TestPlant's eggPlant Functional automation tool is the Editor's Choice

The image-based automated testing tool eggPlant Functional has improvements in setup and scripting for testing environments. It also includes UI advancements.

Product name: eggPlant Functional

Version name/number: v16.1

Vendor name: TestPlant

Release date: July 6, 2016

The editors at SearchSoftwareQuality regularly recognize project management and software testing technologies for their innovation and market impact. TestPlant's eggplant Functional automated image-based testing platform is the September 2016 Editors' Choice for Innovation.

What it does

In simple terms, Functional is a new eggPlant automation tool for testing application functions. Looking at the big picture, IT consultant Paul Gerrard sees eggPlant as a new type of image-based automated testing tool that can be used to run prepared tests on almost any platform with a GUI interface.

The eggPlant Functional platform uses image-analysis technology that allows it to drive and validate the system under test, said Anthony Edwards, TestPlant CTO. For example, if a tester clicks on the "OK" button on any given screen, eggPlant Functional analyzes the screen using image recognition algorithms, locates the "OK" button and then raises a system-level event to click on that button. With this intuitive way of testing, "applications are tested from the user's perspective, not the code's perspective, which leads to a better user experience," Edwards said.

Ease of use is very important as ... testing and quality functions increasingly involve business users as well as engineers.
Anthony EdwardsTestPlant CTO

The latest release of eggPlant Functional delivered features that foster ease of use and improvements in setup and scripting for testing environments. Automating scripting is critical as the demand for rapid development and digital transformation permeates businesses. "Ease of use is very important as ... testing and quality functions increasingly involve business users as well as engineers," said Edwards. So the new eggPlant automation release includes advancements in the user interface for the tool's SenseTalk scripting language.

Why it is cool

The GUI-based approach offers great ease of use to testers, according to Gerrard, principal at Gerrard Consulting. "Being image-based, the tool recognizes objects on screens by their appearance and synchronizes with them by matching prepared image snippets with the system screens," he said. It also has an OCR feature that allows the tool to find text on screens, too.

Gerrard also sees eggPlant Functional's cross-platform, technology-agnostic capabilities as a big plus because system and delivery models are constantly changing. For example, the image-based automated testing tool works with web and HTML applications and emerging responsive websites. Also, this eggPlant automation tool can be used to test applications and services on many devices, including laptops, smartphones, tablets, servers and more. Scripts reflect the UI and business logic of the application, not the code, so a single eggPlant test script can deliver test automation across all platforms, from Safari to Chrome, iPhone to Android and so on.

"Changes in the way systems are delivered mean that eggPlant Functional has little competition in the market," said Gerrard. "There are some open source utilities that are available, but the ease of use of these is poor in comparison. It is conceivable that existing object-based tools could be migrated to an image-based automated testing tool interface, but this doesn't seem very likely."

What a user says

TestPlant's blended, code-based and image-based testing approach attracted Thomson Reuters' director of technical support and software release management, Colin Dorman, to the automated test line six years ago. "I believe in having a blended approach. [You] need code-based testing because of speed and the efficiency of being able to work through fast data sets or to talk to services and test services in a more holistic way," he said. "However, the product that we sell goes to people, and people interact with the UI."

Over the past six years, using eggPlant Functional has greatly reduced the time Dorman's QA team spends on routine tests. This gives them time to drill deeper into application functionality, doing exploratory testing, Destructive testing and other advanced work.

The enhancement of image management featured in the new release of eggPlant Functional is "huge," Dorman said. "The one drawback of the UI is that it can be flaky at times." It's easy to throw a UI test off by, say, just moving pixels around to make the image prettier, he explained. His team experienced that problem when using one of the first versions of eggPlant Functional and created workarounds to maintain a standard desktop for test machines. With the improvements in image management, the management is automated, and such test failures are unusual.


Cloud and on-premises versions of TestPlant's eggPlant automation image-based testing tools are available. All are licensed on a subscription basis.

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