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Home Guide How to perform Visual Regression Testing using Protractor

How to perform Visual Regression Testing using Protractor

By Priyanka Bhat & Ganesh Hegde, Community Contributors -

Protractor is a NodeJS-based open source test automation tool, managed by Google Team. Protractor uses Selenium Webdriver under the hood. As Protractor wraps Selenium in its framework, it is very easy to use and feature-rich. It is mostly used for End to end testing.

Using a Protractor for Visual Testing makes testing easier and quicker. Visual Testing works by comparing Base screenshots and actual screenshots. Visual Comparision requires less coding knowledge and less effort. 

This article explains Visual Regression Testing using Protractor, covering two methods of Visual Validation Testing

  1. Using protractor-image-comparison NPM package
  2. Using Protractor with Percy Web-based image comparison tool

Protractor Visual Testing using protractor-image-comparison


Basic Protractor Set up

Step by Step Guide to using Image Comparison in Protractor

Follow the steps below to perform Visual Regression Tests in Protractor: 

Step 1: Install protractor-image-comparison NPM package 

Using the below command install the image comparison NPM package

npm install --save protractor-image-comparison

Step 2: Configure Protractor Image Comparison Plugin

Navigate to protractor.config.js, which is typically located in the root of your Project. Add the below code to it.

const { join } = require('path');
exports.config = {

plugins: [
// The module name
options: {
baselineFolder: join(process.cwd(), './baseline/'),
formatImageName: `{tag}-{logName}-{width}x{height}`,
screenshotPath: join(process.cwd(), '.tmp/'),
savePerInstance: true,
autoSaveBaseline: true
framework: 'jasmine',
specs: ['./protractor-visualtest.js'],
directConnect: true,

In the above code,

  • baselineFolder : Baseline image folder name
  • formatImageName : Image file name
  • screenshotPath : Actual and diff image files path

Once you complete the above set up, write the simple image comparison test.

Step 3: Write the Protractor Visual Test

describe('Protractor Visual Test Demo', () => {
it('Navigate to BrowserStack Homepage', async() => {
await browser.waitForAngularEnabled(false);
await browser.get(''); await browser.imageComparison.saveScreen('examplePaged', { /* some options*/ });
expect(await browser.imageComparison.checkScreen('examplePaged', { /* some options*/ })).toEqual(0);

Let’s look at the above code

  • await browser.get(‘’); : Navigates to 
  • await browser.imageComparison.saveScreen(‘examplePaged’, { /* some options*/ }); : Takes the screenshots for the screen
  • expect(await browser.imageComparison.checkScreen(‘examplePaged’, { /* some options*/ })).toEqual(0); : Compares actual image with the base images

Step 4: Execute Protractor Visual Test

Use the below command to execute your protractor test

npx protractor protractor.conf.js

The first time when you execute the test, it captures the baseline screenshot, which helps to compare with actual screenshot  in future runs.

Capturing Baseline image in Protractor Visual Regression Test

Step 5: Run the test again to see the difference.

After the second run, you will see the actual image captured in .tmp folder.

Run Visual Regression Test with Protractor

If tests are successful, that means no difference between the base screenshot and the actual screenshot, the console log shows the test passed result.

If there are any failures, then the console log shows the failed test result.

Example of Failed Test Result

  • Command-line output

Visual Test Protractor Failed Test Result Command Line Output

In the explorer window. Inside the .tmp folder, the folder name diff will be created, which contains the difference between both the images

  • Explorer window output

Visual Test Protractor Failed Test Result Explorer window output

Visual Comparison in Protractor for Specific Element

You can perform Visual Testing in Protractor for Single Element using the protractor image comparison package. The package provides saveElement and checkElement functions. These two functions help you to compare the specific element in the Visual Screenshot testing.

Sample code for Visual Testing Specific Element in Protractor

describe('Protractor Visual Test Demo', () => {
it('Navigate to BrowserStack Homepage', async() => {
await browser.waitForAngularEnabled(false);
await browser.get(''); await browser.imageComparison.saveElement(element(by.css('a[href="/pricing"]')), 'PricingButton', { /* some options*/ });
expect(await browser.imageComparison.checkElement(element(by.css('a[href="/pricing"]')), 'PricingButton', { /* some options*/ })).toEqual(0);

How to Perform Protractor Visual Testing Using Percy 

Percy is a most popular tool for Visual Validation Testing. Percy provides an online dashboard that helps to review, approve and reject the compared images. Percy provides visual comparison across the browser. This helps in cross-browser visual validation in the protractor.

Step by Step guide using Percy in Protractor

Step 1: Install the required packages using the below command

npm install --save-dev @percy/cli @percy/protractor

Step 2: Create a Simple Percy Test

Let’s create a simple test to take a screenshot of BrowserStack home page and validate them.

const percySnapshot= require('@percy/protractor');
describe('Protractor Visual Test Demo', () => {
it('Navigate to BrowserStack Homepage', async() => {
await browser.waitForAngularEnabled(false);
await browser.get('');
await percySnapshot('BrowserstackHomePage');

Step 3: Set the PERCY_TOKEN environment variable

  • Login to Percy using your credentials (If you don’t have them already, create a new)
  • Create a New Project
  • Navigate to Project Settings
  • Set the environment variable

To set the environment variable, use the commands below based on your terminal:

  • Powershell
  • Windows Command Line
set PERCY_TOKEN=<your_token>
  • Mac/Linx/Unix-based Terminal
export PERCY_TOKEN=<your_token>

Step 4: Execute Percy Protractor Visual Test using the below command

npx  percy exec -- protractor protractor.conf.js

Wait until Execution completes, Once Execution is completed, the command line output will be shown with the build URL.

Navigating to the build URL, you can view the Test results. Percy Dashboard Shows the difference if there any as seen below

Protractor Visual Test with Percy Failed Test Result with difference

If there is no difference, Percy shows the message “No Changes

Protractor Visual Test with Percy Passed Test Result without difference

Protractor Visual Testing is the best way to test the User Interface of the web application, it’s easy and not very time-consuming. The recent development in the protractor is not very impressive. 

Protractor Team Decided to Stop the Development of the Protractor framework and stopped releasing any new features. The community plugin which was supporting protractor also now stopped its development. The plugin which we are using for the visual regression testing protractor-image-comparison is deprecated however it is available to install but is not maintained.

Since Protractor is depreciated, you need to think of migrating to another framework. When it comes to finding Protractor alternatives there are many in the market, but you need to think of migration effort and features they are offering. NightWatchJS is one such framework, which has features close to the Protractor. 

Just like Protractor, NightwatchJS is also built on top of Selenium so most of the features will be available in NightWatchJS as well. It’s worth exploring NightWatchJS when you look for a new framework after Protractor.

You can run Visual Regression Tests with Nightwatch using Percy, just like Protractor. 

Try NightwatchJS 

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