Why Use Selenium For Automation Testing
As more and more businesses go online, the functionality and user experience of our web applications control our business success. So, it’s a must to carry out relevant automation testing practices on our web applications before we release them to the market. Selenium is one of the best browser automation suites that we can utilize for this purpose, as it is a portable automation testing framework used to validate web applications. Furthermore, It is open source and works across different browsers and platforms.
In this article, I’ll be outlining how the components in the Selenium tool suite make it one of the best automation testing tools, the advantages that Selenium offers for developers, the latest improvements in Selenium 4, and the future of Selenium.
Components of the Selenium Tool Suite
Selenium is made up of four components, each offering different test automation features for web browsers.
1. Selenium IDE
Selenium IDE is a very useful tool in the Selenium suite for developing test cases for web applications. Its main feature is the record and playback, through which you can record all browser interactions in your test case. Later, you can play them back in the browser. This simple record and playback tool, which comes as an add-on to browsers, can be used for prototype testing.
In addition, Selenium IDE supports export to many programming languages like Java, Ruby, Python, and C#. They can be used to write test cases and they provide editing and debugging options. Because this is a simple tool, anyone with little to no background in test automation can quickly learn it and start testing.
2. Selenium RC (Remote Control)
3. Selenium WebDriver
Selenium WebDriver is the first cross-platform testing framework that can control the browser from the OS level. In contrast to Selenium IDE, WebDriver provides an interface to create and execute test cases. So, these test cases can be written in such a way that identifies web elements on the web page and then perform actions on them. This is done by making direct calls to the browser without the need for an intermediate server for message and data exchange between the client and theserver. Selenium WebDriver is a faster alternative to Selenium RC.
Selenium Webdriver supports multiple programming languages like Java, C#, and Ruby, as well as multiple platforms like Firefox, Chrome, and more. Together with Selenium RC, the two tools make for Selenium 2 (Selenium RC was Selenium 1).
4. Selenium Grid
This component is a proxy server where you can simultaneously execute multiple test scripts on different machines. It consists of a server that acts as the hub and multiple grid nodes where the hub routes commands to the registered nodesit. However, maintaining a grid with all required browsers and OSs is complex and a difficult task. Hence, multiple online platforms provide online Selenium Grid access to run your automation scripts to solve this problem.
10 Advantages of Using Selenium Automation Testing for Developers and Testers
Selenium provides multiple advantages for developers:
01) Supports all popular programming languages
With Selenium testing, you don’t have to constantly worry about which language needs to be used. C, C++, Java, and Python are the basic languages supported by many types of testing software, including Selenium. Apart from them, Selenium supports a huge variety of languages including Ruby, C#, Perl, and more. So, you can write your test scripts in any language that you’re comfortable with, and then Selenium converts them to Selenium compatible code in no time.
02) Supports all major operating systems
Your clients don’t use the same operating system. So, you need to utilize an automation testing framework that can perform across all the operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux. Portability in Selenium is the key to reach this goal. You can even create test cases in your Windows OS and execute them in MacOS.
03) Multi-browser support
The main concept behind Selenium is “One Selenium script for all browsers”. Therefore, if you work with Selenium automation, you don’t have to rewrite test scripts for each browser. Selenium scripts are cooperative with browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, Opera, and more. This saves a lot of valuable time in your business and becomes highly useful when executing testing across various browsers simultaneously.
04) Easy implementation and management
Automating testing cases across different web applications, browsers, and OSs is not an interesting task. To help, Selenium offers a user-friendly interface to create and execute test scripts easily and effectively. Selenium commands are categorized in terms of different classes which makes them easier to understand and implement. Tests run directly across browsers and the users can watch while the tests are being executed. Reporting capabilities in Selenium are the major factor of Selenium being popular in the QA community as it allows testers to extract the results and take follow-up actions.
05) Lots of plugins and extensions
Selenium comes with an extensive library of plugins and extensions that support integration with third-party bindings. They allow you to extend the functionality of Selenium. For instance, Selenium can be integrated with Appium and Selendriod using plugins. Besides, you can integrate Selenium with continuous Integration/Delivery (CI/CD) tools like Jenkins and Eclipse, which highly benefit Agile developments.
