In today’s rapidly evolving software development landscape, test automation plays a crucial role in ensuring the quality and reliability of applications. With numerous test automation frameworks available, choosing the right one can be a daunting task. In this article, Novatesting would like to have a brief look at the most popular test automation framework types currently in use and their key features.

What is a framework?

Framework is a fully built layer library – a frame for developing Application Software. The framework can be compared to a set of “Materials” in each field for programmers which replaces the need that programmers have to spend a lot of time designing beforehand.

What is Test Automation Framework?

Automated testing frameworks provide a unique architecture for our test project, which is often not provided by the foundation of the testing tools we use. Each type of framework has its own rules, guidelines, protocols and procedures for tasks like creating test cases, organizing and executing test cases.

Here are the 8 most common types of test automation frameworks.

Types of Automated Testing Framework

  1. Linear Scripting Framework
  2. Module-Based Testing Framework
  3. Library Architecture Testing Framework
  4. Data-Driven Testing Framework
  5. Keyword-Driven Testing Framework
  6. Hybrid Testing Framework
  7. Test Driven Development framework (TDD)
  8. Behavior Driven Development Framework (BDD)

The order is in ascending order of complexity and levels in the direction of achieving the test objectives. And aspects to measure that include scalability, reusability, effort spent on maintenance, and investment costs in technical related skills such as knowledge transfer, staff training or efforts required to learn new technologies.

1.  Linear Scripting Framework

Linear Scripting Framework is a term used in software testing and refers to a type of testing framework that follows a linear, sequential execution of test scripts. The test cases are executed one after the other, in a predefined order, without any branching or conditional execution. This type of testing framework is simple and straightforward, and is often used in small to medium-sized projects where the number of test cases is limited and the testing requirements are relatively simple. However, it may not be suitable for larger, more complex projects where there is a need for more advanced testing capabilities such as conditional execution, data-driven testing, and parallel execution of tests.


  • Test scripts (Record and Playback) can be created without much planning or time consuming
  • Coding knowledge not required
  • A quick way to create test scripts


  • Lack of reusability due to auto-generated scripts
  • Hard coding of data does not allow us to run with many data sets
  • High Maintenance – It requires a lot of effort to make even small changes.

2.  Module-Based Testing Framework

With this framework, we will build independent test scripts, corresponding to each module, component or function of the application software. Avoiding the use of dependent scripts is an important factor for the stability and maintainability of this framework.

In a word, testers divide the application into multiple modules and create individual test scripts. These individual test scripts can be combined to create larger test scripts using a master script to achieve the required scenarios. This main script is used to call individual modules to run end-to-end test scripts.

The main reason to use this framework is to build an abstraction layer to protect the main module from any changes made in individual tests.


  • Better scalability and easier to maintain by breaking the complete application into different modules
  • Able to write test scripts independently
  • Changes in one module have little or no impact on other modules
  • Easy and cost-effective maintenance.
  • If changes are implemented in one part of the application, only the test scripts of that part of the application need to be fixed to keep all other parts unaffected.


  • Complexity: Modular testing frameworks can become complex, especially when dealing with inter-module dependencies and the integration of multiple modules.
  • Maintenance: Keeping the modules and test cases up to date can be time-consuming, especially if changes are made to the application or the tests.
  • Test Coverage: It can be difficult to ensure that all necessary functionalities have been tested across all modules, leading to potential gaps in test coverage.
  • Test Case Reuse: While modular testing frameworks encourage test case reuse, it can be challenging to ensure that tests are being used correctly and effectively across different modules.
  • Debugging: Debugging failures in a modular testing framework can be challenging, especially when failures occur across multiple modules.
  • Test Execution: The execution of tests across multiple modules can be slow, especially if there are a large number of modules and test cases.

3.  Library Architecture Testing Framework

The Library Architecture Testing Framework aka “Structured Scripting” or “Functional Decomposition” it is based on a Module Based Framework with some additional advantages.

In modular testing framework we divide the application under test into modules while here we define common tasks and group them into functionalities. When functions are grouped, these groups are kept in the library. Test scripts reuse these libraries to create new test cases.


  • Reusability: Library architecture testing frameworks allow for the reuse of common components and test libraries, reducing the amount of code that needs to be written and maintaining.
  • Improved Productivity: By reusing common components, developers can focus on writing test cases for the application, leading to improved productivity and faster development.
  • Improved Test Maintainability: Library architecture testing frameworks make it easier to maintain and update tests, as changes can be made in a centralized location and automatically propagated to all tests that use the affected components.
  • Flexibility: Library architecture testing frameworks can be easily extended and customized to meet the needs of specific projects, allowing for a more flexible approach to testing.
  • Increased Test Coverage: By reusing common components, it’s easier to ensure that all necessary functionality is being tested, leading to increased test coverage and improved quality.
  • Improved Test Reliability: By reusing reliable components, the reliability of tests can be improved, leading to a more robust testing process and reduced risk of test failures.


