Tips for Automating Testing in Desktop Applications

Anna Thorsen

Automation Expert

Most organizations are dependent on desktop applications to perform business-critical processes and tasks. The larger the IT landscape, the more processes you’ll have to test, and the more desktop applications and technologies you’ll have to update.

So how can you perform test automation efficiently and at speed so your platform or application doesn’t become outdated with rolling desktop releases. 

In this article, we provide tips on automating testing in desktop applications, and cover why no-code automation is the easiest way to test desktop applications. 

Read more about automating desktop UI tests and processes.

Prepare a test automation strategy

Approaching desktop testing with a plan helps pinpoint the requirements you need when prioritizing the tests you automate. 

This will help you define what capabilities your desktop test automation tool should have. For example, a tool that will test processes end-to-end across technologies and applications, or easily run parallel tests in desktop applications

Having this knowledge beforehand helps you organize your resources better, distribute tasks among the QA team, and spend your IT budget wisely.

Once the plan has been approved and reviewed, it’s time to identify an automated testing tool for your desktop applications.

Download the checklist on the 7 steps for developing a test automation strategy.

Identify a testing tool

While there isn’t a one size fits all approach to automated testing in desktop applications, there is a tool that will make your testing practices quicker and more efficient to facilitate agile development. 

Intuitive and visual

First and foremost, the tool should be stable, easy to use, and make troubleshooting and debugging faster. Tools that require specific languages to script test cases adds additional complexity to testing, making you reliant on expensive developer resources. 

But a tool that helps your team build test cases without having to code allows you to move more quickly through testing and requires less maintenance.

Cross-application functionality

Let’s say a customer of a large bank is transferring money on the bank's web-based interface. This change needs to be reflected on the internal system. In many cases, this change will be reflected in an internal desktop application. 

To make sure that the process runs smoothly, the internal IT team needs to verify that the changes made on the customer facing web application are reflected on the internally used desktop application.

If this process is automated, a developer will script a test case for the web interaction. The developer will then go directly to the internal desktop application and use another tool to script a test to verify that the changes are reflected.

In this case, relying on programming to transfer between applications in the same flow is very taxing on your resources, and calls for a tester with in-depth knowledge of the systems and languages of the applications used.  

You have to cobble together an automation framework using code-based test automation tools for web and desktop applications, and this prevents you from scaling your testing.

A tool that operates remotely and locally with cross-application functionality will make building test cases easier - whether it's supporting underlying technologies like WPF, business-critical applications like SAP, or web based technologies like Java.

Keep maintenance to a minimum

It’s common for large organizations to build their own test automation frameworks. However, if you find that your development team is spending more time maintaining the framework than if they were to manually test, the automation is not providing value from a business perspective. 

Let’s say you’re running 500 automated tests, and 10% of those tests failed. That’s 50 tests to debug. A developer has to understand why and where the test failed.

If you don’t have fast insight on why a test failed, you’re spending time on a task that could generate more value elsewhere.

If the test failed because the test in itself needed to be updated, that's even more time out the window. If that test case is scripted, and requires developer resources to write.

By removing the burden of scripting that comes with maintaining test cases, you’re allowing more people to participate in the testing process, from business-focused domain experts to technical testers.

With the ability to rapidly build modular tests without coding, your desktop automation requires less maintenance, allowing you to deliver quality at higher speed.

Why companies use no-code automation for desktop testing

Using Leapwork, anyone in your testing team can build and maintain desktop application test cases. 

One platform for testing any application: Leapwork’s reliable automation helps testers seamlessly automate desktop and web applications, regardless of the technologies used. Whether in closed networks, on premise, or in the cloud, you can run desktop UI automation on any device.  

A visual language: With the shortest learning curve on the market, technical and non-technical specialists can create UI automation flows with easy to use building blocks, without having to script a single test case.

Low maintenance: With reusable components, any part of a desktop automation flow can be reused, shared, and parameterized as needed, and you’ll never have to build the same sequence twice. Video Logs for troubleshooting help testers quickly find and fix bugs wherever they are. 

Built-in DevOps Integration: Easily collaborate within your team on a single platform. Leapwork’s no-code test automation platform integrates with your CI/CD pipelines.

Learn more about desktop application testing in this upcoming desktop automation webinar where we explain how to solve common problems in desktop automation, showcase a live demonstration of Leapwork’s no-code platform used in desktop automation, and how to build a flow for cross-application testing. 

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