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Top 10 Desktop Automation Tools For Testing That QA Teams Should Know

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When compared with web testing or mobile testing, desktop testing has relatively lower demand. The widespread adoption of web and mobile applications as well as the increasing reliance on online services is the reason why. However, for businesses where desktop applications are still in use, having a decent tool for this activity is a must.
 

In this article, we list down the top 10 desktop automation tools for you to choose from. They are all good tools with robust capabilities and features that can truly elevate your testing experience. Check them out:

  1. WinAppDriver
  2. Katalon
  3. Winium
  4. TestComplete
  5. Tricentis Tosca
  6. Eggplant Functional
  7. Micro Focus UFT
  8. Ranorex
  9. SikuliX
  10. Robot Framework

What are desktop automation tools?

Desktop automation tools are designed to automate the testing of software applications that run on desktop platforms such as Windows, macOS, or Linux. These tools assist in automating repetitive tasks to ensure the functionality of desktop applications.

 

Read More: What is Desktop Testing? A Complete Guide

Benefits of desktop testing tools

  1. Higher efficiency thanks to automation features for repetitive tasks
  2. Automation tools bring more consistent testing procedures and reduce variability in manual testing
  3. Regression testing is easier with automation capabilities, allowing for the swift identification of potential issues caused by code changes or updates.
  4. Automated tests can run unattended, freeing up human testers to focus on more complex and creative aspects of testing, while repetitive tasks are handled by the tools.
  5. Desktop testing tools often integrate seamlessly with CI/CD pipelines, allowing for automated testing as part of the development and deployment processes.

Key features of desktop testing tools

  • Record-and-Playback: a feature allowing testers to record their on-screen actions and turn them into a re-executable test script.
  • Scripting Language Support: a good desktop automation tool should also include a scripting mode supporting several languages so that testers can flexibly modify scripts generated in the low-code and no-code mode.
  • Reporting and Logging: this feature provides detailed insights into test execution activities, helping QA teams identify and address issues early on.
  • Integration Capabilities: Seamless integration with test management tools facilitates test case management, execution tracking, and collaboration within the testing team.

Best desktop automation tools

1. WinAppDriver

WinAppDriver as one of the top desktop testing tools

WinAppDriver (Windows Application Driver) is a powerful open-source tool developed by Microsoft, specifically designed for automating the testing of Windows desktop applications. WinAppDriver was built from Appium, an automation framework intended solely for mobile applications, but Microsoft extended its capabilities to also support Windows application automation.
 

WinAppDriver was designed to seamlessly integrate with the Appium, using the same Appium WebDriver protocol. This gives it some similarities with Selenium too, combining the best of both worlds, when the same testing script can be reapplied for different platforms: mobile and desktop.
 

To start desktop automation testing with WinAppDriver, you need to:

  1. Download Windows Application Driver installer from WinAppDriver releases
  2. Run the installer on a Windows 10 machine where your application under test is installed and will be tested
  3. Enable Developer Mode in Windows settings
  4. Run WinAppDriver.exe from the installation directory (E.g. C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Application Driver)

Here are some of the strong points of WinAppDriver:

  • WinAppDriver uses the same concepts and commands for both mobile and Windows application testing, bringing a unified testing approach.
  • Support a wide variety of programming languages, including C#, Java, Python, Ruby, etc.
  • Integration with Microsoft tools
  • Open-source

Check out its GitHub: WinAppDriver

2. Katalon [Best For All Testing Purposes]

Katalon Platform as one of the top desktop automation tools on the current market

Katalon Platform is a comprehensive testing tool supporting automation testing for web, desktop applications, mobile, and APIs. This means that you are not limited to just any kind of testing, and you can easily switch between different testing modes. In today’s interconnected digital world where channels are linked with each other, this is truly an advantage.
 

For desktop testing in particular, you also need to have WinAppDriver installed on your system. You can check the guide to install WinAppDrive above. However, you can also install WinAppDriver after you download Katalon. From the Katalon Studio toolbar, select Tools > Windows > Install WinAppDrivers. The Windows Application Driver Setup window will open, and you can follow the instructions to install the Windows Application Driver.
 

