Automated User Interface Testing Explained: 3 Techniques You Should Know


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The user interface is an essential component of any mobile or web application. After all, communicating with the UI is how users access the core functionality of any application. The method of testing the UI of an application for verifying its functionality is known as UI testing. Both facets of UI-testing include all screening for the smallest logic, user interface workflow, navigation, transformations, measurements and calibration of all buttons.

Conventionally the QA team performs this test manually. However, the appearance of the agile methodology has supported teams for adopting automation for the test cycles for releasing them faster. Agile development models emergence and automation frameworks have also encouraged teams to replace conventional testing practices. Automated UI testing is now considered necessary in software testing pipelines across the world. This article examines the basics of automated GUI testing and highlights the challenges of UI automation and how teams must find the right balance between manual and automated testing.

So let’s begin by addressing the most fundamental question.

What is Automated User Interface Testing?

Automated UI testing refers to using specific tools and frameworks for automating the manual test processes that verify UI functionality. Manual tasks like validating the user navigation, UI workflows, testing the logical functionality of each button, and validating the input field would be automated using certain tools or frameworks.

Automating UI tests helps in minimizing the time and human effort required for testing an application’s UI. Instead of having a tester for validating every aspect of the UI, test steps could be created for corresponding user scenarios. Testers can later use these test strips in case of code modifications are the addition of new functionalities.

At high levels of automating UI test allows teams for:

  1. Stimulating and user interactions with the application’s UI.
  2. Automating end user inputs and testing the logical functionality of each component.
  3. Incorporating a UI test parallel to the development phase.
  4. Generating and evaluating test results.

Benefits of Automated UI testing

Numerous benefits are offered by automated UI testing in agile software development. Some of them are listed below:

  1. Enables teams for increasing test coverage rate significantly.
  2. Increased test coverage fosters faster debugging.
  3. Test scripts were created and could be reused, and this makes testing highly scalable.
  4. Text execution is much faster as compared with manual testing.
  5. Efficient test strips could deliver accurate test results.
  6. Unlike manual tests, automated tests are not inclined to human error.
  7. Automated testing is time and cost-effective.

It is revealed by the global quality report that more than 60% of organizations cannot detect bugs faster because of increased test coverage using test automation. Additionally, 57% of respondents have observed an increase in test cases by applying automation. However, you should wear in your mind that although test automation has become mainstream in the agile world, manual testing can carry its importance.

Teams need to find a bright balance between manual and automated testing. Every project is unique, and one should evaluate several aspects like economic feasibility, time constraints, and types of tests to be performed. Atoms are required to make informed decisions that could be challenging at times. It brings us to an essential subject regarding the challenges in automated GUI testing.

Challenges in UI automation testing

During test automation, each QA team faces several challenges. These problems impact the test process adversely and may impede the overall implementation schedules of the project. Below are some of the typical problems for test automation teams.

Identifying the right automation tool for extensive testing

There are various tools available on the internet, both paid and open-source. Each tool is designed specifically for addressing specific issues. Each tool has its compatibility criteria and required QA for having expertise in a particular language. Given this, it becomes very difficult to evaluate the ideal tool that meets all businesses and technical requirements.

Diversity in the test environment

The web is highly fragmented, and the difference in the combination of devices allowed in systems used for accessing an application continues to increase. Testing and optimizing UI for all platforms in such fragmented environments is extremely difficult. UI testing requires an extensive test infrastructure, and it means teams should set up on-premise device labs that require huge investments. It drives us to the next challenge.

Test automation demand uses investment

Making use of investments for setting up on-premise device security labs may not be feasible for small and medium-scale organizations. All the expenses required for setting up the required test infrastructure pay off in the long term. The value of incorporating automation in the early stages is usually high.

Automation requires technical expertise

Test automation is a technically complicated task and needs individuals to be skilled with specific programming languages and frameworks. Teams will not achieve the desired level of test automation without the required skill sets.

GUI testing techniques

GUI testing techniques could be classified into three parts:

Manual based testing

According to the requirements stated in the business requirements document under this approach, graphical screens are checked manually by testers according to the requirements stated in the business requirements document.

Record and replay

GUI testing could be performed using automation tools. It is done in two parts. During recording, test steps are being captured by the automation tools and during playback recorded, the steps are executed on the application under test.

Model-based testing

A model is a graphical representation of the behaviour of a system. It helps in understanding and protecting the system’s behaviour. A model helps in the generation of efficient test cases using the system requirements. The following requirements are to be considered for this model-based testing:

  1. Building the model
  2. Data mining input for the model
  3. Calculating expected output for the model
  4. Running the tests
  5. Comparing actual output with the expected output
  6. The decision on further action on the model.

Some of the modelling techniques from which test cases could be derived are:

Charts — Represents the state of a system and checks the state after some input.

Decision tables — Tables used for data mining results for each input applied.

Model-based testing is a developing technique for generating test cases from the requirements. Compared to the above two methods, its main advantage is that it could determine undesirable states that the GUI could attain.


A software product’s success immensely depends on how the GUI interacts with the user and simplifies it using its various features. Hence, GUI testing is essential. Manual GUI testing could sometimes be repetitive and error-prone. Automation User Interface Testing is extremely recommended.

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