Test Automation Trends for 2014 How to Keep Your Skills Up-to-Date

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How to Keep Your Skills Up-to-Date in the New Year

Like most people who are hoping to start the New Year off right, I'm reflecting on what I've learned during the past year, as well as identifying what I can (or need to) improve upon. (When you're done with this post check out my trends and predictions for 2015)

Also, being a naturally paranoid guy, I'm looking for opportunities to make myself more employable in the event that I find myself laid off. This usually involves me using the following tools to find out which skills are currently in the most demand (and which ones aren't):

  • Simplyhired keyword trends – I use this to see how often certain test automation words appear within Simply Hired's job postings. Knowing which words are trending upward helps me decide which skills I should focus on learning during the upcoming year.
  • indeed.com – I use Indeed to check current test automation job listings in my area, as well as to determine what those companies are currently listing as requirements and/or prerequisites.
  • Google trends – I use this to see how many times a certain skill is searched for. This helps me determine whether interest in a particular skill is growing or not.

(NOTE: I don’t claim that this is a scientifically accurate method but rather a quick and dirty way to “guesstimate” what skills I should focus on.)


Armed with this knowledge, I have a clearer idea of which skills I should be honing in order to stay current with the latest test automation trends. I did this last year, and discovered that based on the trends at the time, my job was on track to become obsolete because it focused exclusively on automation using QuickTest Professional.

Once I realized that fact, I made the decision to move to another position in the same company, which gave me an opportunity to learn newer automation skills using Selenium, Java, Continuous Integration, etc.

My move has benefited my employer because I'm taking the time to improve the skills that I use every day. At the same time, it has made me more marketable in case I find myself needing to switch gigs.

Looking at the numbers, I've come to the following conclusions:

Not surprisingly, every HP test tool product that I've researched appears to be on a downward trend. If I'm being honest, this bums me out, since I was a big Mercury fanboy back in the day; not so much since HP took over. I'm especially surprised by what looks like the steady downward decline of LoadRunner's popularity.

Google Keyword Trend Charts

SimplyHired Trends for LoadRunner:


By contrast, most open-source tools are trending up. This seems to be pretty consistent across the board. Looks like its time for me to expand my experience with open source performance test tools.

Open source vs. vendor tool

If someone were to ask me which automation tools should they should learn, my answer, without a doubt, Selenium as opposed to QTP. If you have been on the fence about learning Selenium, you should make 2014 the year to finally do so. While you're at it make sure to check out soapUI as well.

Google Trend Results for Automation Tools:


Indeed – Number of jobs returned for Automation Tools

  • QTP – 76
  • TestComplete – 2
  • Ranorex – 8
  • Selenium – 205
  • eggplant – 0
  • Sikuli – 5
  • soapUI – 42

Simplyhired keyword trend for Automation Tools

  • Selenium Automation: -12%
  • QTP Automation: -30%

What programming language should I learn with Selenium?

This is one of the most frequent questions I'm asked at https://testguild.com. The research I've done gives allows me to answer with confidence: Java and Python.

Google Trend Results for Programming Language:



Simplyhired Trend for Automation Programming Languages

  • Java Automation: +30
  • C# Automation: -14
  • Python Automation: +40
  • Ruby Automation: +9
  • Php Automation: -6
  • vbScript Automation: +15
  • javaScript Automation: no change from last year
  • Groovy Automation: + 25

Indeed – Number of jobs found for Automation Language in Boston, MA

  • Java Automation: 446
  • C# Automation: 181
  • Python Automation: 305
  • Ruby Automation: 160
  • Php Automation: 69
  • vbScript Automation: 18
  • javascript Automation: 180
  • Groovy Automation: 117

jUnit or TestNG

This is another common question I see on the LinkedIn Selenium groups and other automation blogs: “Which framework should I use? jUnit or TestNG?” . This one is not so straightforward to answer – let's just call it a tie. I know in the past TestNG had the edge but with the latest version of jUnit they are now both pretty much equal to each other.

Simplyhired Trend for Automation Programming Languages

  • TestNg: +4
  • jUnit: +9

Indeed – Number of jobs found for Automation Framework in Boston, MA

  • TestNG: 47
  • jUnit Automation: 57

Which Integrated Development Environment is Best?

Yet another question I see frequently is: Which IDE should someone that is developing test automation scripts use?” Answer: IntelliJ. (FYI: IntelliJ has a free Community Edition available.)

Google Trend Results for IDE:

Simplyhired Trend for Automation IDE

  • Eclipse: -19
  • Visual Studio: -21
  • Intellij: +13
  • jDeveloper: -38

Indeed – Number of jobs found for IDE in Boston, MA

  • Eclipse: 214
  • Visual Studio: 355
  • Intellij: 8
  • jDeveloper: 3

Other Trends for 2014

QA vs Test Dev

Another trend that has actually been ongoing for the past couple of years is the fact that straight QA positions, which require doing manual testing only, are being replaced by the need for test engineers that are also developers. As a matter of fact, I'm seeing more and more of this type of job posting. Check out this one from fitbit. Notice the wording “this is an engineering lead position, not QA.”

I've also been interviewing people for a similar open software engineer in test position at my firm and have been having a hard time finding an individual with the proper development/testing skills.

You don't need to be a programming superstar but you should now the basic of programming and are able to code Selenium script in code without relying on using a tool like Selenium IDE to generate the code for you.

In fact there is an excellent book I reviewed this year: Java For Testers: Learn Java Fundamentals Fast by Alan Richardson which lays a solid foundation for beginners who need to learn how to program in Java in order to start using Selenium.

