Selenium is one of the most established names in software testing and has been solving the testing needs of software teams for many years, but there are plenty of reasons not to choose Selenium for a particular software project since the software testing landscape has changed dramatically in recent years.
As with any software testing tool, there are some pros and cons to Selenium that every team should be aware of before moving forward. Here is a quick summary of those pros and cons, along with a general overview of Selenium and a summary of reviews.
General overview of Selenium
Selenium is perhaps the most ubiquitous automated testing tool for web-based software in the space, and it’s very likely that most web software teams use Selenium in some form.
Selenium provides two variations known as Selenium WebDriver and Selenium IDE. Selenium WebDriver allows users to interact programmatically with a project by using a wide range of programming languages, whereas Selenium IDE is a browser extension used for record-and-playback testing.
Originally developed in 2004, with Selenium Grid introduced in 2008 to provide a hub for allowing multiple Selenium tests to run concurrently, locally or remotely.
Some key features of Selenium
Selenium has a wide range of features. Here are some of the highlights:
- Supports a wide range of browsers, including Chrome, Chromium, Edge, FireFox, Safari, and Opera.
- Portability across a range of operating systems, like Windows, Linux, Mac, and UNIX.
- Strong community support, driven by a massive user base.
- A wide range of integrations with third-party tools.
- Open-source and free to use, which is likely another reason for the strong community.
- Tests can be executed in parallel to ensure efficiency when running tests.
- Easy identification and use of elements with several locators.
- Handling of dynamic web elements, including support for methods like Contains() for using partial text to find an element, Absolute XPath() that comes with a complete set of paths for web UI automation, and StartsWith() to find dynamic web elements based on matching or finding starting text.
The Pros of Selenium
There are a number of positives about Selenium that have made it successful in the software testing space for so many years:
- Browser automation, including headless browser support
- Plug-in for recording and playing back actions is easy to use for less technical team members
- Test environment makes infrastructure management easy
- Support for various platforms like Windows, Linux, and so forth
- Wide range of browser support
The Cons of Selenium
While Selenium has a lot of important uses, it does still have some negative drawbacks reported by the software testing community:
- Lacking in dynamic scalability of infrastructure
- Mainly used for web applications, so teams with desktop or mobile app software projects may have reservations about support for those platforms
- Ongoing maintenance can be daunting as devices and browsers tend to go down from time to time
- No smart features such as self-healing capabilities, resulting in tests not being the most stable
- No enterprise support for open-source, free tool
- Large amount of code needed
- Lack of support for analytics for previous test runs
- No object repository
- Weak reporting features
Selenium is clearly a very popular tool among many teams, but it may have multiple shortcomings that prevent it from becoming a comprehensive tool to cover all of the needs of any given software team.
For teams looking for an enterprise-grade tool with advanced artificial intelligence-driven functionality and quality customer support, it may be worth looking into other options in the market like testRigor, Mabl, Tricentis Tosca, and other similar products.
For teams running on a lean budget, Selenium may be an attractive option since it is a free and open source solution, but teams should be cautious to consider scale and operating costs if they end up spending a lot of time maintaining their implementation of Selenium. Teams that expect to scale may want to consider products like testRigor, which provides a range of offerings from free open source to enterprise level with robust support provided.
In the end, many teams use both Selenium and some other combination of software automation testing tools, so your team doesn’t need to feel obligated to choose just one tool to use. After all, Selenium is often considered an incomplete solution on its own, given its high reliance on third-party tools to fill in gaps and shore up features needed by most software teams.