Is UI Automation just about testing or is there more to it?

UI Automation is used to test website applications to ensure that when we come to use the software, it is working correctly and will perform the tasks we carry out via pointing and clicking.

But did you know those same principles and ideas can be used not just to test if a user interface is working, but also to automate the processes you do via the UI?

UI automation can be used to test apps, but it can also be an alternative to API automation. In fact, you can use UI automation to automate your repetitive work on the desktop or in the browser via the UI. In this article, we will explore what UI automation is, the types of automation, and the different ui automation tools we can use.

# What is UI Automation

Web UI automation involves automating interactions with the graphical user interface (GUI) of an application on a website or desktop. That's right—UI automation uses software to replicate the clicks and interactions we perform, just like we would. Why would we want to do this? Originally, its primary use was to test applications to ensure that new features worked correctly, safeguarding against the release of bad code that could negatively affect a business.

While humans can perform these tests, using software is quicker and more efficient. For decades, software has been used to test and ensure the quality of applications. Innovators like axiom.ai realized that if bots could replicate our actions for testing, they could also be used to automate repetitive tasks. The apple had fallen from the tree: UI automation could free us from boring, repetitive tasks.

# What Can You Use UI Automation For?

So we know what UI automation is, but what cool things can we do with it? If you want to test an application or website, UI automation can be used to replicate human interactions. For example, you could build an automation to buy a product and check out on an e-commerce website. This is great for being able to test and ensure your checkout process is working.

But UI automation, as I mentioned, can do so much more. When used to automate work in the browser, the possibilities are almost endless. If an app has a UI, it can be automated, meaning we can virtually automate any task, whether it be in an app like a tax software or a social media platform. If there is a button or a series of actions you repeat, it's very likely you can automate your UI to do it for you.

And we have done just that. We have created UI automations to send DMs on Instagram, update shipping information in a logistics application, enter data into a CRM, and even to create websites in Webflow.

# How to go about UI automation

Like most things their is more than one way to do somethig UI automation is no different. The log and short of it is either you can learn to code and create UI automations progromatically or you can use Tools to create your automations. I would recommend choosing a tool over coding UI automations. Why simple becuase its quicker and easier to do at scale. Why build from scratch when someones made a tool to do the job. Sorry but I like being lazy.

# What UI Automation languages are there?

If you are intreset in coding an automation then you will not go wrong learning on of these automation first lanagauages. There so many great online tutorials now and even chatpt to help you learn. If you are determined to learn alnagauage which is not a bad thing I would go for Python, its apopular language and is not just used for automation.

# How to Approach UI Automation

Like most things, there is more than one way to do UI automation. The long and short of it is that you can either learn to code and create UI automations programmatically or you can use tools to create your automations. I would recommend choosing a tool over coding UI automations. Why? Simply because it's quicker and easier to do at scale. Why build from scratch when someone has already made a tool to do the job? Sorry, but I like being lazy.

# What UI Automation Languages Are There?

If you are interested in coding an automation, you can't go wrong learning one of these automation-first languages. There are so many great online tutorials now, and even ChatGPT can help you learn. If you are determined to learn a language, which is not a bad thing, I would go for Python. It's a popular language and is used for much more than just automation.

# UI automation Python (opens new window)

Python is a versatile and popular programming language widely used for automation, web development, data analysis, and more. It boasts a clean syntax and an extensive library ecosystem, making it an excellent choice for both beginners and experienced developers.

ui automation programming language python

Advantages:

  • Easy to learn and use, with a clean and readable syntax
  • Extensive library support, including libraries specifically for UI automation like Selenium, PyAutoGUI, and BeautifulSoup
  • Strong community support and abundant resources for learning and troubleshooting
  • Versatile, allowing you to use it for various tasks beyond automation, such as web development and data analysis

Disadvantages:

  • Performance may be slower compared to languages like C++ or Java
  • Requires programming knowledge to develop automation scripts
  • Depending on the complexity of the task, it may require more time to set up and maintain compared to using specialized UI automation tools

# UI automation Selenium (opens new window)

Selenium is an open-source project encompassing various tools and libraries designed for automating web browsers. It features a playback tool that facilitates the creation of functional tests compatible with the majority of contemporary web browsers.

ui automation programming language selenium

Advantages:

