This tutorial covers the following topics:

What is Selenium?

Selenium is a free, open-source automation testing suite for web applications across different browsers and platforms. It is somewhat similar to HP QuickTest Pro (QTP, currently UFT). However, Selenium focuses on automating web-based applications.

Testing done using Selenium is usually referred to as Selenium testing. Remember, only testing web applications is possible with Selenium. You cannot use it to test desktop applications or mobile applications.

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Watch this Selenium Tutorial:

What is Selenium? Introduction to Selenium Automation Testing

Selenium Overview

Selenium Definition: It is a free automation testing suite of tools used for only testing web applications. There is no need to feel disappointed due to the fact that it only helps in testing web applications because various other software have got you covered. There are many tools available for testing desktop and mobile applications, such as IBM’s RFI, HP’s QPI, Appium, etc. However, the aim of this Selenium tutorial is to make you understand the testing of dynamic web applications and why Selenium is the best for it.

Since Selenium is an open-source tool, there is no licensing cost involved, which is a significant benefit over other testing tools. Other reasons behind Selenium’s ever-growing popularity are as follows:

  • Test scripts are often written in any of these programming languages—Java, Python, C#, PHP, Ruby, Perl, and .Net.
  • Tests can be carried out in any of these operating systems—Windows, Mac, or Linux.
  • Tests can be carried out using any of these browsers—Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari, or Opera.
  • It can be integrated with tools such as TestNG and JUnit for managing test cases and generating reports.
  • It is integrated with Maven, Jenkins, and Docker to achieve continuous testing.

Now, take a deeper look at Selenium Automation Testing, which has revolutionized the development pipeline.

History of Selenium

Selenium was the first tool that allowed users to control a browser with the help of any language. It allowed professionals to automate various processes, but it had a set of drawbacks since it was not possible to perform automation testing on certain things with JavaScript. Besides, with web applications getting complex, the restrictions of the tool only started to increase.

Soon, Simon Stewart, from Google, got tired of the limitations of Selenium. He required a testing tool that was capable of communicating with the browser directly, and hence, he came up with WebDriver. A few years later, Selenium merged with WebDriver. This tool allowed professionals to do automation testing by using a single tool, which was much more efficient.

Who Developed Selenium?

There are numerous developers who built Selenium as it is not a single tool but a collection of several tools. Jason Huggins, an engineer who worked in ThoughtWorks, was the first to realize that the web application that he was working on often required testing. This is when he came up with Selenium. He figured out that it was inefficient to conduct manual testing on applications repeatedly as it took a lot of time and effort. He built a JavaScript program that could control the actions of the browser automatically and called it JavaScriptTestRunner. This tool was later called Selenium.

Why Selenium?

Selenium is a tool for automating testing across many web browsers. Selenium WebDriver supports a variety of browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer, and allows you to simply automate browser testing across different browsers.

While Selenium has several advantages, the following are a few of the more important ones, which describe why most people choose Selenium over testing tools.

  • It guarantees software development life cycle (SDLC) process agility and transparency among cross-functional teams.
  • It offers less involvement of hardware.
  • It is open-source and platform-independent.
  • It has a user-friendly interface that makes it simple to build and execute test scripts.
  • It provides excellent visibility for testing end-to-end apps.
  • The automation test suites may be reused and tested on a variety of browsers and operating systems.
  • Its flexibility is enhanced by features such as test case regrouping and refactoring

What is Selenium Used For?

Most programmers and developers who build website applications and wish to test them every now and then use Selenium. One of the biggest advantages of Selenium, which has made it so popular, is its flexibility. Any individual who creates web programs can use Selenium to test the code and applications. Further, professionals can debug and perform visual regression tests as per the requirements of the website or code.

In most organizations, it is the job of quality analyst (QA) engineers to test web applications by using Selenium. They are required to write scripts that can help in maximizing accuracy and test coverage to make changes in the project and maintain the infrastructure of the test.

QA engineers are responsible for developing test suites that can identify bugs, using which they can inform stakeholders about the benchmarks set for the project. The primary goal of QA engineers is to ensure efficiency and test coverage and increase productivity.

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Now, let us talk about Selenium testing in particular and see where it stands in the market.

Selenium vs QTP

The comparison based on the performance factor of Selenium and another popular automation testing tool, QTP, is shown below.

Comparison Between Selenium and QTP (Now UFT)

QuickTest Professional (QTP) is a proprietary automation testing tool, previously owned by Mercury Interactive, before being acquired by Hewlett Packard in 2006.

