Best Test Automation Frameworks (Updated 2023)
By GH and Akshay Badkar, Community Contributor - August 27, 2023
What are Test Automation Frameworks?
Test automation frameworks are a set of rules and corresponding tools that are used for building test cases. It is designed to help engineering functions work more efficiently.
The general rules for automation frameworks include coding standards that you can avoid manually entering, test data handling techniques and benefits, accessible storage for the derived test data results, object repositories, and additional information that might be utilized to run the tests suitably.
Advantages of Test Automation Frameworks
- Code Reusability: Since these frameworks come with the required coding data beneficial for the automation test to become a success, the valuable data is saved for future use and can be reused at any given point in time. There is no need to insert codes manually or rearrange them. The code can also be utilized to run other automation framework tests. The developed scripts can also be retained.
- Low Cost: Test cases can be developed fairly cheaply because the frameworks already have established rules. Also, given these codes can be reused multiple times, the cost and time of building test cases for new features are low.
- Minimal Manual Interference: The automation frameworks run according to the guidelines surrounding them. Since maximum coverage is already built and achieved at the initial stage, there is very little or no intervention required by individuals to run the automation tests. If the process fails, the automation frameworks can be rerun with some change, but the data remains constant and lacks additional effort from an individual or team.
- Improved Efficiency: Test automation frameworks increase productivity due to standardization. It guarantees maximum test coverage as the set of codes in a framework is executed in a standard manner from the beginning.
Types of Automated Testing Frameworks
You can utilize one or more of the following automation frameworks for your tests. All these have been tried and tested and provide optimum results to ensure your tests are comprehensive:
1. Data-Driven Testing Framework
While testing an automation framework, a series of tests must be conducted before a successful outcome is derived. You might need to change the test data in such cases to try to arrive at a different conclusion. The Data-Driven Testing Framework allows you to store the test data in an external drive, which can be accessed later to add a new script to the test case.
2. Keyword-Driven Testing Framework
Usually considered an extension of the data-driven testing framework, the keyword-driven testing framework extracts your test data from an external source and safely maintains the set of codes. These codes are also referred to as ‘keywords’ and can be used to alter the test script to conclude further possible outcomes from the test framework. These keywords also essentially decide the functions performed by every application.
3. Hybrid Testing Framework
The hybrid testing framework combines the data-driven and keyword-driven frameworks to execute the most out of the frameworks above. It is the ideal automation framework, allowing more scope for increased productivity and better success.
4. Linear Scripting Framework
Unlike the above, Linear Scripting is carried out manually by an individual who records every process step. This framework, known as the Record and Playback framework, takes up ample time to execute. It does not rely on automation expertise and might be a simple way to record a script, but it does not leave any space for script reuse. It also takes time for maintenance, and you would have to hand-code the test script to run the framework in the future.
5. Module-Based Testing Framework
As the name suggests, the Module-Based Testing Framework requires the existence of various modules to run the framework. You would have to create separate scripts for every module and collaborate with them to generate the best results from the automation test. The modules would not be affected if variations were made in how the application works. The scripts remain unharmed until one manually alters them.
This offers a cost-efficient management method since combining several modules creates a high level of modularization. Productivity remains at its peak. However, much time and effort can go into individually making changes to the test data if needed.
Best Test Automation Frameworks in 2023
Here are some of the top test automation frameworks used by developers across the globe:
Note: Tools mentioned below are in random order and not sorted by ranking. The article intends to help the organization choose the best framework that fits it so the opinion is unbiased.
Selenium has existed in the automation world for a long time. It is an open-source automation tool that makes test automation easy for modern web applications with the recent Selenium 4. Selenium 4 features include notable chrome CDP integration and many more to make testing efficient. That is why many QAs are upgrading from Selenium 3 to Selenium 4.
Components of Selenium Test Automation
- Selenium IDE: Selenium IDE helps to record and play back your tests.
- Selenium Grid: Helps to run tests across multiple machines parallelly.
- Selenium WebDriver: Selenium WebDriver is most useful in running the Selenium tests across the browser.
- Selenium RC: Selenium RC helps write test cases in different programming languages to automate UI tests for web applications against any HTTP website. It is not much in use these days.
Selenium Data at Glance
- Official Website: https://www.selenium.dev/
- License: Apache-2.0 license
- Github Data
- Users: 180K
- Contributors: 675
- Stars: 25.7K
- Forks: 7.4K
Advantages of Selenium
- Selenium is an open-source tool that saves costs on licenses.
- Supports all major browsers Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Safari
- Supports multiple operating systems Windows, Mac, and Linux-based OS
- Strong community support, as Selenium is used by many QAs worldwide.
- Easy to learn and adopt.
- Supports Parallel Execution with Selenium Grid, reducing test execution time.
- Selenium is extensive, with many community plugins and packages available in the market.
