Selenium is an industry-standard test automation tool many are familiar with. Selenium is open-source software that offers various tools for different use cases. Those tools are WebDriver, IDE, and Grid. WebDriver is intended for advanced users for writing test scripts. IDE offers an easy-to-use interface to record users’ interactions with the web browser and playback test scripts. Grid offers virtual and physical device support for users to run simultaneous tests at once. With all of these toolsets, the software does have its drawbacks. Developers have repeatedly expressed frustration with the limitations of Selenium.

We have compiled a list of most of these hindrances, plus offer solutions to get around these restrictions with the popular tool.

What are the limitations of Selenium?

No desktop support, only web browser support. Selenium cannot automate testing on desktop apps, yet limited to web apps. You cannot operate outside of the browser. For example, it is quite frustrating if you are testing a feature to open a local file and upload it.

Coding required. Selenium WebDriver requires coding to “write” test scripts that simulate real user interaction with the web browser. This raises the barrier of entry for non-engineering testers. It also places more burden on developers to code for testing when their efforts can be channeled towards new features and innovation.

Lack of built-in image comparison. By default, Selenium doesn’t have a built-in image comparison solution. You must seek third-party solutions for this feature.

Lack of tech support. Being that it is open-source, there is no dedicated support ticketing system. You must resort to forums, chat rooms, or support via Slack. In its defense, there is a large community to tap into for help… just not directly from the makers.

Lack of reporting capabilities. You must seek third-party add-ons to gain reporting functionality. It is not built directly into the automation tool.

Maintenance nightmares. One of the greatest frustrations many developers gripe about while using Selenium is maintenance. At scale, it can be cumbersome. Luckily there is help to avoid Selenium maintenance headaches.

Avoid Selenium maintenance issues

Even more limitations…

Those are the major issues most developers have with Selenium. However, there are more nuisances as you dive deeper into use cases with the tool…

  • No native support for testing mobile apps. However, you can use Appium and Selendroid to test native, hybrid, or mobile web apps.
  • Lack of handling dynamic elements. Since applications are dynamic and can change, relying on web elements such as IDs can prove problematic with automated testing. It’s best not to rely on IDs, here’s why.
  • Handling dynamic page loading. There may be a form on the page that changes based on a previous action. For example, if selecting a country from a drop-down list then the next drop-down lists states or providences associated with the country. To resolve this, you must add wait conditions in Selenium as the initial script may not load the dynamic condition.
  • Lack of image locating. You must add-on Sikuli to locate an element of an image.
  • No native support for Captcha and OTP (one-time password.)
  • No support for REST and SOAP platforms.
  • Limited support for handling operating sytem popups.
  • Cannot modify HTTP headers.

How to solve Selenium limitations?

Selenium alternatives

According to research, DevOps QA teams are not satisfied with their tooling and search for better software multiple times per year. And based on the lengthy laundry list we’ve checked above- it’s apparent why they’re simply not satisfied.

Users have found Autify to be the best alternative to Selenium.

Although it does not support testing desktop applications, regarding web and mobile apps, it is superior in many ways. First, it is a codeless test automation platform. Therefore, the learning curve is far lower because a tester simply uses the browser to test their application. Autify records their interactions and automatically “writes” test scripts on behalf of the user. And if they need expanded functionality, they can append screen recordings with Javascript.

Second, the testing tool automatically saves screenshots of each step by default. It relies on visual testing for end-users rather than code-only presentation layers. And third, since it is a freemium solution, you gain premium technical support with the full subscription.

Reporting is not an afterthought, it is built-in. The platform’s reporting feature also presents side-by-side comparisons of failed tests for faster detection of bugs. Since it is powered by artificial intelligence, the tool can adapt to frequent user interface changes. Maintenance, too, is handled by AI. This means the platform manages the exponential growth of test scripts as your application scales- rather than piling up man-hours from developers and the possibility of introducing human errors.

Conclusion

If you have been experiencing one or more of the limitations of Selenium we’ve listed above, try an alternative.