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Selenium Suite has several benefits over QTP, as elaborated below:

Advantages of Selenium over QTP

Selenium

QTP

Is open-source, i.e., it is free to use Is Commercial
Is highly extensible Has limited add-ons
Runs tests across different browsers Can only be used in Windows
Supports various operating systems Supports mobile app test automation (iOS and Android) using the HP solution called HP Mobile Center
Supports mobile devices Need to have the application under test to be visible on the desktop
Execute tests in parallel while the browser is minimized Executes only in parallel using HP Quality Center, which is a paid product

It is pretty clear from the above comparison why Selenium is the most popular automation tool. However, there are several other nuances in Selenium testing, and you need to understand which one is the most applicable Selenium tool for your requirements.

Take a look at these Top Selenium Interview Questions to ace your next Selenium interview!

Let us now discuss manual testing and some of its disadvantages.

What is Manual Testing?

Manual testing is a form of software testing wherein all test cases are manually executed by testers without the help of any automation tool. This testing method helps in finding errors, bugs, and defects in web applications. It is a traditional testing method useful in identifying critical bugs in applications. All new applications need to be tested not just once but multiple times before being used, and that is why, until automation testing, manual testing techniques were used to test applications.

Let us take a look at some of the difficulties and disadvantages faced by professionals while performing manual testing, which later led to the creation of automation testing tools such as Selenium.

Check out our blog on features of Selenium to learn more!

Challenges with Manual Testing

Challenges with Manual Testing

Professionals face numerous challenges with manual testing. Some of the major challenges faced by them are listed below:

  • Testing the Entire Application: Whenever clients provide their requirements and the documentation to a tester, the tester is responsible for understanding those requirements. In case of any ambiguity, the tester must discuss the same with the respective client to get it cleared. It gets extremely difficult for testers to understand each of the requirements, review them, and then build the respective test cases. Additionally, if the tester does not succeed in making the test cases accordingly, then it will be impossible to perform the tests properly.
  • Complete Test Coverage: “100 percent testing” is not a possible phrase in manual testing since there can always be an error. It is already difficult for engineers and developers to cover the entire application area while testing, to find the maximum defects to improve the application. Hence, completing a test that covers 100 percent of the application is not possible.
  • Regression Test Case Coverage: After every release, applications expand and become so wide that professionals find it difficult to keep up with regression testing, continue the verification of new updates, perform tests in the old functions, and keep a record of the existing defects and track new ones.
  • Time Constraint in Test Execution: It is difficult for testers to complete the entire application testing within the given deadline since the schedule is usually tight. The process of testing requires professionals to not just execute the testing process but also to blog the defects, perform exploratory testing and regression testing, etc. While the management team may require the testers to focus on completing the task at hand, rather than the quality of work and test coverage, it is necessary that the testers also focus on the quality of testing so that there are no errors and bugs.
  • 100 Percent Automation: It is a preconceived notion that it is possible to achieve 100 percent automation, which is not true. No tester or programmer can automate all the test cases. It is a challenging job to automate all possible scenarios.
  • Relationship with the Developer: It is not easy to just identify the mistakes and errors and introduce them to developers so that they can fix them. Testers and developers must have a good relationship so that they can communicate with each other and easily fix the problems in the application. Testers should be extremely patient and have analyzing and troubleshooting skills so that they can justify the reasons why a particular defect needs to be fixed and what will be the effects on the application if it is not fixed properly.
  • Thinking From the Users’ Perspective: One of the biggest challenges that testers face while testing any application is keeping in mind that numerous users with different backgrounds and requirements will use the application as per their needs. Therefore, these professionals must test the application in a way that most users can use it without any difficulty.
  • Identifying Difficult Bugs: It is easy to find those bugs that are not as per the requirements of the client. However, the difficulty arises when the bugs are not in the document, and they need to be fixed as they are significant errors from the users’ point of view.
  • Lack of Skilled Testers: Organizations, at times, hire testers who are not as skilled as they need to be for the projects that they are assigned. This can lead to utter chaos rather than making the task easy. In the end, the testing done may turn out to be insufficient, incomplete, etc., which will not satisfy the clients.
  • Understanding Project Requirements: Testers should have all the knowledge and skills so that they can understand the requirements of the clients for a specific project. If, by chance, the testers fail to do so, they will not be able to test the web application correctly.

