The Top 11 Essential JavaScript Automation Frameworks

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JavaScript Automation Framework

There has been explosive growth in JavaScript Framework usage over the past few years. You might ask why? I believe that one of the main reasons for this is that there are a lot more web applications that are now using technology like AngularJs and React, so of course this is giving rise to many more JavaScript developers in the field.

At a high level here are the top javascript automation frameworks. More detail for each framework can be found below

    • PhantomJS

    • Jasmine

    • Protractor

    • Nightwatch.js

    • CasperJS

    • Nemo.js

    • Buster.JS

    • DalekJS

    • Cypress.io

    • Puppeteer

    • Jest

Shift Left Test Automation Javascript

Most companies are also making a test-first, shift-left move in their development practices due to a larger demand from developers who want to create their own tests in the language they are most familiar with: JavaScript.

Many front-end developers and programmers also want to create their own automated tests to get quick feedback on whether or not they’ve broken a code in their application while checking in new code or make changes to the existing code base.

In my last post, I showed you what the top six general Open Source Test Automation Frameworks You Need to Know but what are the top JavaScript Automation Frameworks?

More JavaScript Automation Frameworks Options

If you’re into test automation how does this affect you? Well, I had a conversation with Moshe Milman from Applitools last year at a testing conference, and he confirmed that more and more companies are starting to implement JavaScript-based automation frameworks.

Ever since then, I’ve been hearing more and more about JavaScript automation. Later during that same conference, I heard something similar from a developer at HP and was told that they believe in it; so much so that they were working on a JavaScript implementation of LeanFT.

The latest incident that really made me a believer in JavaScript Automation was an analysis done by Dave Haeffner which showed that in 2015 alone, JavaScript downloads for Selenium eclipsed all prior years combined.

What are the Top JavaScript Test Automation Frameworks?

Most of you are probably wondering what the top automaton frameworks for JavaScript actually are. Here’s what I found. I ranked the frameworks in order of popularity based on a combination of GitHub stars and NPM downloads numbers:

Jest Automation With Javascript

1. Jest

When I first wrote this post I don't think Jest even existed. Now it seems to be one of the more popular automation with javascript frameworks out there. Based on its GitHub and NPM number it jumps straight to the number #1 spot.

Jest is used by Facebook to test all JavaScript code including React applications. It's easy to set up since they really focused on making it a zero configuration experience.  Jest comes with all of the capabilities of a bunch of tools that you don't really need to worry about integrating at all.

• 21,522 GitHub Stars
• 107,733 NPM downloads in the last month

Puppeteer avaScript Web Automation

2. Puppeteer

Puppeteer also is new to the list and pretty much makes PhantomJS obsolete. Puppeteer is a Node library. It gives you a high-level API to control headless browsers like Chrome or Chromium. You can also configure it to use full (non-headless) Chrome or Chromium.

• 40,816 GitHub Stars
• 58,366 NPMdownloads in the last month

PhantomJs

3. PhantomJS

*!!While PhantomJS was the most popular javascript headless browser frameworks due to the lack of active contribution, it has been archived. So for new development, it is probably not the best option. Most folks have moved to Puppeteer instead.

PhantomJS is a headless WebKit that is scriptable with JavaScript. It’s used mainly for unit level, front end testing and is easy to run from a command line so it integrates nicely with CI systems.

I spoke with Rob Friesel, author of PhantomJS Cookbook on TestTalks last year, and he said his main use of PhantomJs is to run a battery of unit test against code changes, so that as developers are committing new code, they quickly gain a high degree of confidence that the code they’re checking doesn’t have any effect on the current code base.


Because the testing is headless, the scripts run much faster than a traditional browser-based approach would.

This is a good practice; it’s great to use before your functional test scripts run, since they act as a quick and dirty sanity test to catch any issues before regression testing starts.

Based on some quick research I would say that PhantomJS is the most popular headless automation framework available at this time.

• 18,420 GitHub Stars
• 1,273,433 NPM downloads in the last month

Jasmine BDD

4. Jasmine

Jasmine is a behavior-driven JavaScript framework for testing JavaScript code. This is the “go to” unit testing framework for many developers, including Derick Bailey from watchmecode.net.

In my TestTalk with Derick, he mentioned that he knows it's not the most up-to-date framework out there; there are other frameworks that push forward faster and more frequently, but he’s not necessarily interested in staying on the cutting edge (or even the leading edge) of the testing world. Derick is more interested in long-term stability, support, and simplicity, which he finds in Jasmine, which is why he continues to stick with it.

For many developers, Jasmine is still their main go-to JavaScript testing tool because of its simplicity and getting things up and running.

• 11,087 GitHub Stars
• 1,385,198 NPM downloads in the last month

protractor-46461_1280

5. Protractor

Protractor is an automated testing framework for testing AngularJs applications in the browser.

