2020’s Most Popular Programming Languages for UI Test Automation

Getting Started — December 16, 2020

I often get questions from those starting new test automation projects querying which programming language they should choose. I never have a cut and dry answer to this because it depends on a few factors such as which language the product features are being developed in, who will be writing the tests and which language are they most comfortable in, and how much support and tooling is available for a given language.

In this post, I’ll share which programming languages are most used for test automation as it gives some insight into industry usage. However, do not take this to mean “best programming language”, as the best language is the one that is best for your context.

The Data

You may be wondering where the data is from. Good question! More than half of the top companies in software, financial services, and healthcare verticals use Applitools for their web and mobile test automation needs. From the millions of tests that run in our cloud every week, I’ve analyzed which languages the tests were written in and aggregated the results at the team level (not the test level).

The Results

  1. Java
    Java remains the most popular programming language for test automation. Java held its lead with 43% of our users opting to write their tests in this language. In last year’s review, Java was used by 44% of our customers, so a slight decline but nevertheless this language managed to keep the crown in 2020.
  2. JavaScript
    Coming in as the 2nd most popular programming language for test automation is JavaScript with 35% of our users writing their tests in this language. This is a huge increase from last year where only 15% of our users tested in JS! According to StackOverflow, JavaScript is the most popular technology used by professional developers, so I expect to see an increased usage of JS for testing in the years to come.
  3. C#
    With Java and JavaScript accounting for 78% of usage combined, there’s not much market share left for the other languages. So, we see quite the jump with the 3rd place language, C#, being used by 8.8% of our users. This is rather interesting because last year’s results showed 13% of our customers using C#, which means almost a third of these users have likely opted for a different language this year.
  4. Python
    Right behind C# is Python, with 8% of our customers using Python as their language of choice for test automation. This is exactly the same percentage of usage we saw last year. What’s most surprising about this stat is that Python is gaining popularity year after year with professional developers and has become the fastest-growing major programming language – even edging out Java for the first time this year! Perhaps we’ll eventually see this trend in software testing as well.
  5. Ruby
    Only 4.2% of our customers use Ruby for test automation. This is a stunning 40% decrease from Ruby test automation usage last year. StackOverflow shows Ruby’s popularity down to 8.9% with professional developers and it appears Ruby is even less popular in the testing space.

Remember…

While the data here doesn’t necessarily indicate which is the best programming language for test automation, it does highlight which ones are most used for testing amongst the hundreds of companies and open source projects surveyed.

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