Test Automation Rewind: A Lookback at 2018 Trends

2018 has observed a series of constant changes and shifting in test automation that has influenced how enterprises re-envision test automation in their business strategy. Several extensive surveys have been conducted this year to ascertain the state of the automated testing industry by Katalon, SmartBear, Sauce Labs, and Gartner, for example.

Between these reports, a general picture of trends in test automation has been revealed.

An Upsurge in the Value of Automated Testing

The value of automated testing has become clear to business leaders. Nearly 90% of testers reported that their managers were on board with automated testing, with 45% of businesses expecting to increase their investment.

Among big companies, more than half were expected to increase their investment, according to the Sauce Labs report. Clearly, more money will be headed into automated testing and this field is seen as a promising opportunity for expansion.

The Big Guys: Web and API Testing Dominate the Domain

From 2017 to 2018, the testing industry grew more specialized, with the SmartBear report indicating that fewer testers tested multiple different application types.

This leads to an overall decline in the percentage of tests being conducted in each application, with one exception: API Testing.

API Testing interest over time (Source: Google Trends)

API Testing interest over time (Source: Google Trends)

The boom in APIs being created and integrated has led to a subsequent boom in API testing: 71% of testers tested APIs in 2017. In 2018, that number was up to 80%. In contrast, Web Testing fell from 84% to 73%. No other application was tested by even 45% of testers in either 2017 or 2018.

Companies specialized in testing tools have been keeping up with this trend by providing both Web and API testing features. Some examples in the market include Katalon Studio, Cucumber, TestNG, TestComplete, UFT, IBM Rational Functional Tester, Tosca, Eggplant, and so on.

Name API Testing Web Testing Both
Katalon Studio Yes Yes Yes
TestComplete No Yes No
IBM Rational Functional Tester Yes Yes Yes
Selenium Webdriver No Yes No
UFT Yes Yes Yes
Browserstack No Yes No
Ranorex Studio No Yes No

The Most Popular Testing Tools Go To…

Best Automation Testing Tools

Selenium WebDriver, Katalon Studio, TestComplete, IBM Rational, UFT, are some of the testing tools and frameworks commonly used in the industry.

In terms of cost efficiency, there is a diverse mix of free and paid testing tools in the market. Below are some examples:

  • Free: Katalon Studio, Selenium WebDriver, Appium, Cucumber
  • Paid: Test Complete, UFT, IBM Rational Functional, Ranorex Studio
  • Paid (with negotiable price): Applitools, Eggplant, Telerik Test Studio

For a complete and updated list of most recommended Automation testing tools, read more here.

UI Testing Becomes More Popular in 2018

User interface (or UI) testing is an essential component of any software development process. A well-designed UI can alleviate the users’ experience to a more engaging level. The more thoroughly polished the UI is, the more flawless the users’ experience becomes. Additionally, Gartner’s customer survey found that customers listed UI functional test automation in their top three most important functionalities for test automation solutions.

Many automated testing solutions have implemented the Record & Replay feature, which allows users to develop test scripts without having to write code or with very minimal programming skills. According to the survey, the majority of UI testers still create tests using scripting—this number remains equal at 41% throughout 2017 and 2018. However, more respondents are using both the Scripting and Record & Replay features in 2018, comparing to 2017.

How you automate UI tests

How do you automate UI test (Source: (Source: SmartBear)

When it comes to testing software, there is a multitude of options in the market that assist UI testing. Unsurprisingly, Selenium WebDrivers dominates as the most commonly used tool at 66%. However, there are many other frameworks and platforms in the market that also serve this purpose. The other names in the top 10 include TestComplete, Cucumber, Katalon Studio, TestNG, UFT, BrowserStack, Protractor, Appium, and CrossBrowserTesting (SmartBear report).

the most popular UI testing tool

The most used tools in UI Testing (Source: Smartbear)

Automated API testing is one of the few testing practices that saw more teams use it in 2018 than in 2017, growing from being used by 50% of teams to being used by 54% of teams over the last year. In contrast, most other testing practices saw declines between these two years.

The same report from SmartBear saw that the percentage of respondents who test against Internal API most frequently of all APIS fell drastically, from 72% in 2017 to a mere 51% in 2018. External APIs, however, rose from 22% to 30%, and third-party APIs rose from 6% to 19%. These changing results in what type of API is most frequently tested shows that the variety within the API testing area is increasing.

The Job of Testing is Expanding

Quality Assurance Engineer salaries in United States (Source: Indeed)

Quality Assurance Engineer salaries in the United States (Source: Indeed)

The massive expansion in the internet and computing technology over the past two decades has increased the amount of software used by businesses, organizations, families, and individuals by an incredible amount.

The acceleration in technological advancement and the resulting dependency on various computing devices has led to a massive increase in the importance of software testing. Gartner predicts that IT spending has reached approximately 3.7 trillion in 2018 or will do so next year.

With this growing importance, the pressure for testing to be faster and more accurate has led to a massive increase in interest in test automation. If the rate of technological advancement is to continue at its current pace, test automation will have to keep up.

Cross-browser Testing Reigns

Web testers are working harder to test on as many internet browsers as possible. According to the Sauce Labs 2018 report, 90% of testers reported testing in multiple browsers, more than the 88% who did so in 2017. 39% of testers reported testing in more than five browsers, even though only 29% did so in 2017.

Testing habits change along with the path of the browser wars. Google Chrome, the most popular browser, remains the top browser for tests (94% in Sauce Labs’ report, 93% in SmartBear’s report). The massive decrease (94% to 71%) in tests run in Internet Explorer since 2016 coupled with Microsoft Edge experiencing a massive increase (32% to 59%) in that same time period, according to Sauce Labs, reflects Microsoft’s replacement of IE.

However, all trends regarding browser testing are not so good. In 2016, 37% of testers who responded to Sauce Labs said they only tested in the most up to date browser versions. By 2018, this number had increased to 53% in Sauce Labs’ report, and 51% in SmartBear’s report. Testers should be aware that many users do not keep up to date, and that by neglecting to test on older versions of browsers they could fail to notice some bugs that cause trouble for users.

The Popularity of Mobile Testing

Due to the rising popularity of smartphones and other mobile devices, mobile testing continues to grow and become more important in the testing industry, with a majority of testers now testing on mobile. The most popular devices according to SmartBear are iPhones (81%), Samsung phones (75%), and iPads (56%).

Product Updates Releases are Becoming More Frequent

Product teams have been releasing updates over increasingly smaller intervals.

While teams are much more likely to release updates on a daily or weekly basis, the frequency of releasing products on a monthly, quarterly and yearly basis has declined over the past year.

The number of teams releasing updates at least once a day doubled, while those who release multiple times of day tripled. Teams that update monthly or less commonly fell from 60% to 39%, according to the SmartBear survey, a dramatic decline.

Java Prevails to be the most Popular Language

53% of people surveyed by SmartBear reported that they used Java to write test scripts and code, and 64% reported using it to write their applications. Java coding is also used by various popular test automation tools such as Selenium, Katalon Studio, and IBM RFT.

Moreover, some other household names including Javascript, C / C#, Python, and Groovy are mentioned in the top 5 most popular programming languages, according to the SmartBear report.

Most Popular Programming Language in 2018 (Source: SmartBear)Reports used in this article:

  • Test Automation Trends and Recommendations for 2018 (Source: Dzone)
  • Testing Trends for 2018 (Source: Agility CMS)
  • The 2018 State of Testing Report (Source: Smartbear)
  • Magic Quadrant for Software Test Automation (Source: Gartner)
  • Best Automation Testing Tools for 2018 (Source: Medium)