Automated UI Testing: Comparing UI Test Tool Performance

Mar 11, 2022

By the time new software hits the market, it will inevitably possess a high level of polish meant to facilitate sales, implementation, and continued utilization. While the end-user might view each product release as a shiny new tool to add to the stack, even the best software can be a mess beneath the surface. We counteract the turbulent and dynamic nature of code through UI testing in order to eliminate “bugs” and ensure that critical tasks are running efficiently, and elements are in the right place. When it comes to UI testing, there are two main schools of thought: manual UI testing and automated UI testing.

Manual UI testing is exactly what the name implies; testing procedures carried about by a human developer. Due to the human element, however, this type of UI test is time-consuming, error-prone, and just plain inefficient. Automated UI, on the other hand, uses scripts to automate key testing processes, taking human elements like fatigue, inattentiveness, knowledge gaps, and other issues out of the equation.

Today, the automatic risk-based testing team at Appsurify is going to run down our list of the most popular test automation frameworks on the market. Indeed, this list is complete with pros and cons for each and side-by-side comparison. 

Manual and Automated UI Testing Automation Frameworks

First things first: how do UI test automation frameworks actually…work? How exactly do they replicate manual testing procedures?

In the most basic sense, each test automation framework consists of a combination of scripts, rules, tools, and practices designed to help your QA team probe a piece of code — be it a website, e-commerce platform, or app— for errors that may impact functionality. These tests are, then, performed under the auspice of three major principles

  • Arrangement
  • Action
  • Assertion

In short, a UI test checks if the objects are located where they should be (arrangement), performs an action such as clicking and asserts the function was carried out correctly. Obviously, manual testing involves a live person performing clicks on hundreds of elements in a time-consuming search for faulty code.

Five Automation Frameworks Commonly Used

Test automation frameworks handle the arduous task of carrying out these tests and checking each key element by automating those clicks. The testing criteria, or rules, that you impose on each set of elements generally fall into one of five test automation frameworks:

  • Linear
  • Modular
  • Data-driven
  • Keyword
  • Lastly, hybrid

For example, linear testing tracks and replays lines of code. This method is, however, very basic and only applicable for isolating small-scale errors in simple strands of code. Modular, on the other hand, takes “chunks” or modules of your code and executes a battery of tests in order to make the process more manageable. Those chunks can later be combined for big-picture diagnostics.

Data-driven automates user-defined testing criteria by utilizing an outside stream of figures, metrics, and information to continuously refine its testing parameters. Keyword, indeed, uses key phrases to isolate related sections of code across your site or app and perform tests on only the germane elements. Hybrid, of course, implies a combination of testing types used simultaneously.

Comparing Popular Frameworks for Automated UI Testing

A software developer using multiple programming languages for automated UI testing.

Now that we have a better grasp of what automated UI testing entails, let’s look at a cross-section of the best testing tools available on the market, starting with Selenium. Then, to evaluate each tool as fairly as possible, our evaluation criteria includes:

  • Speed of execution
  • Reliability
  • Learning Curve
  • Available plugins
  • Lastly, reporting


Selenium is both a venerable and popular product in the world of automated UI testing. Further, Selenium bills itself as a browser automation tool, giving users free range as to implementation. When we talk about Selenium regarding UI testing, we are mainly talking about their WebDriver product.

Part of Selenium’s efficacy is the fact that it can perform testing across multiple browsers and multiple programming languages simultaneously. Those languages include:

  • Javascript
  • Python
  • C#
  • Ruby
  • Lastly, Java

In other words, it is language agnostic.

Pros of Selenium

  • Transcends platforms and browsers
  • Language agnostic
  • Open-source tool with thriving community support 
  • Huge library of 3rd party plugins

Cons of Selenium

  • Produces Flaky Tests, especially if page elements fail to load quickly
  • Higher barrier to entry
  • Zero reporting capabilities
  • No official tech support due to open source

The Bottom Line

  • Speed of execution: A
  • Reliability: C
  • Learning Curve: C
  • Available Plugins: A+
  • Reporting: F


Next, let’s turn our attention to Cypress. When all’s said and done, Cypress is a relative newcomer to the world of automated UI testing. Cypress works exclusively in-browser, and is powered by Javascript. Therefore, in order to properly leverage this agile and adaptable framework, one must be fluent in Javascript.

Front-end developers in particular are likely to gravitate towards Cypress due to its ease of use, responsiveness, and the way it efficiently handles DOM events, responding to a site’s embedded functions in order to generate test clicks.

Pros of Cypress

  • Ideally suited for front-end developers
  • Agile and responsive for those with knowledge of Javascript
  • Handles slow-loading elements easily with its use of DOM events
  • Lastly, generates instantaneous test logs for documentation and isolation purposes

Cons of Cypress

  • Does not work across multiple browsers simultaneously
  • Javascript only for developer purposes
  • Limited range of browser support

The Bottom Line

  • Speed of execution: A
  • Reliability: B
  • Learning Curve: A
  • Available Plugins: F
  • Reporting: A


Next, let’s take a look at Puppeteer for automated UI testing. At its core, Puppeteer behaves similarly to Selenium, but there are a few marked differences. Puppeteer gives users access to a node library which in turn provides headless API control. The trouble with Puppeteer is that while it can be purposed to perform some UI testing, it is primarily a web automation tool, and therefore may need to be used in conjunction with other solutions.

Pros of Puppeteer

  • Robust performance testing features
  • Unmatched web automation

Cons of Puppeteer

  • Only works in Chrome
  • Struggles to handle more complex testing functions

The Bottom Line

  • Speed of execution: A
  • Reliability: C
  • Learning Curve: A
  • Available Plugins: F
  • Reporting: D


Finally, we come to Playwright for automated UI testing. Oftentimes you’ll hear a general discussion of Playwright vs. Selenium and with good cause; they are two of the best testing tools available on the market. Like Puppeteer, Playwright is, indeed, an easy-to-use node library for headless API use. Unlike Puppeteer (and more like Selenium), Playwright is adaptable across languages, browsers, and platforms. 

Pros of Playwright

  • Offers headless browser control through high-level API use
  • Language agnostic
  • Able to handle complex testing functions
  • Lastly, cross-browser functionality

Cons of Playwright

  • Emulator-only support
  • Little community support for an open-source product

The Bottom Line

  • Speed of execution: A
  • Reliability: A
  • Learning Curve: A
  • Available Plugins: D
  • Reporting: D

Choosing the Right Test Automation Framework for Automated UI Testing

When it comes to choosing the manual and automated UI testing solution for your needs, there’s, unfortunately, no “one-size-fits-all” option. No matter which product you choose, there are bound to be growing pains as you plan out your testing functions and set up automation. However, to minimize regression, we encourage developers to take a bespoke approach to test tools, essentially creating their own automated tool belt. For instance, Selenium pairs well with Playwright, creating a more inclusive and all-encompassing approach to testing.

Appsurify is the preeminent voice in test automation efficiency. Although we are test framework and test type agnostic with our automatic risk-based testing solution, we love to help your organization on their automation journey for faster UI Test Feedback.

For more information on our services, please click here to request a free demo.