These are a few reasons why professionals use Selenium as the automation testing tool, instead of any manual testing methods and tools.

Selenium Tools

Selenium is not simply one tool but a collection of software, each catering to the different testing needs of an organization. It has four components:

  • Selenium Integrated Development Environment (IDE)
  • Selenium Remote Control (RC)
  • Selenium WebDriver
  • Selenium Grid

Selenium Tools

Now, let us discuss each component in detail.

What is Selenium IDE?

IDE stands for Integrated Development Environment, which is a plug-in of Firefox, a browser. This is the simplest framework and, therefore, requires developers to switch to Selenium RC for advanced test cases.

What is Selenium RC?

RC stands for Remote Control, and it permits developers to code in the language of their preference. Selenium RC supports multiple programming languages such as Java, C#, Python, etc.

What is Selenium WebDriver?

WebDriver automates and controls activities undertaken by a web browser. It does not typically depend on JavaScript but communicates with the browser to control its actions. Like RC, WebDriver additionally supports programming languages such as Java, C#, Python, Ruby, etc. Now, the different types of WebDrivers are:

  • FirefoxDriver
  • InternetExplorerDriver
  • ChromeDriver
  • SafariDriver
  • OperaDriver
  • AndroidDriver
  • IPhoneDriver
  • HTMLUnitDriver

What is Selenium Grid?

Grid is employed, along with RC, to execute parallel tests across multiple browsers.

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Watch this Automation Testing vs Manual Testing Tutorial:

What is Selenium? Introduction to Selenium Automation Testing

How to Choose the Right Selenium Tool for Your Needs

From project to project, testing requirements will be different, and Selenium, an open-source automation testing suite, has got you covered with its collection of different automation tools.

Selenium IDE

Selenium IDE is the tool that you use to develop your Selenium test cases. When you create your first IDE script, it may include the following concepts:

  • Selenese commands such as clickAndWait, assert, verify, type, open, etc.
  • Locators such as ID, Name, XPath, CSS Selector, etc.
  • Executing customized JavaScript code using RunScript
  • Exporting test cases in various formats such as .cs (C# source code), .java (Java source code), .py (Python source code), .rb (Ruby source code), etc.
  • Creating tests with very little or no previous knowledge in programming
  • Creating simple test cases and test suites that you can later export to RC or WebDriver
  • Testing an online application only against Firefox and Chrom

Learn more about Selenium from this insightful blog on How to Test Web Applications Using Selenium?

Selenium RC

RC used to be the main testing framework for a long period in a Selenium project. RC was the first tool for automated testing that enabled users to use any programming language of their choice. It offers the following features:

  • Designing a test using a more expressive language than Selenese
  • Running the test against different browsers, except HTMLUnit, on different operating systems
  • Deploying the test across multiple environments using Grid
  • Testing the application against a new browser that supports JavaScript
  • Testing the web application with complex AJAX-based scenarios

Selenium WebDriver

WebDriver is comparatively better than RC and IDE in various aspects. WebDriver allows professionals to use modern methods to automate the actions of browsers and does not depend on JavaScript for testing. It instead controls the browser easily by communicating with it directly. Professionals can use WebDriver for the following reasons:

  • To use a particular programming language in designing the test suit
  • To test applications that are rich in AJAX-based functionality
  • To execute tests on the HTMLUnit browser
  • To create customized test result

Selenium Grid

Grid is used with RC to run parallel tests across various machines and browsers. Listed below are a set of things that professionals can do using Grid:

  • Running RC scripts in multiple browsers and operating systems at the same time
  • Running a large test suite that will complete within the soonest time possible

Check out our blog on the most frequently asked Software Testing Interview Questions now!

Selenium WebDriver Architecture

The architecture of WebDriver involves four major components as listed below:

  • Selenium Client Libraries
  • JSON Wire Protocol Over HTTP Client
  • Browser Drivers
  • Browsers

Let us learn a bit about these components now.

Selenium Client Libraries

Selenium makes it easy for professionals to execute browser automation with scripts in any programming language using Selenium client libraries. The libraries act as translators between Selenium and the respective test script. With the help of language bindings, these client libraries translate the test script, irrespective of the language it is written in, to Selenese. This allows Selenium to follow the given set of instructions easily.

(Selenese is a collection of commands in Selenium that helps in testing web applications.)

