A Guide to Codeless Testing

Selenium Automation Without Coding

Selenium was first launched in 2004 and at that time it was one tool of its kind. It offered automation of tasks and test cases on a website. The fact that Selenium was soon made open-source added to its popularity.

Selenium was the harbringer of a major change in the testing industry. Before the use of Selenium, major testing was done manually. With its introduction, companies started paying more attention to automation and because it offered good Return On Investment(ROI) in the long run, they started investing in it.

With the companies investing more in automation and because Selenium automation required coding, either the manual testers had to learn coding or new resources who knew coding had to be hired.

With time, other features were included - like webdriver, RC, IDE that added to its importance and value. Selenium, at present, supports multiple programming languages like Java, C#, Ruby, Python.

‘Selenium IDE’ made people, who did not want to get involved in coding, interested in trying Selenium for automation too. Via this IDE, test steps performed on a website could be recorded and then replayed. These test steps could then be converted to a supported programming language too. Basic automation was now possible by just ‘record and play’.

But, since then, there have been multiple advancements in technologies used for development of websites. As the complexity of websites has increased, the automation of test cases using only Selenium IDE is proving to be insufficient. Thus, there is a need for powerful codeless testing tools that could solve the problems encountered during automation done via Selenium IDE.

Now, there are a few codeless testing tools that are actually built on top of Selenium.

What is Codeless Testing? Benefits of Codeless Testing

Automated testing where the tester is not required to write code is called codeless testing. A while ago, when not many tools were available for codeless testing, ‘Record and Playback’ testing and Codeless testing were used interchangeably. But now, there are many automated testing tools in the market that offer codeless testing in the true sense.

Benefits of Codeless Testing

Certain benefits of codeless testing are as below:

  • Low Learning Curve: With codeless testing, test cases can be created even when the user has absolutely no knowledge of coding or programming languages. Thus, it does not take much time for the user to learn and start creating the test cases.

  • Easy to Review: As these test cases are created without any code, these are readable and understandable for people that don’t know how to code. Thus, these test cases can be easily reviewed by other non-technical stakeholders in a project.

  • Efficient: Because the learning curve is slow and the test case creation does not need use of complex syntax, the test case creation is quick and enhances the efficiency of the automation process.

  • Saves resources: With codeless testing, the testers don’t need to learn new languages don’t need a new person to be hired for coding skills. Thus, time, cost and resources can be easily saved.

To know more about the benefits of codeless testing, read here.

How Does Codeless Test Automation Actually Work?

Codeless test automation is same as codeless testing The basic premise of codeless test automation is that the test creation should not require any kind of coding. Now, because there are many tools available in the market that offer codeless automation, there are multiple ways of how it works on the Frontend. The common process for them is conversion of frontend representation to machine understandable code in the backend to finally make it work.

For eg. For a tool like Testsigma, the test cases are actually written in simple English language, via NLP. These simple statements are converted to code in the backend for execution.

The Evolution Of Codeless Automation Testing Tools

Every machine, every tool, every software evolves in terms of user-friendliness. Their main aim is to make things easier for the user. The same has been with testing.

Evolution Of Codeless Automation Testing Tools

Automation Testing was introduced to make the lives of testers easier by automating mundane tasks. It became popular with the launch of open-source automation framework Selenium. Selenium greatly simplified interaction with websites that made automation a lot easier but it also needed the help of a programming language for successful execution.

Later on, there were tools that enabled record and playback of test cases. Selenium also got an IDE in 2006 that enabled recording of test cases and conversion of them to supported programming languages. These record and playback IDEs helped manual testers to record their test cases while performing the test steps and play them to execute the test cases whenever needed.

The problem was that these test cases were not scalable, these could not be edited to change or update or add more complex scenarios. To edit them, they needed to be exported in some supported language and then worked on by a person that knew how to code.

From then to now, a few codeless automation tools have been launched that allow users to create test cases without learning any programming language and also allow them to edit the test cases when needed.

