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Three Principles for Choosing Automation Tools: What to Know Before You Start?

Updated: Jun 3



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The decision to establish an automation testing project is not trivial. If an organization concludes that it needs automation testing, it likely indicates a genuine need to address bottlenecks in the intensive development and testing process. Such a decision requires commitment to significant investment, both financially and organizationally. Therefore, each step in the chosen direction carries significant implications.

In this article, I will present the key considerations to take into account when selecting automation tools for testing, along with the advantages and disadvantages of several popular tools in the market.


Matching Automation Tools to the Team

Before launching an automation project, it’s crucial to choose the tools that the team managing the project will work with. Many managers rely unjustly on the popularity and marketing of tools, neglecting what truly matters: aligning the tools with the team’s expertise. For instance, if most team members come from a manual QA background and lack coding skills, even the most sophisticated framework won’t suit them if it relies solely on code. In such cases, working with no-code or low-code tools is preferable. On the other hand, a skilled development team may find no-code solutions limiting, feeling that their abilities are underutilized.


We’ve Chosen the Team, What Now?

Once we’ve categorized the team’s nature for conducting the tests, the most critical aspect is aligning the tools with the systems under test. To achieve this alignment, we ask questions like: What type of systems are we testing? Are they server-only systems, such as an airline management system? Services for end-users, like an online shopping application? Or perhaps edge systems with no practical way to directly test server services (i.e., inaccessible APIs)? After understanding what we want to test, we construct our desired testing pyramid, which defines the relative proportion of unit testing, integration testing, and end-to-end (e2e) testing. Now we evaluate tools for each type of testing, prioritizing those that excel in more than one category.

If, at the end of this process, we find alternatives that suit both the systems under test and the team, we’re in a good position to proceed. It’s possible that at this point, we’ll realize the best tools for testing the product aren’t the same as those we initially planned, and we need to adjust accordingly.


Choosing Among Different Testing Tool Alternatives

If you’ve followed the steps thus far, the toughest decisions are behind you. Now you need to select a system that provides all the capabilities required for your product development process. It’s essential to integrate your tests into CI/CD pipelines, allowing you to create convenient test suites, manage different environments easily, run tests in parallel, and execute on various operating systems as needed. Another aspect to consider is that the chosen system should provide detailed documentation and be well-established in the industry. Avoid systems that might reach the end of their lifecycle shortly after implementation. If you require e2e testing and are considering Selenium, read this LinkedIn published opinion first—No Reason to Use Selenium in 2024.


No Reason to Use Selenium in 2024
Selenium is a tool that provides libraries for interacting with browser APIs. However, it doesn’t offer a framework for test execution, management, logging, or integration with other services. Actually, Selenium only handles browser operations, and the responsibility for other testing aspects lies with the development team.
Today, both commercial and free tools offer automation professionals the essential services they need, eliminating the need for them to create and maintain these tools themselves. Looking at the state of automation in various organizations, it’s hard to imagine an organization willing to pay a professional to write and maintain a tool that doesn’t directly benefit the organization, especially when excellent free tools like WebdriverIO or Playwright offer all the necessary services without requiring custom development and maintenance—focusing solely on what matters: your tests.
So why do people still use Selenium? People often use Selenium due to historical reasons. A tool that has been around since 2004 carries its reputation, and in many cases, an organization starting e2e testing will begin with Selenium because it’s familiar.
When should you use Selenium? If you’re working on a project that already uses Selenium, I wouldn’t recommend switching. There’s another “reason”: I suggested to some organization to work with a free tool. They responded that their organization couldn’t use that tool because it was open-source. Instead, they chose Selenium. By the way, Selenium itself is open-source 😄.
Lastly, every organization has its unique needs, and tools suitable for one may not necessarily fit another. Therefore, before deciding which tools to use, explore all options and then make a choice that aligns with your specific requirements.

Additionally, choose tools that fit your budget, timeline, and desired quality for your project’s establishment.


Summary

Selecting automation testing tools involves investigation, comparison, and alignment with the team’s needs and the systems under test. In this article, I’ve outlined the main stages of the process and the key criteria for making the right choice. I hope this article helps you choose the most suitable tools for your automation project. If you have any questions about the process or specific tools, feel free to ask them in the comments below.

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