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Home Guide Top 5 Challenges Faced During Automation Selenium Testing

Top 5 Challenges Faced During Automation Selenium Testing

By Shaumik Daityari, Community Contributor and Pradeep Krishnakumar, Manager -

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.

Selenium is a popular free and open source tool that enables developers to define and automate tests for web applications. Being an open source tool, Selenium is free to use without incurring license fees. Further, Selenium supports tests written in a large variety of languages for the web — including and not limited to JavaScript, Java, Python, PHP, C#, .Net and Ruby. These features make Selenium a popular choice when automating cross browser tests.

Do you already use Selenium for your regular tests? Let us discuss common challenges faced when writing automation tests in Selenium.

The major challenges in using Selenium are handling pop-ups, dynamic web content, mobile testing, captcha and scalability.

Handling Pop-Ups

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.

Mobile Testing

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the limitations of Selenium?

Selenium has the following limitations:

  1. Limited support for testing desktop applications.
  2. No built-in reporting mechanism for test results.
  3. Difficulty in handling dynamic web elements, pop-ups, and dialogs.
  4. Limited support for touch-enabled devices and gestures.
  5. Performance limitations for large-scale testing.
  6. Steep learning curve for beginners.
  7. Limited ability to handle complex business processes.
  8. Browser compatibility issues.
  9. Limited support for image testing.
  10. Interference with JavaScript alerts and prompts

2. What are the technical limitations of Selenium?

Some of the technical limitations of Selenium are:

  1. Limited support for testing desktop applications.
  2. No built-in reporting mechanism for test results.
  3. Difficulty in handling dynamic web elements, pop-ups, and dialogs.
  4. Performance limitations for large-scale testing.
  5. Steep learning curve for beginners.
  6. Limited ability to handle complex business processes.
  7. Browser compatibility issues.
  8. Interference with JavaScript alerts and prompts.
  9. Limited ability to handle native mobile apps.
  10. Challenges in testing Captcha and Barcode readers.
  11. No standardization of test scripting across different programming languages.
  12. Limited ability to interact with a web page’s low-level components, such as cookies, SSL certificates, and HTTP headers.

3. What is the most difficult problem in Selenium automation?

One of the most difficult problems in Selenium automation is handling dynamic web elements. Dynamic web elements are those that change dynamically, such as pop-ups, dialogs, and drop-down menus. These elements can be challenging to automate as their properties, such as ID, class, and name, can change dynamically, making it difficult to locate them accurately. As a result, the automation scripts may become unreliable and prone to failure. To overcome this challenge, testers often use advanced techniques such as waiting for elements to load, dynamic XPath, and regular expressions.

4. What are the challenges and limitations of Selenium WebDriver?

Some of the challenges and limitations of Selenium WebDriver are:

  1. Compatibility Issues: Selenium WebDriver may have compatibility issues with certain browsers and their respective versions.
  2. Handling Dynamic Elements: Dynamic web elements, such as pop-ups, dialogs, and drop-down menus, can be challenging to automate with Selenium WebDriver.
  3. Performance Limitations: Selenium WebDriver can slow down when automating tests for large-scale applications.
  4. Steep Learning Curve: Selenium WebDriver has a steep learning curve, and testers need to be familiar with programming concepts and object-oriented programming languages, such as Java or Python, to use it effectively.
  5. Test Maintenance: Maintaining Selenium WebDriver tests can be time-consuming and complex, especially for large and complex applications.
  6. Test Stability: Since Selenium is dependent on the browser and its behavior, tests can become unstable and prone to failure when the browser is updated.
  7. Limited reporting features: Selenium WebDriver does not have built-in reporting features for test results. Testers need to use third-party tools or write custom code to generate test reports.
  8. Browser compatibility issues: Selenium WebDriver may not work with certain browsers, especially older versions of Internet Explorer.
  9. Handling HTTPS: Automating HTTPS-secured websites can be challenging with Selenium WebDriver, as it requires a deeper understanding of SSL certificates and browser security.


Selenium Selenium Webdriver

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