All you need to know about the Selenium Framework
By Akshay Pai, Community Contributor and Pradeep Krishnakumar, Manager - July 5, 2019
Seeing the growing demand from users for the latest version of web applications and apps, developers have had to continually stretch themselves to deliver upgrades every few weeks. This has led to the growing reliance on automation as it helps shorten the software development cycle: both for the coding stage and the testing process.
Automation testing has helped teams launch new features without bugs at a much faster pace. This, in turn, helps maintain high customer engagement and ward off competition.
Automation testing has also increased the scale of testing by several folds, ensuring that customers have a fulfilling experience, no matter which browser or the device they use. And thus, automation testing made its way to ensure cross-browser compatibility.
Selenium is the biggest open source automation testing suite that has been making testing seamless. It is widely used for testing among the bigwigs like Google, Netflix, Fitbit, etc. to the emerging startups such as likewise. Here’s a graph that shows how Selenium framework is extensively used among various companies of different scale and sizes.
What is Selenium Framework?
This eliminates repetitive manual testing that consumes lots of time and effort. Selenium conforms with the idea of Agile, and DevOps, which endorse the continuous delivery workflow. Thus, Selenium has been 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 which is also known as Selenium 2.0, is a collection of language-specific bindings that drive a browser in the way 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 that are 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 on 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.
Selenium IDE is a Chrome and Firefox plugin, which is capable of logging natural interactions in the browser and generate 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. 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 Selenium Framework so popular for Automation Testing?
Selenium Framework, which has been used by over 41 thousand companies across the world, enjoys the highest market share among the other contemporary software testing tools. A study from Enlyft (formerly iDatalabs), suggests that Selenium has a market share of 28.36%.
Although it is mainly used by the Computer Software and IT services companies, Selenium has not just confined itself to them and 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. Other reasons include the multi-dimensional flexibility that it offers in terms of scripting languages, operating systems, browsers, and integration with other tools. This widens the scale of reach and 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 a large number of testers to easily use it without any language barriers. It can be carried out on Windows, MacOS, and Linux, using any browsers out of Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, and Opera. This enables a thorough cross browser compatibility testing with strong environment support.
You can easily manage test cases and generate reports while using Selenium by integrating tools like TestNG and JUnit, so as to streamline the entire testing process, making it agile.
It also gets ample support from the open source community, making testing with Selenium easy.
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
Data Driven Framework
The data-driven framework is based on the different data sets that are 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 a 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, which is available in the table without the need to modify the code each.
Keyword Driven Framework
Keywords that form the basis of the functionality, takes in parameters and throws the relevant output. Often, 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 that are to be performed are written separately from the actual script in the form of keywords. These keywords which are 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 each of them individually without hampering others.
Hybrid Driven Framework
Hybrid Driven Framework is a combination of data-driven and keyword-driven frameworks. This framework uses different keywords and data sets, where the list of inputs and the functions are stored in separate files. Similar to the data-driven framework, it also uses the same code for different data sets.
When to use these Selenium frameworks?
When there are a large number of data sets to be tested for the web application. Then you must 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.
On occasions when data sets and functionalities both are high in number, use a hybrid driven framework to avoid complexity.
How to get started with Selenium Framework?
To get started with the Selenium automation testing, you can go through 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 2000+ browsers on real desktops, iOS, and Android devices.
On a Closing Note
Given the demands of fast and reliable testing that spans across various browsers and devices to ensure compatibility, automation testing using Selenium seems to be the best. Preferred throughout the industry, Selenium Framework offers the 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.