Super Fast Test Automation

Codeless automation tools are being rapidly adopted by organizations worldwide and there is a reason for it. Codeless automation testing aims to solve many challenges that the testing teams were facing for a long time as also listed below:

Super Fast Test Automation
  • Manual testers could not automate the test cases:
    In an organization that follows SDLC, the manual testers do the first round of testing on a feature and then once it is stable, it is automated by the automation team. Here, the manual testers had the knowledge of the feature and its working but automation was being done by another person that does not have much knowledge of the feature.
    Now, with codeless automation, the manual testers can use their product knowledge for automation too. Thus, improving the quality of automated test cases.

  • Test cases could only be reviewed by people who knew how to code:
    Earlier, the automated test cases were not easy to understand for non-technical people involved in the project. Now, with codeless automation, these test cases can be easily automated by even the non-technical stakeholders including project managers, product managers, clients.

  • Manual Test execution is slow:
    Super fast test automation is the main benefit of codeless automation is speed. The learning curve is low and time taken in test creation is also low. Thus, the problem where automation could not keep up with the speed of features and enhancements being added to a products and thereby becoming a bottleneck, could now be easily solved.

  • Tough to maintain test cases:
    The test cases once automated, were tough to maintain because of the code complexities involved in automation. These problems can be solved via codeless test automation.

What Is Codeless Automation Testing And Why It Is The Future?

Codeless automation testing is an automation practice where the tester is not required to write code. Usually these are ‘simpler’ and ‘easier to learn’ as compared to traditional automation testing tools.

We as humans tend to adopt suggestions/processes/tools that make our life better in some way. Codeless automation is the future because there are multiple ways it promises to improve the lives of testers, developers and organizations and are also listed below:

Why Is Codeless Test Automation Needed?

There has always been a gap where testing and automation are concerned. There are testers called “Manual Testers” who work on going through all the feature documentation, understanding the intricacies of a feature, creating test cases and executing them. Then there are “Automation Testers” who are involved in figuring out the automation needs and automating the test cases that get added.

Both the “Manual Testing” and “Automation Testing” are time-taking processes and keep the testers fully occupied. “Manual Testing” is hectic because there are always a slew of features and enhancements being added by developers that need to be tested, bug fixes that need to be verified.

“Automation Testing” is hectic because creation and maintenance of test cases is hefty and again takes time, usually because there is too much code to deal with. A change in one component means changes all across the testing framework. A minor change in the code means maintenance of all the affected test cases.

Codeless Test Automation is exactly the same process as codeless testing.

Automation Testing And Codeless Testing

Automation testing is referred to a process where an application is tested via automated tests. That is, no manual efforts are involved in testing it. Manual efforts are usually put in to automate these tests and making them executable.

Codeless Testing is the type of automation testing that is automated without any involvement of coding. Initially, codeless testing was referred to record and play methods where the test steps corresponding to a test case were recorded and then via a tool, for eg. Selenium IDE, Katalon IDE, these steps were converted to executable coded steps.

Now, the codeless testing has evolved to also include other methods of automation which are much beyond and better than the record and playback methods.

Below are a few popular tools that use codeless testing methods to enable automation of test cases:

test.ai

test.ai : This tool automatically tests your mobile applications for user experience. There is no need for coding or maintenance here. The tool runs on AI that learns an application and then creates test cases automatically, runs them to give the results related to user experience.

testsigma

Testsigma : If you are looking for broader testing, Testsigma is the option you should go for. Here you can create test cases in simple English language, keep them hosted on the cloud, run them from anywhere on any of the browsers for web or mobile that are hosted on a connected cloud lab. They have a dedicated support team to hold your hand where needed. Minor changes in an application are automatically corrected via AI in this tool.

tosca

TOSCA: A tool by Tricentis that uses model-based testing technique. Initial test creation involves having a model of the application under test, test scenarios and test data in place. Here too, minor changes in the application are automatically corrected.

TestComplete

TestComplete: A tool from smartbear, they use keyword-driven testing for automation and no code.