  • Similar to the Module Based Testing Framework when there is a change in test data, the scripts must also change accordingly, or you have to create a new separate test script to accommodate that change.
  • Coding skills are required
  • Need more time to prepare test scripts
  • A fixed test data set hard-coded in the scripts

4. Data-Driven Testing Framework

Data-Driven Testing Framework is a type of testing framework in software testing where test cases are executed using data from an external data source such as a spreadsheet or database. The test cases are written in a way that they can be executed multiple times with different data inputs, allowing for efficient testing of multiple scenarios and edge cases. This type of testing framework is well-suited for testing applications with large amounts of data or complex data relationships, as well as for regression testing where the same tests need to be executed multiple times with different data inputs.

With data-driven testing, the same test case can be executed multiple times with different data inputs, making it possible to test a large number of scenarios and edge cases in an efficient and automated manner. Additionally, by separating the test cases from the data inputs, it becomes easier to maintain and update the tests as changes are made to the application or the data.


  • Supports multiple data sets
  • Modifying test scripts will not affect test data
  • No need to encrypt test data
  • Save time by doing more tests


  • Requires coding skills
  • Setting up the test framework and data takes longer
  • Need experienced automation testers to design framework

5. Keyword-Driven Testing Framework

It is also known as table-driven testing or action word-based testing.

Keyword-Driven Testing Framework is a type of testing framework in software testing where the test cases are defined using a set of keywords or phrases that represent actions to be performed on the application under test. The keywords are then mapped to underlying test automation code, making it possible to write tests without having to write any code. This makes keyword-driven testing frameworks well-suited for non-technical users or those who do not have programming expertise.

The test cases in a keyword-driven testing framework are usually stored in a table or spreadsheet, with each row representing a single test step and the keywords used to describe the action to be performed. This makes it easy to create, modify, and maintain test cases, as the tests can be written in plain language and updated without having to modify the underlying test automation code.

Components of Keyword-Driven Framework

Excel Sheet – It is used to store data for test cases such as keywords

Object Repository– This repository stores location values ​​for web elements.

Function Library – It is used to create functions that perform actions

Test Data Sheet – This is an Excel file that stores data values ​​in objects

Test Scripts – These are scripts to interact with the application under test

Driver Script -This is a driver tool that interacts with all test scripts

Selenium – It is used to set up the environment. Other tools can also be used for this purpose

Exemplary scenario:

1. Open a Browser

2. Navigate to URL

3. Enter username

4. Enter password

5. Click on the Login button

6. Click on the Logout button

7. Close the browser, then they will read the steps from Excel file with corresponding Keyword. The processing steps for these keywords are already set in ActionKeyword’s Library. Just switch case or if else to map it with the corresponding name from excel to invoke the correct execution.

The logic to read the required keywords and call to action is mentioned in the excel sheet. Keyword-driven testing is similar to data-driven testing.

While working on this framework does not require much programming skills, the initial setup (implementation of the framework) requires more specialized knowledge.

Data-driven framwork vs. Keywor-driven framework

Keyword-oriented frameworkData-driven framework
Ease of maintenance due to more layers of abstraction between test scripts, test data, keywords, etcRelatively harder to maintain because the abstraction is only between test data and test script
Planning must be extensive and precise for keyword driven frameworks Planning is easy as it is only needed for test data and test scripts
Test scripts can be written even before the product is out of developmentOne has to wait for development to finish before writing test cases


  • Abstraction from Code: Keyword-driven testing frameworks allow users to create tests without having to write any code, making it possible for non-technical users or those without programming expertise to participate in the testing process.
  • Improved Test Maintainability: By separating the test cases from the underlying test automation code, it’s easier to maintain and update the tests, even when changes are made to the application under test.
  • Increased Test Coverage: Keyword-driven testing frameworks allow for the creation of reusable tests that can be used across multiple projects, leading to increased test coverage and improved quality.
  • Improved Collaboration: By separating the test cases from the underlying test automation code, it becomes easier for technical and non-technical users to collaborate on the testing process, leading to better-quality tests and improved efficiency.
  • Better Test Documentation: Keyword-driven testing frameworks allow tests to be written in plain language, making it easier to document and understand the tests, even for non-technical users.
  • Improved Test Reusability: Keyword-driven testing frameworks allow for the creation of reusable tests that can be used across multiple projects, leading to improved efficiency and reduced test duplication.
  • Better Test Readability: By using keywords to describe actions, keyword-driven testing frameworks make it easier to read and understand the tests, even for non-technical users, leading to better collaboration and improved efficiency.


