Automated Web Testing - When to Choose Recording Over Scripting?

TestCafe Team Blog
24 December 2019

As you may know, we currently offer both scripting-based (TestCafe) and visual recording-based (TestCafe Studio) platforms for web test automation. Though both options can get you where you want to go, we believe that visual test recording offers unique strengths for those who want to incorporate automated testing in the product delivery process.

Visual Recording in a Nutshell 

Unlike script-based test automation, visual test recording eliminates (or significantly reduces) the need to write test script. We like to think of visual test recording as “codeless automation.” To create a recorded test, you simply open a browser and click through your way to a web test (you interact with your web app in the same way end-users would). The visual recorder tracks actions and generates test scripts that you or a CI system can automatically replay later.

This leads to the obvious question - when does it make sense to select automated recording over manual scripting?

1. When You Have Limited Programming Experience

With TestCafe Studio’s visual test recorder, test authors don’t have to be software developers.  To create an automated test with the visual recorder, you simply open a web browser and execute standard user actions (click buttons, fill in forms, drag sliders). Once you’ve recorded actions, you specify the page elements that require verification (via point and click) within your test scenario.

2. When You Have Multiple Test Scenarios

If you have programming experience and you need to write ten or twenty tests – you can write your test scripts manually without much difficulty. If, however, you must write a few hundred tests, scripting could be rather time-consuming. In such instances, it may make sense to consider automated recording. Regardless of how fast you write code, point and click recording is always faster and less costly. This is especially true when the recorder allows you to re-record individual actions and modify selectors when the user interface changes over time.

3. When You Have to Test Apps Based on Different Technologies

Coding tests for large web applications requires that you examine the structure of every page involved. This can be hard if the application consolidates multiple services, includes third-party iframes, etc. If you write tests for more than one application, you may spend unnecessary energy on platform-specifics - specifics that can affect your test code.  Recording conceals these complexities and allows QA engineers to get the job done with the least amount of effort. When using an automated recorder, test script generation remains straightforward regardless of how technologies are used on a webpage.

4. When You Have to Perform Black-Box Testing

When you write a test with a web testing framework, you would normally call page code or browser API to perform actions against page elements. This approach can lead to situations wherein test authors make modifications that are unavailable to end-users. When recording tests visually, engineers are limited to the same screen elements available to end-users.

Visual Recording and You

Though visual recording cannot address every single test scenario, we think it offers important advantages over manual scripting – advantages that can save your team significant time. If you are currently using scripting alone or recording your test scripts, we’d love your feedback. Please tell us why you prefer manual scripting or visual recording in the comments section below.

About TestCafe Studio

TestCafe Studio is a cross-platform, end-to-end web testing IDE with the fully integrated Visual Web Test Recorder. TestCafe Studio requires no WebDrivers and allows you to create, run and maintain automated web tests with zero code. Download Free 30-day Trial.

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