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Brian Anderson
Brian Anderson

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Best Automation Testing Tools for 2021 (Top 15 reviews)

Best Automation Testing Tools for 2021
Best Automation Testing Tools for 2021

The demand for delivering quality software faster — or “Quality at Speed” — requires organizations to search for solutions in Agile, continuous integration (CI) and DevOps methodologies. Test automation is an essential part of these aspects. The latest World Quality Report 2020–2021 suggests that test automation is the biggest bottleneck to deliver “Quality at Speed,” as it is an enabler of successful Agile and DevOps adoption.

Test automation cannot be realized without good tools; as they determine how automation is performed and whether the benefits of automation can be delivered. Test automation tools is a crucial component in the DevOps toolchain. The current test automation trends have increased in applying artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) to offer advanced capabilities for test optimization, intelligent test generation, execution, and reporting. It will be worthwhile to understand which tools are best poised to take advantage of these trends.

Here are the top test automation tools that are believed to best address the challenges in automation over the next few years. The tools included in this list are selected from these criteria:

  • Supporting API and services testing
  • Offering some AI/ML and analytics capabilities
  • Popularity and maturity

Top 5 Automation Testing Tools for 2021

1. Selenium

Selenium logo

Selenium is the household name when it comes to test automation. It is considered the industry standard for user interface automation testing of Web applications. Specifically, 54% percent of respondents used Selenium as their automation testing tool, according to the The State of Quality 2022 Report .

For developers and testers who have experience and skills in programming and scripting, Selenium offers flexibility that is unseen in many other test automation tools and frameworks. Users can write test scripts in many differents languages (such as Java, Groovy, Python, C#, PHP, Ruby, and Perl) that run on multiple system environments (Windows, Mac, Linux) and browsers (Chrome, Firefox, IE, and Headless browsers).

Since the latest version Selenium 4.0.0 Alpha 7 released in November of 2020, it offers a more seamless testing experience by allowing W3C standardization. Thanks to this new feature, developers now no longer need to modify codes to work with different browsers as Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Edge will also follow W3C standard protocol.

To use Selenium effectively, users have to possess advanced programming skills and need to spend considerable time to build automation frameworks and libraries necessary for automation. This is the main disadvantage of Selenium, which is addressed in other tools built for codeless test automation like Katalon Studio.

Website :

License : Open-source

2. Katalon Studio

Katalon Studio logo

Katalon Studio is a powerful and comprehensive automation solution for testing API, Web, mobile, and desktop application testing. It also has a rich feature set for these types of testing and supports multiple platforms including Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Leveraging Selenium and Appium engines, Katalon Studio provides a uniquely integrated environment for testers who find difficulties in integrating and deploying different frameworks and libraries to use Selenium and Appium, as well as those who are already familiar with these engines.

Katalon Studio was named a 2020 Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choicefor Software Test Automation with more than 600 positive reviews, which once again, proves the tool is now one of the biggest players in the market.

Highlights of the tool include:

  • A complete feature set for test automation of API/Web services, Web, and mobile applications
  • Supports both SOAP and RESTful for API and services testing
  • Hundreds of built-in keywords for creating test cases
  • Support BDD Cucumber to express test scenario in natural languages
  • Can be used for both automated and exploratory testing
  • The testing capability can be extended via plugins on Katalon Store
  • View quality reports on Katalon TestOps, a test orchestration platform for Agile teams.

In January 2021, Katalon released its newest update — Katalon Studio 7.9.0 — with major enhancements: upgraded Eclipse IDE framework with modern look and feel, integration with application lifecycle management (ALM) tools, defaulted Class File Decompiler for debugging support, and resolved several bug issues.

Website :

License : Free - $759 per year

3. UFT One

UFT One logo

UFT One (formerly known as UFT) is a popular commercial tool to test Web, desktop, mobile, and RPA application. It has been extended to include a good set of capabilities for API testing. By supporting multiple platforms for the target application under test (AUT), UFT One provides a convenient choice to test the AUT that operates on desktop, web, and mobile.

