Once the software is developed using the latest technologies available, it needs to be authenticated by running and checking for errors. Only when the testing returns an error-free report can the software be delivered to the client. These tests that are conducted test for the functionality, user experience and other aspects related to the use of the software. With tight delivery schedules, manual testing proves ineffective since it is time-consuming and also not very accurate. Thus developers opt for automation testing using the various open-source tools available for the same. Commercial tools for automation are also available, but they are expensive and hence, not a viable financial proposition.
Selection of the open-source automation tool is an important part of automation testing. The features, benefits, performance etc., are some criteria on which this selection needs to be made. There is a wide variety of open source testing tools available; some exclusively for functional testing, others for UAT, regression testing, performance testing etc. With time and development of technology, these automation tools have undergone many changes. Consequently, programmers and testers prefer to opt for the best available QA automation tool so that the software or app can perform well across devices.
Selenium is one such tool, which keeps cropping up whenever there is talk of automation testing. This goes to prove its popularity with programmers and efficiency with testers around the globe. But what makes Selenium a preferred choice when other automation tools are offering almost the same features and delivering similar results? Let us take a brief look at the features which make it stand out.
- It is an open-source tool for automation testing and thus available for free. This makes it cost-effective, and it also has a track record of excellent performance.
- Since it comes with the Apache 2.0 license, any user can download it easily and start working on it. Selenium also comes with an active developer community which makes up for the lack of dedicated support that is characteristic to all licensed automation tools. These make make Selenium the perfect tool to perform GUI and functionality testing for web-based software and apps.
- It also offers certain distinct advantages which give it an edge over its competitors. These advantages become even more apparent as one starts using this open-source automation tool.
Distinctive Features of Selenium
- Multi-browser and OS support
For most automation tools, test scripts have to be written individually for different browsers. This becomes an additional hassle as QA developers are forced to write several test scripts. With Selenium, writing a single test script suffices since it can run the same test script across different browsers thereby, enabling cross-browser app testing. The versatility of this Cross Browsing testing tool can be further proved by its amazing compatibility with most web browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, and Safari etc. Currently, there is no other automation tool available which offers the same kind of flexibility. This enables testers to run multiple complex test application cycles one after the other, thereby enabling time-saving.
Its flexibility is further enhanced by its compatibility with multiple operating systems like Linux, Windows, Mac, UNIX etc. Thus deploying and running test automation across different systems and environments becomes easy.
- Open Source Advantage
The choice of a new testing tool should be made only after checking the compatibility of the current ecosystem. The availability of an extremely active developer community makes it possible to modify, share and extend the available code for Selenium thereby enabling it to integrate easily with widely used tools such as Hudson, QMetry, and SauceLabs etc. This eliminates the need for extra investment in commercial automation tools and facilitates smooth integration with existing solutions too.AUT or Application under Testing needs are pretty specific, but Selenium can be tailor-made to fit these organizational specifications easily.
- Integration FriendlySelenium is more than just a web application testing tool. It can also be used as a Graphical User Interface or GUI driving library. This makes the Selenium framework compatible with numerous software, applications and tools used to enable a whole range of functions such as source code management, execution of tests related to tracking and reporting, test case development, continuous integration etc.Selenium also enables building and deployment of test automation for DevOps workflows. Testers have the flexibility to combine and customize features of other frameworks and integrate it with Selenium thereby creating an application which is perfect both for AUT and organizational needs. This enables developers to ensure flawless and rich user experience.
- Remote controlSelenium also comes equipped with a remote control server. This allows testers to create an infrastructure spread across multiple locations, including the cloud. This enables the test scripts that are written to be run across a wide range of browsers; irrespective of their location
Developers usually develop the testing script and codes within the application or software developed so that the tests can be refactored and regrouped easily based on the testing requirements. This enables quick changes to be made to the code so that maintainability of the software can be improved and duplication reduced.
Components of Selenium Application
Selenium IDE (Integrated Development Environment): This environment is beneficial and its utility is enhanced by its ability to get added onto Firefox browsers as an Add-On. The IDE enables testers to record test cases as well as report, edit and debug them.
Selenium Grid: It is used in conjunction with Selenium RC so that all tests can be run together across a wide range of browsers and devices at the same time.
Selenium Client API: This feature empowers testers with the ability to write test scripts in many programming languages.
Selenium RC (Remote Controller): Technically, a JAVA server, the Selenium Remote Control helps test scripts to be written in any programming language.
Selenium WD (Web Driver): An advanced version of the RC, the Selenium Web Driver is used to send different test commands to the browsers being used.
