6 practices for efficient Selenium Web Browser Automation
Shreya Bose, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack - July 29, 2020
Given that Selenium is one of the most widely used frameworks for running automated tests on browsers, it is also one of the commonly discussed topics in testing circles. Selenium’s powerful open-source features and adoption across multiple browsers make it an exceptionally useful tool for browser automation.
Selenium allows the running of automated tests in multiple programming languages against browsers and devices by using a cloud Selenium Grid, similar to what BrowserStack provides. And since Selenium tests have become an indispensable part of the software testing pipeline, it makes sense to outline a few best practices.
This article will discuss five practices that contribute to efficient Selenium web browser automation, allowing thorough verification of websites within challenging timelines.
1. Correct Usage of Locators
The purpose of Selenium is to automate user actions, thus interacting with the browser in order to navigate, click, type, and run multiple operations to check objects within the DOM. Interacting with each web element on a website requires identifying those elements, using Locators in Selenium.
Selenium Locators are of numerous types:
- Link Text
- Tag Name
Selecting the right locator can make a test script flexible and offer a greater chance of success. Inversely a badly picked locator can result in a brittle test that breaks at the first sign of a UI change. Use unique Classes or IDs as locators, since it is unlikely that they will change without someone on the QA or dev team being informed. However, locators like link text can change quite often – for example, a dynamic button that appears only when a user is logged.
2. Use Data-Driven Testing
Data-Driven testing allows testers to use the same test and the same code for different input types and values. When combined with Selenium, it allows devs and QAs to insert modifications. Consequently, this can be used for system functional testing and browser compatibility testing.
Leverage Selenium’s proprietary test accelerator for automation in order to reduce the time required for each automation cycle to complete. Selenium also comes with more than 90 functional libraries for clients to use for the purpose of initiating the automation process.
3. Choose the Selector Order
Selectors like XPath and CSS are based on element locations. They operate slower when compared to locators like ID, Name, and Link Text. Name and ID are especially effective because they operate in a straightforward and direct way. CSS acts mostly as a combination of ID and Name. XPath, because of its complexity, should be used only as a last resort.
In degrees of their difficulty of use, Selenium locators stand in the following order: XPath < CSS < Links Text < Name < ID. Start with ID in the test code and make XPath the last selector.
4. Use Page Objects
Page Objects enhance test maintenance and reduce code duplication. Additionally, it is an object-oriented class (OOC) that serves as an interface to the page of the application under test. In other words, PageObject acts as an object-oriented design pattern, and web pages are defined as classes. The different web elements on each page become the variables for this pattern. User interactions (which are automated during testing) are implemented as methods.
- Page Objects help create robust frameworks by resisting minor UI tweaks. They also help to separate test code and page code.
- It ensures that services are not spread throughout the test but rather that there is a repository for all services offered by the page.
- They are reliable, and easier to maintain.
- They keep the script readable and code reusable.
- They eliminate code duplication.
5. Use Selenium Waits. Avoid Thread.Sleep
Instead of sleep, use Selenium Wait commands. When Thread.sleep() is used, the code will pause for the specified period of time, no matter what. However, with the Implicit Wait command, Selenium polls the DOM until an element is found or a condition is fulfilled. Its time is, by default, set to zero.
Obviously, using Implicit Wait is more effective than using Thread.sleep(). Why force the code to wait any amount of time it doesn’t have to? Every second counts within tight deadlines and waits are an excellent tool to establish better time management for Selenium tests.
6. Use Java Runtime Environment JRE 1.6
If, at the beginning of an integration test, the following error shows up
It means that the latest version of Java is required to proceed with testing. Since the Selenium server is programmed with Java, a runtime error indicates that an upgrade is necessary. Download the latest version from the official Selenium website.
With the Java command present in the PATH, use command java -jar selenium-server-standalone-2.x.x.jar to start the Selenium server and replace 2.x.x with the actual Java version.
Automation testing with Selenium is a good way to create a stable, true, and reliable UI automation process. However, always pair Selenium tests with a multitude of real browsers and devices. Without being run in real user conditions, the result of any tests run will be inconclusive at best.
Simply use BrowserStack’s real device cloud to access thousands of real browsers and devices for testing purposes. Sign up, choose the required device-browser-OS combination, and start testing websites for free.