The increasing popularity of shifting testing left to the earlier stages of the software development lifecycle (SDLC) has given rise to a proliferation of test automation frameworks. While software developers have no shortage of tooling choices, it can be difficult to know which solution is best for your organization when many offer similar features and test coverage.
Choosing the right test automation framework starts with knowing your organization’s goals – with these in hand, you can more easily identify the best test automation frameworks for achieving your objectives.
Here’s a quick overview of some popular test automation frameworks and the coverage they provide, as well as some pros and cons for each.
Selenium is the industry-standard, open-source automation framework for web application test automation. It has been around since the beginning of test automation. Selenium allows you to automate your CI/CD pipeline and run automated web tests across all browsers and operating systems.
Selenium 4 made the tool more flexible. It natively allows developers and testers to write tests in different languages (Java, Python, C#, PHP, etc.) that can run on different operating systems and browsers without modification.
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, a distributed computing grid to run multiple tests at the same time, and more. Selenium is now a full suite of products that combine to create something much more powerful.
Being an open-source project, Selenium has very few, if any barriers to use and contribution. In addition, both open source and commercial companies have built frameworks on top of the core open source products, in particular frameworks, our focus today.
When to Use Selenium: To get started with automated testing, work with an open-source framework, and test web applications.
The main limitations of Cypress include limited support for testing mobile apps: it can handle mobile apps that run natively in a browser, but not other types. It also currently only supports three types of browsers: Chrome, Edge, and Firefox.
When to Use Cypress: To automate testing without Selenium, scale up quickly with limited resources, and test web applications on a browser
As of right now, perhaps the biggest drawback of Playwright is that, because the framework is relatively new, it is still evolving, and it doesn’t offer as many integrations as more mature frameworks. The lack of Internet Explorer support is also a limitation, as is the fact that Playwright requires a custom browser that must be downloaded each time you want to run a test. This adds time to testing routines, and also means that you can’t test in the actual browser that your users are using. Finally, like Puppeteer, Playwright needs to be integrated manually with test frameworks like Mocha, Jasmine, or Jest.
When to Use Playwright: To test across multiple languages, mobile web applications, and platforms.
A major benefit of TestCafe is that it supports cross-browser testing out of the box, no WebDriver or manual timeouts required. TestCafe supports all of the major desktop browsers, including Chrome, Internet Explorer, Edge, and Safari. TestCafe has some limited support for browser-based mobile apps, but in general, it is not designed for mobile testing.
A drawback of TestCafe is that it only supports client-side apps. It’s also designed primarily to be an end-to-end and regression testing framework and does not work well for unit testing or integration testing.
Choosing the best automation framework for your organization shouldn’t be a major challenge if your team knows what it needs and understands what they can achieve with the solution.
Keep in mind that different teams and team members may need to use different test frameworks depending on their role in the SDLC and the objectives they need to achieve. This can be done by proactively adopting best practices to eliminate compatibility potential issues, particularly when using multiple test frameworks with a cloud platform like Sauce Labs. Check out our blog on How to Test with Cypress on Sauce Labs.
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