Alternative Text Dave Harris | 16 October 2020 |

How to automate your testing for free

Automation testing, as a developer or a tester, is critical to becoming efficient in delivering the software testing activities that are relevant to your project. The testing tool market, however, is saturated with all manner of tools, whether codeless and coded, licensed and open source and it can be difficult to choose the right tool for you and the objective you are trying to achieve.

There are key questions you need to ask before investigating any potential tools. The first will likely be what should we automate?

This can then be followed by a number of other supplementary questions. Ask yourself:

  • Are you trying to automate a desktop application?
  • Are you looking to automate the testing of your APIs?
  • Do you have a web project which you need to automate tests for?
  • If you purchase a licensed product, what should your budget be, and which is ‘best in class’ for what you need?
  • Will your project team be able to adopt the project and how will it fit into your delivery process?
  • Do you have some automation testing experience in your team – if so, what products are they comfortable with?


There are many challenges to face when you first start your test automation journey, but we would always suggest starting with a good understanding of what automation actually means.

You need to be able to understand what the tools generally do and how. We would also suggest going as far as playing with some tools to get familiar with the concepts. Test automation is not a one-time-hit, it is a software development project and requires maintenance, because, as your solutions mature, so must your tests.

Let’s have a look at some example test automation tools. As always, it’s nice to be able to get familiar with something which doesn’t come at a cost, so for this reason, we are going to talk about two free tools, adopted by many teams and businesses across the world. These are easy to download, easy to start with and maybe even a contender for adopting within your team and project.



Katalon is a codeless testing tool (although if you are comfortable writing in Groovy, you can add some code to your tests), which has a great User Interface for writing and running your automated test cases.

It literally is ‘plug and play’ as the tester can use the record and playback function to get started with writing the tests. Katalon can help you build tests for Web Applications, APIs and Desktop Applications, making it an extremely flexible and powerful tool. Tests are keyword-driven, so very easy to understand and maintain.

A licensed version is available which provides better reporting, for example. But to start off, this is a great way to understand test automation and maintenance activities. Installation is easy too. Simply sign up for an account and download locally to get started.


Robot framework

Robot framework is a Python package which integrates with a large number of libraries to help deliver tests for different functions and applications.

It is open source and extensible, as your team can develop your own functions (known as ‘keywords’ in Robot) to make your tests more efficient, powerful and maintainable. As Robot is keyword-driven, your tests are written in plain English, making them easy to understand. We would recommend reading about which libraries would be more relevant to you and your project, then integrating them with Robot.

In order to write tests, you will need an IDE. We use Visual Studio Code with a couple of Extensions, which enable you to write better tests. As this is a Python package, you can use the pip installer.


What do tests look like?

Below we have a screenshot of what your Robot framework and Katalon test case would look like, if automating a simple search for ‘dolphin’ in Google. As you can see, they are extremely easy to read and understand. Both tests work and verify the same thing.


Robot framework

Here we see the following:

  • Line 2 denotes the library we are using, which in this case, is Selenium, which helps by providing functions which can drive a web browser
  • Line 5 is the Test Case Name, Google Search Test
  • Line 6 opens the URL and Browser of choice
  • Line 7 waits for an element on screen (the search bar) to be displayed
  • Line 8 enter the text ‘dolphin’ into the search field
  • Line 9 selects ‘RETURN’ (Enter), to trigger the search
  • Line 10 asserts that there is some content returned on the page, which contains the text ‘dolphin’
  • Line 11 closes the browser


Unify Automate your Testing for FREE robot framework


Here we see the following:

  • Line 1 Opens the chosen browser (default set to Chrome)
  • Line 2 navigates to
  • Line 3 enters ‘dolphin’ as text into the search field and performs the search
  • Line 4 verifies that the text ‘dolphin’ is present on screen
  • Line 5 closes the browser session


Unify Automate your Testing for FREE katalon


If you would like a demonstration of either of these tools, would like to understand more about which tools would be the right fit or are looking at ways to start your automation testing journey, get in touch with the Unify team today.


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