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Why are open-source automation tools NOT free?

Updated: Jan 6, 2022

Open source automation tools
Open source automation tools

Automation Testing

Automation testing is absolutely essential and a must-have in the modern software development approach. Organizations have realized that quality delivery this the prime factor to remain ahead of the curve in today's competitive world. Also, it is well recognized that quality delivery is the direct function of efficient software testing, and organizations have achieved competitive advantage through their effective software testing process. And what better to make testing more efficient than automating the testing process itself. However, it is easier said than done and there are plenty of challenges in achieving this automation testing goal.

One such challenge in the automation planning phase is tool selection decision or rather selecting an open-source tool just because it comes for free.

The psychology behind selecting an open-source automation tool

Open-source automation tools are the most common way to approach automation testing in our projects and they are perceived to have multiple advantages. We approach the open-source tools with -

  • trust,

  • knowing the great community support they enjoy,

  • they are popular,

  • skills on these tools give us good market value, and

  • most importantly they come for FREE.

Hence they are a no-brainer! Just download for free and start with them. Happy days.

There are no free lunches

All the above about open source automation tools is true however, there is a catch. The catch is that these tools do a fabulous job only if implemented properly. And this is where the challenge lies - Implementation.

Developing an automation framework is essentially the same process as developing any other software application for business by a team of developers. It is like a development project in its own capacity and should have a strong software development lifecycle (SDLC) standard. Essentially if we are serious to meet our automation testing goal, we will need everything or have to do everything that a development team has or does. These are some of the processes we shall follow to achieve a successful implementation of open source free of cost tool -

  1. Design the framework's architecture well for it to stay and cater to needs for a long time.

  2. Follow coding standards, exception handling, logging mechanism, etc.

  3. Implement a code review process.

  4. Implement a code management tool so multiple automation developers can develop the framework.

  5. Implement branching & release strategy to maintain framework versions and handle enhancements.

  6. Setup a testing mechanism to test the framework.

In addition to all this, we should have the required bandwidth, skillset and the automation developers should also have the same level of competency as that of an application developer. If we expect high-quality output from automation, an in-house developed automation framework should comply with all the good practices of SDLC.

The cost of free tools

All of this comes at a cost and that could be quite high which we never account for in the case of free and open-source in-house framework development. Eventually, the daily cost of developing, executing, and maintaining such automation scripts cost more and we pay high costs, daily, for such frameworks build on technologies that are presumed to be free at the start. And then the risk of automation project failure is high as organizations always have core business commitments. Hence a free and open-source solution does not come for free and has the risk of failure exists if not developed thoroughly. At is it said 'there are no free lunches.

Return on Investment (ROI) of free tools

The primary goal of automation is to reduce cost spend yet achieve better levels of quality. To know that, we ever calculate the ROI of implementing the free and open-source tool we are planning to implement or already implemented in the project.

To keep it simple, ROI is the formula of return minus investment. The investment in automation will be the sum of everything it takes to bring automation up and running at a level where it can replace manual testing and in a more efficient way. Then the return starts coming in which will be accumulated over the lifetime of automation executions and will be equal to all the manual effort it has saved.

Now as open-source is perceived to be free, return should start coming in on Day 1 itself but that is not the case. They return only starts coming in when the tool is at a quality level when it is ready to replace manual testing without false failures, overheads, and maintenance. Hence what is the point in automating if there is a negative ROI? This is the fundamental check team should do before starting automation. Teams can use the below formula to arrive at automation ROI -

ROI = Lifetime cost of manual effort saved by automation - [Cost of developing automation + Lifetime cost of maintaining automation]

When not use open source just because they are perceived as FREE

A major reason for automation projects fail to meet their expectation is the selection of automation tool or library just because it is free of cost or open source.

Essentially everything boils to have an ROI and some of the cases that are the indicator of not proceeding with the in-house automation development and it may give a negative ROI is -

  1. Business priorities are different than developing an automation tool.

  2. Developing automation to improve the skill-set of the team.

  3. Don't have the existing skillset in the team.

  4. Don't have a plan, goals, and expectations set from the automation development.

  5. Have a better product in the market for the automation use case.

How shall we decide automation approach then?

As we understand that developing automation solutions is a complex process. It needs a thorough approach, standard, and plan. Moreover, we need controls at every stage for automation development and implementation. Following are some steps that will help teams to approach automation in our projects -

1. The starting point to solve this problem is to know your use case well. Understand the automation problem we are trying to fix.

2. Draft a proper automation test plan to set the expectation from the automation and have a planned way to approach it.

4. Another important consideration is worth considering paid or less costly tools available in the market that are a better fit for your use case, provide cost-saving and better ROI than in-house open source automation development. And then the world is moving towards codeless solutions and outsourcing non-core business capabilities.

"With open-source tools, we pay daily, with licensed tools we pay only once"

5. Along these lines, BotPlay Codeless Automation, helps organizations to remain true to their core business priorities and solve their automation testing challenges by providing a codeless UI automation tool that supports test automation scripting in natural language. It is codeless means you don't have to code for automating your manual testing. With this it is easy to start, anyone can use it, it saves time and cost, and has very low maintenance.

Why is BotPlay automation a perfect choice for your automation testing?

BotPlay Codeless Automation is an intelligent, on-demand, self-service SaaS product providing a codeless way to automate 100% of your testing & processes on web applications.

Benefits - It is lightweight, portable, and doesn’t need any installation. It is an easy-to-use, no-code automation testing tool that removes manual dependency for automation, provides consistent results and saves testing costs, and generates ROI.

BotPlay Codeless Automation Benefits
BotPlay Codeless Automation Benefits

Use cases - If you have any of the below use cases, we would recommend you try out the trial version of BotPlay and gain a comprehensive understanding of the tool and fitment for your use case and project.

BotPlay Codeless Automation Use cases
BotPlay Codeless Automation Use cases

How to use BotPlay Codeless Automation

Features - The salient features of BotPlay include supporting automation testing scripting in natural language hence ensuring 4x faster automation development with 80% less maintenance compared to other tools and custom frameworks.

BotPlay Codeless Automation Features
BotPlay Codeless Automation Features

BotPlay Codeless Automation, helps organizations to remain true to their core business priorities and solve their automation testing challenges by providing a codeless UI automation tool that anyone can automate, even a non-technical user for web automation testing.

We would recommend you try out the trial version of BotPlay and gain a comprehensive understanding of the tool and fitment for your use case and project.

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