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What is Selenium WebDriver and how can it be used?

Selenium Webdriver-ACCELQ
Posted On: 12 January 2024

Selenium is a powerful platform to help control web browsers and it functions across browsers, major operating systems. It has scripts that are written in Python, Java, C#, etc. and has four components Selenium IDE, Selenium RC, Selenium Web driver, and Selenium GRID. Selenium Framework is an open-source tool used to automate web applications across various browsers and platforms. It helps create automated test cases; the components used are Selenium IDE for recording user interactions, and Selenium WebDriver for executing tests.

The following blog will explore aspects of what is Selenium WebDriver, its use cases, challenges, and best practices. We will go on to also explain how ACCELQ can help test automation more approachable and effective.

What is Selenium WebDriver?

The core of Selenium uses browser automation APIs provided by browser vendors to handle the browser and run tests. It is as if a real user is operating the browser and since it does not need its API to be compiled along with the application code, it is not invasive. Selenium WebDriver allows cross-browser compatibility testing and controls the browsers by directly communicating with them.

  • It supports almost all programming languages that include Java, Python, C#, Perl, Ruby, and PHP.
  • Selenium WebDriver supports operating systems:  Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Solaris.
  • It supports the browsers Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge.
  • It permits you to execute cross-browser tests.

How does Selenium WebDriver work?

Selenium WebDriver acts like a mediator and allows the code to communicate with different browser drivers. When Selenium is used to run tests, the test cases are created using element locators which are located using a Selenium element locator technique. Then using Selenium WebDriver actions can be performed on those elements. In a nutshell Selenium WebDriver works in three steps:

  • Test commands are converted into an HTTP request by the JSON wire protocol.
  • Before executing any test cases, every browser has its own driver, which initializes the server.
  • The browser then starts receiving the request through its driver.

Reasons to switch from
Selenium to continuous testing

How does Selenium WebDriver work?

1. Java

import org.openqa.selenium.WebDriver; 

import org.openqa.selenium.chrome.ChromeDriver; 

import org.openqa.selenium.By; 

 

public class SeleniumTest { 

    public static void main(String[] args) { 

        // Set the path of the Chrome driver executable 

        System.setProperty("webdriver.chrome.driver", "path/to/chromedriver"); 

 

        // Initialize a Chrome browser instance 

        WebDriver driver = new ChromeDriver(); 

 

        // Navigate to a web page 

        driver.get("https://www.example.com"); 

 

        // Perform actions (e.g., click a button, enter text) 

        driver.findElement(By.id("some-id")).sendKeys("Some text"); 

 

        // Close the browser 

        driver.quit(); 

    } 

} 

2. Python

from selenium import webdriver 

from selenium.webdriver.common.keys import Keys 

 

# Set the path of the Chrome driver executable 

driver = webdriver.Chrome(executable_path='path/to/chromedriver') 

 

# Navigate to a web page 

driver.get("http://www.example.com") 

 

# Perform actions 

elem = driver.find_element_by_name("q") 

elem.clear() 

elem.send_keys("pycon") 

elem.send_keys(Keys.RETURN) 

 

# Close the browser 

driver.close() 

3. C#

using OpenQA.Selenium; 

using OpenQA.Selenium.Chrome; 

 

class SeleniumTest { 

    static void Main() { 

        // Set the path of the Chrome driver executable 

        IWebDriver driver = new ChromeDriver("path/to/chromedriver"); 

 

        // Navigate to a web page 

        driver.Navigate().GoToUrl("http://www.example.com"); 

 

        // Perform actions 

        IWebElement query = driver.FindElement(By.Name("q")); 

        query.SendKeys("Selenium"); 

        query.Submit(); 

 

        // Close the browser 

        driver.Quit(); 

    } 

}  

4. Ruby

equire 'selenium-webdriver' 

 

# Set the path of the Chrome driver executable 

driver = Selenium::WebDriver.for :chrome, driver_path: 'path/to/chromedriver' 

 

# Navigate to a web page 

driver.navigate.to "http://www.example.com" 

 

# Perform actions 

element = driver.find_element(name: 'q') 

element.send_keys "Hello WebDriver!" 

element.submit 

 

# Close the browser 

driver.quit 

The above are few examples that provide some basic structure for Selenium WebDriver tests. These will vary depending on the complexity of the web application and the test requirements. In such cases there are maybe a need to use more advanced features like handling dropdowns, checkboxes, alerts, frames, and executing JavaScript.

