If you write software for a living, you probably have a bias toward coded tests and against all things codeless. Most software engineers who become test engineers trust themselves to write well-designed structured code. Some people see record-and-playback as cheating, demeaning, or otherwise indicative of poor workmanship.
Yet, research shows that test code maintenance costs correlate directly to the number of lines of written test code. Every line of test code may evolve into a liability on a continually-evolving product. And, the biggest risks are the locators that connect the test logic with the application under test.
Applitools, a leader in Visual Testing via Visual AI, virtually eliminates the dependency on locators for test validation – and dozens of lines of validation code in the process. Visual AI is an advanced computer vision designed to replicate the human eye and brain. The AI sees applications as a human would, ignoring minor rendering differences, but not letting even the smallest of real defects slip through the cracks. Visual AI can be inserted into existing tests via a snippet of code called a visual assertion or via native integrations like we have with Katalon.
With a single line of code, an engineer can capture the entire output state of an application and validate it against the prior version. Visually identical tests will pass—even with different locators. When we discover differences, we let engineers accept expected enhancements and notify developers of uncovered failures.
Katalon Studio, on the other hand, is a comprehensive testing tool that makes testing easy for both developers and QA engineers without the requirement of extensive coding skills. More specifically, the powerful record-and-playback capability in Katalon Studio allows for designing and executing test cases immediately without any setup step. For teams with mixed skill sets, Katalon’s approach for testing can be easily applied and automates the whole process with all team members involved.
Katalon and Applitools have partnered to bring Visual AI powered tests into your Katalon Web UI test scripts. The integration is seamless and easy to use. By combining these two solutions – users can achieve maximum efficiency, stability, and coverage of their automated tests.
As a former product owner for a record-and-playback test automation solution, I have heard arguments on both sides of the fence. In my experience, a key reason that record-and-playback solutions sometimes fail to deliver on ROI is they are so easy to get up and running that they build a bit of a false sense of simplicity. The reality is that thoughtful test automation is not easy – and without a solid understanding of locators and framework around the re-use of tests you will set yourself up for failure no matter what tools you are using.
If you are focused on quality and leave your coding ego at the door, record-and-playback solutions will provide ROI every time. A coded test can take 45-60 minutes to write, while a recorded test with Katalon, I was able to create in under 5 minutes. When you multiply that time savings across an entire test suite, you start to see the savings. That savings can be multiplied by layering visual testing to reduce assertions and locators – thus greatly reducing test case maintenance.
To further reduce test maintenance time, the codeless (or low code) solution should include features such as an element repository, reusable test steps, and of course, the ability to extend in code.
There are more than 4 features that record-and-playback solutions should have and we’ll get into more detail in our upcoming Applitools / Katalon joint webinar where we will explore the keys to automation with codeless solutions as well as the benefits of combining Katalon with Applitools using the updated native integration just released.
- Element Reusability – An obvious, yet critical feature that saves maintenance time is an element repository that is shared across all the tests in your test suite. If the application changes and you need to update the find logic, you do so from a single location and just once. When you make that change, all tests that reference that element will be updated – this saves a lot of time and aggravation.
- Reusable steps – Think about how many of your tests need setup steps, such as logging into your application. If you wrote those set up steps over and over for each test in which they were required, the maintenance would be unbearable if something changed with the login process. With reusable test steps, every test simply references the setup test and if it ever requires an update, it’s a single update.
- Visual Testing – modern UI testing requires a combination of functional and visual tests, so be sure that the record-and-playback solution you select offers integration with a vendor like Applitools. With native integration, you can easily take advantage of Applitools AI-powered visual testing without writing a single line of code. By inserting a single visual assertion, you can eliminate many locators based assertions and reduce long-term maintenance of your tests, all while adding additional coverage.
- Ability to insert code – Let’s face it, there are always going to be edge cases in which code is required, so when looking at a record-and-playback solution, it’s important to ensure that tests can be extended with code. There are even some caveats that I’d recommend – some testing solutions provide scripting options and some provide a full framework to leverage. I’d suggest going for the purest option vs. wrappers or scripting languages. What more, it’s probably a good idea to opt for a solution that matches the programming language used in-house with your dev team. While this is not critical, I believe it provides your testers a great career path option, should they decide to get into software development. If you are a Java or Groovy shop – find a testing solution that can be extended in Java or Groovy.
In summary, record-and-playback has come a long way and is a viable option that can save teams time and money. When selecting a vendor, make sure you verify they have the features you need and that it’s the right solution for your team.
Daniel Levy — Senior Director at Applitools
Daniel has a passion for technology, a vision for product, and a story to tell. Outside of work, you’ll likely find him hiking, biking, behind a camera at sunrise, enjoying an espresso or craft beer, or gaming. You can follow Daniel on Twitter @dlevy.
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