  • Takes longer to design
  • High initial cost
  • Staff with good test automation skills needed

6. Hybrid Driven Testing Framework

A hybrid-driven testing framework is a combination of two or more of the above frameworks. The big plus here is promoting the advantages of the frameworks that it combines using. For example, the hybrid-driven testing framwork has a combination of common library with a test data store that is input/output data and action keywords, now each tuple in the datastore will include the name of the object, description, action keyword, UI locator and test data respectively.


  • If the balance between the combined frameworks is carefully evaluated and implemented, it has a very high flexibility for project upgrades and maintenance.


  • For Hybrid, the initial work can be more complicated than for the above framework approaches

7. Test Driven Development framework (TDD)

Test-driven development is a technique that uses automated unit tests to guide the software design and decouple it from any dependencies. Previously, with traditional testing, a successful test could find one or more defects, but using TDD it speeds up testing and improves the confidence that the system meets the requirements and normal operation when compared with traditional test.


  • Early Detection of Errors: By writing tests first and then writing the code to pass those tests, TDD helps to identify and fix errors early in the development process, reducing the cost and effort required to fix them later on.
  • Improved Code Quality: TDD forces developers to think through the requirements and design of their code before they write it, leading to better code quality and reducing the number of bugs and other issues.
  • Better Code Design: TDD encourages developers to write small, focused, and modular code, making it easier to understand, maintain, and test.
  • Improved Code Reusability: By writing tests first, TDD helps to ensure that code is written in a way that is easily reusable, leading to increased efficiency and reduced development time.
  • Improved Collaboration: TDD helps to foster collaboration between developers, testers, and other stakeholders, leading to better communication and a shared understanding of the requirements.
  • Improved Test Coverage: TDD encourages developers to write tests for all aspects of their code, leading to better test coverage and improved overall quality.
  • Continuous Feedback: TDD provides continuous feedback on the progress of the development process, making it easier to identify and fix issues early on and reducing the risk of project delays or failure.
  • Improved Documentation: TDD requires developers to write tests, which serves as a form of documentation, making it easier to understand the requirements and design of the code.

Popular TDD tools

Following are some of the popular and most used unit testing frameworks/tools that support the TDD approach:

csUnit: An open source unit testing tool that provides a TDD unit testing framework for .Net projects

DocTest: A very simple, easy to learn unit testing framework for Python

JUnit: A Java TDD unit testing framework.

NUnit: This is again used for .Net projects

PHPUnit: This is used for PHP projects

PyUnit: Standard Unit Testing Framework for Python

TestNG: A testing framework for Java that overrides the limitations of JUnit.

RSpec: A framework for Ruby projects.

8. Behavior Driven Development Framework (BDD)

Behavior Driven Development (BDD) is a software development approach that focuses on bridging the gap between development and testing teams by fostering collaboration and communication. BDD uses natural language to describe the expected behavior of a system, making it easier for non-technical stakeholders to understand. BDD frameworks provide a structure for writing these behavior scenarios and automate the testing process to ensure the implementation matches the specifications. Examples of popular BDD frameworks include Cucumber, SpecFlow, and JBehave.

The central issue with this framework is the use of non-technical, semi-formal, or easier to understand languages ​​that will closely resemble the natural language we often use to describe test cases in terms of user behavior, specifically, the Gherkin language.


TDD (Test Driven Development)BDD (Behavior Driven Development)
Focus on the developer’s opinion on how the software’s functions should work. It’s basically a programmer’s perspective.Focus on user opinions on how they want the app to work. It’s basically the customer’s point of view.
Low level approachAs a user approach
Verify if the implementation of the functions is correctVerify that the application behaves the way the user wants it to work


  • Get access to product specifications as soon as possible.
  • Present both test cases in project auto test.
  • Be clear about the problem and create alignment between the stakeholders in the project, not just the Tester.


  • Requires high cooperation between the Dev team and the Test team can have both BA supporting writing Gherkin.
  • Gherkin’s writing takes time to standardize and map with the auto test framework that the engineering team has designed.

Tips of choosing a suitable framework in a particular case:

From Novatesting’s point of view, Data Driven Famework and Keyword Driven Framework or the combination of them should be used when there is a need to fast code a script part for an available test case. When a Cucumber-type test case is required, BDD framework is more suitable.

It can be said that the most popular framework today is BDD framework with the Gherkin language.

In conclusion, the test automation framework you choose will depend on your specific needs and the type of application you are testing. Each framework has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the right one for you will depend on your team’s expertise, the complexity of your application, and the kind of tests you need to perform. By carefully evaluating the most popular test automation framework types, you can select the one that best fits your requirements and streamline your testing process for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

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