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Know the core difference between Appium vs Selenium and when to use which for test automation

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Home Guide Choosing the Right Automation Tool: Appium vs Selenium

Choosing the Right Automation Tool: Appium vs Selenium

By Jash Unadkat, Community Contributor -

As technologies continue to evolve rapidly, organizations must leverage all the possible ways to increase efficiency, enhance productivity, and minimize costs. More organizations have started adopting an agile approach to software development for this purpose. As a result, automating test cycles has become mandatory for testing teams.

Automation testing helps organizations release new features for apps and web apps faster. Test automation frameworks like Selenium and Appium have become buzzwords in the test community for this very reason.

This article aims to highlight the key differences between Selenium vs Appium. So let’s begin.

What is Selenium?

In layman’s terms, Selenium is an open-source test automation framework that enables QAs to automate web-application testing. Selenium has a tool suite, consisting of four main components:

  1. Selenium IDE
  2. Selenium RC
  3. Selenium WebDriver
  4. Selenium Grid

This tool suite enables QAs to verify their web-applications for cross browser compatibility on both desktops and mobiles in an automated fashion. Let’s understand this with an example.

Use Case Scenario

Imagine you are a QA, and you need to verify a functional test scenario of your e-commerce website, which involves the following process:

  1. Click on the search bar
  2. Search for a specific product
  3. Add the product to the cart
  4. Click on Proceed to checkout

In such a case, manually testing the above user scenario on multiple browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Safari will be time-consuming and inefficient. Instead, teams can use Selenium Grid 4, a tool from the Selenium tool suite, to run concurrent cross browser tests on multiple machines (desktops, mobiles) and operating systems.

Key Benefits of Selenium

  1. Selenium is Open Source and is very simple to start with
  2. Provides compatibility with multiple operating systems like Windows, Linux, Mac
  3. Gives developers or QAs the flexibility to write scripts in a programming language of their choice ( Java, Ruby, Python, etc.)
  4. Supports leading browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Safari
  5. Enables parallel testing
  6. Offers firm documentation support

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Now, let’s have a look at Appium.

What is Appium?

Appium is the most popular open-source framework for mobile app automation testing. It allows QAs to automate tests for popular mobile platforms like Android, iOS, and Windows. Appium uses the mobile JSON wire protocol (an extension of Selenium JSON wire protocol) to drive native, mobile web and hybrid applications. The Appium server is scripted in Node.js and is compatible with leading client libraries like Java, Python, Ruby, PHP, and a few others. Refer to the complete list of supported client libraries listed on the Appium official site.

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Use case scenario

Let’s assume that an app developer has developed a basic mobile application. The developer installs the app on the available Android or iOS device and runs a quick manual test. Everything is fine. Now the developer starts developing the next big feature for the app. Once a new feature is developed, it needs to be tested parallelly to ensure everything works well.

With every new feature, thorough testing is a must. However, manually testing the mobile app on both iOS and Android devices is extremely inefficient. In such a case, teams can use Appium to automate tests for mobile apps on both iOS and Android platforms. The Appium server differentiates the tests based on the platform defined in the DesiredCapabilities, a set of key-value pairs used to define the desired test environment in both Appium and Selenium.

Key Advantages of Appium

  1. Appium is free and open-source
  2. Enables automated testing of native, hybrid and mobile web applications,
  3. Provides support for multiple programming languages (Ruby, Java, Python, etc.)
  4. Enables cross-platform testing (Android & iOS) on real devices, emulators, and simulators

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Appium vs Selenium: Key Differences

Appium Selenium
PurposeUsed to automate tests for native, hybrid(.ipa and .apk) and mobile web applications.Used to make web-app testing easier by automating browser actions using WebDriver.  
CoverageAppium can automate tests for both mobile (android, ios) and desktop applications.Selenium can only automate Web application testing on multiple browsers. It cannot automate desktop applications

The best way to understand these frameworks is to actually use them. Run tests on both Selenium and Appium to gain real, usable insight. BrowserStack provides a cloud selenium grid of 2000+ real devices and browsers for automated selenium testing. It also provides automated app testing via Appium (and other frameworks) on a real device cloud of actual Android and iOS devices. Need an Enterprise Solution?

One simply needs to understand the nature of the software application (web-app or a mobile app) to be tested before choosing which of these to use for testing purposes. Both Appium and Selenium automate test scenarios for software applications and help teams streamline their test cycles.

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Which one to choose – Appium vs Selenium

The choice between Appium and Selenium ultimately depends on the specific needs of your project and testing requirements.

Appium is a mobile application automation tool that is specifically designed for testing mobile apps. It supports many programming languages and frameworks and provides the ability to automate tests.

Selenium, on the other hand, is a widely used tool for automating web applications.

If you’re looking to automate testing of native and hybrid mobile applications, Appium is a better choice. If your testing needs are focused primarily on web applications, then Selenium might be the right choice. It is also possible to use both tools in a complementary manner, depending on the requirements of your project.

No matter what you choose – Appium vs Selenium – you need to ensure that you test on real devices. BrowserStack is the ultimate platform for efficient and reliable cross-browser and mobile app testing. With BrowserStack, you can test your website or web application on 20,000+ real device units such as browsers, operating systems, and devices, without the need for any setup or configuration.

With BrowserStack, you can speed up your development process, eliminate compatibility issues, and ensure that your users have a seamless experience across all devices and browsers. Whether you’re a developer, tester, or product manager, BrowserStack helps you deliver quality software faster.

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