Pros and Cons of "Record and Playback" Automated Testing

Posted in Automation, Functional Testing | September 14, 2010 Record and Playback Automated Testing

In the world of software testing, automated test tools play a very important role. They allow testers to create reusable tests that check the functionality, and usability of the given software.

There are many testing methods included with testing tools, but none more misunderstood than "Record and Playback" testing.

While this article is not meant to advocate this method of test automation, neither is it meant to condemn this practice, if used correctly. It has its place in the scheme of automated testing, but should not be completely relied upon. Rather, it should be used to supplement automation efforts.

Record and Playback Pros:

  • Helps to get coordinates/names of objects (low-level)
  • Helps tester to understand an applications code (recorded scripts)
  • Structure and syntax
  • Fast and simple keyword tests
  • Some automation tools offer object-based recording

Record and Playback Cons:

  • Limited ROI
  • Difficulty in cases where there are events based on screen coordinates, and the object moves
  • Recorded tests are the by-product of manual testing
  • The ability to produce a validation requires identifying an object by a property such as a caption
  • Fragile
  • May be affected by screen resolution
  • Often dependent on precise placement of UI objects

Perhaps in a perfect world in which program code is flawless, user interface objects never change location or type, and there will never be a need for the program to change, will Record and Playback be enough to thoroughly test an application or web site. Our world is a bit different, though. Program code changes, sometimes on a daily basis, and using automation along with helpful tools such as Record and Playback can help us keep up with these changes.

Jason Lassetter is a certified automation lead for DeRisk IT Inc. He specializes in automated testing strategies, and has a strong amount of experience with SmartBear's TestComplete.