The constant evolution of technology and the increasing complexity of online platforms make for a variety of challenges when it comes to visual testing — and the simultaneous demands for cross-platform compatibility and speedy releases present even more challenges.
In this article, we’ll highlight Rainforest QA as one way to overcome these challenges. Rainforest QA is an option for:
Then we’ll compare Rainforest QA with five popular alternatives that might better suit your needs.
Identifying visual differences — like a button with a changed color or a new text field — is a core feature of visual testing tools. Although such changes are often intentional, unwanted changes do occur as well.
And unintended changes can negatively affect user experience, which can ultimately lead to user churn. This is why organizations often look for tools to aid them in generating test cases, executing tests, and reporting results.
When you’re researching testing tools, it’s important to be aware of the differences between script-based and traffic-based testing. The former is what most organizations have used for decades: with this method, engineers use scripts to replicate user behavior. However, replicating user behavior exactly is often difficult — especially in visual testing. This is why traffic-based testing has seen a rise in popularity. With this method, user interactions are recorded and replayed to ensure that all the details of a user’s behavior are captured.
Rainforest QA is a no-code solution that focuses on real-world testing scenarios. It enables users to write, run, and maintain tests without needing any coding knowledge. Rainforest QA implements what the company refers to as “true UI testing” — in other words, a test’s ability to accurately replicate typical user behavior: for example, clicking fields, entering text, and submitting forms.
This approach differs from that of many other visual testing platforms — visual testing tools often interact with the underlying code — and provides a genuine representation of the user experience. Ultimately, this makes it easier to identify and mitigate UI discrepancies that other testing methodologies might miss. Rainforest QA offers three pricing plans tailored to different needs:
When looking for alternatives, you should:
In addition to whether a tool offers script-based or traffic-based testing, there are many factors to consider when you’re deciding which testing option is the right one for you.
Meticulous offers a suite of features that help ensure visual consistency and quality. It has a strong integration capability, and it allows developers to run automatic visual regression tests on pull requests, so they can make sure that code changes don't introduce visual discrepancies.
More importantly, Meticulous eliminates the need to maintain tests, due to its reliance on recorded user behavior. Note that this is different from other “no-code” tools, as those tools require test maintenance, while Meticulous automatically updates and maintains the test suite with no developer intervention.
Browsers are inherently non-deterministic, so all tools come with an inherent risk of flakes due to factors like:
Given that Meticulous reports visual inconsistencies by analyzing the pixel depth of screenshots, it’s crucial that these screenshots match the original recording exactly.
The solution to this is two-part: mocking any dependencies (for instance, databases or third-party APIs) and fully replicating the browser environment with augmentations to make it completely deterministic.
Moreover, because of the use of recordings and pixel depth, you’ll never need to maintain your visual tests again, whether new features are being added or old features are being removed. Simply use the new UI, have Meticulous’s script record it, and you’re all set.
Meticulous’s compatibility with CI/CD pipelines ensures that every build undergoes rigorous visual regression tests. Other integrations, such as Vercel, allow you to deploy a live version of each pull request, which ensures that the new code being tested is as close to your production environment as possible.
Testimonials from people who have tried Meticulous make it clear that not having to write tests is a major benefit of the tool.
Meticulous offers a Free plan that includes 10 pull requests per month, a $399 Starter plan that includes 40 pull requests per month, and custom pricing for larger customers.
Test IO offers a unique approach called "crowdtesting," which leverages the insights and expertise of a diverse group of individuals to test digital products. In other words, the testers are real people who use the product in real-world scenarios. This can catch bugs that may go unnoticed with automated tools.
Test IO's crowdtesting model is both flexible and scalable, making it appropriate for organizations of any size and in any industry. Its platform is designed with users in mind; it has an intuitive dashboard that allows you to easily create, manage, and monitor tests.
Their pricing model is flexible, with Startup, Pro, and Enterprise options, each billed as a monthly subscription. However, to get the exact pricing, you’ll need to contact their sales team.
