Uncovering the hidden costs related to Selenium Test Automation

March 23, 2021
Dimpy Sharma

Many a times, managers prefer to use open source tools in the application development due to cost benefits. Selenium is one such tool that has become a preferable choice in the arena of test automation due to its availability as an open-source software.

However, the million dollar question, “What is the true cost of using this free software?

In this blog, we’ll be analyzing different aspects related to Selenium test automation to find out answers of the above questions. We’ll also propose a test automation solution that not only can save your time and money but also saves your business from disruption.

Associated Cost of using Selenium

Undoubtedly, Selenium can be downloaded and installed without paying a penny. However, the cost of a tool is not always about upfront fee. To understand it better let’s take an example of Linux. It is a popular desktop operating system. Though it is available without any licensing yet there are tremendous hidden administrative costs associated with its use. Same is the case with Selenium.

  • Infrastructure

Selenium requires infrastructure to operate. It means that enterprises thinking of Selenium as a free tool need to understand that they need to invest in servers, racks, etc. Apart from this, enterprises need to invest in resources like a system admin to keep servers up to date, replace broken components, and solve different problems that may arise during operations.

  • Programming Knowledge

While downloading Selenium, you may have found that Selenium is a programming library rather than a tool. Surely, you must be aware that open-source libraries are just a starting point for testing. You need to write code to create tests, manage and execute those codes, handle errors, and report. Apart from this, if you’re using an ecosystem of applications, then you need to test integrations also. For this, you need to build a test support network via API. Working with experts can be a very costly preposition.

  • Slow Authoring

In Selenium, test creation is difficult as a scripting language is used. The process of writing test scripts across the ecosystem of different applications is a time-consuming process. Even if you use Selenium IDE, the record/playback tool for Selenium, you can still spend hours per test written.

  • Brittle Tests

Another challenge associated with Selenium is test cases are brittle and failures are common if the dynamic locators are changed during an application upgrade. So, you require an expensive developer who can write test cases and maintain these as well. If you’re working in tight timelines, this wouldn’t be the ideal way.

Summing up the cost related to Selenium Test Automation

  • Selenium requires servers with extremely high-grade components. Proper rack along with cooling, power distribution, and KVM, all these things cost you huge.
  • Selenium itself may be free but you need resources to handle it. You need system admins for the hardware and developers in test to create the scripts which in turn can prove to be very expensive.
  • Selenium based test scripts are brittle/ flaky. In case, test scripts get failed, it may take a long time to debug. In fact, maintenance takes more time and cost than it takes to automate them.
  • If you want rich test reports then you need third party integrations because Selenium does not offer rich reports on its own.
  • Selenium is not developed to scale. You would only be able to run a few tens of tests at a time.
  • Selenium use element properties like ID, Name, Class, XPath, Tag Name, etc to identify control on screen. In case, element properties of an application changes, Selenium wouldn’t be able to identify correct element, resulting in test failures.

The proposed solution

Zero-code - A zero-code test automation solution should be your preferred choice if you want to accelerate testing cycles. Script-less test automation solutions set developers and testers free from time-consuming coding needed to automate tests.

Self-healing - Another trait which you should be looking for in a test automation solution is self-heal capabilities. Test scripts suffer failures when applications have dynamic elements. Automation tools with self-healing capabilities ensure that test scripts sync to updates without requiring much effort. This saves time and cost related to test automation.

Scalable Test Environment - Users often get frustrated when mobile or Web apps take longer than usual to load. To avoid poor customer experience and lost revenue, you need test infrastructure that can be extended to test applications across different devices, OS, & browsers.

“Opkey” - A better alternative

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