Selenium stands as the most robust open-source automated tool available for free. The tool was created by Jason Huggins and his team. Selenium is a widely recognized and long-standing automation framework that has been utilized in software testing for quite some time. Nonetheless, the framework has several limitations that may prompt testers to switch to other frameworks better suited to their requirements.
This article will explore these limitations and consider alternative tools that may be more suitable for your needs.
What is Selenium ?
Who doesn’t enjoy a backstory behind a name? Back in the early 2000s, Astra Quick Test by Mercury Interactive was the dominant tool for test automation, despite its limitations such as only being compatible with Windows computers, supporting a limited number of browser versions, and requiring the use of VBScript as the scripting language. When software engineer Jason Huggins developed a new and groundbreaking test automation tool, he chose the name Selenium, referencing the chemical element and supplement known for its ability to counteract mercury poisoning.
Selenium is a well-known open-source framework utilized for automation testing and is suitable for testing web applications across different browsers. Although when people refer to Selenium, they often mean WebDriver, there are other components available as well.
One of these components is Selenium IDE (Integrated Development Environment), which offers plugin support for Firefox and Chrome and allows testers to create test cases using a record and play feature. However, for more complex test cases, Selenium RC or WebDriver may be required. While Selenium IDE does not require coding knowledge, it does have limitations in terms of slow execution speed, poor editability, maintenance, and reporting capabilities.
The development and infrastructure of the Selenium suite began with Selenium Remote Control (now called Selenium 1), but it became outdated due to its limitations and was eventually replaced by Selenium 2, which merged with WebDriver. Selenium 3 was released in 2016, which added support for more browsers and mobile testing capabilities while also deprecating Selenium RC to a “legacy package”.
The initial beta release of Selenium 4 was announced in February of 2021.This update features refreshed documentation and a rewritten server. Although some elements are deprecated, it also introduces new capabilities, such as the introduction of relative locators, the transition from JSON Wire Protocol to WebDriver W3C Protocol, and a Chrome debugging feature.
● Selenium IDE
Selenium IDE (Integrated Development Environment) is a browser add-on that offers a user-friendly interface for developing Selenium test cases. It comes equipped with features like recording, testing prototypes, and playback, and allows for exporting test cases in multiple programming languages. This tool’s main function is to capture all the user’s browser activity and is particularly useful for learning Selenium script syntax. It is an effective means of creating Selenium test cases.
● Selenium Grid
It is a software tool designed for running tests in parallel or distributed environments. It enables users to execute test scripts on numerous machines with different browsers and operating systems. Once the tests are initiated, Grid automatically carries them out on the remote end. Employing Selenium Grid can significantly reduce testing time by allowing for simultaneous test execution across multiple operating systems and browsers.
● Selenium WebDriver
1. The fact that Selenium is an open-source framework means that it is freely available to anyone who wishes to use it. This has made it a popular choice among software testers who do not have large budgets to invest in expensive testing tools. Moreover, being open-source, Selenium has a large community of developers who are constantly working to improve the framework and add new features.
It allows users to customize the framework to their specific needs. This is because the source code is publicly available, and users can modify it to suit their requirements.
Users can also develop and share their custom plugins, extensions, and integrations with the community. This creates a collaborative environment where users can benefit from the work of others and contribute their own solutions to the community.
2. Selenium’s language independence is a significant advantage for software testers who are already familiar with a particular programming language. They do not have to learn a new language to use Selenium, which saves them time and effort. The official language bindings offered by Selenium are well-documented and regularly updated to ensure compatibility with the latest programming languages. This means that testers can benefit from the latest language features when writing Selenium scripts.
Moreover, the availability of multiple language bindings enables teams to work more effectively, even if they use different programming languages. For example, a team that works primarily with Java can still collaborate with another team that primarily works with Python, using Selenium as their common automation tool.
3. Selenium allows software testers to integrate it with a variety of third-party tools without any limitations. This means that testers can freely choose their preferred reporting tools, build systems, and other components of their development and testing stack. Selenium seamlessly integrates with many popular tools such as Selenium Grid, Extent, JUnit, and various others. This flexibility in integration enables testers to easily incorporate Selenium into their existing testing infrastructure and customize their workflows according to their needs.
