide range of test automation tools that vary in terms of purposes, features, licensing, price, and many other aspects.

If you’ve taken a look around the current market of test automation tools available, you may have found your head spinning due to the sheer volume of options out there. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed, but once pointed in the right direction, the decision shouldn’t be too difficult.

Suppose your team is considering an evaluation of what test automation tools might be the best fit for your team. In that case, you can categorize the different aspects of tools out there into a handful of common groupings to help facilitate the decision making process.

First, consider what you’re testing for: UI functional testing, API testing, end-to-end testing, performance testing, etc., will often require very different tools. Obviously, your team will need to take a look at what software projects you’re managing and think about what range of technology will need to be covered, and you can use this understanding to guide your decision on which test automation tools you can use to cover your products.

Second, define whether you need to cover web browsers, mobile browsers, desktop applications, native iOS/Android applications, etc. Ideally, the tool you choose should support all of the products your company has, although that won’t always be possible due to some tools being platform-specific.

Next is time to decide if you want to stick to open-source options or consider commercial products. The latter might actually end up costing you less than open source once you factor in all expenses. We recommend you to explore codeless options, as they will allow more people on the QA team to participate in writing and maintaining tests – instead of only automation engineers.

Artificial intelligence is becoming another differentiator in the market, with some platforms using machine learning to automatically analyze user behavior with the software to inform and improve the test creation, maintenance, and automation process. If your team is looking for the additional efficiency gains and scalability provided by AI-powered test automation, you should consider products like testRigor since many automated testing tools still don’t offer this technology.

Lastly, you can consider what types of testing the tool can help perform in production or outside of production. For example, some test automation tools may include A/B testing, canary releases, synthetic and non-synthetic monitoring, and load and performance testing. When it comes to the wide range of testing possible, it’s important to consider what type of testing is most important to your team and choose a tool that does a good job of supporting your most important testing needs.

So Why Should Your Team Use a Test Automation Tool?

By now, you likely have a good sense of what role or purpose test automation tools can fill for a software team, but you may still need to explain to team members internally why your team should be using test automation tools. Oftentimes, this can be for reasons like securing funding to purchase the tools and also convincing team members to invest time and effort into learning them. Sometimes, advocating for your team to use automated test tools can also be related to advocating for introducing or improving an automated testing process and hiring the right team members to solve this important need for your organization.

If you’re learning about test automation tools, you’ve likely already realized that your team can gain a lot from test automation. The value of using test automation tools is largely aligned with the value of automated testing, which allows for improved speed of tests, frequency of testing, quality, and reliability of testing. All of these gains are crucial reasons why your team should consider automated testing, and test automation tools enable your team to realize these benefits.

With the right tool, your team can eliminate a lot of manual effort and achieve large efficiency gains that can reduce costs, speed time to market, and allow your team and software project to scale more effectively. Even if your team elects to purchase a paid test automation tool, the value you get will likely far exceed the tool’s cost.

How to Choose the Right Test Automation Tool?

Choosing the right test automation tool is a strategic decision that can significantly affect your testing efficiency, team productivity, and the quality of the final product. Here are some critical factors to consider when choosing the right tool:
  • Compatibility with Technology Stack: The chosen tool should be compatible with the technology stack of your application. If your application uses a particular language or framework, ensure the tool you choose supports it. Some tools specialize in certain tech stacks, so consider this in your selection process.
  • Type of Tests: The tool you select must support the kind of tests you plan to automate. Whether you’re automating unit tests, integration tests, system tests, or acceptance tests, your tool should cater to these needs.
  • Budget: While some test automation tools are free or open source, others require a substantial investment. Consider your project’s budget, but remember to weigh the cost against the potential long-term savings and benefits. If the tool saves your team time and improves the final product’s quality, it might be worth the initial investment.
  • Scalability: Consider whether the tool will remain effective if your company or project grows. It should handle a larger codebase and more complex scenarios without significant performance loss.
  • Integration with other tools: An ideal test automation tool should integrate seamlessly with the tools already in use in your software development lifecycle. Check whether it supports integration with your version control systems, CI/CD tools, bug tracking systems, and more.

Remember, the “best” tool largely depends on your specific circumstances, requirements, and constraints.

