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This guide introduces Selenium as a test automation solution and its benefits in testing. We’ll also outline the skills, effort, and resources required to fully succeed with Selenium. Finally, we'll propose a web automation solution you can use without having to worry about the technical details.

Testing ensures quality products and satisfied customers. Yet looking for defects or errors throughout development takes time. This can slow progress when under pressure to meet a deadline. Automating tests is one way of confirming an application is reliable and consistent. The Selenium framework is a popular tool for automating the testing of websites and web applications.

What is Selenium?

Selenium is one of the most popular frameworks for automated testing. And that’s not just because it’s an open-source framework (that means free)! Next, we’ll explain Selenium Testing and why it’s preferred by so many people worldwide.

Selenium is several tools for automation in one free, open-source suite of software. This suite for automating across browsers and platforms can serve several testing needs:

  • Selenium WebDriver for browser automation
  • Selenium IDE for record-and-playback web testing
  • Selenium-Grid for running tests on different machines against different browsers in parallel

While each of these tools can benefit test automation, this guide focuses on Selenium WebDriver. It's an API that can execute any action that takes place in a browser natively. That means it can click on buttons and type text into fields as a real user would. Selenium WebDriver communicates directly with the browser.

Selenium WebDriver can be operated with common programming languages, e.g. Java, C#, PHP, Python, Perl, and Ruby. It can be used to test web applications in Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, Opera, Android, iOS, and more. Basically, that means it’s hard to find an environment in which you can’t do Selenium testing.

As a result, everyone from one-man test consulting firms to large QA teams in global enterprises are using Selenium WebDriver. According to iDataLabs, 29,583 companies currently use Selenium, giving it a 27.4% share of the web testing market. Most often found in the United States, Selenium is typically used by companies with 50-200 employees and $1 - $10 million in revenue.

Why Selenium Testing?

Selenium is used across industries for testing websites and web applications. It's a tool with great versatility - especially for professional programmers. Common Selenium use cases include:

  • Automated testing of web-based CRM and ERP applications
  • Automating workflows in e-commerce operations
  • Automated monitoring of corporate intranets

Selenium testing makes frequent regression testing and customized defect reporting possible. It enables rapid feedback to developers with virtually unlimited test case iterations.

Still, the choice to use Selenium for automated testing is not necessarily based on a thorough decision-making process. Common reasons for using Selenium include:

  • It’s open source, free to use, and free of charge
  • It’s already the default automation framework in the tester’s company or among her peers
  • It’s perceived as a ready-to-use solution because testers “just” need to cobble some code together to make it work.

Yet, if you’re reading this guide, you probably looking for a deeper understanding of why Selenium is so widely used as a framework for web automation.

Well, there are several additional strengths to consider. Besides its cross-browser and -OS capabilities, Selenium is highly extensible. So, it’s designed to allow users or developers to expand or add on to its capabilities.

Selenium also offers the flexibility to run while the browser is minimized. Plus, it integrates easily with other development platforms. For example, Jenkins, Maven, TestNG, QMetry, and SauceLabs. In combination with other tools, you can also test native, hybrid, or web mobile apps. 

 

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How to Use Selenium?

The types of test you’ll run with Selenium depend on several factors. For example, project priorities, time allotted for testing, user expectations and more. Typical testing types will include:

  • Testing for the existence of a static, non-changing, UI element
  • Verifying links are not broken or leading to missing pages
  • Testing specific functions which require user input and are expected to return certain results
  • Locating dynamic elements often generated by user action.

In using Selenium to automate web application testing, there are seven basic steps to follow:

  1. Create a WebDriver project.
  2. Navigate to a web page (typically using the “get” command)
  3. Locate the web element on the page (typically using “Find” method)
  4. Perform an action on the element (e.g. get text value, fill in forms, or open a popup)
  5. Anticipate browser response to the action
  6. Run tests and record results using a test framework
  7. Conclude the test.

Creating robust test scripts following these steps often requires professional-level programming. But at least programmers can use one of several common programming languages and not have to learn something new.

Besides creating the scripts themselves, making Selenium work as an automation tool also requires:

  • Understanding of code check-in and -out. Testers must know how to ensure that their Selenium code travels smoothly through the release pipeline.
  • Separate setup of test environments. Environments for executing scripts must be set up separately.
  • Separate handling and monitoring of test results. Detailed test reports cannot be generated in Selenium WebDriver. The does not include a tool for reporting results from executed test cases.

Additionally, if you want to test on images, that is not currently possible. Programmers would need to integrate other tools for image-based testing.

Obviously, then, it requires ample coding skills to effectively automate with Selenium. Before we move on to the value of codeless Selenium test automation, let’s consider some other challenges companies can encounter.