Ghost Inspecter

Ghost Inspecter: Every step in this tool can be created without need of any code. It easy to understand extensive UI to populate needed values for a test.

Ranorex

Ranorex: Ranorex offers a package of multiple solutions in one and recorder for record and play is one of them

Read here for an exhaustive list of tools that offer codeless automation.

The Future Of Codeless Automation - Will It Kill Automation Testing?

Future of Codeless Automation

Codeless Automation Testing is now the future of automation testing because it enables organizations to perform the same automation in much less time with much less resources. The world is evolving and organizations want to use tools that help them grow and reiterate quickly according to feedback, codeless automation does exactly that by saving time on test case creation as well as test case maintenance.

Codeless Automation Testing in no way will kill automation testing because it enables easier and quicker automation testing. What it will do is enable organizations that have feared automation testing, just because of the huge amount of time and maintenance it required, to adopt the codeless automation testing tools to achieve the results they want to achieve in much less time.

Selenium Vs Codeless Testing

Selenium

Codeless Testing

Only supports codeless automated testing when tests are recorded and played back via Selenium IDE. Maintenance cannot be done in a codeless way.

Supports codeless testing much beyond record and playback. Maintenance of these test cases is codeless too. Multiple methods of testing including automating test cases in Simple English Language via NLP like what Testsigma provides.

Edit of test cases and Maintenance requires coding and is time-taking.

Edit and maintenance of test cases only requires basic knowledge of HTML, CSS and xpath and is easy and does not take much time.

High learning curve because of the coding skills needed for automation of complex scenarios.

Low learning curve because no coding skills are required even for automation of complex scenarios.

Setup is again time taking and requires skills.

Setup is easy and does not require any skills.

Test Cases written in Selenium cannot be reviewed by non-technical people.

Test cases written via Codeless testing can be easily reviewed by non-technical people.

Is open-source

Usually paid.

Scriptless Testing And Record And Playback Testing. Are They The Same?

Scriptless Testing or codeless testing was the term that was coined when record and playback tools came in the market. These tools enabled testers to record their test steps and then convert them to any of the supported programming language. These test cases could then be played back again and again to test the application. The drawback with these tools was that once recorded, there was no other way, except for re-recording,to edit these test cases if the tester did not know coding. Thus these tools were not truly scriptless or codeless.

Scriptless Testing then evolved, with the help of new and advanced technologies, to enable the testers to write and edit those test cases without actually writing any code.

Thus, record and playback testing could be called a subset of scriptless testing but they are not the same because scriptless testing offers multiple other features that record and playback testing tools don’t.

To know more about the scriptless testing methods read here.

Codeless Testing Myths

There are multiple tools in the market that offer codeless automation testing but still there are some myths related to codeless testing. The myths lie in the fact that till sometime ago codeless testing was pretty non-existent or even if it was there, it was in the form of record and playback tools.

These record and playback tools did record the test steps and allowed those steps to be converted to any supported language but the problem was that usually to make them run successfully, some code always needed to be added. Also, to edit these test cases if they were failing or needed some steps added again coding was a requirement. Thus, the belief was that codeless testing only helped people start automated testing but to take it to a robust and maintainable level, it required coding skills.

Below are a few points that are now myths related to codeless testing:

In spite of these benefits there is reluctance to switch to scriptless/codeless test automation methods from scripting ones, read here to know more about it.

Codeless Automation in the Cloud

There are a few codeless testing tools that allow the automation to be done directly on the cloud like Testsigma does. There are a few benefits of having this automation on the cloud.

Codeless Automation on Cloud

Top features every codeless test automation tool must have

Below are a few features that the current generation of automation testers need from the codeless test automation tools:

FAQs

Could Selenium support codeless testing?

Selenium can support codeless testing via Selenium IDE in below 2 scenarios:

  • The test cases that need to be automated are basic. For eg. no waits, conditions or loops are needed.

