With an increasing range of devices and browsers that users on the Internet consume content on, it has become a top priority for developers to create content that renders correctly across devices. While it may be possible to test content on individual browsers, an agile workflow encourages one to automate an otherwise monotonous task of cross browser testing. The top choice among developers to automate this process is Selenium. This post touches upon the top challenges and limitations one may face during automation Selenium testing.
Do you already use Selenium for your regular tests? Let us discuss common challenges faced when writing automation tests in Selenium.
Although the use of pop-ups is generally not recommended over simpler alternatives, those who still use it would find it a bit tedious to automatically write tests in Selenium to handle pop-ups. While it is possible to handle pop-ups by the browser through WebDriver, OS based pop-ups are beyond the scope of Selenium testing, making it one of the top limitations of Selenium. A typical example of a non-browser based pop-up is the request to keep a downloaded executable file.
Though Selenium does not support native OS based dialog windows, there are extensions that you may use to overcome this shortcoming. For instance, you can integrate Selenium with AutoIt, a capability to automate Windows-based UIs. Depending on the language that you are using to write the script, you may need to use a bridge between Selenium and AutoIt, such as Jacob COM bridge in Java.
Dynamic Web Content
In the last few years, there has been a push towards single page web applications. The content that is present on the page when it loads either changes through hidden elements or is requested from the server on the fly, thus making both the structure and content fluid.
One of the top challenges faced in Selenium automation is the handling of dynamic web content. Selenium solves for it using the explicit wait feature, where you specify a pre-defined time for the automation testing process to wait for new content to load. The other alternative is to use the implicit wait feature, though results are generally not well defined.
The next challenge in Selenium testing for responsive design testing is to test on mobile operating systems. This poses a challenge as a significant number of end users consume content on their mobile devices. The Selenium family provides a testing framework, Appium, which helps developers test content on native mobile operating systems. Appium uses the WebDriver protocol to automate mobile app testing.
BrowserStack integrates with Appium, Espresso, XCUITest and EarlGrey to provide you a platform to automate testing of mobile apps on real devices through the cloud.
Yet another challenge in cross browser responsive Selenium testing is the use of captchas. You would typically use a captcha to ensure that only real users go through certain sections of your web application. There is no inherent capability in Selenium to solve captchas. How then do you work with captchas?
The approach to solving this problem lies in creating separate testing environment variables altogether. Configure your web application’s test environment to work with one of the following options:
- Disable the captcha module
- Accept a dummy value for all captchas
- Pass the captcha as a hidden value within the page’s DOM structure
No matter which approach you take, make sure that it is configured only in the testing environment, else you leave your web application vulnerable to bots potentially bypassing your captcha module.
While Selenium gives you the capability to run automated tests on a range of browsers, the bottleneck is its ability to quickly run tests. With limited resources, Selenium is able to run tests only in a particular order. However, you can tackle this issue with the concept of parallel testing, provided you have the resources to run the tests.
With BrowserStack, you can run Selenium tests concurrently across thousands of devices at the same time, which solves the scalability issues of Selenium. BrowserStack’s capabilities enable you to quickly run automated tests to reduce the time between development and production.
Automation in the process of developing a web application helps in saving man hours and reducing errors in the deployment process. Selenium is one of the most popular frameworks for automated responsive design testing out there today. While the feature list of Selenium is commendable, a developer can still face challenges and limitations during the process of creating automated tests. Selenium testing on a cloud-based product like BrowserStack Automate can help scale your testing infrastructure. Automate supports cross browser testing using Selenium and mobile testing using appium. You can also integrate with popular CI/CD tools like Jenkins, CircleCI, Testflight.