To reach a broad audience, businesses develop their digital presence by building web applications. This causes the rise of competition between the old and new web applications.
The new ones are trying to hit the market and get their segment of the audience. Their older competitors have to release new features to retain their customers by enhancing their digital experience. For testing engineers, this means repeated release cycles with tight deadlines and the growing demand for automated QA engineering. According to the report, the global test automation market is expected to grow from $12.6 in 2019 to $28.8 in 2024.
In this article, we will speak about automation testing for web applications. We will consider the most frequently used web automation testing types and will study the most popular testing tools.
The basics of web automation testing
A web application is a client-server application with a browser as a client and a web-server as a server. The main part of the app is located on the server-side. The server processes the client’s queries according to the product business logic and sends a response to the customer. At this stage, the browser transforms the received query into a graphical interface displayed to the end-user.
Web application testing is ensuring product quality by testing if the application works as intended. It helps you find and fix the bugs at the earliest stage of development. Testing is important since even a minor change in the code can cause further issues in other parts of the app. The earlier the bug is found, the cheaper it will be to fix it.
Test automation takes over the repetitive and tedious tasks. The QA engineer has to write the testing scripts and the machine launches the repetitive tests. By launching automation testing, the tester can focus on exploratory testing or other tests that require human intelligence.
There are different testing cases that you can automate depending on your business goals. There are several types of tests that can be automated in web app development.
1. Unit testing
Units are the smallest components of the software. Unit testing implies writing tests for each separate function or method. It helps to make sure that the code change doesn’t lead to mistakes in already tested code and helps to find and fix such bugs.
2. Smoke testing
This is a type of functional test determining if the application is stable and ready for advanced testing. It defines the overall product quality and helps to find the most critical defects.
3. Integration testing
The software consists of different programming modules written by different developers. With integration testing, modules are tested as a single system. The goal of this testing type is checking data exchange and determining the bugs during the interaction of several modules.
4. Regression testing
Regression testing is a set of tests aimed at finding the defects in already tested parts of the application. This is done for spotting and fixing regression mistakes that emerge while adding new code to the existing build or fixing the other bugs. So, the goal of regression testing is to make sure that bug fix didn’t lead to the appearance of new ones in already tested code.
5. API testing
API is a set of queries helping the application to connect with its part. For example, with the help of API requests the user interface communicates with the server that performs the necessary operations. API testing is held based on the business logic of the software product. Since API testing is a part of integration testing, it allows spotting the mistakes in the interaction between the modules.
6. Security testing
Security testing is used for checking the security of the system and for mitigating the risks associated with hacker attacks, malware and unauthorized access to confidential data. The goal of security testing is to fix all the existing weak spots in the application that can lead to data leaks, financial and reputational loss of the company.
7. Performance testing
Performance testing imitates the work of a big number of business users on a shared resource. Its goal is to define the working capacity, stability, resource consumption in different user scenarios. Performance testing helps to find the possible vulnerabilities and to prevent their malicious impact on software.
8. Acceptance testing
Acceptance testing is held on the final stage of delivering the product to the customer. Its goal is to determine if the product is ready for use. During acceptance testing, the QA team checks the product with testing scenarios built based on the specification of requirements.
5 automation testing tools for web apps
Now that we have spoken about types of web automation testing, let’s consider the five most popular automation tools.
Selenium is an open-source test automation framework for testing web applications in browsers. It supports numerous programming languages like Ruby, Java, C#, Python, all existing operating systems, and browsers. This is not a single instrument, but a set of tools covering different testing needs:
- Selenium WebDriver — for creating browser-based regression automation tests, scaling and distributing them across many environments.
- Selenium IDE — creating scripts for quick bug introduction, automation-aided exploratory testing. It’s convenient for prototyping tasks and doesn’t require advanced programming skills.
- Selenium Grid — for scaling, distributing and launching the parallel tests on different machines. It also helps to manage several environments in a single spot.