Once done, you can start testing with Katalon. Katalon Studio is also where you write tests. You have 3 modes to choose from:
 

  1. No-code: enter the Record-and-Playback mode, then perform all of your test steps manually. Katalon records that sequence of actions and turns them into a test script that you can easily re-execute whenever you want.
  2. Low-code: leverage Katalon’s library of Built-in Keywords. They are essentially also code snippets with customizable parameters that you can easily modify. Think of them as ready-to-use templates for your test scripts. If you build one such library by yourself, the effort to maintain it is not at all small. Katalon does that for you.
  3. High-code: want even more customization? Enter the Scripting mode and write a full test script on your own, while simultaneously enjoying the low-code features. That is why even the most experienced tester can have quite a productivity boost when testing with Katalon Studio.

Once you have created your test case, simply choose the environment and run it. As you can see, there is an option to execute on Windows (at the bottom section). In addition to that, you also get to execute on a wide range of popular web browsers and mobile OS. You also have control over the mode of execution: locally, remotely, or on-cloud. For on-cloud test execution in particular, you would need Katalon TestCloud. Learn more about Katalon TestCloud to see how it facilitates fast and seamless cloud testing

execute test cases in Katalon Studio

 

Here's Katalon's test execution in action.

automatically execute test cases across environments with Katalon

 

After successfully running all the tests, Katalon generates detailed reports with rich insights and analytics to help stakeholders make informed decisions. Test planning and test management feature is also included to bring the most comprehensive testing experience.

 

Download Katalon and Witness its Power
 

3. Winium

Winium as one of the top open-source desktop testing framework

Winium is an open-source automation testing framework for desktop applications built on Selenium. Similar to WinAppDriver, Winium is also a good solution to bridge the gap between web testing and desktop testing. As long as you have experience coding with Selenium, you can easily use Winium.

 

Several notable advantages of using Winium:

  • High similarity in terms of methods and commands with Selenium, making it easier for testers to leverage their existing skills for desktop testing
  • Integration with Appium to extend its capabilities to mobile testing
  • Support Java, C#, Ruby, Python, PHP, Perl, Objective C, Javascript with node.js, and more

4. TestComplete

SmartBear TestComplete as one of the top desktop testing tools

TestComplete stands out as a powerful multi-purpose testing tool, catering to a diverse range of application types such as Windows, .NET, WPF, Visual C++, Visual Basic, Delphi, C++Builder, Java, web applications, and mobile.
 

With TestComplete, teams can construct test cases using Keywords that emulate user interactions with the Application Under Test. Whether employing Record-and-Playback or executing test cases across various environments, TestComplete is a versatile choice, particularly beneficial for teams emphasizing functional testing and unit testing.
 

In addition to offering a broad array of Keywords (referred to as Operations within the product), TestComplete allows you to customize parameters to tailor these Keywords for specific actions. The tool also features a Record-and-Playback capability, designed to assist less-experienced users in crafting test cases effortlessly.
 

Not just that, TestComplete also enhances the execution process with features like Test scheduling, Parallel testing, Batch test runs, Shut down after tests, and more.

5. Tricentis Tosca

Tricentis Tosca as one of the top desktop testing tools

Tricentis Tosca is a comprehensive automation tool designed for testing across web, API, mobile, and desktop applications. Its distinctive model-based testing methodology enables users to effortlessly scan an application's UI or APIs, creating a business-oriented model for streamlined test creation and maintenance.
 

Highlighted features include:

  • Effortless test creation without code, leveraging the model-based approach for high test asset reusability.
  • Risk-based test optimization through intelligent test design and prioritization of requirements.
  • Service virtualization capabilities to simulate and construct realistic testing environments.
  • API scanning functionality with extensive support for a variety of API technologies.
  • Parallel and cross-platform testing capabilities, ensuring comprehensive test coverage.
  • Seamless integrations with other testing frameworks and CI/CD tools for enhanced automation workflows.

