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Selenium Test Automation: All You Need To Know

June 2, 2022
   /   
by 
Sohaib Zaidi

Ensuring your enterprise software is bug-free is of the utmost importance, as applications like Oracle, Salesforce, and Workday become more and more ingrained into the lifeblood of the operations of modern enterprises. When a bug causes an application to go down, employees can’t do their work, and according to Gartner, just one hour of application downtime can cost an organization upwards of $300K an hour. 

A great example of what can go wrong when enterprise software doesn’t work as intended can be seen with Haribo a few years ago, when they migrated 16 of its candy factories in 10 countries to SAP’s S/4HANA ERP software. While the migration was highly anticipated, it wasn’t as smooth or seamless as expected. Almost immediately, issues with the platform caused hiccups in Haribo’s supply chain operations. Production constraints led to missed supermarket deliveries, and by the end of the year, the company experienced a 25% decline in sales in 2018.

To ensure there are no defects to their business-critical software, enterprises are testing more. As today’s development and testing methodologies require significantly shorter time frames to keep up with application changes, there has been a shift from manual testing approaches to test automation. And among the various automated testing tools, Selenium is widely considered the most viable because it’s available for free. 

In this blog, we’ll outline what exactly is Selenium capable of, and discuss what skills, effort, and resources are required to succeed with Selenium. We’ll also describe Selenium’s limitations, and suggest the best alternative to Selenium test automation.

What is Selenium?

Selenium is a globally used open-source test automation suite. It offers automation across different browsers, platforms and programming languages while enabling you to write test scripts in programming languages like Ruby, Java, NodeJS, PHP, Perl, Python, and C#, among others. To support continuous testing, Selenium can be integrated with test management tools such as Maven, Jenkins, & Docker. 

Selenium Test Automation Components

The major building blocks of Selenium test automation are:

Selenium IDE – This is Selenium’s record and playback tool that can be used to create and execute test cases. Selenium’s IDE is a Firefox plugin that allows testers to record their actions on the web application, and then playback the tests when required. You can also generate detailed reports for the recorded tests to track their results.

Selenium WebDriver – This is a programming interface that allows you to test web applications across all the major programming languages, browsers and operating systems. However, these web applications need to interact directly with the browser, without any intermediary. To create test cases, you need to manually locate your elements, and then perform actions on those elements. 

Selenium Grid – This is a WebDriver management and distribution system that allows you to execute multiple tests at the same time on multiple machines (parallel testing).

Advantages of Selenium test automation

  • Selenium is free, as opposed to most other automation tools that include licensing costs
  • Because Selenium is open-sourced, it allows modification of source code
  • Selenium supports multiple programming languages, most operating systems, and major browsers
  • It has large community support, due to its vast network of users
  • It allows parallel testing.

Disadvantages of Selenium

Although Selenium comes with an impressive suite of capabilities, especially considering its open-source nature, there are a number of key downsides to using Selenium to automate enterprise application testing. Here are a few of the main ones:

  • Selenium requires coding to create and maintain tests. Employees with zero or limited coding experience will require months of training to enable them to use Selenium. 
  • Since you need to manually locate elements to perform actions, testing dynamic applications,  such as Oracle, Salesforce, or SAP can be very challenging. Maintaining test scripts is a daunting task.
  • Selenium is primarily meant for prototyping and syntax, which is another reason why it’s difficult to test dynamic web applications such as Oracle, Salesforce, or SAP with Selenium. Additionally, you cannot import data from these applications to support data-driven testing. 
  • Because there is no centralized maintenance of objects or elements, automation script maintenance is a major burden. Oracle’s quarterly updates, Salesforce’s seasonal updates, and MS Dynamics’ bi-yearly updates can require hundreds of horus of employee time–just maintaining scripts. 

With the pros and cons of Selenium described above, you should have a decent idea of what Selenium can and cannot do for your business. That being said, we think that Opkey is a far better test automation tool for your packaged application needs.

Read more:  Selenium vs. OATS vs. Opkey 

Opkey – The Market’s Best Alternative to Selenium

Since most testers are not programmers, a code-based test automation tool like Selenium is simply not ideal for test automation; because of its steep learning curve and major maintenance burden, using Selenium often slows down testing cycles–the exact opposite of what an automation tool should do. 

To avoid spending more time, money and resources on your testing than you already are, you need a no code test automation tool like Opkey, that enables all employees–no matter their technical training–to build and scale test automation. Built on advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing (NLP), Opkey can be operated by practically any employee, and your organization can get up-and-running on Opkey in just a few days.

Here are some key advantages of Opkey, compared to Selenium. 

No Code Test Creation: Opkey's drag-and-drop technology, along with a simple record-and-playback feature,  enables all employees to create tests. Additionally, organizations can leverage Opkey’s more than 30,000+ pre-built test cases to instantly increase their test coverage. This saves your employees months of time on ramp-up.

Self-healing Test Scripts: Opkey automatically identifies changes made to object properties, such as Name, ID, Xpath, CSS, etc. that could lead to broken tests. With self-healing capabilities, changes get fixed automatically without human intervention. By largely reducing test maintenance efforts, your QA teams can focus on more high-value activities. Opkey users are reducing test maintenance efforts by an average of 80%. 

Automatic Test Mining: Organizations can use Opkey's patent-pending test mining technologies to understand their workers' exact business processes and then prioritize testing on the most critical ones. This saves organizations countless hours of business-process discovery meetings, and ensures that your organization’s continuous testing program provides optimal test coverage.

Selenium test automation
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