Desktop computer showing test automation with vendor tool

One of the most highly debated topics in software testing is to decide between open source and vendor-based solutions for test automation.

In the beginning, vendor-based solutions were expensive, bulky and hard to use, and consumed a considerable amount of time, cost and effort to set up. Consequently, teams automatically relied on open source solutions. But with the increasing need to quickly and efficiently author automated tests, the paradigm has shifted to using vendor-based solutions, for multiple reasons.

Here are five reasons to go with a vendor-based automation solution.

1. Ease of use

With organizations pushing features at a rapid rate to meet growing custom demands, it is crucial to catch defects as quickly as possible. This means the chosen automation tool or framework should be easy to use for new and existing team members. They should be able to quickly author tests, run them, get quick feedback and integrate them with the existing tests.

Unlike open source tools, vendor-based tools already have built-in features, plugins, libraries and smart IDEs to help anyone write tests quickly, irrespective of their technical knowledge. A majority of these tools also have drag-and-drop features that save time by not having to write extra code.

2. Learning curve

The most significant limitation of open source tools is the steep learning curve that comes along with using them. You need resources to choose the right framework and do the initial setup, and that may require the creation of additional utilities to integrate the framework with the existing tools and processes seamlessly.

On the contrary, vendor tools have a faster learning curve, as the tool usually comes packaged with all the essential features any team would need to get started with automation. Also, there are robust help documentation, video tutorials, and tooltips that help teams acclimate to the tool faster compared to open source solutions.

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3. Audit trails and compliance standards

Most companies these days handle large amounts of customer data. Teams have to maintain a high level of data, privacy, security and other compliance standards in all the tools used as part of their development process. This includes test automation tools.

In many cases, there are APIs and other services that handle large amounts of customer data. To test these components, the automation tool should meet various compliance standards, including HIPAA, SOC2 and ISO 270001.

Most open source frameworks and tools do not meet any compliance standards, as they are built to help the community and free to use. Vendor-based solutions adhere to most of the compliance standards, so teams do not have to worry about it.

4. Customer support and automatic updates

This is probably the biggest reason companies choose vendor-based tools. Once you buy a tool, you usually get 24/7 customer support along with it. So, if you are stuck and need help to solve any problem related to the tool, you can reach someone quickly and get it resolved. This is not the case with open source frameworks and tools, as they are built with the sole purpose of enhancing their functionalities by creating their own wrappers and utilities on top of it.

Also, as technology advances and new programming languages and frameworks are introduced, automation tools have to be able to support them. Vendor-based solutions automatically provide support through frequent product updates, which include new features, bug fixes and enhancements.

This is not the case with open source tools, as a majority of them are not updated or maintained to stay relevant with the current trends in technology. The team using these open source libraries and frameworks has to do the updating work on their own, which has its own set of challenges.

5. CI/CD integration

In this day and age, having seamless CI/CD integration has become mandatory for teams to release products faster. A majority of vendor tools make it easy for teams to integrate their tool with existing CI/CD processes within a matter of minutes. They have robust documentation to help anyone set up the pipeline fast. They also tend to have great customer support.

With open source frameworks, the team has to set up the pipelines, which usually requires a certain level of technical skill set. Sometimes this process can get cumbersome, depending on the technology stack and existing tools used by the teams.

Although open source solutions are free, there is still a cost associated with getting the required resources to set them up and build robust test automation frameworks from scratch. Vendor tools have the initial monetary cost, but the team can get them up and running quickly, which is crucial for organizations to meet growing customer demands. Choose wisely.

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About the Author

Raj Subrameyer is an international keynote speaker, writer and tech career coach with a rich technical background. In his blog, rajsubra.com/blog/, he posts inspirational news, resources, and updates to help his readers lead a better life.

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