Challenges of Selenium WebDriver

No support for testing Window/Desktop applications

Selenium WebDriver only supports the automation of web-based applications. It’s not compatible with the automation of Windows/Desktop applications.

OS-based pop-ups

Operating system-based alerts are above Selenium WebDriver’s capabilities since those pop-ups are part of the operating system instead of the browser. Nevertheless, since Selenium WebDriver can run multiple windows, web-based alerts are usually controlled with the “switchTo” method to prevent the pop-up while maintaining the browser in the background.

Handling dynamic Elements

Dynamic element locators and can be tricky in UI test automation; say the identifiers for a particular element are different each time the page is loaded. Here Selenium WebDriver can use functions like starts-with, contains, ends with, etc., to handle dynamic web elements. But this can also fail, and it is harder for Test Automation Engineers to maintain Test scripts with dynamic locators; some Testing tools implement AI to identify these dynamic locators to avoid flakiness.

API Testing

For a UI or custom framework built around Selenium, it is easy to extend that framework to include API testing. Still, a different tool or library will be required for that, and that’s another limitation of using Selenium WebDriver (One of those libraries is Rest-assured).

No Visual Testing

A different tool or library to incorporate Visual Testing is required (One of those libraries is BackstopJS) and it is needed to integrate Selenium with Sikuli for image testing.

Maintenance, scalability, and expertise

Selenium requires expertise of the team and the required resources to manage. Selenium is a maintenance-heavy framework and is difficult to scale as one grows.

No support for REST and SOAP Platforms

Automation tests on web services like SOAP or REST using Selenium cannot be usually performed.

No Reporting capability 

Selenium does not have built-in reporting capability; resources must rely on plug-ins like JUnit and TestNG for test reports.

ACCELQ and Selenium WebDriver

Selenium WebDriver doesn’t have a built-in command for automating test results and hence it also becomes difficult to understand how many of tests have failed.

Selenium WebDriver may be simpler than previous versions in Selenium, but it is still time-consuming and requires coding. QA teams end up relying on developers who know how to use Selenium but aren’t necessarily familiar with business processes. While it takes time to set up and maintain, and it also requires third-party integrations to carry other testing processes. The alternative is to which to codeless Selenium solutions that make the build and maintenance of Selenium much simpler.

ACCELQ is a new generation test automation platform built on lean architecture principles. Its natural language-based interface allows non-technical people to implement stable automation and embeds best practices without custom frameworks and advanced coding skills. Supported by a stable runtime core behind the scenes, ACCELQ enables the entire QA lifecycle, including test planning, design, test development, and test execution.

Universe QBank

Compared to Selenium-based automation, ACCELQ accelerates test automation by a factor of 3X and substantially cuts down the maintenance cost involved in managing automated test assets.

The ACCELQ platform

  • Removes the complexities of frameworks/libraries and enable Test automation for all.
  • Ensures Business process-driven design aligns with App Universe and optimal test coverage.
  • Comes with Codeless natural English language Automation, built-in with modularity, reusability, and best practices.
  • Can execute on any browser, OS, grid, or cloud-based perspective.
  • Handles Test case management, business requirement mapping, and support for multiple sources (ALM, Jira, etc.)
  • Everything is in the same end-to-end flow, UI, API, CI, Test cases integration.

It is imperative to make the Test Automation process accessible to the whole team and stakeholders to sustain this momentum. A  no-code/low-code automation testing tool is handy and enables faster software testing results on development solutions and solves the above problem. Talk to us to find out more.

Enrique DeCoss

Senior Quality Assurance Manager | FICO

Enrique is an industry leader in quality strategy with 17+ of experience implementing automation tools. Enrique has a strong background in web Tools, API testing strategies, performance testing, Linux OS and testing techniques. Enrique loves to share his in-depth knowledge in competencies including, Selenium, JavaScript, Python, ML testing tools, cloud computing, agile methodologies, and people Management.

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