Drawbacks of Test Automation Tools

Despite the immense benefits of test automation tools, they do come with potential drawbacks that you should be aware of:
  • High Upfront Costs: Purchasing a tool, especially a commercial one, can represent a significant upfront cost. Even when using free tools, hidden costs such as setup, maintenance, and training can add up.
  • Learning Curve: If your team doesn’t have previous experience with the tool, there might be a learning curve involved. This can slow down productivity initially, especially if the tool requires programming skills that your team does not have.
  • Maintenance Effort: As your software evolves, your automated tests will need updating to stay relevant. This ongoing maintenance can be time-consuming and might require additional resources.
  • Inadequate Tool Selection: Choosing a tool without considering your project’s specific needs might result in a tool that doesn’t fully meet your testing requirements. This can result in wasted time and effort, and in some cases, the need to start over with a new tool.

Understanding these potential pitfalls can help you make a more informed decision and set realistic expectations when incorporating a new test automation tool into your workflow.

Top 5 Automation Tools To Consider

Selenium logo


Selenium is one of the oldest and most recognized automation tools on the market, utilized by countless QA professionals globally. It’s hard to find a QA professional who has never heard about it. As an open-source tool, Selenium offers flexibility and widespread support, consisting of four primary components:
  • Selenium WebDriver: This is the key component of Selenium and the one most commonly used. WebDriver drives a browser natively as a user would, either locally or on remote machines. It supports multiple programming languages like Java, Python, C#, Ruby, etc. Unlike Selenium RC, it doesn’t rely on JavaScript for Automation.
  • Selenium IDE (Integrated Development Environment): It is a browser extension that allows you to record and playback your actions on the browser. It is perfect for beginners who are unfamiliar with coding. Its record and playback feature makes it incredibly easy to learn and use.
  • Selenium Grid: Selenium Grid is used to run tests on different machines against different browsers in parallel. That is, running multiple tests at the same time against different machines running different browsers and operating systems. It significantly reduces the time taken for test execution.
  • Selenium Remote Control (RC): This was the flagship testing framework of the whole Selenium project for a long time. It is now deprecated and not actively maintained. Selenium RC would inject JavaScript functions into the browser when the browser was loaded and then use its JavaScript to drive the AUT within the browser.

It’s important to note that Selenium requires a high level of programming expertise, and does require a lot of test maintenance. Although still very popular, it does have its limitations – preventing teams from efficiently scaling their test automation efforts.

Appium logo


Appium is an open-source test automation framework specifically designed for mobile applications, both native and hybrid. Sharing its roots with Selenium, Appium extends its capabilities to the mobile realm.

Appium supports all languages that have Selenium client libraries like Java, Objective-C, JavaScript with node.js, PHP, Ruby, etc.

Here are a few key points about Appium:
  1. No Re-compilation of App: Appium doesn’t require you to include any special agents in your app to make it automation-friendly. It believes in the philosophy of testing the same app which you are going to submit in the app store.
  2. No Modification of App: You don’t need to modify your app in any way for testing it using Appium. You can take your app and start testing it without any pre-setup required, unlike other mobile automation tools.
  3. Framework Independent: Whether you use Robot Framework, Serenity, or any other framework, Appium can fit into it because of its framework independent nature. You can write test codes in any popular programming language like Java, Ruby, Python, PHP, JavaScript, etc.
  4. Cross-platform: Write your test once and run them on multiple platforms. This eliminates the need to write different tests for different platforms.
  5. Supports automation of Hybrid, Native, and Web apps: Whether your app category is of a native app, hybrid app, or completely web-based, Appium has the capability to automate it.
  6. Continuous Integration Support: Appium supports continuous integration out of the box with tools like Jenkins, Hudson, etc.

Appium requires the same degree of programming knowledge as Selenium, and test maintenance with this tools is typically a tedious task – which could be factors to consider.

UFT (QTP) logo


Formerly known as QTP (Quick Test Professional), UFT is one of the other oldest tools for automated functional and regression testing on the market. It only supports Visual Basic Scripting Edition (VBScript) scripting language, and the tool covers testing for web, mobile, desktop, and API.

Here are some key features of UFT:
  1. Keyword Driven Testing: UFT facilitates keyword-driven testing where test cases are written in a tabular format.
  2. Data Driven Testing: UFT supports data-driven testing where you can drive your test cases with various sets of data.
  3. Record and Playback: UFT records the steps performed by a user and lets them play back in the future.
  4. Integration with ALM/QC: UFT can be integrated with Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) for test management purposes.
  5. Support for Standard Set of Technologies: UFT supports a wide range of development technologies like SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, .NET, Java, Web Services, etc.

UFT is a paid tool, and although slowly losing popularity, it’s still used by many enterprise companies.