4. Selenium is a cross-platform and cross-browser automation tool that works seamlessly on different operating systems such as Windows, Mac, and Linux. It supports a wide range of web browsers including popular ones like Google Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, among others.
Selenium’s ability to work across different platforms and browsers provides software testers with the flexibility to test their web applications on multiple platforms and browsers without any compatibility issues.
5. Selenium can execute tests in parallel by using Selenium Grid. Selenium Grid is a tool that allows testers to execute tests on multiple machines with different configurations simultaneously. By using Selenium Grid, testers can distribute the tests across multiple nodes, which helps in reducing the overall test execution time. The nodes can be of different operating systems, browsers, and versions.
Selenium Grid manages the distribution of tests and test results across the nodes, making it easier for testers to analyze the test results. With support for parallel testing, Selenium can help save time and improve the efficiency of the testing process.
1. While Selenium is a popular and cost-effective automation tool for web applications, there are other factors to consider when evaluating its ROI and the cost of implementation. One such factor is the high initial cost associated with setting up and configuring a test framework from scratch. This cost can be especially high when there is a pressing need to deliver results quickly. This is because setting up a test framework involves various tasks such as installing and configuring the Selenium WebDriver, choosing a programming language, setting up a build environment, and integrating with other tools.
Another important consideration is whether it is more valuable to empower experienced manual testers, who are subject matter experts, to write automated tests or to hire a technical workforce specifically for automating tests and provide them with training. While experienced manual testers may have a deep understanding of the application and its workflows, they may lack the technical skills required to write automated tests. On the other hand, hiring a technical workforce for automation may be expensive, and the team may not have the same level of expertise in the application domain as manual testers.
Furthermore, automated regression testing by QA testers plays a crucial role in continuous delivery. Automated regression testing can help ensure that changes to the application do not break existing functionality. This not only helps in ensuring the quality of the software but also saves a significant amount of time and effort that would otherwise be spent on manual testing. By automating repetitive and time-consuming tests, QA testers can focus on exploratory testing and uncovering defects that cannot be found through automated testing.
2. While Selenium is a widely-used automation framework for web application testing, it is important to note that it is not an all-in-one solution. In order to fully automate testing, Selenium requires the use of third-party libraries and language bindings. These additional components are necessary to make Selenium truly effective and usable for web application testing.
To create a complete solution for end-to-end testing requirements, it is essential to use different libraries and a well-designed automation framework such as Selenium. This framework can help streamline the testing process and provide a comprehensive set of tools for managing automated testing. By using an automation framework that integrates with Selenium and other necessary libraries, testers can more easily manage and execute their tests, ensuring greater accuracy and efficiency in the testing process.
3. One of the challenges with using Selenium for automated testing is that the script-based approach can lead to slow test development. This is because creating stable and maintainable tests in Selenium requires expert knowledge in popular programming languages. Without this expertise, testers may struggle to write effective and reliable test scripts, leading to slower test development times and potentially lower quality test results.
4. In the context of continuous delivery and DevOps, ensuring quality is a shared responsibility. However, with the code-based approach used in many testing solutions, including Selenium-based automation, only individuals with programming knowledge are able to create test cases. This means that non-technical resources, who may have valuable insights and perspectives on the application being tested, are unable to participate in the testing process. This can lead to a lack of diversity in testing approaches and potentially overlooked issues, ultimately impacting the overall quality of the product.
5. The readability of test scripts in Selenium can be a challenge, particularly for non-programmers and those without technical expertise. This can limit the ability of non-technical personnel to participate effectively in the test automation process. Difficult-to-read test scripts can also make it harder to understand and troubleshoot issues, potentially leading to longer development times and a less efficient testing process.
While Selenium WebDriver is a popular tool for automation testing, it does have limitations that may make it necessary to consider alternative solutions. Selenium testing platforms, such as LambdaTest, are available on the market and can help overcome these limitations. By exploring other options beyond Selenium, testers can gain access to additional features and capabilities that can help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their testing efforts.