  • You can both write automated tests and automate web-based tasks
  • Open source license
  • Compatible with most browsers

Disadvantages:

  • Big learning curve
  • Requires programming knowledge to develop automation or tests
  • Scripts may need updates following changes in the UI

# UI automation Puppeteer (opens new window) by Google

Puppeteer is software made by Google. It provides an API that allows developers to manipulate Chrome or Chromium browsers through the user interface by leveraging the DevTools Protocol. With Puppeteer, developers can script UI interactions within the browser, including button clicks, form submissions, and page navigations.

ui automation programming language puppeteer

Advantages:

  • You can both write automated tests and automate web-based tasks
  • Offers a well-documented and user-friendly API
  • Compatible with operating systems such as Windows, macOS, and Linux

Disadvantages:

  • Limited to only Chrome or Chromium browsers
  • Requires programming knowledge to develop automation or tests
  • Scripts may need updates following changes in the UI

# What UI Automation tools are there

If you are interested in UI automation but cannot code, take a look at these tools.

# UI automation axiom.ai (opens new window)

axiom.ai is a no-code automation tool designed to automate repetitive tasks in web applications. It provides an intuitive interface that allows users to create automation workflows without writing any code. This makes it accessible to both technical and non-technical users.

ui automation tool axiom.ai

Advantages:

  • No coding required, making it accessible for non-developers
  • User-friendly interface with drag-and-drop functionality
  • Can automate a wide range of web-based tasks
  • Regular updates and support from the development team

Disadvantages:

  • No support or desktop applications
  • Learning curve for users unfamiliar with automation tools like Zapier

# UI automation Leapwork (opens new window)

Leapwork is a no-code automation platform designed to make it easy for businesses to automate repetitive tasks and test applications without the need for programming skills. With its visual interface, users can create automation flows using a drag-and-drop approach, making automation accessible to both technical and non-technical users.

ui automation leapworks

Advantages:

  • No coding required, making it accessible to non-developers
  • User-friendly visual interface with drag-and-drop functionality
  • Supports a wide range of applications and platforms, including web, desktop, and SAP
  • Comprehensive documentation and support resources
  • Integrates with various CI/CD tools, making it suitable for DevOps workflows

Disadvantages:

  • May have a learning curve for users unfamiliar with automation tools
  • Customization options might be limited compared to traditional coding solutions
  • Can be costly for smaller businesses or individual users

# UI automation UiPath (opens new window)

UiPath is a leading Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tool that enables businesses to automate repetitive tasks and processes. It provides a comprehensive platform with a visual interface that allows users to design automation workflows without writing any code, making it accessible for both technical and non-technical users.

rpa tool UIpath

Advantages:

  • No coding required, making it accessible to non-developers
  • User-friendly interface with drag-and-drop functionality
  • Extensive library of pre-built automation activities
  • Strong community support and extensive documentation
  • Integrates with various applications and systems, including ERP, CRM, and custom applications

Disadvantages:

  • Can be costly, especially for smaller businesses or individual users
  • May have a learning curve for users unfamiliar with RPA tools
  • Customization options might be limited compared to traditional coding solutions

If you are interested in UI automation but cannot code, take a look at these tools.

# How to pick a tool to start learning UI automation

There are some key factors to help you decide which tool to start learning for UI automation. So you do not get bogged down in ui automation challenges.

  1. Ease of use: What skill level does the tool require?
  2. Programming: Do you want to learn a programming language or use a no-code tool?
  3. Requirements: Do you need desktop or browser automation?
  4. Documentation: Are there resources to learn from?
  5. Pricing: Cost can be a big factor; enterprise tools often have hefty license fees.
  6. Support: Do they support their customers well?
  7. Reviews: What do their customer reviews say?

# UI automation or API automation

One final thing to consider is if the task you wish to automate can be done with API automation. API automation can be more dependable than UI automation. However, not all tasks can be automated with an API, and that is the sweet spot for UI automation.

# Wrapping up learning UI automation.

There are a variety of ways to automate the UI, with programming languages such as Python or Puppeteer. There are tools that allow you to automate the UI without coding a single line, and there are tools for individuals or enterprise-scale businesses. The sweet spot for UI automation is automating tasks that API automation cannot. If you are looking to get into UI automation, perhaps just experiment before committing. In that case, it's worth looking at no-code solutions.

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