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Posted June 27, 2023

The New and Improved Elemental Selenium is Here!

Paloma Oliveira discusses the revamp of Elemental Selenium and why you should care.


Elemental Selenium is a collection of practical examples, code snippets, and explanations to help testers and developers learn and improve their automated testing skills using Selenium. The tutorials, written as small tips, cover various aspects of Selenium, including installation, configuration, locating elements on a web page, handling different types of interactions, and dealing with common challenges encountered in test automation.

Created in 2013 by Dave Haeffner, a well-known Selenium expert who has personally assisted numerous companies in successfully implementing automated testing, Elemental Selenium offers a free, weekly newsletter containing Selenium tips that are read by thousands of professionals.

Since its inception, the tips, written in five different languages—Java, C#, Python, JavaScript, and Ruby—have been sent weekly to the inboxes of thousands of developers worldwide.

After significant time and numerous Selenium updates, a content review was deemed necessary. The purpose was to determine whether these tips remain relevant and beneficial for test automation practitioners, even in the era of artificial intelligence and changing testing paradigms.

Why Elemental Selenium?

Founded by Jason Huggins (the creator of Selenium), Sauce Labs recognizes the significance of Selenium, as it is an integral part of our foundation. In an effort to contribute effectively to our community, which has evolved into a more complex entity over the past decade, we saw Elemental Selenium as an opportunity to reconnect with that community.

Given the proliferation of languages and frameworks, as well as the sometimes overwhelming amount of general information generated by search and optimization tools like ChatGPT, we chose to listen and amplify the voices of those who encounter undocumented problems on a daily basis.

One of the most profound lessons open source teaches is the power of collective effort. Therefore, making Elemental Selenium openly accessible to the community in good condition seemed like an obvious choice.

However, amid one of our generation's greatest crises, amid wars and pandemics, we decided to turn the question around and focus on what truly matters: the people behind the technology. The question then became: who else would benefit from being able to update this project? And who were we doing it for?

Today, a homogeneous group of individuals is responsible for creating and making decisions about technologies that profoundly impact our lives. The term "diversity" is often used as a buzzword, but we must genuinely embrace diverse perspectives that can represent physical communities within the digital communities we participate in. This is crucial for creating a more equitable world.

Thus, taking affirmative action to incorporate these perspectives is beneficial for countless reasons, particularly regarding listening to our communities. Drawing inspiration from programs like Outreachy, we formed a team of fellows [read all about the Open Source Community Fellowship program here] with diverse backgrounds and interests to revitalize Elemental Selenium and explore new directions that an opinionated newsletter in a rapidly changing world could take.

Unlike an internship, a fellowship is a time-based program focused on learning and achieving a specific goal. In this case, the goal was to revitalize Elemental Selenium. This experimental program, uncommon for medium-sized companies like Sauce Labs, invited five aspiring technologists to work on the project for six months and learn about software development from a transdisciplinary perspective.

Working in an open, transparent, and remote manner, their mission was to listen to the subscribers and propose updates to the web app and newsletter that would make room for diverse voices. And they did precisely that. The team, consisting of Danielle Madry, Django Skorupa, Esther Cotton, Janackeh Blackwell, and Rajene Harris, supported by 23 mentors from Sauce Labs, embraced the challenge of stepping out of their comfort zones and exploring the different facets that comprise software development: user experience, design, code, quality, content, and community. As they delved into these areas, they discovered what fascinated them and areas that now they know are not their favorite cup of tea. 

On May 25th, as the fellowship drew to a close, they publicly launched the new site, which incorporates several new features based on feedback from over 100 users who participated in surveys and interviews. You can see the demo here

The new Elemental Selenium now belongs to the Selenium community. Its content has been completely updated, and it now looks forward to your contributions, dear reader, so that your experiences can benefit thousands of other people.

How to Contribute to Elemental Selenium

You can engage with the project in multiple ways. Our contribution guidelines will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to contribute by adding a new tip, reporting a bug, suggesting a feature, or adding tests. Since the project aims to serve practitioners worldwide, a crucial step is translating the content to ensure accessibility in different natural languages. Open source is more than just code; it's about collaboratively building something that resonates with everyone. This means your contribution is valuable in various capacities. To facilitate contributions from non-coders, we have selected GitHub as our hosting platform and developed templates that enable you to easily and swiftly add content directly through the browser on the GitHub repository page.

What's Next?

The journey of Elemental Selenium demonstrates the significance of open source collaboration and the value of embracing diverse perspectives. In a world driven by rapidly evolving technologies, fostering inclusivity and creating platforms to facilitate reliable content and support is crucial. By making Elemental Selenium openly accessible and inviting contributions, it has become a shared resource that benefits the entire Selenium community.

As we embark on this new chapter of Elemental Selenium, we invite you, dear reader, to add your insights and experiences to this collective pool of knowledge. Your contributions will help thousands of other testers and developers and shape the future of automated testing. Together, we can continue to learn, grow, and improve our skills in Selenium, creating a stronger and more vibrant testing community.

Thank you for being a part of Elemental Selenium, and we look forward to your valuable contributions and continued engagement in the journey ahead.

Paloma Oliveira photo
Open Source Developer Evangelist
Jun 27, 2023
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