UFT One provides several advanced capabilities for smart object detection, image-based object detection, and correction. In November 2020, Microfocus released the latest version of UFT (v15.0.2). The update offers new features and enhancements that streamline the testing processes, improve testing efficiencies, and sustain quality while reducing testing time.

Several highlights of the tool:

  • Create a more platform-agnostic test with the suggested object steps in AI Transformation Assistant
  • Use ParallelRunner to run multiple API and GUI tests in parallel
  • Track and report WiFi state, thermal state, and available disk space metrics in the Record & Run settings
  • Support automatic page checkpoints for Firefox or Chrome browsers

Website :

License : From $3,200 per year.

4. TestComplete

TestComplete logo

TestComplete continues to be on the list this year for its powerful and comprehensive set of features for Web, mobile, and desktop application testing. Testers can use JavaScript, VBScript, Python, or C++Script to write test scripts.

Like UFT One, TestComplete has an object recognition engine that can accurately detect dynamic user interface elements. This engine is especially useful in applications that have dynamic and frequently changing user interfaces.

The TestComplete version 14.72 was released in January 2021 including improvements in test run and web testing. Self-healing functionality leverages the improved AI-based algorithms to find a replacement object by its image. Testers can easily use TestComplete’s record and playback feature, like Katalon Studio. They can insert checkpoints into test steps to verify results. As a product of SmartBear, TestComplete can be integrated easily with other products offered by SmartBear.

Website :

License : From $6,095 per year

5. SoapUI

SoapUI logo

SoapUI is not a test automation tool for Web or mobile app testing, but it can be a tool of choice to test API and services. It is a headless functional testing tool specifically designed for API testing.

SoapUI supports both REST and SOAP services. API automation testers can use either the open-source or pro version. The pro edition has a user-friendly interface and several advanced features such as assertion wizard, form editor, and SQL query builder. SoapUI is a tool of the ReadyAPI suite, offered by SmartBear.

The tool provides a quite comprehensive feature set for API testing with many advanced capabilities, including:

  • Generating tests easily using drag and drop, point-and-click
  • Powerful data-driven testing with data from files and databases
  • Asynchronous testing
  • Scripts can be reused easily
  • Creating mock services with RESTful mocking

Moreover, SoapUI has recently brought the API Explorer feature from SoapUI Pro into the open-source version, allowing developers and testers to instantly debug their API’s responses.

The latest version 5.6 of SoapUI (Open-source) was released on July 2020 with updated third-party libraries (org.apache.httpcomponents, commons-logging, commons-codec, and Junit). Whereas, SoapUI Pro 3.5.1 is the latest successor in the commercialized version powered by Smartbear, including a number of improvements to make API testing seamless and more powerful.

Website :

License : Free - $749 per year.

Please note that SoapUI and Postman are two representatives of several top API testing tools in this list only. To learn more about the comparison between these tools, please refer to this post.

6. IBM Rational Functional Tester (RFT)

IBM Rational Functional Tester logo

IBM Rational Functional Tester is a test automation tool designed for testing applications that are developed using different languages and technologies such as Web, .Net, Java, Visual Basic, Siebel, SAP, PowerBuilder, Adobe Flex, and Dojo Toolkit. It is also a data-driven testing platform for functional and regression testing.

Some highlights of the tool:

  • Visual editing through screenshots provides a visual, storyboard format for representing test actions that allow users to accommodate frequent user interface changes and avoid increases in maintenance overhead.
  • Advanced ScriptAssure technology
  • Earlier data detection
  • Test scripting allows users to choose between either Java or Visual Basic .NET
  • Integration with other software to support collaborative application lifecycle management

RFT V10.1.0 (July 2020) has been made generally available with new features as well as bug fixes to client-reported and internally found defects. The unified report enhanced in this version is available to Functional, Web UI and Compound tests, and Accelerated Functional Test (AFT) suites, as well as an extensive user interface, to analyze and filter the test result details.

Website :

License : Commercial — Contact Sales

7. Tricentis Tosca

Tricentis logo

There are a few continuous testing platforms that provide comprehensive toolsets to support most, if not all, testing activities ranging from test design and test automation to test reports and analytics. Tricentis Tosca is one of them.