- Selenium framework can be extended to Mobile Testing.
Limitations of Selenium
- Selenium provides high-level APIs; implementation is user-specific. This means you need to set up a framework based on your needs. If you are a beginner at automation testing, you may face difficulties setting up a robust framework.
- No dedicated tech-support SLA is available; since Selenium is open source, you must rely on community support.
- Selenium has Webdriver dependency as it works with browser-specific drivers (for example, to run tests on Chrome, you need a chrome driver). This makes test execution slower, and aligning browser and driver versions are sometimes tricky.
- Dependency Management, as mentioned earlier, selenium provides only high-level APIs to control the browser actions. It would be best if you relied on third-party packages for Assertions, Test environment configurations, and Reporting. Which in turn increases maintenance.
- Problem with Modern Frameworks: Selenium might work very well with an application built with old-style architecture for modern web development frameworks such as React, Angular, Vue, etc., but it might not work very well.
- Unlike the modern test automation framework, Selenium is not very aggressive in releasing features; it continuously listens to the user’s voice and implements new features and releases.
There is no doubt that Selenium is the most popular tool in the test automation market. It is the best choice when your application is vast and has a mix of old and new technology. If your organization needs an automation framework to be integrated with browser and mobile devices, then Selenium is likely preferred.
As mentioned earlier, Selenium Framework needs maintenance, which means you need dedicated resources for automation testing. Leveraging the best of Selenium Framework also requires advanced coding experience, unlike any other framework.
Cypress has changed the UI automation framework mindset by providing rich features. It is one of the trending test automation tools in the market. Cypress is an Open Source Tool that provides Cypress Dashboard as a professional service with the priced package.
Cypress provides developer-friendly features such as easy setup, installation, debugging, a dedicated Cypress window for running tests, etc.
Cypress Data at Glance
- Official website: https://www.cypress.io/
- License: MIT
- Github Data
- Users: 699K
- Contributors: 419
- Stars: 42.5k
- Forks: 2.7K
Advantages of Cypress
- Cypress UI automation framework setup is straightforward; once you install it’s ready.
- Supports different types of Testing; Cypress supports Unit, Integration, Component, API Testing, and End to end Testing.
- Cypress Time Travel feature provides a snapshot of each test step.
- Cypress records videos of your tests; you can configure the screenshot option.
- No need to put waiting explicitly. Cypress waits automatically before performing any actions.
- Cypress testing is more reliable and faster. There is no browser driver concept in cypress. Cypress directly interacts with the browser, so tests are faster and more stable.
- The Interactive Test Runner window in Cypress helps to faster development and debugging.
- Cypress debugging is easy since it provides multiple options to debug.
- Supports Cypress Safari tests in WebKit.
- Well-structured documentation in Cypress makes it easy to learn new features and concepts. It’s helping, especially if you have just started building the Cypress test automation framework.
- The Cypress community is growing, so we can also expect good community support in the future.
Limitations of Cypress
- Cross-origin restriction: Cypress officially documented supporting only the same origin URLs inside the test. For example, if your website has google authentication, your website URL www.xyz.com redirects to signin.google.com. Since google.com is a different domain, Cypress doesn’t allow such redirecting. The suggested workaround is these sign-in should be handled programmatically. This is one of the main reasons why many organizations hesitate to adopt Cypress.
- Cypress doesn’t encourage page object patterns, though page object models can be achieved in Cypress to some extent Cypress doesn’t recommend it.
- Using async/await in your Cypress test, the test might behave unexpectedly.
- Parallel Testing setup is complicated in Cypress and not straightforward.
- It doesn’t support multiple tabs and windows, but Cypress has mentioned this as the tradeoff.
- No direct support for the BDD framework like Cucumber
- in Cypress, you usually end up adding third-party packages, which increases the maintenance, and the framework gradually becomes unstable.
Those familiar with Selenium might feel Cypress syntaxes are complicated. Some of Cypress’s most used features, such as iFrame, multiple windows, and URLs from different origins, are limitations. However, suppose these limitations are not a blocker in your organization, and you are looking for a more developer-friendly tool and a single framework for multiple types of testing. In that case, Cypress is the best tool.
Playwright was launched in 2020, and within a few years, it has matured and attracted many users. This is because of their aggressive release strategy and well-documented code.
Playwright is an Open source tool. However, it is attached to the Microsoft brand. It is one of the pioneers in headless browser testing, which makes it popular.
Playwright Data at Glance
- License: Apache-2.0
- Official Website: https://playwright.dev/
- Github Data
- Users: 22.5K
- Contributors: 372
- Stars: 47.5.2k
- Forks: 2.3K
Advantages of Playwright
- Supports multiple browsers such as Chromium, Firefox, Edge, Chrome, and Safari(Webkit releases only)
- No Webdriver Dependency since, Playwright directly executes the command on the browser. Thus, tests are comparatively faster and more stable.
