Do I Need a Test Automation Framework? Pros, Cons, and Types

Marlon Cabraca | May 12, 2020

Despite the benefits of software test automation, decision-makers have to justify the costs and maintenance. And they are right to have their doubts. Turns out, when only a few tests are going to be run, manual testing proves more cost-effective.

But for QA teams that run multiple tests across new builds, test automation is quickly growing in popularity because the ROI increases with each run.

In this post, we will examine the benefits of test automation and also look at the different types of frameworks QA can use in the automation process.

What Is a Test Automation Framework?

Frameworks, as a part of the test automation process, are a combination of rules, practices, and tools used for creating test cases to help QA optimize their agile processes.

The set of rules that a framework gives us dictates how we generate test cases and how we standardize the execution of tests such as UI, API, performance, and security.

The tools you can use to run automated functional tests include Selenium, TestNG, Sikuli, Cypress, Watir, TestCafe, and WebdriverIO.

Each of these tools will compare your obtained test results against your expected test results and generate reports.

A framework combines a software’s required and common functions and simultaneously standardizes code generation. This streamlines the requirement scope so we spend less time on a project's low-level tasks.

What Are the Advantages of Test Automation?

The process of building and maintaining a test automation framework requires committing the appropriate resources. But if the benefits align with your business goals, test automation can pay off in a big way.

Save Time

  • Reduce test execution times. When testing software, automation allows you to execute tests constantly and more quickly than manual testing
  • Get faster feedback. Your team can validate new features quickly, detect bugs early in the development life cycle, and improve your time to market
  • Reuse Code to focus on developing new tests and widening your test scope
  • Run multiple tests across new builds. Not sure the number of builds you run will justify the time and resources it takes to set up an automated testing environment? You can use the test automation ROI calculator here

Improve Accuracy

Even your most qualified quality assurance engineers can make mistakes when testing manually.

Automated testing ensures more consistent and accurate testing results. These accurate results take a great deal of stress off the QA team and build morale for the development team, as well.

What Are the Disadvantages of Test Automation?

When budgets and deadlines are tight, you want to be sure the benefits align with your business goals and outweigh the complications that automation may cause.

Automated tests will only review what they are programmed to test for meaning that your software could pass tests and still have flaws that go undetected.

Even though you are automating, human intelligence is still required. A knowledgeable QA engineer, versed in test automation, that can create thorough test scenario designs is a must.

Automated testing also has to evolve with the application being tested. The regular maintenance of keeping your automated tests up-to-date requires an investment in time and effort.

A solution to these obstacles could be a third-party quality assurance engineer(s) or outsourcing the full test automation process.

Five Types of Test Automation Frameworks

1. Data-Driven Frameworks

Where data is required for test execution, ‘datasets’ are separated from the testing code directly in the database or using Excel, .csv, JSON, or XML files.

Due to this separation, if you find it necessary to change the expected results, you won’t need to modify the tests themselves and will only have to change the data source.

Also, we will be able to test the application using multiple sets of data values during regression testing.

2. Keyword-Driven/Table-Driven Frameworks

The keyword-driven framework technique identifies a series of keywords and then assigns each of these to a series of actions, such as login, click, close window, etc.

It requires the use of two types of tables, 1) Tables where ‘keywords’ and their actions are stored, and 2) Tables of data to be used.

Scripts interact with and handle the logic.

3. Modular Frameworks

Modular frameworks include the creation of small and independent scripts that represent modules, sections, and functions of the tested application.
This separation improves test maintenance and updates.

4. Behavior-Driven Development Frameworks

Behavior-driven development frameworks use natural language—as opposed to technical—for test specifications to make tests easy to understand, not only for developers and testers but for business analysts as well.

5. Hybrid Frameworks

All frameworks have their advantages, which means it’s common for automation frameworks to be a hybrid of two or more of these, especially when it comes to modularization and the use of datasets.

Key Takeaways

  • For software development teams that run multiple tests across new builds, the ROI of test automation justifies the seemingly complex implementation of the process
  • Test automation helps detect bugs early, validate new features, and reduce time to market
  • No matter the tool that we use for test automation, we require a framework to avoid rewriting similar functions and facing maintenance difficulties

Encora’s Hybrid Framework

For companies that lack the time, expertise, or staff to build a test automation framework in-house—Encora offers a hybrid automation framework and experienced quality assurance engineers.


Encora’s automation framework offers:

  • UI, desktop web, and mobile automation
  • Suitable exception management
  • Testlink tool integration
  • A data management layer
  • Integration with continuous testing tools

Fast-growing tech companies partner with Encora to outsource product development and drive growth. To take advantage of the benefits of software test automation without the hassle of building a framework, contact Encora.

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