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Open Source vs Commercial vs Custom Based Test Automation Suite
Open Source vs Commercial vs Custom Based Test Automation Suite

Automation is an integral part to help organizations move the needle from Quality Assurance to being Quality Engineering driven and as such adoption of Test Automation Suites has seen an increase in recent years. These suites help with many challenges QE teams face in this transformation. With its market size expected to reach USD 49.9 Billion by 2026, it is evident that more and more organizations are moving towards leveraging an automation testing suite for their software projects. Choosing an apt test automation framework for your project is a crucial task as it demands significant investments in terms of time and money. Hence, it is important to evaluate every framework thoroughly before making the final decision.

We’ll explain the test automation suite with the help of an example. David, Harvey and Lisa are required to choose a test automation framework for their respective projects. While Harvey wants to explore customized Test Automation Framework, Lisa opts for a commercial tool and David leverages an open-source tool.

Well, there is nothing wrong or right instead all these test automation framework choices come with their own merits and demerits. To understand each one, we must dig a little deeper.

We must look for more information on all three:

  • Open-Source Test Automation Framework
  • Commercial Test Automation Framework
  • Custom Based Test Automation Framework

In this article, we’ll discuss all three in detail to help you make the right decision.

A - Open-Source Test Automation Suite

Open-source frameworks allow users to access their source code and modify it under certain conditions. Though the term “open-source” is mostly used synonymously with “free software,”, still it always recommended to perform diligent research as they often come with hidden costs. Open-source tools also offer commercial support services around their basic framework to provide a safety net for organizations that are willing to adopt these, a freemium model if you will.

According to a recent survey, over 90% of organizations stated that it was important for them to have an open source solution.

There are several reasons that must have pushed David towards making the similar choice, such as:

  • Cost Savings

    Compared to other forms of testing frameworks, open-source frameworks will allow David to access its capabilities with minimal to zero licensing costs.

  • Continuous Enhancement

    Several open source testing frameworks with vibrant community offer continuous improvements to their software via updates, upgrades. It makes these testing frameworks more favourable to use as bugs are fixed as needed, and new features are added regularly.

  • Open to modifications

    Most open-source testing frameworks will allow David to modify their basic design in order to meet his project’s specific needs. While some frameworks may not allow it, they may offer several low-priced services around the basic design for him to access and personalize accordingly. 

  • Flexibility

    By adopting open source test automation frameworks, David can gain flexibility since he is not tied up to any particular vendor.

Such benefits make open-source test automation frameworks a fine choice for David. While there are several convincing reasons to adopt open source test automation frameworks, there are also multiple reasons why it might not be the perfect fit for his use case:

  • Hidden Costs

    Many times, open source testing automation frameworks involve hidden costs to enable the user to access the tool to its full potential. Considering the maintenance and support costs, the “free” tool may end up being a tad more expensive for David than he may have estimated initially.

  • Lack of support

    Open source testing frameworks don’t always come with support options. It isn’t necessary that the tool David chooses to work with will meet his expectations in terms of convenience, and ease of use and the lack of support or expertise may make it difficult for him to realize value sooner.

  • Threats to Safety and Security

    Checking open-source frameworks for security vulnerabilities is crucial as safety threats can lead to the risk of exploitation. David needs to keep safety threats in mind while leveraging these frameworks and prepare for back-up safety options. 

Sneak Peak:

Codeless testing is a buzzword in 2021. Over 40% of respondents have an interest in using Codeless Test Automation solutions this year. Codeless testing is also the top trend respondents are looking to invest in throughout 2021.

B - Commercial Test Automation Suite

Commercial test automation frameworks involve license / subscription costs. A user has to purchase the license in order to use the framework. In comparison with open source frameworks, commercial frameworks offer features that cater to more specific needs.

Though commercial test automation frameworks aren’t free, but there are several reasons that must have driven Lisa towards adopting them:

  • She doesn’t have to build a strong in-house team for set up.
  • Many commercial frameworks have built-in workflows that make it easy to use.
  • Commercial tools offer access to support should anything go wrong and easy-to-follow documentation.
  • Several commercial testing automation frameworks have built-in reporting capabilities
  • They are reliable and secure.

Like several organizations, Lisa also prefers commercial frameworks over open-source ones mostly because of the benefits of reliability and quick support. However, she must consider the challenges that it might potentially expose her project to:

  • The cost of acquiring the license can be significant. While many commercial frameworks are available on a subscription basis these days, it is still a significant amount that she may have to shell out annually or biannually.
  • Some frameworks may end up charging her extra for extra features.
  • They offer limited to zero customization.

C - Customized Test Automation

Customized test automation frameworks are the ones that companies build to fit the requirements of their software projects. An organization may have projects with different tech stacks that drive them towards building customized test automation frameworks.

There are two ways Harvey can approach the building of customized test automation frameworks – he can either form an in-house team or he can partner with a technology vendor.

Although forming an in-house team certainly has its benefits, it is suggested to partner with a technology vendor so his teams can focus on the core initiatives. Typically, technology vendors offer end-to-end support, maintenance &, development assistance.

Customized frameworks require expertise for development and maintenance. It is strenuous to plan an in-house team with diverse expertise. By partnering with a technology vendor, Harvey can gain access to a proficient team of engineers which will help him to gain top notch support, knowledge and the right framework for his project.

There are several reasons that make customized test automation frameworks the preferable choice for Harvey:

  • He can ask for changes according to his project’s requirements.
  • He will have complete control over the source code since they own the IP.
  • He can reach out for expert support at any given time.
  • There will be no surprise or hidden costs as he can form a detailed expense report.
  • He can ensure that all compliances are met without worrying about loopholes.
  • He can integrate the security and backup options as necessary.
  • No limitations for adding new features or removing the unnecessary ones.

However, he must consider the potential pitfalls as well before opting for customized test automation frameworks:

  • Building customized tool is a long, tedious and time-consuming process. 
  • Depending on the features he builds and security measures he integrates, building a customized tool can be expensive. He needs to set aside a significant budget with room for extension so that he can build it in the best way possible.
  • He needs access to ample amount of resources for building the framework that’s customized for his project.

If Harvey opts for in-house custom development, it is important for his team to get along well with no communication barriers and stay dedicated to the project so that there are no loopholes. He will have to invest time to ensure a comfortable and growth-oriented work environment for his in-house development team.

However, partnering with a technology vendor is cost effective as compared to in-house development because they can focus on innovation & their core value generation activities.

D - Win-Win Situation

All three frameworks have their own set of pros and cons. The final decision depends on the non-negotiable aspects of the user’s project. That’s how David, Lisa and Harvey made their choice. Users must take all factors into account before making the final decision.

Choosing to build a customized test automation framework by partnering with a fitting technology vendor is the safest bet of them all, as the benefits are profound. All potential challenges can be effectively managed under expert supervision. However, it is very essential for users to select the right technology partner so they get their money’s worth.

Want to explore more?

With Q's Test Automation consultants, working on any Automation framework is easy and simplified. Reach out to our team with questions [email protected] or download our eBook for gaining deeper insights on how our quality engineering services helps in improving customer experience.

Happy to create a testing framework personalized for your organizational needs!