Selenium is one of the market leaders across the automation testing tools due to the following benefits:
- Free. Selenium is an open-source tool and everyone can download, modify, and use it
- Good integration into the Agile, DevOps, CI\CD principles
- Compatible with mobile testing
- Supports all existing languages, platforms, and browsers
- Huge community. More than 54,000 companies use Selenium
- Great amount of libraries and plugins
Despite all the advantages, Selenium is not a perfect tool and has several weak points:
- Requires strong programming skills
- Doesn’t support desktop testing
- No built-in image comparison
- No tech support
- No test reporting capabilities
Selenium is a good choice for web app test automation and was already recognized by huge international companies like Google, Netflix etc.
Appium is an open-source framework for testing web and mobile UI. It validates compatibility, usability, and response time of web and mobile applications. It has a server-based architecture and uses a standard API — so, the code created with this tool doesn’t need much modification.
The tool supports the majority of existing programming languages and operating systems. The framework translates the commands into Android and iOS ones — it allows the testing process not to depend on the operating system.
Appium is a good choice for web application testing due to the following benefits:
- Strong and active community
- Supports end-to-end testing in multiple languages and operating systems
- Doesn’t require recompilation of the app
- Supports test automation on physical devices, simulators and emulators
- Compatible with Selenium
- Can be used by the testers without advanced programming skills
Despite the number of benefits and popularity, Appium also has some limitations:
- It can be a challenge to set up Appium locally
- It is difficult to work with objects in Appium
- Slow test execution
- Performance issues
- Limited support of hybrid apps testing
Appium is a good choice for web automation and API testing.
Cypress is an open-source framework for the end-to-end testing of modern web applications. It is executed inside the browser. It tracks different browser events and never misses any manipulations with page elements. These factors decrease the possibility of floating tests.
Cypress is a relatively new tool, it already has 33.8k+ stars on GitHub. Such a wide adoption is clear due to the following benefits:
- Built-in testing toolset built on Mocha, Chai, Sinon fork
- Cypress automatically expects for the necessary element to appear, the animation to finish, and the network query to execute
- The time machine feature allows cancelling several successive steps of the test
- The ability to write unit tests
- Extensive documentation, an abundance of learning materials
Although Cypress is a strong testing tool, it also has some limitations:
- It can’t be used with two browsers at a time
- Cypress doesn’t support multi-tabs
- It doesn’t support Safari and Internet Explorer
- Limited support for iFrames
Despite several minor limitations, Cypress is an excellent tool for web testing, and we definitely recommend considering it for your project.
Playwright is a Node.js library developed by Microsoft for automation testing with a single API for different browsers. The main benefit of Playwright is that it’s capable of interacting with browsers on a level that is inaccessible to Selenium. It supports Chrome and Chromium browsers and is compatible with Windows, Linux, macOS.
Let’s have a closer look at Playwright’s benefits:
- Supports numerous programming languages: Python, Java, .Net, C#
- It also can be integrated with CI\CD tools like Jenkins, CircleCI, Azure, TravisCI etc.
- Supports testing frameworks: Jest, Jasmine, Mocha
- Performs cross-browser testing on complex apps
- Has auto wait feature performing the necessary checks of the element
- Supports execution of simultaneous tests
Although Playwright is a robust testing tool, it has some disadvantages:
- Since it’s a relatively new tool, it doesn’t yet support API
- Doesn’t support Internet Explorer or non-browser platforms
- The documentation and community aren’t as robust as at the other frameworks
Despite some minor drawbacks, we still recommend Playwright for automating your web application.
5) Robot Framework
Robot Framework is a keyword-driven automation testing framework built on Python. With Robot, you can use ready-made keywords without the need for Python programming. You only need to download the necessary library for writing the test.
Robot Framework is a multi-functional testing tool with a number of benefits:
- Smooth learning curve
- Supports Web and Mobile testing
- Helps to identify tests with tags
- Good out-of-the-box reports
- Parallel launch
With some minor limitations, Robot is still a strong web automation tool:
- No built-in debugging capability
- Doesn’t allow nesting loops
Considering the strong and weak points of the Robot framework, we think it’s an excellent variant for your business.