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Friday, June 20, 2014

Desktop automation tools

Talking to one of my colleagues today. He asked me about testing desktop applications. As someone who predates the Internet, testing desktop applications was not foreign to me. However I realized that many testers today have only worked on web or mobile device applications.

Testing things like Microsoft Word, Notepad, Calendar or Eclipse isn't something many testers have done.

You wouldn't use something like Selenium, cucumber or Watir to test a desktop application.

So where would you go to find desktop application test tools? The first place I look is At this time this page notes:

  • AutoIt: (free)
  • IBM/Rational Functional Tester: (commercial)
  • Quality First Software: (commercial)
  • Sikuli: (free)
  • SilkTest: (commercial)
  • Test Automation FX: (commercial)
  • Telerik TestStudio: (commercial)
In addition to these links I would also check out:
The first site has a wide range of links and it currently actively maintained. Unfortunately, it has more links for web and mobile testing but there are some desktop application tools listed.

The second link is to sourceforge. It will take you to the recently updated testing links. It includes open source applications for all sorts of testing. You can remove the "recently-updated" filter and see more but I usually restrict myself to recently updated tools. 

If the tool is for desktop testing and it has not been recently updated, there is a strong chance it does not work with modern applications or a current operating system. The older the tool the higher the risk it will not work on Windows 7 or 8, Mac OS X 10.8 or 10.9.

If you enter in a search term, like "testing" then a whole set of menus will appear below the search term and you can narrow things down even further. For example, after entering "testing" into the search text box I can select OS to be "Mac" and category "Quality Assurance".

I can also clear all the filters and search for things which might help narrow it down in different ways. For example, if I know how to program Java and I think I might want to add to the open source tool then I can filter for things with Programming Language "Java". Additionally, if the desktop application is written using Swing and Java I could search for Programming Language "Java", Category "Testing" then enter "swing". From the results I find jrobot ( and gtt (GUI Test Tool; 

It is also worth just poking around sourceforge and keeping a mental note about things you find. This is because you'll be surprised what you stumble. For example, JFCUnit is a good tool for testing Java Swing applications but it didn't come with JFCUnit (

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