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Select Your Open-Source QA Tools With Eyes Wide Open

It is difficult to not talk about open source in a QA tooling discussion. Over the past decade, open-source tools flooded the market and changed the way organizations managed and executed QA activities. Several of these tools made significant strides to become staples in the industry, such as (Sauce Labs):

  • Selenium: A test automation tool that automates actions in the browser
  • Appium: The mobile counterpart to Selenium used for automated testing on both iOS and Android
  • JMeter: A performance testing tool written in Java
  • JUnit: A unit testing tool for Java applications
  • Robotium: Records UI tests for Android
  • Selendroid: Selenium-based automated testing for Android

The decisions on which open-source tools and how you leverage them are dependent on the desired tool feature, implementation, and management capabilities, such as:

  • A tool’s specialty in a specific type of test on a specific platform using a desired approach. Open-source tools tend to focus on a specific testing problem, whether that be test management or execution.
  • The discussions, collaborations, and activeness of open-source community to support your tool. The help and advice in these communities may not meet your immediate support needs.
  • Diverse support for open-source tools through extensive partners and sponsors. Selenium, for example, is widely supported through out-of-the-box plugins provided by partners. Some vendors, such as Sauce Labs, incorporate open-source tools within their proprietary toolsets. However, support is often provided to only recent versions of the open-source tool.
  • Customizable and extensible across multiple proprietary product delivery tools, such as application lifecycle management, test management, and delivery work management tools. However, these vendors may have invested interest in specific open-source communities and tools, which may lead to biased treatment. Ultimately, you may be left on the hook for support if the vendor decides to shift gears.

Our Take

Despite their prevalence in the industry, open-source QA tools may not be as valuable or useful as advertised. Unique organizational and team implementation, management, and support challenges may restrict the full realization of the tool’s benefits or introduce unintended financial and vendor risks. Get a firm grasp on these key items as you architect and select your QA tools to justify their value:

  • Testing and QA tooling capability gaps
  • Product delivery tooling landscape and integration needs
  • Desired vendors that incorporate open-source tools within their own toolset
  • Open-source management practices

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