JMeter logo


JMeter is an open-source software, a 100% pure Java application, designed to load test functional behavior and measure performance. It was originally designed for testing Web Applications but has since expanded to other test functions.

JMeter can be used to simulate a heavy load on a server, group of servers, network, or object to test its strength or to analyze overall performance under different load types. You can use it to make a graphical analysis of performance or to test your server/script/object behavior under heavy concurrent load.

Here are some key features of JMeter:
  1. Ability to load and performance test many different server types: JMeter supports testing HTTP, HTTPS, SOAP, Database via JDBC, LDAP, JMS, Mail, etc.
  2. Full Multithreading Framework: JMeter allows concurrent and simultaneous sampling of different functions by many separate threads.
  3. Highly Extensible: You can write your own tests, add custom functions or even write your own visualizer plugins.
  4. Data Analysis and Visualization: JMeter provides graphical analysis of performance reports.
  5. Replay Test Results: JMeter can replay test results.
  6. Multi-protocol Support: It supports various protocols like HTTP, JDBC, JMS, FTP, SOAP, LDAP, TCP, etc.
  7. Platform-independent: Being a Java-based application, it can run on any system which supports Java.

Although it only supports Java as the programming language, JMeter’s robust load testing capabilities make it a valuable tool in performance-focused testing scenarios.

JMeter logo


testRigor is a standout in the realm of automation testing, mainly due to its codeless approach. It empowers teams to develop intricate end-to-end test automation without requiring coding skills. It plays an instrumental role in ensuring high-quality end-user experiences and assists in effectively creating and maintaining automated tests.

testRigor offers a comprehensive solution for testing web, mobile (both native and hybrid), and native desktop applications. It also provides testing capabilities for emails, SMS, phone calls, two-factor authentication, downloaded files, databases, and more. It excels in functional regression, accessibility, load, and performance testing. Compliance with SOC 2 and HIPAA, along with support for FDA 21 CFR Part 11 reporting, makes it a highly trusted and secure testing solution.

Here are some key features of testRigor:
  1. Scalability: testRigor offers high scalability, enabling nearly 100% automation coverage with a minimal initial investment.
  2. AI-driven: Leveraging AI, testRigor enables plain English test statements, generative AI test creation, simplified test creation and execution, and minimal maintenance.
  3. Increased Test Coverage: Organizations using testRigor can achieve 90%+ test coverage within the first year.
  4. Improved Speed & Efficiency: testRigor users see a 70-90% increase in regression test completion speed and up to 99.5% reduction in time spent on test maintenance.
  5. Reduction in Defect Escape Rate: By integrating testRigor into their development processes, organizations can significantly reduce the defect escape rate.
  6. Supports Enhanced Team Communication: testRigor contributes to improved team communication and faster release cycles.

Testimonials indicate that testRigor is well-adopted across enterprises due to minimal test maintenance requirements, ease of transitioning test cases, and ability to create automated tests quickly without adding maintenance overhead. Additional benefits include transforming manual QA into skilled automation testers, achieving higher code coverage leading to more reliable products, and accelerating release cycles with automated testing.

Final Takeaways

Here’s a comparison table to summarize the key points of these five testing tools:

Testing Tool Supported Languages Key Features Testing Types Cost
Selenium Java, Python, Ruby, etc. Open-source, has record-and-playback tool (IDE) and WebDriver for automated web tests. Web testing Free
Appium Same as Selenium (Java, Python, Ruby, etc.) Open-source, tailored for mobile apps (native and hybrid). Derived from Selenium. Mobile app testing Free
UFT (QTP) VBScript Covers testing for web, mobile, desktop, and API. Supports only VBScript. Web, mobile, desktop, API testing Paid
JMeter Java Open-source, well-known for load testing and performance measurement. Load/Performance testing Free
testRigor English (codeless) AI-driven, codeless end-to-end testing tool. Cloud-hosted with a user-friendly interface. Web, mobile, desktop, API, load, performance testing Paid

If your team is considering implementing or upgrading to a new test automation tool, it’s important to do enough research up front and make a decision that will be sustainable for your team for years to come. Choosing a tool that ends up not fully supporting all of the features or tasks that your team needs to achieve test automation can become a huge headache later if you need to migrate your team over to a new tool later with all of the related training and updates to processes that needs to happen in this type of scenario.

If you still have questions or are still unsure about how to make the right choice, remember that our team at testRigor is always happy to hear from you and help out in any way that we can. Feel free to get in touch with us if you’d like to talk it over and learn more about how test automation tools can help your team reach the next level.

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