It’s also frequently described as a framework that falls somewhere in the middle of a unit testing and end-to-end test tool that is regularly by both Developers and QA testers.

Nate Taylor, Pluralsight author of the Introduction to Protractor and TDD as a design tool Protractor course and past TestTalks guest describes Protractor with an analogy; think robot users, because it sounds kind of cool, and it also sounds a little more exciting than automated testing. With Protractor, you get to write scripts in JavaScript just like you would in any other Jasmine or Mocha test.

Protractor is a layer that sits on top of Selenium; it runs Selenium in the background, and as a result you get all sorts of really cool hooks into your Angular application. This enables you to start grabbing your data bindings and using some of the Angular goodness like ng-repeats, etc.

You can also grab those elements by the Angular semantics and you can add to them, read from them and verify that your page has the right data. And, it does so whether you're sitting there or not.

According to Nate, it simply runs when you tell it to.

• 5,517 GitHub Stars
• 572,171 NPM downloads in the last month

NightWatchJs

6. Nightwatch.js

Nightwatch.js describes itself as an easy-to-use Node.js-based end-to-end (E2E) testing solution for browser-based apps and websites. It uses the Selenium WebDriver API to perform commands and assertions on DOM elements for front end testing.

Think of Nightwatch.js as a testing framework that is written in JavaScript and designed for web developers. Nightwatch.js gives you an API for writing your test — your test would basically be just node modules — and the runner itself is a Node.js application.


Nightwatch.js test runner can execute tests in parallel. It also works with Selenium Grid and Sauce Labs, and sometimes more importantly, it has good documentation.

• 4,475 GitHub Stars
• 131,501 NPM downloads in the last month

CasperJs

7. CasperJS

CasperJS an open-source navigation scripting and testing utility written in JavaScript for the PhantomJS WebKit headless browser and SlimerJS (Gecko). Rob Friesel mentioned that CasperJS is commonly used on top of PhantomJS to perform things like running screen scraping utilities, automatic screen capture scripts and functional test suites.

As a tool that an awesome job of abstracting away a lot of the complicated, asynchronous stuff you deal with when you’re creating PhantomJS scripts.

The code is also highly readable for creating functional tests, making it easy to use for folks that don’t necessarily have a strong technical background.

• 5,718 GitHub Stars
• 71,815 NPM downloads in the last month

NemoJs

8. Nemo.js

Nemo.js is an open-source, Node.js automation framework that was developed by PayPal. Nemo.js provides a simple way to add Selenium automation to your Node.js web projects. It also provides plugin architecture to incorporate custom features into your tests.

For more in-depth example on how to get started with Nemo.js check out Nilesh Kulkarni's Automation Guild session on Getting Started with Javascript Selenium Automation using Nemo.js.

• 165 GitHub Stars
• 31,387 NPM downloads in the last month

BusterJs

9. Buster.JS

Buster.JS is a browser JavaScript testing toolkit for node and browsers. You can use it to do browser testing for browser-based automation. It can also be used for QUnit-style HTML page testing as well as testing in headless browsers. Buster.JS is currently still in beta mode.

• 446 GitHub Stars
• 6,545 NPM downloads in the last month

DalekJs

10. DalekJS

DalekJs is another open-source UI Test Automation tool that allows you to do cross-browser testing with JavaScript. DalekJS is currently a developer preview. According to the documentation, some features are missing, some things might change, and there's a lot of optimization to be done.

For whatever its worth, however, DalekJS has one of the coolest website designs among the frameworks — especially if you’re a Dr. Who fan.

• 686 GitHub Stars
• 589 NPM downloads in the last month

11. Cypress.io

You might be asking what about a tool for javascript in automation testing?

If you're looking for help with javascript UI automation Cypress.io is another tool that is rapidly gaining in popularity. And unlike tools like Selenium, Cypress is a more developer-centric test automation framework that focuses on making test-driven development (TDD) a reality for developers. One of its design principles was to be able to package and bundle everything together to make the entire end-to-end testing experience pleasant and simple.

To learn more check out my interview with the Founder and the VP of engineering at Cypress.

JavaScript Automation Wrap-Up

JavaScript once thought of as a toy language, is now becoming one of the most-known languages for the web.

If you are involved in testing JavaScript-based web applications you’ll really benefit from learning one of these JavaScript automation frameworks to help boost the productivity of your current teams and enhance your future career options.

This should give you an idea of what is out there already, and hopefully give you enough info to check out more.

These are the top frameworks I’ve come across, but as I mentioned earlier there are tons of JavaScript framework popups everywhere, so I’ll definitely be adding to this list as time goes on.

If one of your favorite automation with javascript frameworks is not listed, please let me know and I’ll add it.

JavaScript Automation Framework

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