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The term “codeless test automation” goes back more than 20 years to the days of LoadRunner. Back then, scenarios were simply recorded and then played back. There have been many advancements, and today’s codeless tools offer self-healing capabilities, advanced locators, built-in integrations to the CI, bug reporting, and much more. Let’s discuss the evolution of codeless testing tools in recent years.

What Is Codeless Test Automation?

Codeless test automation is the ability to author test scenarios without needing to write code. Typically, you play back test scenarios in different environments. Many test automation solutions today are referred to as codeless test automation. However, they offer much more than just codeless authoring, and we’ll discuss that later in detail. First, let’s talk about the need for codeless test automation.

Why Use Codeless Test Automation?

Test automation requires experienced automation engineers who are familiar with specific open-source frameworks such as Selenium and Appium. Those developers are responsible for setting up the frameworks, authoring and maintaining the test cases, and integrating them into the current toolset.

Two main challenges led to the development of codeless test automation tools:

  • Skill set: Historically, most companies tested their applications manually. Manual testers have little experience writing code, especially in open-source frameworks such as Appium and Selenium. Codeless tools allow them to create automated scenarios while addressing the skill set gap.
  • Authoring time: Scripting an automated test using open-source frameworks such as Appium or Selenium takes hours and, many times, days. Recording a scenario with codeless tools usually takes a few minutes to an hour.

Early versions of codeless tools, such as HP WinRrunner and Ranorex, were basic recorders. They captured the actions and played them back.

What Is the Current State of Codeless Testing?

The next generation of codeless tools took these capabilities a step further with enhanced features like these:

  • Smart locators: Today’s locators are dynamic and flexible. They can support a wide range of development frameworks and self-adapt to changes in the application by finding other locators to find the element. 

Smart locators

  • Reporting and analytics: Today’s codeless test automation solutions don’t just tell you whether a test passed or failed. Rather, they provide insight to specific trends such as which tests are flaky, which devices are more likely to be buggy, what trends are occurring between builds, and more.
  • CI/CD integration: Codeless test tools now give you the ability to execute tests and populate the results back to your CI.
  • Parallel execution: Continuous testing is about testing your applications as close to development as possible to reduce the feedback loop and the cost of fixing bugs. Parallel execution ensures that your cycles are short and that your feedback loop takes minutes, not hours. The only way to ensure timely feedback while not compromising on your coverage is parallel execution, which is easier said than done.
  • Supporting different devices: Robust automation empowers you to test multiple devices. The more devices you test, the more coverage you have and the more valuable your test automation is. Different devices have different screen resolutions and varied ways to present things in the viewport. So, it’s challenging to create a single test that supports all devices. Creating a single test that adapts to different screen resolutions offers a great advantage over traditional scripting.

These additional capabilities empower organizations to get coverage quickly and reduce the cost of quality. 

The Future of Codeless Testing

21 supports all of the above features and provides the following additional capabilities:

  • Auto-maintenance: 21’s codeless test automation solution performs smart analysis of changes and autonomously applies changes across tests.  
  • Coverage reporting: 21’s production plugin correlates between your test scenarios and users’ behavior in production. This enables you to identify which areas of the application your tests don’t cover and what risk failed scenarios pose to your users in production.
  • AI-based authoring: 21 is equipped with sophisticated authoring that learns the application, understands flows in the application, and can help the tester build the test but pre-populates the relevant actions inside a screen.

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  • Pre-integrated devices: Integrating a lab of devices into your testing environment can take a few weeks. Different device labs support different variations of Appium, so desired capabilities might differ. APIs to check device availability, logs, screenshots, and other activities might differ as well. The ability to create and execute your tests without worrying about devices saves hundreds of hours of DevOps and framework engineering. 

Codeless Is Stigmatized

Whether or not a tool is codeless is not the right dimension to use when evaluating a tool. Rather, you should measure the tool by the organization’s requirements and objectives.

For example, although 21 is a codeless test automation solution, it includes the ability to write custom code if you need to embed regular expressions and run more complex logic for extended flexibility. Code or codeless is simply a means to an end.

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