  • The need to edit or update the automated test cases will not arise in the future. This means that only the same scenario that was recorded initially will be executed every time the test case is executed.

If there could be a scenario where you will need to edit the test cases automated via Selenium IDE, then it won’t be codeless testing because you will need to do the editing via a programming language supported by Selenium.

What are the different codeless testing methods available?

Few years back, Codeless testing used to be referred to as record and playback testing as there were no other methods known that could allow automated testing without writing any code. But today, automated testing tools have crossed this barrier and there are multiple methods that make codeless testing possible. Below are few of the most commonly used ones:

  • NLP (Natural Language Processing): Utilizing the NLP technology, users are able to write test cases in simple language and automate them. Testsigma is a tool that uses this technology.

  • Model-based testing: TOSCA uses this model-based testing approach where test creation needs three components - technical details of the AUT, test scenario logic, and test data. These three components are stored separately and are merged at the time of test execution.

  • Recording Screenshots: This is a record and playback approach taken up a notch where screenshots are recorded at the time of test case creation and the tester is allowed to edit those steps as well. These tools are used for automating visual testing. Testim and Screenster use this technology.

  • Keyword Driven Testing: Testcomplete uses this technique where instead of programming language, keywords are used for test case automation.

Codeless Testing is not for automation testers

A person that automates manual test cases becomes an automation tester. The codeless testing gives the manual testers a capability to automate testing and become automation testers. So, the statement ‘Codeless Testing is not for automation testers’ is certainly not true.

Is Codeless Automation dependent on the Agile framework?

No, codeless automation is not dependent on Agile framework. In an agile framework, what codeless automation does is that it facilitates quick creation, maintenance and execution of test cases meanwhile giving the manual testers the opportunity to automate the test cases and the non-technical stakeholders to review the automated test cases. But, that said, codeless automation can fit in any other development methodology that can benefit from test case automation. For eg. codeless automation can be easily done during the testing phase in a waterfall model and V-model.

What are some important/must-have features every codeless test automation tool should offer?

As also discussed above under section "Top features every codeless test automation tool must have", below are some important features that a codeless test automation tool must have:

  • Advanced Object Recognition: The most basic and important step during the automation of test cases for an application is the recognition of objects in the application. A good tool that is able to capture these objects correctly in the first attempt and allows capture of multiple attributes and related structures, to ease correction of the test case in the future, is what is the need of the hour.

  • Support for looping and control structures: If the tool does not have support for looping eg. for and while loops. And does not have support for structures that could control the flow of the test steps as needed, the translation of every test step to an automated one will be tough. Examples of such steps include going over the same step multiple times and changing the flow depending on the result from one step.

  • Smart Wait: Majority of problems that arise after a test case is automated are related to waits. Sometimes, the page is not able to complete loading and sometimes the site is slow. The tool should incorporate such conditions automatically without the need of the tester to figure out the reasons for failing.

  • Support for Assert statements: A test case is always composed of 2 types of steps. One is an action step that does things and one is a verify step that actually checks if the result is as expected. Sometimes, if a tool does not support assert statements, a tester does some workarounds which can affect the reporting quality. Thus, a codeless testing tool should support the assert statements for better test execution and reporting.

  • Easy edits and maintenance of test cases: The principal offering of a codeless testing tool is ease. So it has to make sure that not only the test creation but the test editing and maintenance are also an easy process. To aid this, the test cases should be able to self-heal if there is any minor change in the property of some object because of the recent development changes.

  • Cross-Browser and device testing: These days most of the softwares is made with the intention of supporting multiple browsers and devices. If the execution of the automated test cases is not possible on multiple browsers and devices it won’t be serving its purpose.

  • Advanced Reporting: Only reporting pass and fail is not enough, the reporting should also provide any possible reasons for failure and impacted test cases. All needed material for debugging including screenshots, videos and logs should be readily available.

  • Support for Integration with multiple CI/CD tools being used in the market: This is such that the codeless testing tool can easily integrate with the existing processes of an organization.