The user interface of an application is something that a user expects to be of high quality today. As much as 79% of users just abandon a website if they do not find it “up to their expectations.” That’s a high number to consider as an organization or as a developer.
On top of it, the graphical user interface (or GUI as termed popularly) is the first thing that any user sees in an application. If that is not perfect, there is no point in investing all your time in functionality development when it will never be going to be used.
When we talk about GUIs, we talk about two aspects. First, it should be “up to the expectation” in general as developed by developers. Second, it should be consistent across all devices, including mobiles, desktops, tablets, and everything in between.
These many parameters cannot be just guessed by looking at a single device. For this, we need GUI testing done with a tool that not only facilitates it but also works as a reliable partner. In this post, we will highlight nine such tools along with their strengths and leave it to you to decide to choose the one that you find best. But first, let’s go through GUI testing as a concept in a bit more in detail.
Table Of Contents
- 1 What Is GUI Testing in Software Testing?
- 2 Examples of GUI testing
- 3 Best GUI testing tools
- 4 Summary
What Is GUI Testing in Software Testing?
A web page contains a lot of graphical elements. While a decade earlier, only functionalities were the main focus, today graphical elements have become as important as any other thing in web development. These elements give a unique visual appearance to the user that not only keep him glued to the application but also help him remember it in the future.
So to say, GUIs do create an impact when it comes to a web application. For instance, on this page, there is an option to share this blog on the right side. While it could have been a simple link or perhaps a copy button; to enhance the GUI, icons of various social media platforms are used. These icons take you to the respective platform with links ready to be posted. You can also link GUI with the Windows 8 icons:
Such elements play an important role in how the website will be perceived and how a user’s experience will be while operating on them. But this cannot be left to luck as a user does not generally return to the web app when their experiences are not up to their expectations.
Therefore, the best option is to test the GUI thoroughly and minimize the risk of post-production bugs. With GUI testing, we make sure that all the GUI-related elements work as intended (including the functionality attached to a graphic) on each of the target devices in any situation.
For this, we make use of certain techniques that may be generic or specific to a tool used by the tester. This will be displayed as we explore a few tools after learning about why we need to perform GUI testing.
Why do we need GUI testing?
While GUI testing seems to be important as of now, is it so worthy that we need to give a special part of our testing phase to it? With so much time and money invested in it, let’s see a few benefits that are contributed by GUI testing to the project:
- Product quality enhancement: The product’s quality is improved as we focus on testing the graphical user interface, going to the most minute corners of the application, and revealing any functional or UI bugs immediately.
- Testing with user’s perspective: With GUI testing, we test a user’s perspective which is important as a tester, developer, or even as a business analyst.
- Verifies design specifications: Before a UI designer makes a design and developers implement it on a web page, we create specifications. These specifications need to be verified to know that the developer actually implemented what was passed as design. This can be done via GUI testing.
- Save post-production costly bugs – Finally, when we can point out these errors before deployment, we save post-production bug costs. This brings down the project’s budget.
Examples of GUI testing
To understand GUI testing, let’s go through a few examples:
Validating input consistency
The input fields take a value from the user, and the user may or may not remain stuck to the rules of the field. Due to this behavior, we put validations on the field so that our data remains consistent and it is easier for us and the user both to operate on the application. This consistency needs to be tested in GUI testing, as seen in the below image taken from Testsigma’s login page:
Testing page loaders or progress bars
A lot of the time, internet bandwidth or server speed is not in our favor. We may experience longer page load times that might not be the fault of the developers behind page optimizations. For such situations, it is always recommended to put progress bars or loaders on the web page. This helps the user know that the page is loading, even if slowly, but it is not hung at a place. This may also indicate that the user has not been redirected to a lost page which may result in abandoning the web application. Such progress bars need to be tested and checked to determine whether they are in accordance with actual loading or not.
GUI on multiple devices
All devices are different. When I say different, I am not only pointing toward the behavior of the device but also its display. One color shade may be shown differently at different places. Such inconsistencies can lead to a change in user behavior which I am sure no one would want. These scenarios should be well-tested.
A user performs multiple actions on a website. For instance, downloading a file, saving their profile information, or filling up a form, etc. To know that their actions succeeded, developers put down confirmations that appear after the action. For example, “Profile Updated” or “Thank you for your submission.” These confirmations are extremely important because they portray to the user that their actions were successful. Without them, the user would be confused about whether the profile was updated, as an example, or not. This leads to a bad user experience and bad word of mouth. Testing such GUI scenarios is important.
The final example includes one of the mistakes that developers make. Generally, navigation bars or side tool panels are coded in a separate base layer template. This template is then rendered to each of the web pages without ever validating whether those options work from that page or not. For instance, showing a signup CTA on a signup page is not a desirable experience. Such scenarios should be covered under GUI testing.
Best GUI testing tools
As a tester, we tend to incline towards automating GUI testing because of the repeated workflows that may consume more time for the tester. Here, we have a look at the best GUI testing tools available in the market that provide interesting features for testers.
