Features of Selenium IDE that every developer should know
Shreya Bose, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack - May 4, 2020
Automation testing, especially in the beginning, can be tricky. Making that initial shift from manual to automated testing will require a significant amount of planning, strategizing, and, in some cases, financial investment.
Automation is definitely more challenging and requires more technical skill than manual testing. However, it is entirely possible to make the transition without hassle, if one follows already established guidelines and practices. Making the move to automation is something testers and organization do frequently.
However, automated testing is impossible without the right tools. No matter how skilled the tester, they need the right test automation frameworks, CI/CD tools and communication mechanisms to ensure success.
Among these tools, one that is widely used is the Selenium IDE. It is an effective, easily operated and offers multiple functions necessary in running automated test suites. This article will go over some of the features that make Selenium IDE a particularly useful tool.
Before beginning, let’s look at what Selenium IDE is.
Selenium IDE (Integrated Development Environment) is primarily a record and run tool that a test case developer uses to develop Selenium Test cases. Selenium IDE is an easy to use tool from the Selenium Test Suite. It can even be used by someone new to developing automated test cases for their web applications. One does not require any special setup to get started with Selenium IDE. You just need to add the extension of your specific browser. Selenium IDE provides you with a GUI (Graphical User Interface) for easily recording your interactions with the website.
Selenium IDE allows a user or a test case developer to create the test cases and test suites and edit it later as per their requirements. The development environment also provides the capability of converting test cases to different programming languages, which makes it easier for the user and does not mandate the need for knowing a specific programming language.
This article on Selenium IDE provides a detailed explanation of the tool, and guides users through getting started with it.
Now, let’s move on to the features.
- Cross-browser applicability: When it was first released in 2006, Selenium IDE was only compatible with Firefox. This continued for a decade, but that has changed. Selenium IDE is now available as both a Firefox Add-on and a Google Chrome Extension.
Selenium IDE can also run tests on Selenium WebDriver through Selenium IDE’s command-line test runner – SIDE Runner. By combining elements of Selenium IDE and WebDriver, SIDE Runner saves IDE scripts as .side files and runs them by leveraging browser drivers – EdgeDriver, ChromeDriver, Geckodriver, SafariDriver, IEDriver.
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SIDE Runner and the drivers listed above are available as npm installs. The image below represents how they look like when being operated. Image Source
- Robust functional tests: Brittle tests have always been a concern when it comes to crafting and executing functional tests. Whether they are recorded or coded by hand, this concern is consistent.
Since developers release new features with increasing frequency, the UI code of each constantly changes. Naturally, UI changes result in changes in object locators too.
Selenium IDE resolves this issue by capturing numerous object locators each time a script is recorded. In the midst of playback, if IDE cannot detect one locator, it will try using every other locator until one of them functions as required. However, if none of the locators work, the test will fail.Now, note that this does not guarantee that scripts will always play back, but it certainly does protect scripts from being rendered unusable from multiple changes. Selenium IDE records and captures linkText, an xPath expression, and CSS-based locators.
- Better handling of UI features: In testing web apps, test scripts must handle UI elements that can unpredictably pop up in the app. This can include cookie notices, popups notifying special offers, share requests, adblocker requests, paywall notifications, etc.
Selenium IDE uses conditional logic to handle such intermittent UI features. Simply insert the conditions logic (or, as it is also called, control flow) into Selenium IDE scripts.
- Running from CI build scripts: SIDE Runner is called from the command line, so one can fit it into CI build scripts. This is possible as long as the CI server can call selenium-ide-runner and upload the .side file (the test script) as a build artifact.
Consequently, Selenium IDE can be more effectively integrated into software development pipelines. Additionally, scripts put together by members with lesser technical skill (QA teams, business analysts) can also be executed with every build. This helps to align QAs with developers, thus lowering the number of bugs that show up in the final release.
- Virtual testing of responsive web apps: When it comes to testing the visual schematics of responsive web apps, it must be tested on a wide range of viewports. This ensures that the website renders perfectly, no matter what device is being used to access it. Responsive web bugs are quite common, and few things annoy users more than the askew visual representation on their screen.
Testers can also monitor website behavior on BrowserStack’s responsive checker which allows them access to viewports of the latest devices. Simply enter the website URL and view how it renders across real devices.
Like all facets of the technical sphere, software development and testing must incorporate emergent technologies to stay competitive and relevant. In the realm of automated testing, Selenium IDE, with its new, powerful features, is sure to make life easier for technical professionals. This leaves them with more time to create code, and less time in running repetitive tests.