06) Wide testing scope
Selenium offers multiple testing options like hybrid, and mobile web apps. Besides, it allows you to test mobile web applications across many devices like Android and iPhone. When it comes to mobile testing, we can integrate open-source software like Appium or Selendriod. The main difference between these two is that Selendriod only supports Android devices while Appium supports different devices like iOS, Android, and Windows. These multiple testing options help generate necessary results while addressing device-specific issues.
07) Parallel test execution
Selenium Grid helps minimize testing efforts and time by supporting parallel testing on any number of devices or browsers. It can execute multiple test scripts in parallel as well as outside the cloud-grid, because Lambda Test helps with cross-browser testing.
08) Easy integration to achieve CI/CD
Third-party frameworks and add-ons accommodate to broaden the scope of testing with Selenium. Some might hesitate to choose Selenium for this particular reason but, CI/CD tools like Jenkins, Maven, and Docker help seamlessly integrate the CI/CD chain by using Selenium automation. You can integrate Selenium with almost all management tools.
09) Open source
The biggest reason to choose Selenium is that it’s 100% open source. You can download it freely. Since there are no upfront costs except for maintenance, you can use the saved money for something else in your business. Also, this helps you to customize the code for better code management and improve the functionality of predefined functions and classes. Since it is easy to generate test scripts to validate functionalities, Selenium has become the most reliable web application automation tool.
10) Huge community and many resources to learn
Being an open-source tool suite, Selenium has gained a huge community. This community continuously helps developers and testers in automating the web browser features and functionalities. Also if you just search for Selenium tutorials on the internet, you’ll get a humongous number of articles, videos, research papers, etc. Now you have access to a great free automation testing tool along with a ton of resources to learn how it works and more. So, what else do you need in this particular stage of SDLC to make your web product better?
What’s New in Selenium 4?
Although there are no announcements made for the stable release of Selenium 4, the alpha version, released in April 2019, has gained immense traction for the new features and functionalities it has provided.
01) WebDriver became W3C
The W3C standard encourages compatibility across different software implementations of the WebDriver API. The tests can now directly communicate without any encoding or decoding of API requests (through the W3C protocol). Java bindings are backward-compatible but focus more on the protocol. The JSON wire protocol will no longer be used.
02) Enhanced Selenium Grid
The new Selenium grid is more stable, avoids all thread-safety bugs, and provides perfect support for Docker. Requesting tracing and logging with hooks are modified and improvised to provide QA engineers with control over malicious bugs. Managing Selenium Grid is now smooth and easy as there will no longer be any need to set up and start hubs and nodes separately.
03) Upgraded Selenium IDE
Previously, the record and playback tool was only available on the Firefox add-on. With Selenium 4 it is available on the Chrome and MS stores too. It has an improved GUI for an intuitive user experience. It comes with a Selenium IDE runner which lets us run side projects on a NodeJs platform that is completely based on WebDriver.
04) Improved Documentation
The documentation of Selenium 4 has a much better UI that simplifies navigating to the desired section or page. It helps testers and developers find the information they need about a specific tool or language, quite easily. The comprehensive documentation covers all the tools and APIs belonging to the Selenium umbrella.
05) Few Important Method Changes
Added driver.switchTo().parentFrame() method to switch directly to the parent frame. Replaced WebElement.getSize() and WebElement.getLocation() with a single method WebElement.getRect().
The Future of Selenium
With the launch of the Selenium 4 alpha version in April 2019, the QA community became very excited about the new experience. Many issues were addressed through the new release.
However, according to many testing experts, Selenium has failed to handle software changes and advancements. For example, testing a simple change like renaming a field ID. AI-based automation tools, on the other hand, adapt to such changes using advanced machine learning. They become easier to maintain and are more reliable.
To compete with these sorts of tools, Selenium needs to come up with a new release that is integrated with AI. Yet, Selenium still has a great future in the industry as it is completely free and open source, and offers lots of capabilities, compared to commercial AI-based automation tools.
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