- Test Safari browser on Windows with Playwright UI automation framework. Usually, Safari browsers can be tested only with macOS, but Playwright provides the windows patched WebKit version, which is more similar to Safari.
- Supports the execution of tests on multiple browsers parallelly
- Supports all the selectors
- Supports modern frameworks such as React, Angular, and Vue.
- Playwright codegen is a test recorder for web tests; you can record the tests.
- Playwright offers debugging in multiple ways. The tests can be debugged with Playwright Inspector, Playwright Trace Viewer, Browser Developer Tools, Visual Studio Code debugger, Verbose API logs
- Support of multiple assertion libraries, by default playwright, comes with a Playwright test runner; however, you can configure it with Jest, Jasmine Mocha, etc.
- Playwright encourages Page Object Model design patterns.
Limitations of Playwright
- Though Playwright supports Safari, it’s an open-source version which is WebKit, not the actual Safari
- It doesn’t support native mobile apps.
- Some users observed that some language bindings are not stable at a time
- You can extend Playwright for Cucumber, but there is no direct support. It can be done through third-party plugins or packages.
Though Playwright is a new tool, it has a rich set of features, it supports multiple languages, but the plan for language binding is still unclear. Playwright UI automation framework comes with its test libraries by default, so if you plan to integrate other than default ones, such as Jest, Jasmine, and Mocha, you may need proficient knowledge in configuring them.
If your organization is too concerned about mobile native app testing, Playwright has not started working on it. Playwright has fewer limitations and supports all modern frameworks, React, Angular, etc. However, ensure that the limitations are not major blockers to your organization’s requirements.
It is Open source and part of the OpenJS foundation.
WebdriverIO data at a glance
- Official Website: https://webdriver.io/
- License: MIT
- Github Data
- Users: 48.9k
- Stars: 8k
- Forks: 2.2k
- Contributors: 471
Advantages of WebdriverIO
- WebdriverIO uses the Webdriver implementation so it supports all major browsers
- Supports nearly 17 types of reporters, WebdriverIO supports multiple types of reporting
- WebdriverIO is highly extensible there are many community-based plugins or packages which can be easily integrated into the framework and extend the features
- WebdriverIO supports Page Object Pattern.
- WebdriverIO supports multiple windows and tab
- There is no restriction for parallel testing.
- WebdriverIO can be extended to Native Mobile application testing
Limitations of WebdriverIO
- WebdriverIO uses its protocol bindings of Webdriver, again introducing one more layer. Though it supports chrome DevTools protocol for cross-browser testing you need to rely on Webdriver.
- New releases need migration: Whenever WebdriverIO releases a new version, you must follow the migration guide to change the configurations.
- Documentation: Though you can find documentation, you might feel it’s inadequate if you are a beginner
- Framework setup may take some time based on your needs.
A beginner might face difficulties or complicated ones as many things are bundled in one framework. The new version migration process adds to your framework maintenance task.
That means you can install and run your script just with a few commands. TestCafe is an Open Source framework.
TestCafe Data at Glance
- Official website: https://testcafe.io/
- License: MIT
- Github Data
- Users: 11.8K
- Stars: 9.6k
- Forks: 672
- Contributors: 114
Advantages of TestCafe
- Easy to set up, You need to install TestCafe; all the required features are installed, and you are ready to start testing.
- TestCafe is shipped with a bunch of required features; typically no need to install additional dependency packages
- Test creation in TestCafe is easy and more readable
- TestCafe executes commands on the browser, so tests are more stable and faster
- TestCafe supports Multiple tabs or windows
- TestCafe supports parallel testing
- TestCafe supports all major browsers
- Supports Page object patterns, Page Object Pattern can be designed using TestCafe.
Limitations of TestCafe
- Learning: You need to learn TestCafe syntax and API calls to use them
- TestCafe has its assertion libraries that you need to learn. Configuring third-party assertion libraries with TestCafe is not easy.
- TestCafe supports CSS selectors only.
Read More: TestCafe vs Cypress: Core Differences
NightwatchJS is a NodeJS-based framework built with NodeJS that uses the Webdriver Protocol. BrowserStack maintains Nightwatch. Nightwatch can be used for End to End testing, API Testing, Unit testing, and Integration Testing using the combination of NodeJS services and NightWatchJS API.
NightwatchJS Data at Glance
- Official website: https://nightwatchjs.org/
- License: MIT
- Github Data
- Users: 140K
- Stars: 11.3K
- Forks: 1.1K
- Contributors: 110
Advantages of the NightwatchJS
- NightwatchJS is easy to install and setup
- NightwatchJS test scripts are more readable
- It can be used for different types of testing
- It supports multiple browser testing, such as Chrome, Firefox, Edge, etc.