Automating with Selenium: Common Cycles of Pain

Automating tests with Selenium requires quite an effort – and a lot of resources – to succeed. Common scenarios take place when test automation is introduced in software development. The business might:

  • bring in a consultant to develop Selenium-based tests,
  • instruct its own testers to figure out the new platform, or
  • give developers responsibility for Selenium testing.

These decisions often involve ‘cycles of pain'. Perhaps the consultant moves on and the pre-built test cases can’t keep up with changing requirements and environments. Another scenario sees developers reassigned to Selenium testing, and development falls behind. Or internal testers are too challenged by the steep Selenium learning curve. In each case, the automated test suite is at risk of being abandoned completely, and the best intentions of Selenium testing are not met.

Whether consultants, developers, or testers are tasked with making automation work, the outcome is often the same. The resulting test automation cases are fragile and hard to troubleshoot and reuse. What's more, they are impossible to update when a new version of the application under test is released.

This is not a future-proof way of ensuring better testing. That’s where LEAPWORK’s Selenium-powered UI automation blocks for web applications comes in to play.

 

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Web Testing with Codeless Selenium Automation

On a general level, web-based tasks and processes can be broken down into three types of actions:

  • Operating browsers to navigate the web
  • Interacting with web elements, both static and dynamic elements
  • Inputting/outputting data, text, and numbers.

In theory, that’s all you need to know to start building automated processes involving websites and web applications. Nevertheless, as seen above, automating tests based on Selenium can prove challenging in many contexts.

Now, imagine if each operation in testing was a building block. These blocks could be put together to create visual workflows representing web-based processes. Consider the following example. The tester wants to automate search for an item in an online shop and then compare the number of search results with a specified value.

 

A LEAPWORK automation flow

 

The automation flow is created by connecting just seven building blocks. Each operation represents an action in the web application’s UI:

  1. Start: Initiates the execution of the automation flow
  2. Start Web Browser: Opens specified browser (Chrome) and navigates to specified URL (amazon.com)
  3. Click Web Element: ‘Clicks’ on the specified element, i.e. the search field.
  4. Type Web Text: Inputs “star wars lego” in the search field
  5. Get Web Number: Finds and logs a number, i.e. the number of search results
  6. Compare: Performs a compare of the number retrieved in the previous step with a specified value (2500).
  7. Pass: Indicates that the test has passed on the condition that the compare operation returns the specified result.

This approach to designing processes enables automation of any web application and website. LEAPWORK supports all the common browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Internet Explorer.

Traditional Selenium automation is controlled only by programming and requires time to build the test case. Codeless automation based on Selenium doesn’t require a single line of code. All the logic required to drive web automation commands are represented in the building blocks in the LEAPWORK Studio. The underlying code is kept under the hood.

Read the full comparison: Selenium vs. LEAPWORK Web Automation.

 

 

Advantages of Codeless Web Automation

LEAPWORK’s codeless UI automation provides the advantages of Selenium WebDriver made easier. Let’s examine its many benefits in more detail.

  1. Codeless UI automation lowers, or even eliminates, the dependency on developers and consultants. There's no need for the user to read or type any code, and no automation framework is required. Visual web automation workflows are built more efficiently without requiring specialized programming knowledge.
  2. Save time otherwise spent building automation cases and maintaining the massive workload generated. Codeless web automation matches the pace of development. The increased agility lets you better respond to changes and challenges. This significantly reduces resource costs while allocating human testers’ time more effectively.
  3. The scope of automation can be extended with codeless web automation. It enables users to test across applications with one solution. While Selenium testing only automates elements inside a browser, LEAPWORK' can access every element on a screen’s UI. Testers can then automate both web and desktop applications – even across application types in one flow.
  4. With easy-to-design reusable components, codeless automation is much easier to scale. It is also more readily adopted by your team. Simple, step-by-step workflows make it easier to understand automation cases created by other users. Even non-developers on the team are empowered to effectively collaborate.
  5. LEAPWORK’s solution lets you easily document processes and changes. The UI workflows provide a visual description of a process and documentation of execution. With LEAPWORK, automated tests are documented with video and logs while all actions and events are recorded in audit trails.

Conclusion

Software testing can be difficult and costly. Test automation reduces errors, cuts back on resources required, and improves the ability to scale tasks. The Selenium framework has nearly a third of the market for automated web testing because it can reduce risk and increase test execution. Nevertheless, challenges remain with test automation based on Selenium.

With LEAPWORK, all business users can automate processes for increased accuracy and reliability. Successful test automation is within reach!

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