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Posted July 6, 2022

Getting Started with Selenium

The comprehensive guide to Selenium, the industry-standard open source testing framework.

What is Selenium?

Selenium is the industry-standard open source testing framework. Developers can use Selenium to run fast and repeatable tests across all browsers and operating systems.

Selenium testing supports the most popular scripting languages, including Node.js, Java, Python, PHP, Ruby, or C#. Test scripts can be produced with the languages known best. Developers, QA, and even project managers can develop and review tests for all apps, speeding up the time to market.

Over the past twenty-plus years, Selenium has grown from a technology designed to drive a single browser and execute tests, to a standard protocol for programs to interact with a browser as if they were a human, an in-browser test record/playback tool (Selenium IDE), a distributed computing grid to run multiple tests at the same time (Selenium Grid), and more.

Selenium 4, the latest version of the Selenium test tool, natively allows developers and testers to write test scripts in different programming languages (Python, Java, Ruby, C#, NodeJS, etc.) that can run on different operating systems and browsers without modification. 

Selenium 4

Selenium 4 is the latest version of Selenium. Selenium 4 uses the W3C WebDriver standard protocol for browser automation. Because browser vendors will only support W3C WebDriver in the future, using Selenium 4 ensures the widest possible range of support across all browsers, essentially making automation scripts future-proof. 

For more information on Selenium 4, see the following resources:

Selenium WebDriver

Selenium WebDriver is a free collection of open-source application programming interfaces (APIs) used to automate the testing of a web application. It allows users to execute their tests against a variety of different browsers, rather than just testing on Chrome or Firefox. Selenium WebDriver is essentially language-agnostic and allows for automation testing in languages such as Ruby, Java, Python, C#, and JavaScript, among others. 

WebDriver is an ideal tool for developers that want to move from manual testing to automated testing.

Selenium for Python

WebDriver for Python is a driver proxy for running Selenium automation testing in multiple frameworks, code editors, and IDEs. Python’s syntax is both object-oriented and functional, allowing developers to use classes or functions. Selenium Python works with command-line tools, enabling developers to build continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines.

Selenium IDE

Selenium IDE is an open-source record and playback test automation extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge browsers.  It allows developers to make simple recordings of their actions as they navigate a web application or web page, then turn the recordings into scripts. The scripts are recorded using a proprietary language but can be exported to WebDriver code using C# NUnit, Java JUnit, JavaScript Mocha, Ruby RSpec, or Python Pytest. Once a session has been recorded, users can rerun the test, manipulate test commands, and debug test runs. 

Despite its simplicity, Selenium IDE may not suit larger environments. You should consider running WebDriver for these.

For more information on Selenium IDE, see our Selenium IDE Tutorial.

Selenium Grid

Selenium Grid enables developers to run tests in parallel across multiple machines and to manage different browser versions and configurations in one place, instead of in each test. This helps to reduce the time spent running tests and maintaining testing grids.

Selenium Grid 4

Selenium 4 introduced the rewritten Selenium Grid, or Selenium Grid 4, which takes advantage of modern infrastructure features such as Docker and distributed tracing to bring observability into the Grid.

Benefits of Selenium Testing

By automating web app tests with Selenium developers can test web apps across different operating systems and browser configurations to ensure every user has the same experience, regardless of what OS or browser version they’re using. Automated testing allows developers to write test code that runs through all possible actions in a web app more quickly and effectively than manual testing alone.

Some benefits of automating web tests with Selenium include:

  • Automates browsers: Selenium automates browsers and, specifically, the human interactions with them, such as navigating to pages, clicking on elements, and typing text into input fields.

  • Works across browsers: Selenium works on every major browser, in every main software programming language, and with every major operating system.

  • Up to date: Each language binding and browser is actively being developed to stay current. 

  • Runs almost anywhere: Selenium can run on a local computer, on a remote server, on a set of servers with Selenium Grid, or on a third-party cloud provider like Sauce Labs.

  • Enables parallel testing: Selenium IDE allows developers to run multiple tests across multiple browsers and OS configurations at the same time. This helps to speed up testing and scale growing test suites.

Allows customized testing: Selenium may make it possible to write your own tests once and run them across several browsers.

Selenium for Automation Testing

Automated testing is a software testing technique that leverages automation technologies rather than human testers to control the execution of tests. The actual test findings are then compared to the expected outcomes. Your projects will be more efficient and have a shorter time to market if you use automated testing.

Automated testing is also referred to as test automation or automated QA testing. Well-implemented automated testing improves test coverage, increases execution speed, and reduces the manual effort involved in testing software.

Which tests can be automated with Selenium?

The following are some of the test cases that can be automated with Selenium:

  • Regression tests: Automated regression testing is ideal for sanity or smoke tests because they require significant human resources and are time-consuming.

  • Performance tests: To perform stress and load testing on the application, automated tests repetitively query the desired coverage, which is tedious and time-consuming when done manually.

  • Data-driven tests: Automation tests use input data to analyze the SaaS product and minimize human error.

  • Unit tests: Automation testing supports unit tests due to their reusability and low maintenance costs.

  • Functional tests: Automation testing can also test whether frameworks and development codebases meet the desired specifications.

  • Integration tests: Automation testing helps identify integration faults and provides a reliable way of ensuring robustness between different modules and interfaces.

  • Cross-browser tests: Automated cross-browser testing helps verify if your website works as expected across various browsers, operating systems, devices, and resolutions.

See our test automation tutorial to learn more.

Getting Started with Selenium

Co-founded by the creator of Selenium, Sauce Labs provides a number of resources to learn more about getting started with test automation. Our documentation on Getting Started with Selenium provides a great overview of the basics of Selenium. Start your online browser tests with a free Sauce Labs trial today!

Jul 6, 2022
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