This tool has many features such as dashboards, analytics, integrations, and distributed executions to support continuous integration and DevOps practices. Moreover, it offers a friendly user interface and a rich feature set for designing, implementing, executing, managing, optimizing API tests.

Some other highlights of the tool:

  • Can be easily integrated to be a crucial part of DevOps processes
  • API tests can be performed across browsers, mobile devices, and platforms
  • Multiple protocols and standards are enabled, including HTTP(s) JMS, AMQP, Rabbit MQ, TIBCO EMS, SOAP, REST, and IBM MQ
  • A good set of test reporting and analytics capabilities
  • Automate UI test cases based on a mockup instead of codes

Tricentis Tosca supports API security configuration in the API Connection Manager. It also allows users to use the signature security option to sign multiple parts of a message.

Tricentis claims to significantly reduce regression testing (within the magnitude of minutes from weeks). This claim, however, needs to be carefully verified by testing teams.

In the latest update 13.4 in September 2020, the first version of Project NEO, Tricentis’ AI-powered test automation engine was introduced. With Project NEO, automated testing can be quickly and virtually executed.

Website :

License : Commercial — Contact Sales

8. Ranorex

Ranorex logo

Having been around for many years, Ranorex provides a comprehensive and professional set of features for Web, mobile, desktop, and API testing. Leveraging its experience in desktop-based test automation, Ranorex has advanced capabilities for UI element identification, editing, and management.

Like Katalon Studio, Ranorex makes automation testing easy for testers with its friendly and intuitive GUI, record/playback, and script generation.

Testers can integrate Ranorex with Selenium Grid to enable distributed testing along with parallel test executions.

Ranorex 9.3 introduces enhanced Jira and TestRail reporting. The newest release, Ranorex Studio 9.3.4 (November 2020) increased support for Delphi TAdvStringGrid’s hidden columns, also for Apple iOS 14 and Android 11 based devices, in addition to some bug fixes.

Website :

License : From €5,460 for Premium Bundle.

9. Postman

Postman logo

Postman is another automation tool designed for API testing. Users can install this tool as a browser extension or a desktop application on Mac, Linux, Windows. It is popular not only among testers for API test automation but also developers who use the tool to develop and test APIs. It is, in fact, a development environment to develop and test APIs.

Some highlights of the tool:

  • Comprehensive feature set for designing, debugging, testing, documenting, and publishing APIs
  • Friendly and easy-to-use user interface
  • Supporting both automated and exploratory testing
  • Accepting Swagger and RAML API formats
  • Requests and respondents can be packaged and shared with team members

Starting from version 7.3 in 2020, Postman helps users better organize the collections and API elements (mock server, monitors, tests, and documentation) generated from API schemas by using the new advanced preferences. The latest version 8.0 for better API development experiences has been released in January 2021. The new version enforces the universal navigation function (workspaces, reports, explore, etc.) as well as empowers a unified web and native interface.

Website :

License : Free — $216 per user per year

10. Apache JMeter

JMeter logo

JMeter is an open-source tool designed for test loading and performance measurement — two features of which JMeter is known. However, the tool is now also used for API and services testing, especially for API performance.

Highlights of the tool include:

  • Lightweight with a simple and easy-to-use user interface
  • Test results can be replayed
  • Support CSV files to set values for API parameters
  • Support integration with CI tools such as Jenkins. JMeter is often used as a part of CI and DevOps toolchains

As the most recent release in December 2020, JMeter 5.4 has been stacked with multiple changes:application-modal splash screen, LogKit logger partial remove, bug fixes, and JMeter implements for functional testing.

Website :

License : Open-source

11. Telerik Test Studio

Telerik Test Studio Automation Testing Logo

Developed as a Windows-based software testing tool, Telerik Test Studio is widely known for web and desktop functional testing, software performance testing, and mobile application testing. This solution allows both code-based capabilities and a codeless approach, ensuring optimal app quality with the most outstanding results.