The first tool that comes to mind when we discuss GUI testing is Testsigma, and the reason for this is its low learning curve and efficiency in creating test cases. There are two hurdles in every automation tester’s life when they are introduced to a new tool. First, whether they know the supported language or not. If not, they need to learn it from scratch. And second, how tough is it to create test cases which again consume time in learning and practicing?
Testsigma brings out the feature of implementing test cases in the English language. As a tester, I just need to write English text, and the natural language processing abilities of the tool convert them to actions that the tool understands. Testsigma comes with loads of features for the testers and the organization as a whole.
- English-based tests: As mentioned, the medium of communication between a tester and the system is English. This saves a lot of time as the test cases are written quickly.
- Self-healing: Testsigma comes with self-healing capabilities that can detect any change in the code, such as a locator, and replicate those changes in the test cases as well.
- Visual layout testing: Testsigma comes with the technology that can detect UI differences between two pages. This helps when we have a page UI designed and want to know the micro differences between them. It also helps to confirm if everything is similar to the previous versions by matching screenshots.
- Bulk update: The platform provides an option to turn on/off more than one test case at one go.
- Support for web and mobile: You can automate your GUI tests for web as well as mobile, from the same place.
- Cross-browser testing: You will need to verify your UI on multiple devices, the number of these devices can even go to 100. Testsigma can provide all the devices under their hood(via cloud-device labs), saving time in procurement and infrastructure build-up.
- Parallel Testing: Testsigma supports the execution of your test cases in parallel.
- Integrations: Testsigma comes with a long list of integrations that may help you proceed when UI testing is completed. For instance, once you have found issues, you can update them on JIRA from within the platform.
- Also available as Open Source: Testsigma is also available as opensource and free version.
One of the trusted names in GUI testing is Ranorex. Released in the early 2000s, Ranorex today uses its proprietary technology to run efficient GUI tests on websites. From integrations to data-driven testing, Ranorex brings out advanced features of a GUI testing tool.
- Object recognition – Ranorex provides object recognition features developed by them in-house by the name RanoreXPath. This also includes recognition of dynamic objects.
- Cross-platform usage – Ranorex can be used on desktop applications, web apps, and mobile apps as well. This enables teams to use only a single tool for their multiple applications.
- Advanced record and replay – The platform provides advanced record and replay technology that records the tests, and the tester can even edit them later on. Testers are also allowed to drag and drop objects from the repository to supplement recordings.
- IDE on the go – Ranorex provides its own IDE that will complement the platform’s features and help you write and debug code faster.
- Test command center – Test suites, for execution, may contain a lot of tests that may need to be run on different platforms. Ranorex provides a mechanism so that they can be separated and routed to their exact platform easily. This can also be redirected to Selenium Grid or a cloud provider as decided by the team.
- Integrations – Ranorex provides a long list of integration that will help you create a large infrastructure from a single platform.
Eggplant functional is a GUI testing tool working by the black-box mechanism. The methodology of Eggplant functional is through a system where the test cases are scripted and another system where test cases are executed. This can be achieved through a VNC connection. Initially built in 2002 by Redstone software, it was later renamed Eggplant Functional when Eggplant acquired the company. Twenty-one years later, the tool is still being developed and popularized by testers.
- SenseTalk: Eggplant Functional uses SenseTalk as the scripting language developed by them to enhance readability. The language resembles the English language and supports both procedural and object-oriented scripting designs.
- Platform support: Eggplant Functional supports all three major platforms – Mac, Windows, and Linux.
- Turbo capture: The tool comes with a “Turbo Capture” feature that records the mouse and keyboard actions done by the tester. This is then converted to SenseTalk script by Eggplant Functional.
- Optical Character Recognition: Eggplant functional comes with OCR capabilities that help in executing tests faster.
CrossBrowserTesting is an offering from Smartbear company that excels in providing a strong suite of applications for all your testing needs. With CrossBrowserTesting, we not only run tests efficiently but can also bring together our whole team to collaborate in the most advanced way possible. All this helps wrap things up quicker with minimum expenses.
- Real devices: CrossBrowserTesting comes with real devices on their infrastructure. Real devices provide excellent analysis of various parameters as against emulators and simulators that can portray dubious results.
- Cross-browser testing solution: CrossBrowserTesting, similar to Testsigma, provides devices on their platform ready to be tested.
- Visual testing: The platform provides visual testing features to compare screenshots and point out differences in them.
- Record and replay: The record and replay feature records the web test done once by the tester. These tests can then be re-run multiple times on various platforms to check possible changes.
- Parallelism: CrossBrowserTesting’s main strength has always been parallelism. It helps conclude tests in exponentially lower time by running multiple tests on multiple platforms/devices at once.