Headless Testing

As I mentioned in the Open Source vs. Vendor Tools section, there's been a pretty rapid uptick in the use and demand for engineers who know soapUI. Since soapUI is used for testing headless technologies like API, REST, DB and JMS I would say that automation engineer needs to start focusing more heavily on headless testing. This is one of the reason why I wrote my book, The UFT API Testing Manifesto – A Step-by-Step, Hands-on Testing Guide for the Masses.

Focusing on headless testing rather than UI testing will make your tests more reliable, faster and reduce your maintenance efforts. Other headless technologies that are exploding are PhantomJS and Jasmine.

GUI testing should always be the last resort for any test automation engineer, and it looks like more people are starting to agree with me, as headless testing is a skill that is trending upward. In fact, in a Forrester 2014 forecast report they list API as one of their top 2014 trends. The January 2014 issue of Wired magazine is dedicated to wearable tech…and how does one interact with these types of devices? Mostly by using APIs.


This exercise has helped me tremendously. I try to do it at least twice a year. I admit that it's not 100% accurate; you may have other factors that you look at or give more weight to than I do. But it should give you a good indication of automation trends you should be paying attention to. Hope it helps you. Have a great 2014!

33 responses to “Test Automation Trends for 2014 How to Keep Your Skills Up-to-Date”

  1. Excellent post. It’s a big wake up call for me as I only have QTP/UFT experience. Where would you recommend that an absolute beginner go to start exploring Selenium? I have only ever used QTP/UFT and don’t have any development background. I am very strong in vbscript but don’t have any other language experience. Should I start with Selenium or start with courses learning a language like Java or Python?

    • Thanks Bob – In my opinion (this is not Gospel truth) you should learn a language first. I would start with Java and use Alan Richardson’s book Java for Testers as my guide. That book contains only the parts of the Java language you really need to know to get started automating with Selenium. Alan also has a Selenium WebDriver course on Udemy that I got my company to purchase – that would be a big help to you also.

  2. Excellent post. I did a POC with Selenium and Ruby in December and it was painful. This post is extremely helpful and answered a lot of my questions that I was having during my struggle. I’m buying the Java book that you recommended today!

  3. Wow! I must say this is exactly how every automation engineer should reassess where he stands in the market. It gives you a good look into what skills you are lacking and might be a nice add-on to your profile.

    Excellent post Joe, thanks for compiling this!

    Best Regards,

  4. Brilliant post Jo. Thanks for sharing this. I found it very useful. Have been reassessing myself and the article helped me a great deal to decide what is hot in automation market that I need to pick up.

    Great job !

  5. great work Joe, thanks for showing light on the upcoming trends in automation. This information really helps to all.

    You Rock!

  6. With the recent release of UFT 12 do you still think that UFT/QTP is a dying automation tool? In another word, should I start focusing on Selenium WebDriver?

  7. Super informative and well researched article Joe. This entirely corresponds with my own experiences as a freelance test lead in the UK. My current corporate clients both use Selenium with Javascript and Java for test automation.

    I’m also seeing a much stronger DevOps presence on client sites that incorporate test automation into CI frameworks like Jenkins.

  8. Awesome read… i work with selenium from past 2 years, i tried headless testing but it is too cumborsome+need more time and need to do much research, but according to trends my eyes got opened, thanks for well informative post, we need to move according to winds… :)

  9. This is truly an amazing article Joe
    2014 has been a very interesting year
    The need to move out from being a ‘qtp tester’ to a ‘test automation developer’ has hit me the hardest and a true wake up call.
    1. Need to move away from GUI Automation as much as poss (be it qtp or any other tool)
    2. Need for core fundamental programming experience (Java / Python)
    3. Need to work and automate through the system (back end routies, API calls, stored procs) rather than seeing just the GUI as a one dimensional way of automation
    4. Need to work more as a dev resource than as a qa resource
    (I see a lot of these GUI automation jobs going back to the dev guys in coming days)

  10. Thanks Joe
    I want to point out one last thing about our breed ‘automation testers’, we are genuine survivors of this industry and this is why
    1. Most of us must have started as pure qa resources, soon realizing the need to move into test automation
    2.We worked hard to create mind boggling GUI Automation frameworks with qtp almost magical, a lot went as planned, a lot did not
    3. We realized the need to move on to more in demand skills like Selenium finally having this aha moment where we think its not the tool, the problem is with too much GUI Automation
    4. Finally, i just need to work more like a dev guy and be armed with the same tools that he has.

    The fact that we are on Joe’s blog reading this very article means we are aware of whats happening around us, where we need to improve etc
    Automation testers ‘the breed’ will survive :)

  11. hello,
    It is a good article for testers .The above research that you have conducted is awesome.TIME WILL SHOW THE VALIDITY OF YOUR RESEARCH.


  12. Hi,
    Thank you very much for your valuable blog.
    I have a request for you to kindly address,
    1. Which testing technology is on demand, If i want to get a job in abroad countries?
    2. Which testing tool doesn’t require any programming skills and that too has good scope?
    3. Is it to change our technology from testing into bigdata/salesforce developer/BI tools,etc.


    • If you follow the steps I explain in this post you should able to determine the answer for question A. For question B pretty much all testing tools I’m aware of require that you have some basic programming skills. If you are testing web or rest service you should be bale to use tool like soapUI and rarely ever have to write code. Not sure I understand question C

  13. awesome article joe, one of my colleague suggested me to do research on trending in automation. being an QA engineer it was evident for me. yours is the first article i went through. felt relaxed. unknowingly im in the right way. waiting for you to come up with fresh update.

  14. I Just startet in the Software automation sector. Thank you very much for that enlightening post.

    I read something about a two year cycle. Is a trend for 2016 on its way?

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