I have used a quite a number of test automation tools during my career, some were expensive enterprise software packages such as QTP and Loadrunner whilst others were open source such as selenium.
Whether you think open source tools are better than paid for ones is a matter of what suits your needs but a powerful driver has and always will be cost. However thats only really half the story because even though some paid for tools may have a high up front cost there easy of use and ROI maybe better than open source tools.
Let me explain this statement, generally when using open source tools some coding knowledge is required, what if you test team does not have this knowledge? sure they can learn but this is going to be an investment and therefore a cost. They are going to take time to get up to speed, time that could be spent writing test scripts and automating tests if the testers could just get stuck in right away. The benefit of paid for tools is that they tend to be easier to get started with and can be used happily with no programming knowledge (QTP) and you should get good customer support if you have any issues.
However having just said all that i think there is finally a tool that is open source (Free) that is also very easy to use…please take a bow Selenium Builder!
Selenium builder is a firefox plug in, but before you all shout what about the other browsers i need to test ! It maybe worth considering that aside from visual differences most functional issues will be apparent in every browser so just using FF means that i am not going to miss many bugs at all, you of course might be testing a complex web app and in that case you will need to have good cross browser regression test coverage. You can also do this with selenium builder scripts but you will need to configure your environment to be running a selenium server.
One to the cool things about selenium builder is that is default format of script is JSON so they are easy readable and therefore easy to edit. Also the firefox plug in has a nice GUI that you can use for editing scripts without even having to open a script in an editor.
It’s one of the few record and playback tools that i have used that works well. In my experience recored scripts playback very consistently and of course this makes scripts very quick to create.
Thanks for reading!