Squish is a GUI testing tool developed by Froglogic and released in 2003 initially. Today, it is used by more than 3000 companies that are looking to automate their GUI testing process with easy-to-script language and extremely high scopes of customization. The tool ships with its own IDE, which makes learning and navigation much easier.
- Multi-platform support: Squish provides support for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, QNX, and many more. It can become a one-stop solution if you are dealing with more than one platform.
- Gherkin support: Squish comes with support for BDD and Gherkin, which are popular languages to construct test cases as they resemble plain English text. This reduces the costs of training testers in a new language.
- Customizable: The tool is shipped along with complete code. Hence, organizations can customize the code according to their requirements and get a tool completely suited to their needs.
- Integrations: Squish also integrates with third-party tools such as for CI/CD to integrate pipelines with automation test scripts.
No GUI testing tool list can be considered complete without mentioning Selenium. The tool is open-source and comes with a suite of tools to provide a complete web application testing experience. Honestly, Selenium is much more than what can be described in a short section in this post. We recommend going through a comprehensive guide to know more about it in detail. However, we can highlight the major features of Selenium here.
- Language support: Selenium is extremely popular just for supporting a very long list of programming languages that too at an early stage. This includes all the popular languages such as Python and Java and a few less popular ones like Groovy and Scala as well.
- Record and replay: Selenium was one of the earlier tools to introduce record-and-replay in their IDE. It is still a popular choice among developers to record tests and replay them multiple times on multiple platforms.
- Large community: Since Selenium was released long back in 2004, it has developed a very vast community that can help at various points to you as a tester.
- Parallelism: Selenium supports parallelism and comes with Selenium Grid that can connect multiple systems to run tests together at the same time.
Telerik Test Studio
Branding their tool as the “industry’s fastest test recorder”, Telerik Test Studio comes with an IDE and uses a mix of code-based and codeless technologies to execute test cases. Telerik Test Studio has a wide variety of use cases, including functional UI testing, load testing, and responsive UI testing. Available for Windows, Telerik Test Studio also supports cross-browser testing on all the major browsers and desktops for efficient testing.
- Monitoring system: Telerik Test Studio provides a monitoring system that helps keep track of the health of tests, their coverage, and the application on which we are testing, all at a single place.
- Patent-pending detection: The tool comes with a patent-pending element detection mechanism along with other features such as intelligent suggestions and a centralized object repository.
- Codeless: The blend of codeless with scripted testing helps people with no technical background not only understand test cases but also write them on their own.
- Pipeline integration: Telerik Test Studio can be integrated into the CI/CD pipeline for quicker deliveries and to facilitate the feedback loop.
Keeping up with the newer advancements in the testing world, Katalon Studio often stands out in the crowd. It can help you speed up the testing process all the while keeping the highest quality and producing better software.
- Scalable operations: Katalon is extremely efficient in scaling up the testing process as the project scales. This will help you stick to the same platform for a longer time.
- Visual testing: Katalon studio comes with artificial intelligence-enabled visual testing technology. It can help you detect UI mismatches and bring a unique comparison method for the web application.
- Test recorder: The tool comes with a Selenium-based recording module in which the testers can record their tests. These tests can then be transported to C#, Java, Ruby, and Python.
- Analytics: Katalon studio provides in-depth analytical tools that help analyze our tests and progress in a very lucid way.
- Wide variety of testing: The tool comes with a wide variety of testing methods on top of GUI testing, such as API testing and Cross-browser testing. All can be automated using their own IDE.
The final tool in our list of best GUI testing tools is SilkTest. The tool was developed by the name “QA Partner” but was later renamed due to acquisition. SilkTest is used exhaustively for functional testing across various platforms and various browsers. The main focus of SilkTest as a tool and for promotions as well has been the reduction of speed in creating and executing the test cases on your application.
- Selenium integration: One of the best offerings from SilkTest is that it can integrate with Selenium. This means that your test cases written in Selenium can be used directly on SilkTest, and a tester gets advanced features on those tests that are not offered by Selenium.
- Pipeline integration: SilkTest supports running your test scripts on Docker and enabling the pipeline for CI/CD.
- Cross-platform and Cross-browser testing: The tool can run one-time written test scripts on multiple platforms and multiple browsers providing much more time for testers to invest in other things.
- Virtualize services: If you are unsure about your service’s behavior, you can use virtualization to verify using a virtual machine.
The GUI of an application is the first thing that a user sees before interacting with the functionality. It is very important for an organization and developers to make it fool-proof so that the user does not uncover any bugs. This can only be achieved using GUI testing through a solid GUI testing tool.
In this post, we went through 9 top GUI testing tool that allows automation to speed up the process and eliminate manual work. All these tools are popular and offer different things for a tester. For instance, some like to be codeless and author tests in English while others excel in record-and-reply.
These are not listed as priorities and there is no one software to recommend. Whatever suits you and your requirements is best for you. I hope this list will help you decide on your next GUI testing tool speedily and in a more clear way. Thank you for giving this post your valuable time.