An Introduction to Codeless Selenium Test Automation

Selenium is a free, open source and very powerful programming framework that can be used to drive web browser behavior. Learn how in this guide.

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This guide is an introduction to Selenium and the benefits of using it in automated web application testing. We outline the skills, effort, and resources required to succeed with Selenium, how to use Selenium, and what you can use it for. Finally, we propose a tool you can use to work with Selenium without having to code.

1. What is Selenium?

Selenium lets you automate web applications and drive web browser behavior such as clicking on buttons and typing into fields.

Related reading: What is Selenium Testing?

With Selenium, you can do anything a regular user can do in a web browser such as Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer. Programmers are able to write code for Selenium in languages such as Python, Java or C# and load web pages, perform required actions and check for expected results.

The following is a very simple example of doing just that, borrowed from Sauce Labs:

 

Selenium automation code

 

In the above example, Selenium is used to load the “www.SauceLabs.com” web page and look for a button that links to the “/beta/login” URL, and to check that the text inside the button is “Sign In”.

Once programmed, Selenium test scripts can be executed on any operating system, browser type or version, and on a variety of environments, including:

  • On your own laptop(s) from a programming environment such as Visual Studio
  • On virtual machines, running as part of a Continuous Integration setup such as Jenkins
  • On commercial services such as BrowserStack or Sauce Labs for massive parallelization
  • On a cluster of license-free Selenium Grid servers on your own network or in the cloud

2. Why Selenium Testing?

Customers expect high quality software, but the ever-increasing demand for faster time-to-market puts QA organizations under immense pressure.

Testing is key to ensuring reliable and consistent software behavior, and by automating tests, such as regression tests, resources can be freed up, and deadlines can be met.

For automation of web application testing, Selenium has many benefits:

  • Open source
  • Free of cost
  • Can be used to automate any web application, regardless of the underlying technology
  • Has a highly extensible and powerful programming framework
  • Can be integrated into any DevOps process
  • Works across all browsers and all operating systems
  • Supports mobile devices both simulated and on real devices
  • Can run while the browser is minimized without using the mouse pointer
  • Can run many automation flows (test cases) in parallel

Few other tools and frameworks come close to this impressive list of benefits.

 

Selenium_Frameworks_550x_v2

 

However, it’s important to understand that Selenium’s greatest power is that it gives programmers “raw” access to the browser.

This means that the programmer must have extensive coding experience in order to write and structure the code in a way that can easily be maintained.

Another thing to note is that Selenium only drives the browser; it does not record results or have any reporting capabilities – that’s for the programmer to create and maintain, typically by integrating the Selenium code with an Application Lifecycle Management system such as Azure DevOps.

In inexperienced hands, Selenium code can lead to an unmaintainable and unscalable mess. 

In inexperienced hands, Selenium code can lead to an unmaintainable and unscalable mess.

3.What Can You Use Selenium For?

Selenium can be used to automate testing of any web application - from Linux-based web applications built in Java, Python or Node.js to Windows-based .NET web apps.

Related reading: Selenium Automation - What Does it Require?

It works with plain HTML as well as advanced client-side JavaScript frameworks such as Angular.js. Selenium is therefore frequently used for automated testing of web-based enterprise applications such as ServiceNow, Salesforce, Oracle, SharePoint, Sitecore, SAP and many others. 

Read how a logistics company use Selenium

Learn how JF Hillebrand fully automated their web app testing and performed 8x faster automation design than with Selenium.

 

 

4.How to use Selenium

All of these examples have a lot of things in common. As explained in the Sauce Labs’ introduction to Selenium, there are six basic steps in creating a Selenium script for test automation:

 

number_flow_3

 

It sounds straightforward, but it’s clear from the example in section 2 above that it’s a very complicated and time-consuming task to write the code.

However, as you can see in this comparison of Leapwork vs. Selenium Web Automation, the biggest problem facing non-professional programmers isn’t actually getting the automation code to work initially - it’s the maintenance of the scripts, particularly in an enterprise environment.

In addition to writing test automation scripts, making Selenium work as a test automation tool also requires:

  • Understanding code versioning with Git. Testers must be familiar with code versioning in the Git tool, to ensure that their test scripts travel smoothly through the release pipeline.
  • Setting up test environments. Setting up test environments and maintaining the code that uses these environments can be a complex and time-consuming task.
  • Creating reporting and monitoring. Since Selenium doesn’t have built-in capabilities for reporting and monitoring, programmers will either have to build their own, or integrate with other solutions for this.

