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Renju Paul Jose
Renju Paul Jose

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at

Selenium for Test Automation - Aye or Nay?

Selenium alternatives - testsigma

Selenium for Test Automation - Aye or Nay?

"Selenium automates browsers. That's it! What you do with that power is entirely up to you. Primarily, it is for automating web applications for testing purposes but is certainly not limited to just that. Boring web-based administration tasks can (and should!) be automated as well."

As SeleniumHQ stated above, the primary use of Selenium has been to automate Web Applications for Testing purposes and it has been doing the same for a decade or longer. It has been serving Automation Testing needs of testers worldwide for quite a long time and it's a great tool. From Selenium RC and Selenium IDE, Selenium has grown to a full-blown Web Automation library that supports multiple Web Browsers and Platforms.
In this article, let us see some of the factors that led to the widespread adoption of Selenium as the de-facto standard for web automation. Also, we will check the scope for advancement and improving a generic Selenium-based Test Framework.

Reasons for the adoption of Selenium - Pros of Selenium

1. Open Source/ No Licensing costs

Selenium has no upfront licensing costs or payments to be made for its use since its freely available. It is also an Open Source project which allows for extension and modification of the base framework for one's personal or professional usage.

2. Language Independent

Devs or QA Analysts working on a particular language don't have to learn a new language just to start automating their Tests using Selenium. Selenium provides official Language bindings with popular languages such as C#, Java, Ruby, JavaScript, PHP, Python in addition to the unofficial language bindings available for the rest of the languages.

3. Third-party Integrations

Selenium does not restrict a QA's choice of reporting tools, build systems or any other aspect of their Tech Stack. It integrates well with popular tools such as SauceLabs, Selenium-Grid, Extent, JUnit and others.

4. Parallel Testing

Selenium supports parallel Test Executions by integrating with Selenium Grid which helps to considerably bring down the Execution/Feedback time for Test Executions.

5. Cross Browser and Platform Independent

Selenium supports all the popular Web browsers such as Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera e.t.c and it works on all the available Operating System platforms such as Windows, Mac, and Linux.

6. Community Support

Selenium is backed by a vast community of developers and Testers who actively contribute to the Tool and documentation.

Given above are the reasons which make Selenium a great choice for the Automation Testers in Enterprises all around the world. However, as time flows and technology advances, we need to adapt and adopt newer tools and technologies to keep pace.
One of these advancements that we can't ignore is the impact of Artifical Intelligence(AI). AI is being adopted heavily everywhere and Software Test Automation is one such field that can gain heavily from it. Modern Test Automation Frameworks need to leverage the capabilities of AI better.

That is one of the reasons. Now, let us look into some other reasons that urge us to look for a better alternative to Selenium.

Reasons to start looking for new Test Automation tools - Cons of Selenium

1. High Initial Setup time and costs

It is true that Selenium is free and there are absolutely no licensing costs involved.
However, when it comes to ROI and Initial Cost, we need to think about a couple of other factors.
The setup and configuration of a Selenium-based Test Framework from scratch takes considerable time. That adds up to indirect costs.
For a Testing team that consists mostly of manual Testers at present, the team members need to learn programming or the company needs to hire a bunch of Automation experts to automate those Tests using Selenium.

Proposed Solution: Codeless test automation tools like Testsigma can help the manual testers step up to the automation game easily. And most of these tools come with zero initial setup time as well since they are hosted on Cloud.

2. Not an All-in-One solution - The requirement for 3rd party bindings

Selenium + TestNG/JUnit is not the complete, comprehensive solution to fully automate the testing of your Web Applications. You need different libraries(POI API, GSON, Extent Reports) to make it a complete solution for testing. And managing multiple dependencies is difficult which everyone would love to avoid.

Proposed Solution: A Good dependency management tool such as Maven, Gradle or NPM can make this task a bit easier. ANT is outdated now and I wouldn't suggest it since there are better solutions.

3. The difficulty of managing local Test Infrastructure

Parallel Testing is very much possible with Selenium Grid - However, it is not always feasible to set up and manage a local infrastructure(Test Machines) since the requirements for devices vary with projects.

Proposed Solution: Using a Cloud platform(IaaS) for the Test Environments would avoid the hassle.

4. Eventually becomes a parallel development solution

There's a lot of complexity involved in bringing multiple things together to create an effective and highly functioning test automation ecosystem based on Selenium. It takes huge technical efforts and requires constant updates, improvements, and maintenance of the complete framework. Eventually, it becomes a parallel development project which small and medium-sized companies can not afford in the early stages.

Proposed solution: Use a ready-to-use solution that delegates the maintenance to an external team so that the QA can spend more time on actual issues or bugs.

5. Inability to Integrate Continuous Testing / In-sprint Automation

With its code-based approach and strict dependency on UI, it is difficult for Selenium-based projects to shift the testing more to the left, which is required for continuous testing.

Proposed solution: Frankly, there's no easy solution for this issue since Selenium's dependency on UI is by design and one of the ways to shift left would be to rely on API Tests from the beginning.

6. No participation from non-technical resources

In continuous delivery and DevOps, quality is everyone's responsibility. But with the cryptic code-based approach, only programmers can participate in the test creation activities.

Proposed Solution: Use a Framework or tool that provides highly readable Tests(to be read as BDD or ATDD) and encourages the collaboration of team members.

7. Lack of professional On-demand support for Enterprise Projects

Even though the Selenium community is pretty helping, you can't always rely on Community support for large scale Enterprise projects which demand utmost privacy and quick resolution time.

Proposed solution: Something similar to point 4.

8. Solving Automation/ Maintenance Challenges

There are no inbuilt solutions for specific challenges such as dynamic UI, File handling, API Level tasks, OS-based popup handling, and Basic Authentication
Due to the heavy usage of AJAX and modern web development technologies, Tests are not always very stable. Also, since the Test Scripts are code-based, Test Maintenance is a bit difficult.

Proposed Solution: Adding fallback logic that can handle these challenges with native Javascript code.

9. No Test Management, Test Data management, and Test Reporting Capabilities

No built-in Test management, Test Data management and Test Reporting capabilities for any Selenium plus Test Orchestration library approach.

Proposed Solution: Integrate with a third party Test Management tool and third-party libraries for Test Data management and Test Reporting.

These are some of the reasons that led us(Our team at Testsigma) to think about a new tool that improves upon Selenium. And we have been quite successful in addressing all of the above challenges as well. Learn how - Pros and Cons of Selenium as an Automation Testing tool

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