Most Selenium bindings aim to help in the following:

  • C# Selenium testing
  • PHP Selenium testing
  • Java Selenium testing
  • JavaScript Selenium testing
  • Python Selenium testing
  • Ruby Selenium testing

JSON Wire Protocol Over HTTP Client

Selenium enables testers to automate the process of browser testing. Using WebDriver, professionals can easily automate the browser by communicating with the most popular web browsers directly including Opera, Safari, Google Chrome, etc. All browsers have their browser drivers, and these drivers have their own HTTP servers.

The JSON Wire Protocol interacts with various browser drivers using their HTTP servers. It extracts information from the client libraries and provides the same to the respective driver.

Browser Drivers

All browsers have their own drivers that control all the actions that take place within that browser. Once the JSON Wire Protocol provides all the necessary information to the respective browser driver, the driver takes control over the browser so that testers can automatically execute Selenium test scripts. After this, the browser driver uses the HTTP server to send respective feedback in the HTTP protocol.

Listed below are the browser drivers for some of the most popular browsers:

  • OperaDriver
  • EdgeDriver
  • FirefoxDriver
  • SafariDriver
  • ChromeDriver

Browsers

WebDriver allows testers to interact with numerous web browsers including Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Safari, etc. WebDriver helps in performing browser testing on the required web applications.

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What Types of Testing Can Be Automated With Selenium?

Selenium can help in automating numerous types of testing. Let us discuss the different types of testing briefly.

Unit Testing

This type of testing is done by developers in cases where a bug fix or feature enhancement is made to a part of a website application. Unit testing can be challenging if the professionals need to work on numerous code changes in various application modules.

There are various frameworks in unit testing that are designed for specific languages, such as NUnit for Python, JUnit for Java, etc., to automate the process of unit testing. Selenium is easily compatible with all these frameworks, allowing developers to validate their unit testing across multiple combinations of operating systems and browsers.

Black-box Testing or System Testing

In the case of system testing or black-box testing, the testers are responsible for checking the system’s compliance based on particular requirements. They need to test the functionality of the application’s module from an end-to-end perspective. In this testing, the testers do not execute any prior tests, and they have no context of the given code.

Besides, a QA engineer needs to draft a script verifying all the functionalities of the respective system. Selenium allows testers to automate the scripts of black-box testing, which helps in saving the bandwidth of professionals to brainstorm and think of more unique scenarios for testing.

Check out our blog on Selenium Career Opportunities!

Integration Testing

Here, the members of the QA team perform a set of actions to ensure that all the units of the application work properly, both independently and when combined. They ensure that the modules produce the same results even after being integrated. This is done when two or more modules of the application are put together to display one functionality.

With the help of Selenium Automation, testers can easily perform thorough integration testing after every release of the application. This helps in evaluating the functionality and behavior of various modules combined together to build the web application.

End-to-end Testing

QA engineers perform end-to-end testing of web applications from the perspective of end-users. The QA engineers are required to come up with a set of test cases to make sure that the web application functions smoothly at various points. The end-to-end testing process takes a large amount of time especially if the web application has numerous features and pages that need to be tested on multiple devices, browsers, and operating systems.

Selenium Automation makes this process easier as it allows professionals to run parallel testing to automate the browser. Further, Selenium Automation also allows developers to create reports on performance parameters, test case statuses, etc.

Regression Testing

Regression testing allows developers to gauge the end-to-end functionality of the given website application as and when there is a code pushed from one staging environment to another. This is to make sure that the new code does not hamper the present functionality of the web application. This is one of the significant reasons why professionals perform regression testing after every release cycle.

Regression testing also ensures that the current application works easily after the integration of new features. Unfortunately, it is a monotonous process as professionals need to test the entire web application even if the change is minute. Selenium makes it possible to automate the continuous process of regression testing, saving a lot of time for professionals.

Performance and Load Testing

End users are interested in the performance of the web application and nothing more. Stakeholders set a target for the performance, and QA engineers are responsible for running various tests to check if the application works as per the needs and expectations of the end-users. Rather than running the web application manually on numerous possible combinations of operating systems and browsers, professionals can use Selenium and automate the processes to calculate the performance matrix of the application.

Conclusion

In this tutorial, you have learned about what is Selenium testing, what is Selenium tool suite, what are the advantages of automation testing with Selenium over QTP, how to choose the right Selenium tool for your needs, etc.

For a more detailed explanation of Selenium, browser elements, locating browser elements present on a web application, and setting up Selenium with Maven and TestNG on Eclipse, check out this Selenium Tutorial!

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