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An Introduction to Selenium – A set of Tools

Last updated on August 29th, 2020 at 01:10 am

Need For Test Automation

Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is a process of planning, creating, testing, and deploying software. We have many SDLC models available. For example:- Waterfall model, Iterative model, V&V model, etc. Please note these are traditional SDLC models that are time-consuming, less dynamic, and cost-ineffective. So, maximum software companies are adopting the latest SDLC model called Agile methodology. Agile methodology advocates adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, and continuous improvement, and it encourages rapid and flexible response to change. You can read more about Agile here.

In short, we get many continuous builds frequently with new features and bug fixes. Every time we need to re-run old test cases manually (Which is called Regression and Sanity testing) to check whether old functionalities are working fine or not and new functionalities and enhancements have not broken old functionalities. It takes a lot of time and effort and may delay product go-live date.

Re-running all test cases repeatedly manually is not feasible now. We need frequent and early testing to get early feedback to make the application more robust. We need something which can help to expedite testing and get quick feedback and take complete advantages of Agile methodologies frameworks.

Test automation comes in to picture here. We can automate those regression suites and can run whenever we get a new build. It will save time, money, and resources. Here I am not just talking about front end automation. It can be backend i.e. APIs automation. In fact, APIs automation is more in demand than front end automation.

There was a time when automation was preferred only when the software is well stable and just to reduce the regression effort required for the health checking of application. Not all test cases or scenarios used to be automated. But now things have been changed and automation can be started from the very first day of the application building process. In Agile, many organizations prefer automation in the same sprint or N-1 sprint.

Types of applications

  1. Desktop applications
  2. Web applications

Definition of desktop applications:

A desktop application is a computer program that runs locally on a computer device, such as a desktop or laptop. Desktop applications have traditionally been limited by the hardware on which they are run. They must be developed and installed on a particular operating system and may have strict hardware requirements that must be met to ensure that they function correctly.

Definition of web application:

Applications that are accessed using browsers such as Chrome, Firefox etc. are called web applications. The Internet may not be mandatory. Some web applications are Flipkart, Facebook, Gmail, etc. To access these applications, we need a browser. To automate the front end of a web application, we can use a test automation tool called SELENIUM. There are many other automation tools are available in the market like Protractor, TestComplete, UFT, Cypress, Test Project, etc. In this post, we will be focusing on the Selenium tool.

Any application will have three layers commonly. Front End, Middleware, and Back End. Selenium helps in automating Front End only. Selenium is a suite of tools for automating web browsers. I see many people ask that if we can automate API or Database using Selenium. The Answer is No. Selenium can automate only Front End or User Interface (UI) or we can say the part of the application that requires a browser.

Selenium

  • Selenium was created by Jason Huggins in 2004 who is an engineer at ThoughtWorks.
  • Selenium automates browsers. These three words define selenium well.
  • Selenium’s official website says:- Primarily, it is for automating web applications for testing purposes, but is certainly not limited to just that. Boring web-based administration tasks can (and should!) be automated as well.
  • Selenium has the support of some of the largest browser vendors who have taken (or are taking) steps to make Selenium a native part of their browser. It is also the core technology in countless other browser automation tools, APIs, and frameworks.
  • Selenium is a set of different software tools each with a different approach to supporting test automation.
  • Selenium is a free or open-source automation testing suite that is used to automate web applications across different browsers (Chrome, Firefox, IE, Opera, Safari, etc.) and platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac, etc.).
  • Selenium source code is available publicly for use or modification by the community and there is no fee of using this software.

Selenium is a suite because it is not a single tool. It has major 4 tools, so we are referring to it as a suite. It consists of:

  1. Selenium Integrated Development Environment (IDE)
  2. Selenium Remote Control (RC)
  3. Selenium Webdriver
  4. Selenium Grid

Selenium 1 is referred to as Selenium RC. In 2008, selenium RC and selenium Webdriver are merged which was named Selenium 2. Selenium WebDriver and Selenium Grid have mostly used tools as of now. Selenium IDE is a record and play test automation tool which is almost dead. But recently a new version of Selenium IDE has been launched. In this post, we will be focusing more on Selenium WebDriver. Selenium 4 is also launched.

Selenium WebDriver:

  • Selenium WebDriver is the successor of Selenium Remote Control which has been officially deprecated.
  • WebDriver API was integrated with Selenium 2.0 as a new feature. WebDriver API was developed to address the limitations of Selenium – RC.
  • Unlike Selenium – RC, Selenium-WebDriver makes direct calls to the browser using each browser’s native support for automation. This is the reason we have a driver class for each browser. E.g ChromeDriver, EdgeDriver etc.
  • Selenium has the support of some of the largest browser vendors who have taken (or are taking) steps to make Selenium a native part of their browser. It is also the core technology in countless other browser automation tools, APIs, and frameworks.
  • If you want to create robust, browser-based regression automation suites and tests, scale and distribute scripts across many environments, we should use Selenium WebDriver.

Programming Languages supported by Selenium WebDriver

  1. Java
  2. C#
  3. PHP
  4. Perl
  5. Ruby
  6. Python
  7. JavaScript
  8. Objective-C
  9. R

Browsers supported by Selenium WebDriver

  1. Firefox
  2. Chrome
  3. IE
  4. Edge
  5. Safari
  6. Opera
  7. Safari

Platforms supported by Selenium WebDriver

  1. Microsoft Windows
  2. Apple OS X
  3. Linux

You can refer here for detailed information about supported platform by Selenium.

If you have any doubt, feel free to comment below.
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Find all Selenium related posts here, all API manual and automation related posts here, and find frequently asked Java Programs here.

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Author: Amod Mahajan

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An Introduction to Selenium – A set of Tools

by Amod Mahajan time to read: 4 min
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