Avoid Selenium maintenance headaches with this test automation alternative
Sep 22, 2020
If you handle any form of testing; whether manual or automated then you have heard of Selenium. Using it has ensured QA teams across the globe have approved many quality web and mobile applications on the market. However, the reliance on this great tool has brought about many drawbacks. Selenium maintenance can become a nightmare at scale. In this article, we will offer a superior test automation alternative that will make a tester’s life easier!
“One of the greatest nightmares test engineers experience with Selenium is test maintenance…”
What is Selenium?
Selenium is an open-source tool for automating web applications for testing purposes. The project started in 2004 and has grown to become the de facto choice among DevOps teams for testing. Similar to WordPress, there are many developers and companies who contribute to the core functionality of the software. There are many plugins users can addon to enhance the software, too. It supports a number of programming languages including Java, C#, PHP, Python, Ruby, Perl, and more. And since it is open-source, it is free to use.
Selenium offers various tools for test automation needs…
Selenium WebDriver is the tool most test engineers refer too as it is the most robust tool in the suite. A test engineer can choose to write test scripts in language-specific bindings to drive a browser to execute tasks. This is not a codeless solution and requires coding knowledge to get started. More on no code solutions later…
Selenium IDE is a Chrome and Firefox extension which is great for non-engineers to get started with the tool as it offers a simple record-and-playback IDE to interact with the browser for testing.
Selenium Grid is great for running tests across several environments at once. Say, you want to test on multiple web browsers as well as desktops and mobile devices at once- you can with this tool.
Selenium maintenance at scale
One of the greatest nightmares test engineers experience with Selenium is test maintenance. A small change in the user interface can break tests. Even worse, the failure can happen earlier than reported. This leaves the tester investigating where the break happened, then investing more time rewriting fixes to simple UI changes.
For example, if a tester writes a Selenium script to test an e-commerce store and set an ID to the ‘Add to cart’ button, it can present issues later. If the application changes or there are multiple Add to cart buttons on the page it can move along with testing yet fail later as the wrong button was selected. Pro tip: we encourage you to avoid using IDs. However, use selectors that have a specific meaning.
As mentioned previously, the WebDriver tool is considered the standard choice. It is not a codeless solution. Engineers must be familiar with coding to use it for writing scripts. Therefore the barrier for entry is not geared at non-engineers. Their alternative is the IDE tool, however, this is dismissed by the engineering group because you cannot interject code when applicable.
Selenium also suffers from a lack of built-in image comparison and reporting. Although one can add them with third-party add-ons, it would be great if these components were apart of the core software.
If the grandfather of all automated testing tools lack key features, where does this leave us?
A test automation alternative
In my C-level experiences, I speak about the customer’s burning desire scenario. It is a philosophy that describes why a company would spend money and summarizes as two main points. A company would spend money on:
- A product that increases a customer’s profits. A product that reduces a customer’s costs.
- Although Selenium is a free product, there are paid solutions that check the box above motivating customers to pay for better service.
Unlike the Selenium IDE record-and-playback tool, Autify’s feature is robust. It includes many of the requests testers have been yearning for such as:
- Smart element locators - if an element changed in the UI, Autify can recognize this via artificial intelligence and notate for the tester with a side-by-side comparison screenshot.
- Easy assertions - by default, Autify jots brief assertions for each step such as “Click element,” etc. It has fields for notating step names or memos.
- Easy step modification - at any step Autify allows for easy add, edit, or deletion of a step. No need to waste time re-recording test scripts from scratch!
- Reporting - detailed success and failure reports are included by default with Autify. No third-party add-ons required.
Maintenance handled by AI
With Autify, those Selenium maintenance nightmares go away as test maintenance is handled by artificial intelligence. In the screenshot above you can see on the left where a traditional Selenium test would have possibly failed. Prompting the testers to take some time figuring out why it failed. Then rewrite the test. On the right, Autify noticed the change yet was able to learn of the UI change and continue. It noted the change for the tester with a side-by-side screenshot comparison.
Imagine how much time and how many man-hours your QA team can save by not investigating every test failure? Wouldn’t this time and effort be better invested in more innovation?
One can avoid Selenium maintenance headaches with test automation software such as Autify. It’s easy to use because of the no code platform. However, code can be used within the tool to expand capabilities. More importantly, it uses AI to solve the greatest problem faced by Selenium users… test maintenance.