A Detailed Guide on Selenium Test Automation

Rini Dantes Mar 12 - 6 min read

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When Jason Huggins built Selenium, you could say he knew the woes of the testing community too well.

When working at ThoughtWorks, Jason was working on a web application that required frequent testing. Tired of repetitive and inefficiency of manual testing required, he developed a preliminary version of Selenium, the “JavaScriptTestRunner”.

Ancient and knotted testing methods of the past mostly antagonized testers who presumed their primary task was to identify the shortcomings of the application. Instead, all they got was testing codes that found flaws in their codes, rather than real-life deliverability of application. There was ‘Astra Quick Test’ just before Selenium, and that did soothe the testers initially, but not completely. It was only after Selenium entered the Test Scene that testers knew what they were missing.

More than a decade later, Selenium continues to hold its ground and is highly relevant. The testing process has evolved at an enormous rate with Agile, DevOps, Codeless, and yet Selenium is the go-to for automated testing. What exactly is Selenium? How does it stay relevant despite the evolution and revolution in testing? Lastly, is it really immaculate and irreplaceable? In this blog, we will look at Selenium and its benefits and challenges, the aspects that make it probably the most popular test automation tool ever.

What is Selenium?

Selenium is basically an open-source test automation framework. It assists in validating web applications across a host of browsers, devices, and platforms. Probably the most beautiful thing about Selenium is its language compatibility. Java, C#, Ruby, Python, and literally every widely used language is readily supported in Selenium. Selenium is an amalgamation of several components that assist web application testing in peculiar ways. Let’s take a look at them:

a. Selenium IDE: Selenium IDE is a complete integrated development environment (IDE) for Selenium tests. It allows recording, editing, and debugging of functional tests and is used as a Chrome Extension and as a Firefox Add-On. It was previously known as Selenium Recorder.

b. Selenium Remote Control: Selenium RC enables writing automated tests for a web application in any programming language. This, in turn, allows for better integration of Selenium in existing unit test frameworks.

c. Selenium WebDriver: A successor to Selenium RC, Selenium WebDriver accepts commands (sent in Selenium language, or via a Client API) and pushes them to a browser. It can be implemented through a browser-specific browser driver, which recovers results by sending commands to the browser.

d. Selenium client API: Tests in Selenium are generally written in Selenese, its domain-specific language. However, tests can also be written in other programming languages- which then communicate with the framework through Selenium client API.

e. Selenium Grid: Selenium grid enlists a server as a hub – which can be accessed by tests to connect with browser instances.

Pros and Cons of Selenium

Now that we know what Selenium is, let us take a look at what are the benefits and challenges that you could encounter when working with Selenium.


1. Open Source

Selenium started as an open source tool- and that has been one the reasons of its popularity. It’s wide availability encouraged testers to participate and make Selenium their own, and transform it into the robust framework that it is. The widely available automation testing framework also allows you to modify code to enhance existing functionality and for better code management. Thanks to the smooth process of generating test scripts, Selenium is one of the most reliable web automation tools.

2. Programming Language Flexibility

Learning a new language from scratch is not always a feasible option for testers and programmers- instead, it is always preferred to use a framework that supports their choice of language. Selenium, with its extensive language support functionality, ensures that programmers don’t have to worry about language. You can write your codes in your language of choice, and Selenium converts into Selenium compatible language. As simple as that!

3. Faster Go-to-Market

The selenium universe has been following DevOps and Agile concepts much before they were coined. The ease of use and flexibility of Selenium ensures that testers are hands-on without any deliberation. You can just as easily integrate other existing frameworks like SauceLabs, Jenkins, Maven, TestNG with Selenium, without halting the development process. Developers can receive instant feedback through parallel testing in Selenium Grid, which means that they can ensure continuous delivery. All these mechanisms, in a larger picture, means that the Selenium paces product testing and delivery and reduces the development cycle to a significant degree.

4. Selenium Community

The Selenium open source community is nothing short of fans who absolutely love this product they have created. While there are tools with similar features, Selenium’s open source characteristic makes it stand out. Being open source, it is constantly evolving and releasing upgrades. As with any open source community, the updates are readily available and you don’t have to undergo intensive training to make use of them. The very flexible framework and its dynamic community have attracted the likes of tech giants like ThoughtWorks, Google, Mozilla, LinkedIn, Hubspot, Inuit, Fitbit, and Yammer among many others to use and participate in its advancement.


1. Need pre-existing expertise

Some dependent frameworks of Selenium like Protractor need significant technical knowledge and skills to operate. While using Selenium is easy, the teams must be experienced in Selenium framework architecture for its optimum usage.

2. Lack of reporting

Software testing thrives on the capacity to assess, report and implement vital information and remedies. As Selenium does not support reporting out of the box, other tools must be leveraged to accommodate reporting.

3. Lack of technical support

As an open source framework, Selenium lacks technical support. While the community can support your queries with custom solutions, it is often by contributors and not product creators.



In a recent report, Gartner predicted that by 2022, 90% of enterprises will be expending open source test automation tools for agile and DevOps—however, 50% of them will struggle with the skills, efficiency, and culture required to succeed with them. Even though open source test tools are “free”, the failure to stabilize then in a predefined quality approach can be overreached. As Gartner mentions, “Ad hoc adoption without adequate planning may lead to a lack of success, higher maintenance costs and a fragmented toolset.”

If yours is one of those organizations that wish to adopt Selenium but are apprehensive about repercussions, we can help. Our testing and QA prowess makes us of the most stable and reliable Testing and QA Automation partner for many of our clients. Talk to our QA Automation Architects today.


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