Selenium automation tools help teams to run complete, cyclic, and data-intensive tests automatically. This helps developers to improve on the software quality and also maximize the utilization of their testing resources. Thus significantly large volumes of test codes can be run with enhanced test accuracy, thereby enabling developers to focus on those aspects of the software or app which require manual testing or other unique human skills.
Check out some best practices to consider while implementing Selenium Test Automation:
1. Understand the application
The applicability of the automation tools for testing defines its selection. Thus the automation tool to be selected needs to be critically assessed using many different criteria. For example, for testing a web application, its compatibility with the popular browsers defines its testing strategy, thereby enabling the automation process to implement the tool effectively.
2. Distribute the testing efforts
Since different automation teams have differing proficiency levels, the tests created are also different and based on the QA engineer’s skill sets. Hence to ensure maximum utilization of the automation effort, the experience and expertise of various team members need to be identified and automation effort divided accordingly. This facilitates collective testing with accurate defect finding skills and enables the whole process to speed up.
3. Use the ‘Page Object’ Model
In a Page Object model, web pages get represented as a class and other elements as class variables.
This facilitates the making of robust testing frameworks which are resistant to small tweaks in the UI and also play an integral role in increasing the scope of test automation. It also effectively helps reduce and prevent code duplicity.
4. Use the Right Locators
The heart of the Selenium framework deals with browser interaction, thereby permitting the user to navigate, click, type and check different objects within the Document Object Model or DOM by using only a few set actions. Locators used to facilitate this include:
- Link Text
- Part Partial Link Textile
- Tag Name
- CSS Selector
Selecting the right locator makes all the difference between the selection of test script that is flexible and successful and one that breaks with the slightest change in UI.
5. Usage of JRE 1.6, Java Runtime Environment
The Selenium Server is programmed using Java. Thus it is advisable to use the latest and most updated version to avoid runtime errors. Currently, the (JRE) 1.6 is mandatory for running the Selenium Server since it ensures a healthy Java Runtime environment.
6. Data-driven software testing
Selenium enables the same test script and code to be used for different inputs. This increases its utility to the software testing and QA team who can make various modifications so that it can be used for both browser compatibility testing and system functional testing. Customers gain from the use of Selenium framework since it enables time reduction of the automation cycle.
7. Do not rely on a certain driver
Not every driver shows instantaneous compatibility with different browsers and hence no specific driver can be relied on for the implementation of the automation tool. It is best to use parameter notes so that handling of different browsers and getting ready for test execution can be done simultaneously.
8. Selecting the Selector Order
Selectors such as XPath and CSS are location-based and hence choosing the selector order is highly recommended.
9. Wait and say no to Thread Sleep
The best practice is to gain a good understanding of implicit and explicit wait and hence users should opt for the wait feature and not the sleep feature.
10. Taking Screen Shots and Logs from HTML Sources
It is best to produce some kind of an observer/listener for the tests being conducted so that test analysis can still be done in the event of something going wrong.
11. Making preparations for the browsers
In case a browser does not work correctly, it may need certain adjustments to be made. The browser zoom also needs to be set at 100% so that conduction of native mouse events for co-ordinate alignment can be facilitated.
The Protected Mode Settings also needs to be fixed for different zones. It should also be the same for every zone irrespective of whether it is off or on. This can be effectively done by enabling the Protected Mode in the Security Tab for every zone.
12. Generate reports and circulate for quicker turnaround
Selenium is known for its resourceful dashboard and generation of test results in varied formats. Thus it can be effectively used to generate specific reports and circulate the same among the team members for ensuring prompt action with regards to the project next step planning. These reports can also be readily presented to everyone for a faster turnaround and better action plan.
In this fast-changing world, there is a need for quick performance of tasks. Automation helps to achieve this efficiently with the help of Selenium; an open-source automation testing tool which enables developers and testers to easily share, modify and extend test scripts, thereby saving man-hours and money.
Despite the versatility, accessibility and the ease of use displayed by Selenium, leveraging on it for test automation calls requires strategic planning and execution. To be able to achieve this goal of a faster software turnaround with full confidence, Selenium needs to be used to its full potential. This is possible only when its utilization is driven by the adoption of a correct approach and strategy.
Selenium is both time and effort effective and thus helps increase productivity and ultimately, the ROI. Selenium also can use modified functions to facilitate better manageability and readability of codes.
It would not be wrong to say that Selenium is gaining immense popularity and is fast becoming the first choice of automation testers both because of its GUI and its functionality.