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Code-based versus Low-Code/No-Code test automation solutions: Which one to Choose?

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Concerns about the quality of software test automation solutions are growing every day, and we face an array of challenges in addressing them. One of the challenges is that we have several test automation solutions to automate our test cases (Web, API, Mobile, etc.).

Some test automation solutions in the market require exceptionally good programming knowledge, whereas for a few, intermediate programming knowledge is enough, and we have a few where we can automate things with almost no coding experience. To top it all, there is pressure to deliver faster to the market

 

What is a Code-based Test Automation Solution?

Coded solutions, like traditional automation systems, necessitate a very trained workforce with an in-depth understanding of certain tech stacks. A team capable of writing custom code from scratch is required in this case. These solutions are intended to be developed and used by technical users such as SDET, developers, etc.

What are Low-Code/No-Code test automation solutions?

Low-code test automation solutions allow users to automate tests with some or little coding skill set/experience. Most of the automation testing happens without actual programming. Typically, the most used features/utilities are already built-in through GUI so that users can select the required actions and combine them into a sequence. However, coding expertise is necessary when achieving anything complex to interact.

No-code test automation solutions allow users to automate tests in the application with almost no coding knowledge and experience. These solutions are intended to be used by non-technical users such as product owners, business analysts, etc., where we would mostly need to select, click, enter text, scroll, or drag and drop.

Difference Between Code-based Vs. Low-Code/No-Code Test Automation solution

Category Code-based Solutions Low-Code/No-Code Solutions
Coding Need High Low or None
Complexity Overly complex Less complex
Flexibility Extremely flexible Less flexible
Primarily Servers Technical users (Developers and SDET) Anyone who is a part of the project can contribute.
Security Concerns Quite Low High
Execution Speed Low to Medium (depending on the test case count and test steps). High
Automation  Design Robust Tightly coupled

 

In today’s world, where new test automation solutions are frequently released, enterprises are looking for ways to expand and accelerate their software delivery processes. Even low-code/no-code solutions now have all the necessary built-in qualities that make them simple to implement with little to no coding knowledge/expertise. The question is if it is winning hearts!

Code based Solutions

Pros Cons
  • Design and workflow flexibility – Design in accordance with your company’s existing workflows, expertise, and skillset.
  • Ease of Use – Understand your intended users and their skill sets. Create the framework to match up.
  • Need a new feature? – Decide the priority of that feature and implement it, what features your framework should have, and to what extent each feature should go.
  • Something not working? – Find the root cause and go ahead and fix it.
  • Reporting or Dashboard requirement – You have complete access to your execution results and can create whatever report/ dashboard format you want.
  • Pricing – The long-term cost-per-run is much lower than any low-code/no-code test automation solution.
  • Time to build – Creating a stable solution takes time. Depending on the AUT, it could take a lot of time.
  • Need to provide your own DevOps/SecOps ecosystem
  • No Outside assistance – When you develop your own solution, you have only yourself to hold accountable when things go south.

 

Low-Code/No-Code based Solutions

Pros Cons
  • Almost no ramp-up time, it is a ready-made solution – no need to build your own.
  • No maintenance for hardware and no need to involve DevOps/SecOps.
  • Outside assistance – You have someone to assist you (based on your support contract) in case you have any queries or need help.
  • Limited scalability- Need a new feature or integration with another tool? – the solution does not yet support a feature. You must wait for a feature and support ticket (you do not have any control over deciding priority)
  • Support wait time – Response time depends on your subscription. It can be anywhere between minutes or hours to days at times.
  • Pricing – it varies, but in the long-term, cost-per-run is significantly higher than using any traditionally built code-based test automation solution.
  • Limited customization- Inflexible reporting/dashboard – Most of these solutions will not give you a choice to have “out-of-the-box” customization.
  • Have any queries? – You are dependent on the solution maker to help you out.
  • Helpless- Waking up after a few months of solution implementation to realize that you cannot increase automation coverage due to the solution’s lack of support.
  • The automation solution company is sunsetting the tool due to any reason.”

 

Since each organization works on different objectives, to deal with the question of which approach to use, here are the top few items to mull over:

  • Who (Tech/Non-Tech/SDET, etc.) will create and maintain these automation test suites?
  • What is getting automated – APIs/Web/Responsive/Desktop/Mobile apps?
  • How complex are the test cases and business situations to be automated?
  • What is the skill set/expertise within the team for creating and maintaining this test automation suite?
  • Is this a new or an existing project where we have already done some automation?
  • Is the test automation suite meant to be integrated with other tools like Test Management, bug tracking, CI/CD, etc.?
  • The test automation suite is meant to be executed at what size?
  • What is the budget and time duration required to complete this project?

Final Thoughts

It is imperative to realize that there is no silver bullet. As shown above, each choice has its own pros and cons. The key to success is choosing the right solution that balances your team’s skill sets and expertise and simultaneously meets your organization’s objectives.

Until then, happy test automation!

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