A Close Look at Selenium Pros and Cons
Selenium is the automated testing framework of choice for many organizations that work in the web app development space. There's a reason for that: selenium is a powerful and useful tool, and there are many positive things to say about it. Every rose, unfortunately, has a thorn, and Selenium is no exception.
In a recent survey, 41% of respondents said they used Selenium in 2021, compared to 43% in 2020. The second Functional testing tool used was Cypress with a 14% of the professionals surveyed.
What is Selenium?Selenium is a tool for web automation. It would be a safe bet to say that most people and organizations use it for testing. However, there is no requirement that you use Selenium solely for that purpose. You could use it, for example, to automate some time-consuming administrative tasks that you must complete every week.
Selenium is available in two variations: Selenium WebDriver and Selenium IDE.
The WebDriver version is a powerful framework with which you can interact programmatically using a variety of programming languages. Selenium IDE is a browser extension that allows you to perform record-and-playback testing. We're mostly concerned with the WebDriver version in this article.
Why is Selenium used?People use Selenium for testing because it allows them to perform automated testing. So, why do automated testing?
It all comes down to the fact that software is complex and prone to errors. In other words, adding new features or fixing bugs can cause existing features to stop working. That is why comprehensive automated testing is so important, because manually testing the application after each minor change is extremely impractical.
Selenium, in particular, enables organizations to simulate testing of user interactions with their web applications across multiple browsers.
What Are the Benefits of Selenium Automation?
Language AgnosticNobody wants to spend time learning a new programming language just to use a testing automation tool.
Cross-BrowserSelenium communicates with browsers via drivers, which differ depending on the browser version. As long as you have the proper driver, you should be able to work with your preferred browser, as Selenium supports all of the major browsers, including Chrome/Chromium, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and Opera.
Cross-PlatformTo take things a step further, Selenium is also cross-platform. It is compatible with Windows, Mac OS, and your preferred Linux distribution. It is possible to write tests on one platform and run them on another.
Community SupportSelenium is an open-source testing tool that has been around for quite some time. It has excellent community support that you can rely on, not only for regular updates and upgrades, but also for comprehensive documentation and a plethora of other learning resources.
Integrations with Third PartiesAnother area where Selenium excels is integrations. You can take advantage of the fact that third-party plugins can extend Selenium's functionality. You can use one of the many supported or unsupported plugins already available, or you can create your own.
What Are the Disadvantages of Selenium?
High Test MaintenanceWorking with Selenium has the disadvantage of frequently resulting in fragile tests. Selenium tests will be based on a single, strict element identifier. Changes to the application, particularly those to element identifiers, will cause Selenium tests to fail. This halts releases as teams attempt to diagnose failures, fix tests, and rerun them.
This can occur when Selenium attempts to interact with an element before it has been rendered to the page. When this occurs, there is a well-known solution: use Selenium's wait capabilities. However, there isn't much you can do if the problem occurs because a developer changed the identification of a specific element. There are testing tools that use smarter strategies to define locators for page elements, resulting in more robust tests. Selenium isn't among them.
Learning curveSelenium is a powerful tool, but it is far from simple to master. We live in a time when software testing is everyone's responsibility, so teams and organizations will frequently prefer testing tools that do not require coding knowledge.
Selenium IDE is a browser plugin that allows you to record browser interactions and save them for later playback. Unfortunately, when compared to the "full" Selenium WebDriver, Selenium IDE has some significant limitations.
• It is only available as a Chrome and Firefox extension.
• It does not provide easy ways to wait when performing tests.
• The tests created are typically brittle because IDs can change.
So, when it comes to the Selenium learning curve, you're frequently caught between a rock and a hard place. You can either use Selenium WebDriver, which is powerful but difficult to learn, or you can use IDE, which is simpler but has severe limitations.
No Built-in CapabilitiesUnderstanding the status of your testing is critical for determining release readiness. When it comes to testing strategies, compelling visualizations are a powerful communication tool, especially for business/non-technical stakeholders. As a result, reporting capabilities in a test automation tool are critical, and Selenium, unfortunately, lacks them natively.
No Reliable Tech SupportThe open-source nature of selenium can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there is fantastic community support. On the other hand, it's all you've got. When that isn't enough, you can't just pick up the phone and call a support team to get your problem resolved as soon as possible.
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is highWhat is the most significant disadvantage of selenium? It's most likely due to the higher price. But wait a second. We didn't say Selenium was free, did we?
It is, after all, an open-source solution, which means you do not need to pay a license fee to begin using it. That does not imply that it is truly free. What you must consider, not only with Selenium but with any tool, is the total cost of ownership (TCO).
Due to the steep learning curve, lack of technical support, the requirement of using additional tools for certain functionalities, and other issues, the total cost you pay for Selenium ends up being much higher than the zero on its price tag.
There is also an opportunity cost associated with using Selenium. If your team spends hours writing each test, they are not writing code to improve your application. They are not innovating if they are spending time fixing flaky tests. They are not planning the next feature release if they are spending time creating manual reports.
Understand the Pros and Cons of Selenium to Make Informed Decisions.Selenium is one of the most well-known names in testing automation. It's an open-source tool with a large user base, numerous integrations, and powerful capabilities. However, selenium is not a testing panacea. It has some drawbacks, just like any other tool.
In this post, we looked at some of the most important benefits and drawbacks of Selenium. You are now better prepared to make an informed decision about whether Selenium is the right tool for you and your organization.
The TestQuality Command Line Interface allows you to upload your automated test results from Selenium to TestQuality. Automated test results must be output in JUnit XML format, which most test automation tools will provide. Test result attachments and related defects are also supported through test name tags or console outputs.