Which software testing tool best fits your project?

Learn what developers should look for in AI testing tools and which style is best for a project. Expert Tom Nolle compares Applitools and Functionize.

In part one, expert Tom Nolle explained how these two AI testing tools work. In this follow-up, he detailed which software testing tool might work best for your organization.

Applitools and Functionize have two distinct ways to do AI testing. Applitools represents an emerging and GUI-centric approach to application testing. Functionize represents a GUI-augmented and traditional testing flow, also assisted by AI. This comparison is based on typical development projects reported by AI testing tool users over the last year.

CIMI Corporation performed a survey to get a sense of where users stand on matters related to AI and software testing tools. In the survey's 81 specific enterprise development projects, 78 included a "significant requirement to optimize the user interface," and in 38 cases, the GUI was the sole focus of the project. In the remaining 43 projects, some level of GUI change was reported, but for the majority (29 of 43), there were "significant functional changes made to the application(s)." This mix represents the nature of development projects undertaken by enterprises, so it forms the basis for a comparison of Applitools' and Functionize's ability to support testing in the real world. Just from the numbers, you can see this is a close one to call.

Why Applitools works

Developers use Applitools for projects that have an intense GUI focus, particularly for undertakings that only involve limited functional changes. Line organizations use Applitools when they have a significant influence on project management and especially testing. Users think the Applitools approach, which focuses on how an application and changes appear to users, is well-suited for modern mobile development, application modernization for web access and other user-centric changes.

Senior management, for both inline and IT organizations, use Applitools because of its user-centric AI-based testing. For GUI-focused projects, the software testing tool can improve user involvement.

"[Applitools] is an approach to application testing that my users really understand," one CIO said in response to the survey. "That's really improved our lines of communications with the departments."

Development teams are more reserved. Survey respondents reported difficulties applying a GUI-centric testing model to new projects because their own experiences in testing and ALM typically focus on functionality. Team leaders with an ALM background have trouble satisfying the established testing goals and, in some cases, even relating Applitools' approach to those goals.

Everything isn't about GUI changes. Functional testing is all about what changes in the application and whether it works, regression testing the remainder of the logic and performance testing each step. This is an established model for IT professionals, and some of them feel that too much focus on the GUI leads testers to neglect critical elements of application functionality and performance -- things that, in the past, would have been the primary focus.

How Functionize fits

For development teams, Functionize seems to be the more comfortable choice. With Functionize, testing retains a focus on changes, regression and performance testing, specifically the practices supported by test authoring. Its GUI integration and AI provide a means of validation. This additional step ensures that changes made to applications or interfaces don't contaminate the user experience in any way. Data can flow to and from the worker to satisfy functional application requirements, user information and utility goals, plus security and compliance mandates.

Functionize is able to drive one large company's entire cloud application testing process from a single tool, a development team leader said.

This view is shared by those who are heavily involved in cloud-specific development. For these survey respondents, cloud-specialized changes had a major effect on their testing processes. Yet, they still retained the testing mindset they had for previous data center projects because Functionize works in a way they are used to.

Functionize is anchored in existing testing methodologies. For big development organizations, that familiarity is more than just a comfort; it's a training and management benefit. Applitools, in comparison, with its more pronounced emphasis on the application's users, might be a better fit for projects just underway or planned for execution soon. The latter can be effectively applied to user-focused cloud, data center, self-developed and third-party software.

AI testing goals

Neither AI testing tool is a vast cut above the other, but overall, the enterprises in this survey gave Applitools a slight edge. When considering your own AI testing and the level of it you wish to embrace, keep these three reasons why respondents choose Applitools in mind -- but also be mindful of how you might value these points differently:

  1. Projects focus on information presentation, which is where Applitools concentrates its product and its application of AI. Mobile worker empowerment and customer access to sales information, as well as customer care and application modernization based on cloud front-end tools, top application users' interest lists. The aim of Applitools matches these projects.
  2. Companies use third-party software and cloud services, which take some importance off traditional development testing. This de-emphasis of back-end testing makes Applitools a more fitting choice for modern IT organizations. Development teams are tasked with ensuring the application best presents information to the user, in the user GUI, which is where companies will do the most customization of third-party software.
  3. Enterprises need software testing tools targeted at GUI-directed enhancements for mobile and web access, which is the focus of Applitools. In comparison, Functionize's benefits aren't exploited except in new development projects, where there are no established regression and performance testing procedures in place. Even then, organizations that have already done extensive functional, regression and performance testing probably have established methodologies.

There's rarely a single answer to any software testing tool selection question, and there's certainly not one here. Neither of these products is the best match for every development project, which is why it's important to review the total picture and compare industry averages and requirements with a project's individual needs. Both Applitools and Functionize will get the job done for most test organizations, but on average, Applitools seems easier to use and is relatable to the most common drivers of application changes.

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