The actual cost of Test IO depends on the number of testers and test cycles required. The Startup and Pro options are well-suited to baseline testing (exploratory testing, coverage, focused testing, and so on). They differ primarily in the number of tests you can run. However, the Pro option does provide some unique additional features, including:
The Enterprise package includes dedicated support, unlimited test cycles, and integration assistance, along with potential add-ons, including:
Sauce Labs provides a blend of emulators, simulators, and real devices, ultimately delivering great test coverage — without compromising on speed. The real-time feedback allows users to monitor tests as they run. Sauce Labs’ pricing is based on usage, with options for both manual and automated testing.
Teams can streamline their testing processes, track bugs, manage test cases, and share knowledge seamlessly with Sauce Labs' integrations with TestRail, Slack, Jira, GitHub, and Confluence.
Cypress is a robust testing tool that addresses the challenges of non-deterministic tests. Flakiness due to dynamic content is a common issue in visual testing, which is why Cypress has built-in retry-ability features. That being said, retries provide no guarantees of not producing flakes, they simply lower the chance of them occurring in the test suite as a whole.
The focus on aiding developers is clear from the beginning — especially when you look into features like explicit waits, mocking, and randomization. Cypress's ecosystem is enriched by an abundance of plugins and integrations, making it a Swiss Army knife for visual testing: perfectly adequate for most use cases, but rarely the most optimal solution.
Its interactive and real-time testing environment provides immediate feedback and allows developers to see exactly what happens during each test step. The Test Runner UI shows passed and failed tests in distinct colors, and is particularly praised for its clarity.
BrowserStack is a cloud-based platform that offers reliable, on-demand testing solutions for digital products. Its real device cloud is constantly updated, ensuring that testers get the most accurate results. Its cloud-based nature ensures consistent performance and accessibility from any location.
This is quite different from tools like Sauce Labs, which focuses on emulation. Although emulation is often more than enough, there may be cases where you need to verify on a real physical device — for instance, if you rely on a phone’s satellite antenna.
With its vast device and browser offerings, BrowserStack provides a comprehensive solution for ensuring application quality across platforms. Its user-friendly interface allows you to quickly select devices, browsers, and operating systems from a comprehensive list and initiate tests with just a few clicks.
However, pricing is a consideration, as Browserstack offers a tiered pricing structure with separate plans for live testing, automation, and app testing. For larger organizations or those with specific requirements, Browserstack provides custom enterprise solutions with dedicated support and SLAs. The exact pricing varies a lot based on your specific needs, both in terms of your team size and feature set. To see what your exact cost will be, visit BrowserStack’s pricing page.
When you’re selecting a visual testing tool, choosing one that aligns with your business's specific needs is essential. Each tool highlighted in this article has distinct advantages and potential drawbacks. Factors like budget, testing requirements, and team size will influence your final decision.
Meticulous is a tool for software engineers to catch visual regressions in web applications without writing or maintaining UI tests.
Inject the Meticulous snippet onto production or staging and dev environments. This snippet records user sessions by collecting clickstream and network data. When you post a pull request, Meticulous selects a subset of recorded sessions which are relevant and simulates these against the frontend of your application. Meticulous takes screenshots at key points and detects any visual differences. It posts those diffs in a comment for you to inspect in a few seconds. Meticulous automatically updates the baseline images after you merge your PR. This eliminates the setup and maintenance burden of UI testing.
Meticulous isolates the frontend code by mocking out all network calls, using the previously recorded network responses. This means Meticulous never causes side effects and you don’t need a staging environment.
Learn more here.
Meticulous is a tool for software engineers to catch visual regressions in web applications without writing or maintaining UI tests. Meticulous isolates the frontend code by mocking out all network calls, using the previously recorded network responses. This means Meticulous never causes side effects and you don’t need a staging environment.
Set up in minutes and generate tests to cover your whole application.