Selenium vs. Cucumber: Which One is Right for You?
November 30, 2021

Selenium Vs. Cucumber: Which One is Right for You?

Open Source Automation

When it comes to automation testing tools, Selenium and Cucumber have become immensely popular among software testers and developers alike. Why?

In today’s era of online competition, web applications have become vital for businesses seeking new ways to reach and serve their target audience in the digital realm. Therefore, they must be thoroughly tested to ensure they offer high-end user experiences.

With manual testing becoming passé, automation testing has become a popular way to comprehensively test web applications. Automation testing not only lets you quickly and comprehensively verify web applications for all possible bugs but also helps you save time and money. 

Even though both Selenium and Cucumber are similar in some ways, they have their own strengths and weaknesses that can make or break the automation testing process. Let’s discuss the major differences between Selenium vs. Cucumber in detail and find out which is the preferable one according to your needs.

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What's the Difference in Automation Testing Using Selenium and Cucumber?

Both Selenium and Cucumber are powerful and comprehensive automation testing tools and are very useful for web application testing. But while Selenium is one of the best automation testing tools, using it can be a daunting task for a non-technical person. This is why more and more companies are using Selenium and Cucumber together for automation testing.

Cucumber makes the complex code easy to understand. Here are the benefits of using Selenium and Cucumber together for web application testing:

  • Allows everyone involved in the development of the web app to thoroughly test the web app
  • Allows all the business stakeholders and developers to develop the web application together
  • Allows parallel execution of tests on multiple machines that are written in plain English
  • Speeds up the testing process
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Selenium vs. Cucumber: Definitions

What is Selenium?

Created by Jason Huggins in 2004, Selenium is an open-source framework for automated testing that emulates real-time user action on different browsers. It is primarily used for UI, regression, and functional testing.

Selenium is written in Java and offers a user-friendly interface to create and execute test suites. It provides a single interface that allows you to write test scripts for programming languages like Ruby, PHP, JavaScript, Perl and Java, among many others, and supports testing popular browsers such as Internet Explorer and Google Chrome.

Selenium also comes with a built-in issue tracker that enables smooth and easy web application testing. Furthermore, this tool is effective for testing locally hosted pages, resolution display, online browser compatibility and responsiveness of different screen sizes.

By using Selenium, tests can be regrouped and refactored according to the needs. Not to mention, it also allows the testers to use a range of IDEs (Integrated Development Environments) such as Eclipse, Netbeans, Visual Studio among many others. 

Selenium Structure    

 The Selenium suite has four components, namely:                                           

1. Selenium Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

This tool lets you develop Selenium tests through a record-and-playback functionality.

2. Selenium Remote Control (RC)

A test tool that lets you record automated user interface tests of the web application. It supports any programming language on any HTTP web portal using any browser compatible with conventional JavaScript.

3. Selenium WebDriver

A web framework that lets you execute cross-browser tests. This tool is used for automating web app testing to verify that it performs as expected. 

4. Selenium Grid

Selenium Grid helps you execute tests on machines running multiple operating systems and web browsers at once. 

Benefits of Selenium

Selenium has become one of the favorite automation tools for many testers and developers around the globe, due to the following benefits: 

Easy to Use

When compared to other automation testing tools, the Selenium automation framework is very easy to use. Furthermore, it provides an intuitive interface that helps create as well as execute scripts quickly. In addition to allowing users to watch the tests while they are running, it also lets users examine detailed reports of Selenium tests script and take follow-up actions. 

Support Across Various Operating Systems

In addition to being user-friendly, Selenium also supports different operating systems like Windows, Mac OS and Linux, among many others. You can easily create test suites and execute them on a different platform like Windows. 

Open Source Accessibility

One of the major benefits of Selenium is its open-source accessibility. Since it’s an open-source tool, anyone can download the source code and use it. Furthermore, it can also be refactored based on project requirements. This improves the functionality of predefined classes and functions. 

Less Hardware Usage

Unlike other automation testing tools such as QTP, UFT and SilkTest, Selenium takes less space in the system and thus doesn’t overload the storage space.