Highlights of the tool include:

  • Intuitive recorder with cross-browser support
  • Test results displayed in the executive dashboard
  • Intelligent hybrid element detection
  • Scheduling and concurrent runs
  • Test element management

The latest release, Test Studio R3 2020 SP1 (v.2020.3.1209)in December 2020, brings brand new features, such as Dark Theme and new notification version in the status bar. Additionally, there are also updates in the communication mechanism for created projects to work efficiently.

Website :

License : Contact Sales

12. Watir

Watir automation testing logo

Watir, pronounced as “water”, is a light-weight open-source testing tool designed for automating web application testing. Watir brings on a rich set of APIs to help testers interact with the browser, locate page elements, work with alerts, headless testing, and more.

Some highlights of the tool:

  • Location web elements
  • Taking screenshots of the testing done as required
  • Page performance
  • Test alerts popup in your UI or website
  • Headless testing to execute UI test cases at the command line

After a long time without an update, Watir came back with release 6.17 on August 28, 2020. This version has addressed some critical bugs relevant to locator code, browser instance, and more. Moreover, with Watir 6.17, browsers now accept a service parameter with a Selenium Service instance value. Ruby 2.5 or greater is required for this version.

Website :

License : Open-source

13. Worksoft

Worksoft automation testing logo

Known as a platform for continuous test automation software, Worksoft offers a suite of features used for ERP applications, web apps, mobile apps, and more. This platform is certified by SAP for integration capability with SAP applications.

Highlights of the tool include:

  • Using Groovy as the scripting language & support external Java library
  • Ability to support Agile and DevOps testing practices
  • Seamless integrations with other testing tools, ALM systems, and DevOps toolchains
  • Object recognition capabilities for SAP Fiori plus the rapid release of version updates

The latest version Worksoft Certify 12, offers expanded DevOps integrations, plus out-of-the-box optimizations for modern web and cloud applications. Certify also adds support for Postman, as well as improvements to 12 Jenkins with an official plug-in in the Jenkins store.

Website :

License : Commercial (Contact Sales)

14. Appium

Appium automation testing logo

The other open-source tool in this list is Appium, an automation testing tool for mobile web, hybrid applications on iOS/ Android mobile and Windows desktop platforms.

Highlights of the tool include:

  • Support multiple programming languages (Java, Ruby, Python, etc.)
  • Cross-platform (Android & iOS) testing on real devices, emulators, and simulators

In January 2021, Appium had a patch release with a bug fix in setting the session capabilities.

Website :

License : Open-source

15. Cucumber

Cucumber automation testing logo

Last but not least, Cucumber is an automation testing tool that supports Behavior Driven Development (BDD), providing an easy way for everyone to write and execute a test case, regardless of technical knowledge.

Highlights of the tool include:

  • Working across multiple platforms: Java, JavaScript, Ruby, .NET, and many other platforms
  • Seamless automation with Selenium, API calls, or direct function calls in the same process
  • Integration with Jira to empower team’s collaboration
  • Reports in HTML, JSON, and other formats to monitor the team’s performance

The latest version Cucumber Open 6.9.1 was released on December 14, 2020, with some bug fixes in Core and JUnit Platform.

Website :

License : Open-source

— — — — —

This list of top tools here is not exhaustive; but it represents the best tools that are mature, popular, and providing capabilities using AI/ML to address the challenges that organizations are now facing when it comes to deliver “Quality at Speed.” This list also includes the tools that solely support API and services testing essential for successful Agile and DevOps transformation.

It can be said that the software testing tools landscape in 2021 continues to evolve. The emerging trends — AI and machine learning, codeless, big data and IoT testing, the intensive adoption of test automation (especially in Agile teams), etc. — will create both challenges and opportunities for the existing tools and new players to assert value to the testing communities.

Your choice of testing tools should not only meet your current needs but should also focus on potential trends and improvements. A decent tool should support basic optimization, automation of test case and data generation, smarter solutions, and analytics.

More tools will be introduced as there are opportunities for growth; even though the level of test automation in organizations is low at between 14% and 18% (WQR report). Moreover, it’s going to be exciting to see how the existing and upcoming tools apply AI/ML to address the challenges ahead. API and services testing is also a trend that should see further development in the future.


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