5 Most Popular Test Automation Frameworks

What is a Test Automation Framework?

Test automation framework is a set of best practices or guidelines used when creating and designing test cases. The set of rules can include the coding standards, object repositories, test data handling methods, information on external storage access, etc.

The guidelines are not mandatory, but they enhance the test’s efficiency and produce beneficial results when followed during automation scripting.

The Benefits of Using a Test Automation Framework

Benefit of Test Automation Framework

The overall advantages of using a framework include:

  • Optimum test coverage
  • Lower script maintenance cost
  • Minimal use of human resources
  • Enhanced test speed and efficiency
  • Reusable test code
  • Ease of reporting

Proper implementation of a test automation framework helps speed up the testing process and eliminate human error. It also makes test maintenance easier, fastens test progress, and saves cost, time, and effort. Additionally, a framework enables the QA team to develop, execute, and report the testing process adequately while also making code reusable for multiple scenarios.

To learn more about Automation Testing, you can check out this article for more: Types of Automation Testing

5 Most Popular Types of Test Automation Framework

Teams choose testing frameworks based on factors like team size, experience level, user’s needs, etc. Below are the five most popular frameworks with their pros and cons:

1. Linear framework

This is the most basic type of framework. It is commonly known as the ‘record and playback’ framework.

In this process, the creation and execution of test codes are written linearly or sequentially – Testers manually record each step and automatically playback the recorded scripts. The steps include navigation, user input, and checkpoints.  It is best suited for small-sized applications or teams.


  • Fastest means of generating test scripts due to the minimal amount of time needed
  • No automation expertise is required for the framework, as it does not require writing custom codes.
  • The easiest way to learn (the features of the testing tool) and run with automation testing


  • Lack of script reusability due to hard-coded data into the test script.
  • Maintenance troubles because of a load of work involved if there are any changes.

2. Modular based framework

As the name implies, this framework allows for the division of application under test into separate modules, units, or sections. Each module will have independent test scripts created for them. Thus, the combination of each module and it’s testing scripts can build larger tests representing various test cases.


  • This framework uses abstraction in creating its modules. Hence, the application changes will only affect the modules involved with their associated test scripts, leaving other parts untouched.
  • High level of modularization, which leads to easier and cost-effective maintenance
  • Minimal effort is required for creating test cases because test scripts for different modules can be reused.


  • The framework can be challenging to set up if there is no prior programming knowledge.
  • Lack of multiple usages of data sets due to hard-coded data into the test scripts – since tests are carried out separately.

3. Library architecture framework

This library architecture framework is built on the modular framework but provides an additional benefit. That benefit is that it goes beyond dividing the application under test into test scripts to separating the similar tasks within the test scripts into common functions.

A library is then created, constituting common functions for the AUT, which can be called upon by test scripts when needed.


  • It also leads to a high level of modularization, which makes test maintenance simple and budget-friendly.
  • It has a high degree of reusability due to its library of common functions that can be used by several test scripts.


  • The introduction of libraries in the framework makes it more complicated.
  • Test data is also hard-coded into the test script; therefore, changes in the data must apply to the test scripts.
  • The development of test scripts requires more time and technical expertise.

4. Data-driven framework

This framework requires testers to segregate the test data from the test scripts. This data is then stored in an external database, such as excel sheets, CSV files, XML files, ODBC repositories, etc. Therefore, the input/output parameters are passed to the test scripts from these external databases when needed.


  • Any changes in the test scripts do not affect the test data; therefore, hard-coding data can be avoided.
  • Tests can be carried out with multiple sets of data.
  • A variety of test scenarios can be tested by varying the test data in the external database, reducing the number of test scripts needed.


  • Preparation and planning of test scripts and test data for the framework take time.
  • Utilization of the framework design requires an experienced tester with versatile knowledge of programming language due to its complexity.

5. Keyword-driven framework

This framework is an extension of the data-driven framework. The test data and the test scripts are also separated but take a step further to keeping certain sets of codes belonging to the test scripts in an external database, making them independent from the testing tool.

This set of codes are referred to as ‘keywords’. They are a self-guiding part of a script representing several actions performed to test the GUI of an application.


  • Unlike the data-driven, scripting knowledge is not required to run this framework.
  • Test scripts can be built independently of the application under test.
  • A single keyword can be used across several test scripts; hence the code is reusable.


  • High automation expertise is needed for designing the framework and for maintaining the keywords.
  • The cost of implementing the framework is relatively high, also time-consuming and complex to set up.

Based on the above, implementing a framework for automated tests requires the selection of a flexible tool. This tool should support a wide range of applications and meet requirements laid down for the testing. Also, you should have the right Strategies to Define which Tests Should be Automated

There are many tools in the market that you can use to implement your framework. One standout tool among them is Katalon Studio, a freemium tool. This tool supports parallel execution in different environments and can be adjusted to several frameworks. These frameworks include keywords-driven and data-driven. Some of the many benefits that come with using Katalon Studio are that it can run tests on all popular browsers (e.g., Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.). It is also perfect for API testing (e.g., XLS, XML data sources, etc.)


Test automation frameworks are created to guide testers when creating and designing test cases. In this article, we highlight the most popularly used framework. Learn the pros and cons of each framework to help your team better decide the best-suited one for your testing.

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