4 Myths of Script-less Test Automation

Script-less automation creates a harmonious blend of functional and technological expertise to ensure test automation success. However, not everyone believes that it really works. Ravi Nukala addresses four common myths or misconceptions about script-less automation that needs some discussion.

A simple definition of “script-less test automation” might be “an approach that helps users automate their tests without having to script or code using any programming language.” Testing demands functional knowledge, however automation is a software development process that demands core technical capabilities. Test automation, most often than not, is driven by automation experts who might not necessarily have enough functional expertise about application under test.

A common approach for test automation is to build a framework that ensures ease of use, is scalable and reduces maintenance efforts in a world of demanding business needs, evolving requirements, changing technology interfaces and people. However building a framework that is easy to use is easier said than done because almost all frameworks that we see today are heavily dependent on technology people. What script-less test automation does is that it enable functional experts, be it manual testers or subject matter experts, to actively contribute to test automation. Script-less test automation strives to bridge the gap between functional and technical expertise by allowing functional experts to take the driver seat in test automation.

Script-less experience is achieved by abstracting the technology layer by the use of a workflow-driven approach to build automated test cases along with a set of keywords that runs in the background and converts the workflow into scripts.

Script-less automation creates a harmonious blend of functional and technological expertise to ensure test automation success by having functional experts use their knowledge to automate tests (work flows and data) and having automation experts use their tool and technology knowledge to strategize, lead, plan, troubleshoot, and write extension scripts if required.

Often, in various forums and at conferences, I have come across people with strong views on script-less automation. Some believe it works, and some don’t. When I look back at my conversations, I recognize a few common myths or misconceptions about script-less automation that needs some discussion.

Myth 1: Script-less no different from record and playback
Record and playback are capabilties that users can choose to use to record their tests and play it back to execute them. The recorder generates scripts automatically while user performs operation on the application under test. The recorded script contains hardcoded test data inputs, cannot handle dynamic situations, and is more error prone since it does not perform any validation and error handling on its own. The recorded script does not work in the long run as it is not maintainable, scalable, and reliable.

With a script-less approach, users use the readily available keywords, which are essentially well-managed and reusable scripts. These keywords are more robust and maintainable as they are not only built by best technology specialists but are also thoroughly tested.

Unlike record and playback, the script-less approach also provides a flexibility to manage dynamic objects and associate multiple data sets.

Myth 2: Script-less means script-free.
Script-less automation is an experience made possible by building keywords (which are essentially scripts) that are reusable across applications, tools, technologies, platforms, etc…

The idea is to have your automation experts build a library of simple yet exhaustive keywords that can be easily used by functional experts, allowing them to quickly automate tests without any scripting.

Keywords can be of different types like user actions such as “Click,” “Select Item,” “Enter Text,” etc…and operations such as arithmetic, file, database, and many more.

Myth 3: Script-less test automation is not maintainable and reliable
Script-less test automation is a well-structured, methodical, yet a very flexible approach to handle all types of complexities an application under test has to offer. It eliminates the complexities of test automation tools by building a layer on top, allowing functional users to automate.

User Comments

Tushar Daharwal's picture
Tushar Daharwal

Hey Ravi,

That was a wonderful & very useful article I come across. To proceed with it and to learn more on Script less test automation what should be my approach and where can I get help or more documents to read on this particular topic.


Tushar Daharwal

January 11, 2013 - 8:03am
Pete Dean's picture
Pete Dean

And your point is what exactly?

You're simply playing fast and loose with the term "script-less". You still have to create scripts - they are just keyword-driven and hence abstracting out the technical complexities. This isn't anything new.

January 11, 2013 - 10:12am
Georgia Tsoutsika's picture

It may sound simple but what the article describes is the 90% of the coding effort and overall effort that has to be spent on the framework.  I am sure that this concept, of investing on the framework instead of jumping directly to the ease of record and play, is not something that a beginner in automation can see byhimself.

March 17, 2015 - 4:34pm
Victor Stuiber's picture

I don't see you dismissing the myths.

I also don't understand this:

"It eliminates the complexities of test automation tools by building a layer on top, allowing functional users to automate."

For me this is adding complexity, not removing it. It might reduce complexity in the beginning for adding new tests, but it adds complexity in terms of the whole system - investigate test failures, update tests...

An example: you have a lot of tests added because they are easy to add. The application under test changes to support another input field. Now you have to: 1. update your test framework. 2. update your script less layer. 3. update tests (possible all tests, possible just add new tests, depending on how you built your script less layer).

If you only had the framework and tests, you only have to update 2 things: 1. test framework, 2. tests.


I agree that this type of automation can be useful, but it has to be designed very carefully to be reusable and maintainable. Unfortunately for me I saw this kind of initiative fail because of not so good design. It was hard to identify the cause for failing tests, it was hard to update tests when the application under test changed and so on. I am still hoping to see this kind of automation work.


One more thing, the need for scriptless automation also depends on the context:

If you only have technical contributors to the tests I don't know if investing in the scriptless layer makes sense.

If you have more "not so technical" contributors then having the scriptless layer can bring a lot of benefit.


Just my thoughts on this :).

March 17, 2015 - 4:36pm
Sudhir Patil's picture

Hi Victor, 

I have seen this approach working with many organizations. Regarding how scriptless can remove the complexity, not sure how much I can explain but I will try. As you rightly mentioned, what has worked is well design with due consideration for modularization using functional de-composition, reusability, treaciability across different test cases, scenarios etc. Now all this is part of the core system, users while working on automation are only focusing on mapping their manul workflows by creating and using resuable components. You may be interested in checking some of the videos at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLq46tsebzI8XjD9_Hp19_NVNg5YqP30ob



March 18, 2015 - 3:26am

About the author

Ravi Nukala's picture Ravi Nukala

Ravi Nukala is founder, director, and chief product evangelist at Qualitia Software. He is a seasoned professional with rich experience in leading, architecting, developing, and implementing large-scale, enterprise-wide, web-based systems. He takes pride in building technology solutions that solve business problems.

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