- NightwatchJS framework is easy to customize or extend
- NightwatchJS supports page object pattern
Limitations of NightwatchJS
- Since NightwatchJS uses Selenium in the backend, any limitation of Selenium will also follow in NightwatchJS.
NightwatchJS is evolving and adding new features, so it’s worth considering. However, you must ensure the limitations are not a blocker for your organization. Since NightwatchJS is built on top of Selenium, complexities in Selenium still follow.
Appium is an open-source UI automation framework that supports native mobile application automation. With Appium, one can test Android, iOS, and windows SDK native mobile apps. Appium has a good GUI that helps inspect and efficiently write the code.
Appium Data at Glance
- Official website: http://appium.io/
- License: Apache 2.0
- Github Data
- Users: 3.4K
- Stars: 15.9K
- Forks: 5.8K
- Contributors: 324
Advantages of Appium:
- Appium is an open-source library, saving costs for the license.
- Cross-Platform Support Appium Provides cross-platform support for Safari on IOS and Chrome and in the built browser for Android, and the test works seamlessly across the devices.
- Appium supports multiple programming languages such as Java, Ruby, C#, PHP, and Python
- Appium framework can be easily integrated with the Selenium framework.
- Supports real devices, emulators, and simulators
- Appium provides a recording tool that is easy for beginners to start testing mobile applications.
- Appium supports cloud-based testing such as Browserstack, etc.
- Appium can be easily integrated with DevOps tools.
Disadvantages of Appium
- Setting up the Appium framework requires extra effort and expertise in coding.
- Integrating reports is difficult compared to other frameworks.
- Appium supports Android versions 4.3 and above
- Appium’s support for the hybrid application is complicated; switching from a browser to a native app requires writing complex code
Appium is the most popular framework for mobile testing. However, the setup requires coding expertise. So the beginner might feel complicated. Appium can be integrated with Selenium; you can seamlessly make the framework work across the computer and mobile with the customized framework. If you already have a Selenium-based framework ready and looking for a tool to extend the framework for mobile applications, then Appium is the best choice.
Read More: How to set up your Appium Grid
Cucumber is most popular because of its integration with different types of frameworks. Nowadays, almost all major automation frameworks support the Cucumber framework. Cucumber Tests are written in Gherkin language, called feature files, and the implementation is written in a step definition file.
Cucumber Data at Glance
- Official website: https://cucumber.io/
- License: MIT
- Github Data
- Users: 99.7K
- Stars: 2.5K
- Forks: 2K
- Contributors: 249
Advantages of Cucumber
- Easy to write the test, since it is in natural Gherkin language format.
- The business teams can understand the features and test cases
- High reusability can be achieved without technical knowledge
- Easy to translate business requirements to test cases
Disadvantages of Cucumber
- Cucumber is just a layer on top of your testing framework. Cucumber alone can’t be used for building a framework. So the testers must have skills in the TDD framework like Selenium and Cypress
- Maintaining the Cucumber framework is challenging.
There is no doubt that Cucumber is the best BDD Tool for testing, but implementing and maintaining the Cucumber framework is not easy as you think. The product team can easily understand the test cases and validate the requirements. Gherkin languages sometimes add a lot of complexity, especially in data-driven testing. Hence, it is essential to consider these constraints and choose Cucumber for BDD Testing.
Bonus Test Automation Tools
9. Puppeteer Test Automation Libraries
10. Katalon Studio Test Automation Tool
Katalon Studio is not an Open Source. However, it has a Free version; since many manual testers consider it helpful due to its recording feature and hassle-free integration, we mention it here. Katalon Studio supports Windows, macOS, and Linux-based systems. There are limited features available in Katalon Free version. Note that Katalon is a free tool, not an Open-source. Unlike open-source project the feature and restrictions are controlled by Katalon. It can change at any time.
11. Gauge Testing Framework
It’s common to get confused when selecting the best test automation framework. Remember that just because some framework is trending doesn’t mean it fits best into your organization. While selecting a framework, you should consider your current needs and scope. The organization’s requirement plays a major role in selecting the best automation framework.
It might take some time to analyze and finalize the framework for your organization, comparing it with the time taken to switch to another framework after a year. Switching to different frameworks from one is always risky and takes its own time. There is no such thing as the Best framework for the whole world, but there is always the best framework for your organization, so choose carefully. The best way to start the evaluation process is to gather requirements, understand the scope, do a smaller POC, and conclude your framework.
- Choosing among different types of frameworks is subject to the project requirements.
- However, no matter which tests automation framework you choose, it is suggested to test on real devices for better test accuracy.
- Real device cloud like BrowserStack allows you to test under real user conditions, which will help identify the bottlenecks in the user experience.
- BrowserStack gives you access to 3000+ real device-browser combinations that make testing thorough and accurate, with support for multiple frameworks like Selenium, Playwright, Cypress, etc.