6. Eggplant Functional

Eggplant Functional as one of the top desktop testing tools

Within the Eggplant ecosystem, Eggplant Functional is a GUI automation testing tool tailored for mobile, desktop, and web applications. Employing an image-based approach, it empowers a single script to automate diverse combinations of platforms and technologies.
 

Highlighted features include:

  • Versatile test design methods, encompassing recording, manual mode, and assisted scripting.
  • Utilization of a unique English-like scripting language called SenseTalk.
  • Seamless connectivity to the broader Eggplant ecosystem for expanded testing capabilities and monitoring.
  • Integrations with popular CI/CD tools to enhance automation workflows.

7. Micro Focus UFT

Micro Focus as a good desktop automation testing tool on the current market

Unified Functional Testing (UFT) One by Micro Focus is an all-encompassing desktop automation testing tool primarily utilized for functional and regression testing purposes. It demonstrates versatility by supporting an array of technologies, including web, mobile, and desktop applications.

Highlighted features include:

  • UFT One facilitates testing across diverse platforms, making it adaptable for various application types.
  • Robust object recognition capabilities, enhancing the identification and manipulation of diverse UI elements.
  • Extensive protocol support
  • Seamless integration with Micro Focus Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) to streamline and enhance test management processes.

8. Ranorex

Ranorex as a good desktop automation testing tool on the current market

Ranorex Studio excels in automating GUI testing across web, mobile, and desktop applications. Offering both low-code automation and a full Integrated Development Environment (IDE), Ranorex's framework is user-friendly for beginners and highly productive for seasoned testers.
 

Highlighted Features:

  • Equipped with both low-code automation and a full IDE.
  • User-friendly framework suitable for beginners and productive for experienced testers.
  • Supports programming languages: VB.Net and C#.
  • Broad compatibility with web, mobile, and desktop technologies.
  • Features Ranorex Spy tool and RanoreXPath for reliable GUI element recognition.
  • Flexible test design methods: record & playback and scripting mode.
  • Enables distributed or parallel testing with Selenium Grid.
  • Integrations with various testing frameworks and CI/CD tools for enhanced automation workflows.

9. SikuliX

SikuliX top desktop testing tools

SikuliX automates desktop tasks on Windows, Mac, and Linux/Unix using image recognition via OpenCV. It is particularly useful when GUI internals or application/web page source code access is challenging.
 

Highlighted Features:

  • Supports scripting in Python (Jython), Ruby (JRuby), JavaScript, and Java-aware languages (Jython, JRuby, Scala, Clojure).
  • Currently not available on mobile devices but can be used with emulators on desktops or through VNC solutions.
  • Early experimental stage for Android devices based on ADB.
  • SikuliX can control the mouse and keyboard, even in multi-monitor or remote system environments.
  • Basic OCR for text recognition, powered by Tesseract.
  • Capable of searching text in images.
  • Java application compatible with Windows, macOS, and most Linux/Unix systems.
  • Useful for automating repetitive tasks in daily applications, web pages, games, and IT systems/network administration.
  • Ideal for testing applications or web pages under development.
  • Suitable for creating live usage documentation or training material.

10. Robot Framework

Robot Framework as one of the best desktop automation testing tools on the current market

Built around Python as its primary scripting language, Robot Framework stands out as an open-source framework designed for acceptance testing and robotic process automation (RPA). Widely recognized for its association with free mobile and desktop application testing tools, Robot Framework offers several noteworthy features:
 

Highlighted Features:

  • Extensive language support, including Python, Jython (Java), PyPy, and IronPython (.NET).
  • Compatible with Windows, macOS, Unix, and Linux operating systems.
  • Flexibility in test development, allowing the use of Eclipse, RIDE (Robot Framework IDE), or text editors based on user preferences.
  • Employs a keyword-driven testing approach to streamline the testing process.
  • Features autocomplete functionality and syntax highlighting to enhance code development efficiency.
  • Seamlessly integrates with popular automation tools such as Appium and Selenium for comprehensive testing solutions.