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10 October, 2023

Why Do People Have Bad Experiences With Test Tools?

why do people have bad experiences with test tools

I speak to many people with a negative view of test tools, having been burned by them. I hear things like:

  • They never do quite what we want
  • When we need them, they break
  • We spend more time maintaining scripts than executing them
  • There’s little or no support
  • They suck up so much time from expensive contractors

As a long-time champion of test tools, this saddens me, but unfortunately, it doesn’t surprise me.

When confronted with this news, I must dig deeper to discover why. Are they doing something wrong? What are their processes? And most importantly… which tools are they using?

Who is Likely to Experience Test Tool Issues?

As a general rule, people with a negative view of test tools fall into one of three camps:

  1. People who were burned by a bad experience (usually with automation) a long time ago
  2. People who have used early-stage tools, seduced by the promise and disappointed by the reality that they were not mature or feature-rich
  3. Or, more likely, people who have only been exposed to open source tools

There is no reason for a poor experience with test tools these days. Modern professional test tools are stable, reliable, and affordable.

So, why do so many testers use test tools that are not stable and reliable?

Why Do You Experience Reliability and Stability Issues with Open Source Test Tools?

  1. Setup Challenges: Open source tools often lack streamlined installation processes. You may have to install several plug-ins just to get a basic tool. Users may scour forums and documentation to set up and configure the tools correctly. This can be incredibly challenging for those without extensive technical knowledge or experience. Incorrect setup will leave you facing countless problems further down the line.
  2. Constant Maintenance: Open source tools typically depend on a community of contributors for infrequent and irregular updates, leading to potential compatibility issues with newer technologies or operating systems. Often, these updates don’t come in time, and you’ll need to spend effort troubleshooting issues, understanding updates, or looking for deprecated functionalities. These tools just seem to fall over, you rationalise it because they’re free, but over time, you’ll end up spending a fortune just to keep them running.
  3. Limited Support: Since these tools are community-driven, professional and timely support is basically non-existent. When you run into issues, you rely on community forums, which might not offer a prompt or practical solution or give bad advice. Conflicting advice from people trying to help, but in reality, burning your time whilst you sift through and try what they suggest.
  4. Functionality: they don’t do everything you need, so you end up enhancing and augmenting them, or using multiple separate tools to plug the gap.

It’s Easy to See Why Businesses Are Drawn to Open Source

Why do businesses opt for open-source tools when professional & supported solutions exist?

Generally, there are a couple of reasons, often working in tandem:

  • Open source tools typically have no upfront costs, so they are perceived as “free”.
  • Consultancies, contractors and testers frequently recommend them.

Unfortunately, both of these reasons are flawed.

As I’ll explore throughout this insight, open source tools are laden with hidden costs that negate the license costs of professional tools.

As for the testers, they generally recommend these sub-standard solutions because:

  • They enjoy the challenge of getting them to work and like being that go-to person
  • Less money spent on tools means more money for people. This is why consultancies and contractors love them.
  • You’ll become reliant on those testers to keep your unstable and unreliable tools running.

Professional Test Tools Provide the Stability and Reliability You Need

Opting for a professional licensed test tool can seem more costly than open source. However, if you opt for the right tools, you’ll get reliability and stability, and they’re a more economical solution when you factor in the long-term benefits.

Here are five reasons why you should move to professional test tools:

  1. Reliability and Stability: Professional licensed tools like LoadRunner and UFT are built by professional software houses and undergo rigorous testing. These tools aren’t hobbies or side projects, they are built by large enterprises for professional situations.
  2. Professional Support: Licensed tools come with dedicated support. This means that if you ever run into an issue, there’s a team ready to assist, ensuring minimal disruption to your testing processes. If it has a bug, they will fix it whilst you get on with something else.
  3. Regular Updates: Professional developers regularly update these tools – it’s their job, and you are paying for it. You’re less likely to encounter compatibility issues or bugs that hinder your testing. They will also respond to customer requests and add new functionality for you, included in the price you have paid.
  4. Built-in Features: Many licensed tools offer built-in functionalities that must be manually added in open source alternatives. This saves time and reduces the complexities of setting up and running your tests.
  5. Security: Licensed tools often prioritise security, ensuring that your testing environment is not vulnerable to potential threats. The importance of this should not be underestimated –  You don’t want to introduce security vulnerabilities into your environment.

How to Get Stable and Reliable Test Tools

It’s easy to see why people think test tools are inherently flaky – because they’ve only been exposed to open source or low cost solutions. However, your test tools don’t need to be a constant pain in the backside.

Licensed test tools like the LoadRunner and UFT suites provide professional stability and reliability.

Sure, the upfront cost of open source tools is negligible, the hidden costs of setup, maintenance, potential downtimes, and delayed projects can add up.

On the other hand, with licensed tools, you pay more upfront but save in terms of reduced man-hours, achieve faster project delivery, and gain the peace of mind that comes with reliability and professional support.

Licensed tools are the pragmatic choice for anyone seeking stability, reliability, affordability and long-term success.

If you are still not convinced, challenge me to show you the value and return on investment you could get with professional tools.

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Stephen Davis
by Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis is the founder of Calleo Software, a OpenText (formerly Micro Focus) Gold Partner. His passion is to help test professionals improve the efficiency and effectiveness of software testing.

To view Stephen's LinkedIn profile and connect 

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10th October 2023
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