Scriptless vs Scripted Automation Frameworks

The quality engineering team has a crucial role in improving the time to market for services and product, and in ensuring customer delight. Architects have been developing new practices to automate the life cycle processes to reduce test cycle time and improve the product quality. Scriptless test automation is one such practice that is an alternative to the traditional automation, which was programming language dependent. The adoption rate of Scriptless frameworks has improved in the last couple of years but still, there prevail apprehensions around its capabilities.

Difference between the Working of Scriptless Automation Testing Tools and Scripted Automation Testing Tools

Scriptless automation tools use the technique of auto-generating test scripts instead of an automation engineer writing a test script manually using a programming language. The language used in the tool might be proprietary or open, depending on the tool strategy of the vendor.  The Scriptless technique is slightly different from the record and playback feature in the first generation automation tools like Silk Test, Rational Robot, or Winrunner.  The recording and playback feature offered by these tools worked as an accelerator that helped engineers to enhance the recorded scripts by using programming languages like Test Script Language or SQA Basic.  Some Scriptless tools do not reveal the source code of the automation scripts to the end user, whereas some provide the flexibility of enhancement.

Challenges Faced while Using Scriptless Test Automation Tools

The current test automation coverage levels of most of the organizations are low, and need improvement to enjoy all the benefits of Agile or DevOps. Organizations are now focusing on improving the regression automation coverage levels so that they can implement continuous regression testing on their daily and weekly builds.

Talent availability is a significant challenge faced by most of the organizations. Most of the engineers in today’s market started their career as manual testers, and many of them did not have a programming background.  The developer community also does not prefer to shift their career towards automated testing as they feel that automated testing kills their creativity. 

Way to Address the Challenges Faced by Companies While Using Scriptless Test Automation Tools

One of the ways to address the shortfall is to upskill the manual testing engineers on programming and automation. Many organizations have succeeded in upskilling the engineers falling in the range of 1 to 10 years of experience with a success rate of around 70%.
But still, the highly experienced manual testing community comprising of mostly test managers is not very open to learning a programming language or an automation tool as they are nearing the end of their IT Career. The manual testing engineers should understand that the existing testing team of manual testers cannot be replaced with automation engineers as domain/application expertise is also a key ingredient in ensuring quality and try to learn new skills.

Benefits of Using Scriptless Test Automation Tools

One of the major benefits of Scriptless test automation is that it bridges the gap between technical knowledge and domain expertise by enabling business analysts, manual testers, or subject matter to participate in the testing automation activities. The technique helps quality engineering teams to reduce the overall cost of automation, improve collaboration, and automation coverage.

In scriptless test automation, the time required to design automation scripts is reduced by 40% as compared to the scripted test automation as there is no need to write scripts or programs. This helps the organizations which are running regression test automation initiatives to reach their coverage goals faster. It also helps teams engaged in sprint test automation to improve the sprint automation coverage as the automation throughput increases due to the reduction in effort. We have seen that the Agile model of software development causes frequent changes to both the application under test and the regression test packs. Agile teams are often seen struggling to keep their automation regression test packs up to date due to the high effort involved in maintaining scripted automation packs. The Scriptless test packs in comparison are quite easy to maintain and cuts down the overall maintenance efforts by half.

Limitations of Scriptless Test Automation Tools

There are also some limitations associated with Scriptless tools which influence the  decision on the testing tool or automation approach. The Sriptless tools have a complex underlying coding that must be maintained and updated regularly. This maintenance is quite expensive, and this is one of the reasons which make Scriptless automation tools a bit expensive. The open source world also does not provide any choices when it comes to Scriptless automation tools.

Many Scriptless tools do not offer support to port automation assets to a format supported by another tool and create a vendor locking. It also does not provide much flexibility to testers to write custom functions which may be required to automate complex scenarios. The alternate approach to get additional capabilities implemented in the tool is to have the vendor implement the feature, which is often time-consuming and expensive.

Summary

The Scripted or Scriptless automation approaches have advantages as well as limitations, and this might differ from organization to organization. The decision to adopt an automation approach should be made after considering the appetite of the team for the upskilling, methodology used, availability of budget, and complexity of automation.

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