Selenium Automation Framework: A Detailed Guide
By Akshay Pai, Community Contributor Manager - February 6, 2023
Seeing the growing demand from users for the latest version of web applications and apps, developers have had to stretch themselves to continually deliver upgrades every few weeks. This has led to a growing reliance on automation, which helps shorten the software development cycle for both the coding and testing stages.
Automation testing has helped teams launch new features without bugs much faster. This, in turn, helps maintain high customer engagement and ward off competition.
- When it comes to the realm of automation, Selenium has held the top position for a long time.
- It is an open-source tool that makes test automation easy for modern web applications with the recent Selenium 4 features.
- Selenium 4 includes notable Chrome CDP integration, which is why many QA teams have upgraded from Selenium 3 to Selenium 4.
In this detailed guide, we’ll understand how to use the Selenium automation framework, classified into Data Driven, Keyword Driven, and Hybrid Frameworks.
What is the Selenium Framework?
- It could run the tests directly on the target browser, drive the interactions on the required web page and rerun them without any manual input.
- It eliminates repetitive manual testing that consumes lots of time and effort.
- Conforms with the idea of Agile and DevOps, which endorse the continuous delivery workflow.
Thus, Selenium remains one of the favorite tools for testing as it meets the requirement of quick and reliable testing, which helps enterprises save time and money on testing.
Selenium WebDriver, also known as Selenium 2.0, is a collection of language-specific bindings that drive a browser how it has to be driven. It is the successor of Selenium Remote Control and consists of API, Library, Driver, and Framework that work together to enable test execution.
- The API ports the scripts written in different scripting languages to Selenium’s in-built language: Selenese, with the help of bindings. These language-specific bindings, such as Selenium Java, Selenium Ruby, Selenium dotnet, etc., and the API are stored in the Library.
- While the driver, which is an executable module, opens up the browser instance and runs the test script.
- These drivers could be browser-specific such as Chromedriver for Google Chrome.
- Frameworks such as Cucumber and TestNG are used for testing the connection of WebDriver’s client and the browser/driver. These tests can also be conducted on multiple drivers with the help of a Selenium Grid.
- Provides support for modern browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, and Internet Explorer.
Selenium IDE is a Chrome and Firefox plugin capable of logging natural interactions in the browser and generating its code in different programming languages.
- These programming languages include Java, Python, Ruby, C#, and Selenese.
- It enables the testers to record within the IDE and play out the test scenario on the browser, where the IDE can replay them and highlight the errors in code with Red color.
- Allows the test developers to set breakpoints for debugging particular test cases.
- The use of multiple locators for each element in the IDE ensures successful execution.
- This makes Selenium IDE useful for conducting regression testing, where it can be used for prototyping the errors as the code might not be very legible. Thus, cross-browser testing using Selenium WebDriver is widely recommended.
Why is the Selenium Framework preferred for Automation?
Automation testing has also increased the testing scale by several folds, ensuring customers have a fulfilling experience, no matter which browser or device they use. And thus, automation testing made its way to ensure cross-browser compatibility.
Selenium is the most significant open-source automation testing suite used for testing among bigwigs to emerging startups. Statistically, it is used by over 57000 companies worldwide, enjoying a 24.63% market share among other software testing tools.
Although it is mainly used by Computer Software and IT services companies, Selenium has not just confined itself to them. It serves other industries like Staffing & Recruiting, Healthcare, Financial Services, etc.
- The primary reason behind such overwhelming popularity of Selenium is that it is open source. This not only helps keep the costs in check but also ensures that companies are using a tool that will get continually updated.
- Its multi-dimensional flexibility in scripting languages, OS, browsers, and integrations widens the test coverage, enabling enterprises to deliver a web application that is highly reliable and functional.
- Selenium test scripts can be written in Java, Python, C#, PHP, Ruby, Perl and .Net. This allows many testers to use it without any language barriers.
- It can be carried out on Windows, macOS, and Linux, using Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, and Opera browsers. This enables thorough cross-browser compatibility testing with strong environment support.
Follow-Up Read: Comprehensive Guide on Enterprise Testing Strategy
Types of Selenium Frameworks
Selenium frameworks based on the functional approach are classified into three main types:
- Data-driven framework
- Keyword driven framework
- Hybrid framework
1. Data Driven Framework
The data-driven framework is based on the different data sets created into an external file (excel sheets) and imported into the automation testing tool. When the number of data sets that the test framework uses as input is on the higher side, it is very difficult to change these values in the script every time to conduct the test.
And thus, these data sets are kept separate from the original script, which can fetch the required input each time from the data set excel sheet. This makes it convenient for the tester to modify the script without disturbing the data sets or vice versa, making it much more robust.
Thus, you can easily apply a single test for all the data sets available in the table without needing to modify each code.
2. Keyword Driven Framework
The keyword driven framework is based on keywords that form the basis of the functionality, takes in parameters and throw the relevant output. When the code has to cover a lot of functionality, it might need repetitive writing for some of its sections. And thus, keywords are written to abstract the complexity of the code.
Here, the operations or methods to be performed are written separately from the script in the form of keywords. These keywords, placed in an external file (Excel sheet), are called using the code. This enables testers to keep each of the functionalities separate. The keywords are available in the table, where you can modify them individually without hampering others.
3. Hybrid Driven Framework
Hybrid Driven Framework in Selenium is a combination of data-driven and keyword-driven frameworks. This framework uses different keywords and data sets, where the inputs and functions list are stored in separate files. Similar to the data-driven framework, it uses the same code for different data sets.
When to use Selenium Automation frameworks?
When many data sets are to be tested for the web application, opt for a data-driven framework, which separates them from the actual code.
- For instance, when there are more functionalities to be tested for the web application. It is suggested that the team goes for a keyword-driven framework, where the operations are stored in a separate table in the form of keywords.
- These keywords are called to use a specific functional operation. When data sets and functionalities are high in number, use a hybrid-driven framework to avoid complexity.
If you’re wondering how other engineers would tackle it? Get the breakdown with David Burns, a core contributor to Selenium, Chairperson for the W3C Browser Testing and Tools Working Group, Editor of the W3C WebDriver specification, and Engineering Manager at BrowserStack.
How to get started with Selenium automation?
To start with the Selenium automation testing, you can refer the BrowserStack’s Automate documentation. Decide which scripting language and framework you are planning to use for testing. And, then you can install the prerequisite components. Try running a few sample test cases to get an understanding.
Using BrowserStack Automate, teams get instant access to a Selenium Grid of 3000+ browsers on real desktops, iOS, and Android devices.
On a Closing Note
Given the demands of fast and reliable testing that spans various browsers and devices to ensure compatibility, automation testing using Selenium seems the best. Preferred throughout the industry, the Selenium Framework offers feasibility, flexibility, and cost-friendliness over other testing frameworks. Thus, making it an ideal way to deliver a consistent end-user experience that conforms with the continuous delivery approach.
Follow-Up Read: Mobile Browser Automation using Selenium