It’s important to note that Selenium does not work with any type of desktop application. Only the content displayed in web browsers can be automated.

Related reading: Can Selenium Be Used for Desktop Application Automation?

You also can't automate browser features, such as turning extensions on and off, with Selenium.

Typically, for enterprise test automation, testing needs to flow across different application types. For instance, a back-office application built for Windows desktops in WPF (Microsoft .NET) might be needed to setup an account, after which a web front-end needs to be validated, alongside records produced in a mainframe or maybe on a Citrix screen.

Related reading: Can You Use Selenium to Test Mainframes?

In sum, if you're looking to automate any non-web-based applications, you will need to either use Selenium in orchestration with another automation tool, or you will need an alternative solution.

Next, we’ll show how you can use a single tool across all application types, without having to write a single line of code.

5. Web Testing with Codeless Selenium

Selenium can be used to execute the following types of actions:

  • Operating browsers of different types to navigate web applications
  • Interacting with web elements, such as buttons and fields
  • Reading and writing data, text and numbers
  • Using data sources, such as Excel spreadsheets and databases

Imagine if these Selenium actions were represented by building blocks that could simply be wired up together to create automation flows.

This is possible with Leapwork. We’ve built a next-generation visual language that everyone understands, and which uses Selenium under the hood.

Related reading: Codeless Selenium: How to Automate with Selenium without Coding

Below is an example of codeless web automation. It’s a simple flow that creates contacts in Salesforce from an Excel spreadsheet, and then validates that each contact is correctly stored:

Related reading: Can You Automate Salesforce with Selenium?

 

Leapwork-Web-Automation-test-v3@3x

 

A flow like this takes only minutes to set up. Had the automation been coded, it could take hours or even days to create. 

The following video is a side-by-side comparison of code-based Selenium vs. no-code Leapwork.

Codeless Selenium enables any business expert to automate web application testing, as it doesn't require any coding experience.

We’ve built a next-generation visual language that everyone understands, and which uses Selenium under the hood.

6. Advantages of Codeless Web Automation with Leapwork

Capture elements once: Point and click to capture any button, image, or field on your screen. Leapwork’s smart algorithms automatically find the best way to locate it again in the future.

No more time wasted waiting: Nobody likes to wait. With implicit wait controls, Leapwork flows automatically wait for the right object to be found before executing the next step in your test case.

Gives an overview of test steps: Flowcharts give you a clear overview of your test suite, making it easier to set up and maintain tests.

Design re-usable components: Reduce the maintenance workload by building sub-flows for commonly used processes and steps. Edit sub-flows in one place and use them across teams and projects.

Test across browsers and devices: Test applications in any operating system, any desktop or mobile device, and any browser version. Leapwork comes with built-in Sauce Labs and BrowserStack cloud integrations.

Run tests anywhere, anytime: Automated tests can run on local, remote, and virtual machines, in closed networks, and in the cloud. Timing and frequency of run schedules are completely customizable.

Support continuous delivery: Plug Leapwork into your CI/CD pipeline using our public REST API. Leapwork comes with ready-to-use plugins for the most common DevOps tools and orchestrators.

Reports and live dashboards: Make the right decisions with powerful live dashboards and reports. Reports are exportable and fully customizable with filtering and grouping options.

Document everything: Test cases are automatically documented with video recordings, text logs, and time stamps. All actions and events are recorded in audit trails. Replay and inspect for fast troubleshooting.

Collaborate on test automation: Team work is about working better together. With project asset sharing, easy hand-over, user roles, and access profiles, collaboration becomes easier.

Stay in control of systems: Every single action in Leapwork is encrypted and tamper-proof – and automatically tracked in audit logs. Roll back to previous versions of automation flows with revision history.

Extend functionality on your own: With C# and JavaScript building blocks, Leapwork lets you insert code to your automation flows if you want to. Go further with our fully documented, public REST API.

See the Leapwork vs. Selenium comparison chart

Conclusion

Software testing can be difficult and costly. Test automation helps increase productivity, reduce risk, and reduce costs in connection with testing. 

The Selenium framework is a popular choice for web automation. However, testing with Selenium requires extensive programming skill, and it's difficult to maintain and scale. It is also limited to web application automation, and can not be used across technologies such as desktop, virtual or legacy.

With Leapwork, a codeless Selenium automation platform, you can automate across all technologies without writing a single line of code.

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