Commercial Automation Tools versus Open Source Automation Tools (part1 – Introduction)

Which one to choose? It is really the million dollar question and it is more relevant than ever.

Advantages of Commercial Tools (aka QTP or SilkTest):

  1. Build-in integration with Test Management utilities (HP QC or SilkTest Central Manager). Such integration covers Requirements, Test Cases, Defects, Metrics/Reports
  2. Customizable
  3. Requires beginners/intermediate level of scripting/programming skills (which means it can be normally done by testers)


  1. Expensive
  2. Slow
  3. Later in Lifecycle

Advantages of Open Source Tools (aka Selenium WebDriver or Watir):

  1. Powerful languages (Java, C#)
  2. Customizable, flexible, nimble
  3. Supports continuous integration
  4. Free


  1. Distributed components
  2. Requires strong technical knowledge to work with (better done by programmers)
  3. No out of the box integration with Test Management software

While a preference for open source tools seems like a no-brainer for many (they are free!), there are many other things to consider. And by the way they are not so “free” if you consider the following factors:

  • Salaries of automation engineers
  • Cost of Support

Salaries: It is true that the initial investment for QTP or SilkTest might easily reach 50-100K (licensing, maintenance agreement, training). To work with those tools it is sufficient to utilize software testers with some programming skills. However, it is not enough for Selenium WebDriver which favors strong technical knowledge. Automation Engineers working with Selenium are normally programmers and have salaries which are 15-20K higher than testers. Just for 3 engineers the difference in salaries will be 60K a year.

Cost of Support: commercial automation tools come with full support, upgrades, etc. This is not the case for open source tools. Free support is either non-existent or very minimal (forums?). There are sites that provide paid support though.

So, if it is not the cost of the tool what we should take in considerations then? Stay tuned for my next post.






Commercial Automation Tools versus Open Source Automation Tools (part1 – Introduction)

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