Parallel Test Execution

Selenium also supports the parallel execution of tests on multiple machines. Using the Selenium Grid, users can perform web application tests on a number of web browsers and platforms.

What is Cucumber?

Created by Aslak Hellesøy in 2008, Cucumber is a behavior-driven development (BDD) tool used for developing test cases for the behavior of application’s functionality. This tool allows the users to write tests in plain, easy-to-understand language. Furthermore, this testing tool reads executable specifications written in simple English and validates that the web app does what those specifications say. The specifications consist of multiple examples or scenarios, for instance:


Scenario: Breaker guesses a word
  Given the Maker has chosen a word
  When the Breaker makes a guess
  Then the Maker is asked to score

Despite being written in Ruby, the tool supports multiple programming languages, including Java, C#, .NET, Ruby, FLEX and Python. Because of this, it becomes easier for the developers to test web applications using any of these supported programming languages. Here’s how Cucumber testing works:

  • Firstly, the Cucumber tool reads the steps written in plain English text or Gherkin inside the feature file. 
  • After reading the steps inside the feature file, it searches for the exact match of each step in the step definition file. When it finds its match, the tool then executes the test case and provides the result as pass or fail.  

Furthermore, the Cucumber automation tool not only integrates with Selenium, but also with other automation testing tools like Watir among many others.

📕 Related Resource: Learn more about Tips For Cucumber API Testing

Benefits of Cucumber

Well-Structured and Universally Understandable Test Cases 

In Cucumber, the test cases can be written in simple English. Because of this, your test cases become well-structured and universally understandable to all actors involved in your web application development and testing. 

Test Cases Can Be Reused

With Cucumber, you can also easily reuse the test cases. Furthermore, if you want to create a new test case that is similar to one of the web application tests that have already been created, all you need to do is find its predecessor and reuse what’s been done previously. 

Easy Collaboration

The easy readability of the Cucumber test code helps in bringing every stakeholder onboard during the development process. From testers and developers to product owners and business analysts, anyone can write behavior scenarios for the web application. 

Early Defect Detection

Without a doubt, a crucial benefit of Cucumber is the fact that it helps in early detection of defects in a web application. Furthermore, Cucumber helps the developers and testers identify which features are working properly and which are not.

Supports Different Programming Languages

Cucumber supports many languages like Java, PHP, JavaScript, Python, Perl and Ruby. As a result, you don’t have to learn a new programming language and can easily work with your preferred language. 

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Selenium vs. Cucumber Comparison Table

Listed below are the major differences between Selenium and Cucumber.




Written in

Selenium is developed in Java

Cucumber is developed in Ruby

Testing Type

Selenium is a browser automation testing tool

Cucumber is a behavior-driven development framework

Script Readability

Selenium scripts are more challenging to read for the developers and testers

Cucumber scripts are very easy to read and understand for the developers and testers


Installing Selenium is very difficult and complicated

Cucumber is easy to install

Programming Language support

Java, Python, Ruby, .Net

Java, Scala, Ruby, Groovy


Performance of Selenium scripts are faster

Cucumber’s script execution is slow

Conditional Statements

Conditional statements can be effortlessly incorporated

Conditional statements cannot be incorporated

Plugin Speed

Plugins in Selenium work slower compared to Cucumber

Plugins in Cucumber work faster

Detecting Syntax Errors

Syntax errors are easily detectable

Syntax errors often get unnoticed

Script review

Only professional testers can review the scripts

Anyone can review the scripts


Selenium is used for UI, regression and functional, testing

Cucumber is used for acceptance testing


Only developers and testers can contribute

All project stakeholders including developers, testers, product owners, business analysts can contribute

Open Source License

Apache License 2.0

MIT License


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Bottom Line

Both Cucumber and Selenium testing are important components of the web application testing process. Selenium is used for automating the testing across various browsers, whereas Cucumber is an automation tool for behavior-driven development. While these two tools have some similarities, they are completely two different things in terms of functionalities and usage. Even though both Selenium and Cucumber have their strengths and weaknesses, knowing when to use which tool and how to use them together can take your web application testing process to the next level.  


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