3 Types of Codeless Automation Testing Tools
Feb 13, 2024
Just like Neapolitan ice cream, codeless test automation comes in three flavors. Each has its pros and cons. In this, we'll take a brief high-level look at each one.
1 - Record and Playback
This one is pretty "Ronseal" (you might get this reference if you're from the UK), meaning it "does what it says on the tin".
To use a record and playback tool, you hit record, perform any of your desired actions, and hit stop. You'll now have a test that you can playback.
Record and playback codeless automation testing is the fastest and easiest option to get started.
Maintenance is considerably more complex than creation, leading many to simply delete and re-record failing tests. Action-only testing is another concern; record and playback can simulate mouse and keyboard events but will not perform checks automatically. This leads to tests that pass if they get to the end and fail if they can't.
When should you use record and playback?
Manual testers could benefit from using record and playback tools more often. They might have to repeatedly test and retest the same steps during a development cycle but not need that automation afterward. For these short-lived repetitive tasks, record and playback is perfect.
2 - Magic-based Testing
This category includes AI and visual-based testing. If we consider a Playwright or Cypress script as a control, Magic-based testing tools would be the furthest departure.
The use of tools like this will differ a lot, but the core concept is you'll get more testing for your inputted effort.
Smart, it's possible tools like these could find issues you wouldn't even consider testing for.
Unclear what is being tested and what is not. Some tools might have to learn what a genuine defect is and what is typical for your system. It's common to have false negatives and false positives, making these codeless test tools very time-consuming to dial in.
When talking to an AI engineer for one of the market-leading AI codeless tools, they told me, "It's like hiring a junior tester; you have to teach them and watch over them."
When should you use Magic-based testing?
This type of codeless test tool provides real benefits as an additional QA layer of protection. The main issue is their considerable cost (both time and money) to set up; if these aren't issues to you, go for it!
3 - Code-without-code
Going back to using Playwright or Cypress as a control, these codeless test automation tools are the closest. These tools are interfaces that provide optimizations and efficiency benefits without allowing mistakes to be made like you can with code.
Tools in this category often provide fast, easy access to advanced features, which would be time-consuming to set up manually, like visual regression, accessibility, video recordings, etc.
Vendor lock-in. It's always worth investigating if you can export your tests created in a codeless test automation tool like this.
When should you use a code-without-code test tool?
Anyone who values the control and clarity that come with a very well-coded bespoke test pack without the skill or labor investment to create one in-house.
When considering a code pack plus the required remote runners, these tools can improve your testing and reduce costs massively in one go. Everyone should at least try.
You have loads of options. Each category has several providers, each with its specialties and uniqueness. The options are no longer 1) a second development team inside QA to write tests or 2) nothing.
Like the Neapolitan ice cream, you'll probably have a good idea of your preference, but before you reach for a double scoop, why not start a DoesQA evaluation?