What is Codeless Test Automation?

David Carty
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Learn what codeless test automation is, and how it alleviates scripted test automation challenges

Just as low-code and no-code development platforms change the landscape for application development, codeless test automation tools impact software QA. Codeless test automation solutions handle the burden of coding for organizations that can’t allocate extra programming resources or keep up with extensive maintenance of test scripts.

So, what is codeless test automation? Codeless test automation gives everyone the ability to create test scripts without writing code; people simply interact with the application through a user interface to define and refine test steps, then execute those tests.

A recent Applause survey of more than 2,000 digital experts revealed that 53.5% of their organizations have strategic plans to purchase a codeless automation tool in the future. Of those who plan to purchase a codeless test automation solution, the biggest purchase drivers were to ‘improve test coverage’ (54.7%) and ‘mature test automation faster’ (47.6%). Only 10.1% say their company does not plan to purchase a codeless automation tool in the future.

What can codeless test automation solutions do for your organization? How can codeless test automation alleviate problems for teams that struggle to create or maintain automated test suites? Let’s dig in.

What is codeless test automation?

Automated tests are a great way to provide more extensive testing for your digital products. The more tests you can automate, the fewer tests must be executed manually, accelerating delivery and boosting quality at the same time.

But, for many organizations, the promise of test automation outweighs its returns. Hand-coded test automation approaches require dedicated expertise in programming, not to mention exponential increases in maintenance as application scale and scope increases. This places a burden on SDETs or code-proficient testers, both in short supply in many workplaces. And, if these experts leave the organization, test automation efforts often stall.

Codeless test automation is one way to address these challenges, and mature test automation simultaneously. When you can create and maintain test scripts without writing code, the whole team can contribute to the test automation effort: SDETs, testers, release managers, project managers and ops professionals — all can lend a hand.

Codeless test automation products typically enable not only recording and playback of automated tests, but also additions or changes to test steps and, sometimes, execution of test scripts. Some codeless test automation solutions offer test execution on simulated devices, while others can execute on real devices.

To summarize, what codeless test automation does is enable anyone to help advance the organization’s testing strategy and free up time for more strategic development or testing initiatives.

How do you get started with codeless test automation?

While many types of tests lend themselves to automation, you should begin with tests that can be easily scripted via the codeless automation UI. Simple automated tests might include smoke tests or regression tests that validate basic app functionality.

Start with simple tests with clear expectations for easy validation, such as:

  • valid/invalid logins;

  • the ability to select an item for purchase;

  • if required data input fields were filled in;

  • or the more generalized case of whether a specific mobile app feature works as expected.

Once you have reliable scripted tests, reuse those tests or build new ones to address more complex use cases. You might, for example, reuse a previous script to perform regression testing on a new build. Other examples include:

  • whether an account locks out after five invalid login attempts;

  • the ability to add, change and remove an item for purchase;

  • what happens when the user attempts non-alphanumeric characters in a required data input field;

  • whether a mobile app feature works correctly after a new code commit that adds elements on the page.

What are the limitations of codeless test automation?

Just as importantly as what codeless test automation is, is what codeless test automation isn't. Codeless test automation is not a replacement for scripted automation. Codeless test automation should complement scripted tests for complex test cases to boost coverage. In fact, codeless test automation solutions poorly handle complex automated test cases.

For example, if an app relies on an additional device or an integration with a third-party app, those workflows are often difficult or impossible to validate with codeless automation. What the codeless test automation tool does is drive the uploaded build, not additional apps or devices.

The same goes for dynamic content in applications, which have unpredictable or even subjective outcomes. Consider a streaming media platform. A codeless test automation solution might validate that the Play button triggers the code to play a movie, but it cannot validate that the movie plays without audio or video glitches.

In complex cases that aren’t a fit for codeless automation, manual testing or hand-scripted tests are a better alternative.

What codeless test automation solutions are available?

There are various codeless test automation tools and integrated development environments (IDEs) available. Your choice of solution may depend on whether you want to make scripted tests easier to create and maintain or remove the coding burden entirely.

While codeless automation is still a growing space, prioritize your individual needs when making a purchase decision. Ultimately, you must make sure a codeless test automation solution can scale with your products, deliver effective test execution, help mature your existing automated test suites and provide ease of use.

We’ve developed Applause Codeless Automation (ACA) to address these specific concerns. ACA is an enterprise-grade product, scaling to meet the needs of global web and mobile apps. ACA provides an easy-to-use interface that programming experts and novices alike can use to script automated tests without code. Organizations can mature their test automation initiatives by using ACA for simple or reusable use cases, freeing up time for SDETs and testers to focus on more complex scripts and test cases.

With ACA, you build Appium- or Selenium-compliant scripts. Then, once you’re ready to test, you can test your web or mobile apps on real devices or browsers — no simulators.

Anyone can use ACA to script tests and help deliver exceptional products to end users. Learn today how ACA complements your code-based and manual tests to expand test coverage at scale.

No matter what codeless test automation solution you choose, make sure it aligns with your organizational objectives, fits within your software development life cycle and can export test results to the platform of your choice. In short, codeless test automation products should solve more problems than they create.

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