Free often comes at a cost. In terms of open-source test management tools, that cost is the quality limitation placed on your QA. Even the savings you seek by choosing a free test management source disappear if a critical bug is missed, your launch date is delayed or you are forced to make expensive fixes later in production.
While the well-established open-source test management tools have survived a decade or more in the software testing industry, their role has been greatly reduced. The simple irony is, it is hard to achieve maximum QA value with a free product.
The biggest drawback: you are alone. Few open-source test management tools have active developer communities, and fewer receive active updates and their own rigorous testing.
Despite the temptations of the sticker price, if you want to maximize your software testing resources, it is better to seek quality tools rather than cheap products.
The Temptation of Open-Source Test Management Tools
Open-source test management tools are one of the internet’s big wins. Created by software developers for software developers, products such as web app testing framework Selenium have endured for almost 15 years as free and shared resources serving a community of like-minded professionals.
Many still stand as flexible, useful elements of a broad QA approach; we include several open-source products in our Guide to Automation Tools.
The advantages are easy to list:
It is not accurate, or totally appropriate, to compare free tools with licensed products, but the reality is that the latter can cost you up to $10,000.
Flexibility with Test Automation Frameworks
Open-source test management tools bring in flexibility to integrate with open-source testing tools such as Selenium, which still rates among best software testing tools. Easy availability of APIs in open-source test management tools provides smooth integration with testing tools.
Some open-source options can be integrated with widely used testing frameworks such as TestNG and RSpec, can be used with Maven and ANT framework for source code compilation and can work well with continuous integration tools such as Jenkins.
No Vendor Lock-In
Unlike licensed tools for which users need to pay large amounts, here, users do not get bound to use these tools for a certain period of time as they have not paid for it. They can switch tools as per their project requirements.
Source Code Availability
Performance of open-source tools can be reviewed by using the source code where one can make necessary changes in it accordingly.
In the right environment, and in the hands of a QA professional, open-source tools continue to benefit modern software testing.
If open-source is the only tool you use, however, you are limiting your QA potential.
That can be costly in the long run.
The Missing Pieces of Open-Source Test Management Tools
Open-source test management tools are a labor of love. Like the in-built antispyware that ships with your PC, they ensure everyone has access to at least some level of quality control.
Just as you would not trust Windows Defender with your valued information, you cannot rely on open-source alone. Your QA is too important.
Ironically, there are a range of potential hidden costs associated with using open-source products. Some are due to the limited nature of the tool, but many are related to the skills of the user.
The support networks behind most open-source tools are tiny and voluntary. Even a product as popular as Selenium has just one person maintaining its integrated development environment. There is no tech support for such tools, and product improvements—critical in a rapidly evolving industry—come slowly.
Most free tools are specialized to service a particular platform. Web-only, desktop-only and an inability to support mobile hybrid apps are common limitations.
Many open-source products have limited or entirely absent report functions. If you cannot accurately report the outcome of test results in a way that can be understood by all stakeholders, there is little value in even running them.
Above all, committing to fully automated QA testing limits the value of your test phase. It eliminates the benefits of manual testing that are crucial to simulating the user experience and restricts your ability to build a test framework that caters to the unique requirements of your specific product and team.
To get comprehensive test coverage that maximizes your product’s potential, you need to think beyond your test tools and find a quality test partner.
The Advantages of Partnering with a Dedicated QA Team
Open-source test management tools are just that: tools. Their potential is tied to the skills and knowledge of the users who wield them. As we said above, there is a place for such products in a modern test suite, but they have to be used properly.
That means designing a test framework and process that incorporate their benefits and avoid their disadvantages. You get that kind of overall efficiency when you hand over your QA responsibilities to a dedicated team of professionals.
Your outsourced QA provider does more than catch bugs. They should take an agnostic approach to your specific project in order to design a test phase that will maximize your product development and minimize your market risk—even if that means adapting the tools and technologies your team already has in place.
QA experts are an extension of your own team. They have the domain expertise and experience to meet and balance the talents of your developers and quickly scale up your resources during key phases of the release cycle.
In effect, you can maximize the value of open-source products by placing them in the hands of an expert. You can keep the “free” if you find a partner that can make it worthwhile.
QASource’s dedicated team of more than 700 engineers can deliver automation testing that achieves better results, faster. With more than 1,000 years of collective experience working alongside partners such as IBM, Oracle and Facebook, our experts can help you maximize your QA spend. Get a free quote or call +1.925.271.5555 today, and start improving your QA testing process.