Selenium WebDriver has enjoyed long-standing popularity for its extensive coverage of web application test automation. The biggest contributing factors to Selenium’s success are its open-source nature and the robust community it has cultivated over the years.
However, issues with Selenium have prompted a shift in user interest toward no-code test automation. In this article, we explore why Selenium may not be the optimal choice for test automation today.
1. Native support limited to web applications
Selenium was designed specifically for web application testing, a purpose it has served since its inception. It does not provide native support for mobile app testing or desktop application test automation. If you aim to test mobile applications using Selenium, you’ll need to use other tools like Appium, Selendroid, or UIAutomator in conjunction. However, this approach is far from ideal.
2. Difficulties in coding test cases
Manual testers writing the Selenium tests for the first time will face numerous initial challenges. They might not be well versed in the scripting language such as Java, Python, Ruby, C#, etc. So, first, they need to learn the programming language and then the Selenium syntax to finally write the first automated test.
Additionally, Selenium works on element-based identifiers, testers need to learn the element identification through ID, name, DOM(Document Object Model), XPath, etc.
Consequently, the initial learning curve is steep. Subsequent test automation scripting requires significant time and effort, diverting the testers’ focus from constructing robust test cases to scripting in a language that may not be their area of expertise.
3. Extended ROI waiting period
Test automation is an investment in terms of human hours, effort, and financial costs. Therefore, ROI(Return On Investment) is an important metric linked with test automation.
With Selenium, the waiting period for ROI is often longer due to the high initial cost including training, setup, and infrastructure. Also, the test maintenance and test writing effort add up to this cost. Following is the formula to calculate the test automation ROI.
ROI = (Gain from test automation – Cost of test automation)/Cost of test automation x 100
Reducing the cost of automation will accelerate the ROI timeline and increase the ROI percentage. Here is an article that explains how to maximize your ROI in automation.
4. No built-in support for test reporting
Selenium does not provide any built-in test reporting features. Instead, it requires integration with TestNG, Extent Reports, Allure, etc. to furnish reporting capabilities. To capture screenshots, you need to deliberately use the TakesScreenshot interface and the getScreenshotAs() method in the code.
This process is not only inconvenient but also time-consuming. However, modern AI-powered test automation tools such as testRigor bypass this issue by providing built-in, comprehensive reporting and dashboard features.
5. Lack of support for image-based validation
If you wish to perform visual testing or image-based testing using Selenium, you must rely on third-party integrations. Open-source libraries such as Resemble.js, Pixelmatch, or GraphicsMagick need to be used with Selenium for comparing and analyzing images pixel by pixel.
Intelligent tools such as testRigor, on the other hand, provide in-built visual testing capabilities. These capabilities allow you to compare images on the screen with stored baseline images. You can also compare the entire UI screen with the previous version of a successful test run to identify any changes.
6. Cross-browser compatibility issues
One of the greatest advantages of using Selenium is that it supports all major browsers and platforms. However, there are following challenges associated with it which require additional time to debug and look out for workarounds:
- Element locators
CSS and XPath identifiers are the basic elements of the Selenium test automation framework. However, these identifiers may behave differently in different browsers, causing browser compatibility issues, e.g., non-identification of the same element in a different web browser due to the differences in how they handle the DOM.
- Browser-specific features
Moreover, browser-specific APIs or features that only function in one particular browser will be unavailable in others, causing further compatibility issues during Selenium test automation.
- Browser version compatibility
Another common issue is browser version compatibility. A Selenium test that functions on a newer version of a browser may behave differently on an older version due to lack of support for certain features or APIs.
7. Unstable due to element-based locators
Selenium operates on element-based locators such as CSS or XPath, with test cases created based on them. If there are changes in the HTML or element attributes, these locators will become invalid, causing test cases to fail.
This is the primary reason for Selenium test case instability, and changes in these locators can result in significant maintenance efforts.
To mitigate such issues, automation test tools that do not rely on CSS or XPath locators are an excellent choice. Below is a testRigor example, which shows how elements are referenced based on their on-screen visibility to the end user, rather than via XPath expressions or CSS selectors. In this case, even if the HTML attributes change, the UI text, which is visible to the end user, is likely to remain the same, and this test will continue to function.
login click "Men Clothing" scroll down click "Men's cargo shorts" click "brown" click "Size 34" click "Add to cart" check that page contains "Your order is nearly complete!"
8. Time and effort lost in test maintenance
As mentioned earlier, any changes in the HTML or element attributes will require testers to update the test suite with the latest CSS selectors or XPath expressions. Updating a vast test suite just because a few element attributes have changed can result in unnecessary effort.
This situation could be avoided if a self-healing and self-maintaining test automation tool, independent of CSS and XPath, was used instead of Selenium. You can employ testRigor’s self-healing capabilities for your Selenium test suite. Learn more here.
9. Lack of support for test data management
Selenium does not provide TDM (Test Data Management) support. Testers need to create their own test data repository (using Excel spreadsheets, CSV files, JSON files, databases, etc.) and employ third-party integrations (like TestNG, JUnit, NUnit) to perform data-driven testing.
Generating, reading, writing, updating, and validating test repositories/libraries in Selenium are cumbersome yet crucial tasks. To achieve good test coverage, we need diverse, valid, and consistent data, making test data management extremely valuable. However, as seen, this process is challenging with Selenium and requires significant time and effort.
Discover more about TDM and how to optimize software testing with effective test data management tools here.
10. Dependency on external frameworks for parallel testing
Selenium does not provide built-in support for parallel testing, and testers use Selenium Grid, TestNG, JUnit, etc. to implement parallel testing. The process includes the following steps:
- Set up the external framework which supports parallel testing in Selenium.
- Configure the test environment (such as browsers, OS, machines, etc.) to support parallel testing.
- Update the scripts to resolve conflicts and remain thread-safe during resource sharing for parallel execution.
- Provide the annotations and define the level of parallel testing, i.e., test method, test class, or test suite level.
- Specify the number of threads (processes) to be executed during parallel testing.
All these tasks fall to the testers to ensure seamless parallel testing. Thus, in the absence of support for parallel test execution from Selenium, testers face an additional workload.
11. No dedicated professional 24*7 support
Although Selenium offers an extensive community of testers for support, it lacks a professional 24/7 support team. As an open-source tool, this lack of professional support is justified.
However, this sometimes becomes a bottleneck when dealing with test automation solutions for large organizations, where quick resolutions are needed. We cannot wait indefinitely for a response from the support community in such situations, where a quick turnaround time is critical.
There is no doubt that Selenium is still one of the most popular test automation tools for web applications. But at the same time it leaves a lot to be desired, and why not take advantage of the new generation technologies that are miles ahead in almost every aspect?
Meet testRigor, a robust end-to-end test automation tool. What sets testRigor apart is its revolutionary Generative AI engine, which significantly simplifies the process of test creation and maintenance. Unlike Selenium, which requires advanced coding skills to create effective tests, testRigor enables users to generate entire test suites based on plain English descriptions of test cases. This unique capability reduces the complexity of test automation and makes it accessible to a broader range of users, including manual testers and business analysts. Furthermore, testRigor’s tests are highly stable and resistant to minor UI changes, reducing maintenance overhead.