Selenium WebDriver vs. Selenium IDE: Choosing the Right Tool


Selenium is one of the most popular names in the segment of modern application testing tools. Using this automation tool, app developers can verify the proper functioning of all the elements present in modern apps. While using automation testing, the developers can also integrate additional functions like Agile methodologies for improving the synchronization and coordination between the testing and development teams of a company. This process not only helps to speed up the deployment process but also ensures that bugs are detected and removed as soon as they appear in the core frame of the app.

Selenium WebDriver and the Selenium IDE are 2 of the most important components of the entire Selenium test suite. Depending on the requirements of the app developers and the application development project, it is important to choose the correct automation tools that can complement all these factors. So, we are going to explore both of these tools and understand how app developers can make the right choice.

A General Idea of Selenium Automation Testing

Automation Testing is the process of eliminating the involvement of human developers in the application testing process. Instead, the system will use an automation test script to supply all the required data for executing the test cases. However, the developers can make the required changes in this text file to ensure that the results are accurate according to their requirements. The primary goal of these data is to allow the system to emulate human interactions while communicating with the app to verify its usability and stability.

The proper implementation of automation testing can benefit the application testing process in the following ways:

  • It helps to eliminate the manual execution of repetitive test cases. Instead, developers can focus on other creative areas like coming up with new features that can be rolled out in the future update of the app.
  • Since automation test cases are completely controlled by the testing machine, there is no possibility for errors due to human intervention. Moreover, the testing machine can run the test cases 24 hours around the clock even on non-business days which is much beyond the capabilities of human developers.
  • While using automation testing practices, the developers can integrate additional automated testing tools, plugins, libraries, and various dependencies to improve the quality of the app undergoing the development process.
  • Automation testing has a long-term influence on boosting the resource management for the app-developing company. For instance, it eliminates the expenses that are related to maintaining a human testing team.

Coming to Selenium, we can define it as a modern open-source testing suite for verifying the functioning of web apps. Selenium consists of multiple tools that assist the developers at different stages of the development project. Some of the most well-known components of the Selenium testing suite include the Selenium WebDriver, the Selenium development environment, the Selenium grid, and the Selenium client API. The core infrastructure of Selenium works on the JavaScript programming language which makes it very simple for the developers to transition without any learning curve.

A primary drawback of using Selenium is that it is only effective when the application developers are working on web apps. For other alternatives like native apps, cross-platform apps, and others, they will be forced to look for an alternative testing tool or platform.

Exploring The Selenium IDE

The Selenium IDE also known as the Selenium integrated development environment is one of the most important components of the Selenium test suite. Using this tool, the app developers can run the automation test cases in a codeless format. This is because using this tool, the developers only have to interact with the app like a normal user, and based on these interactions, the system will generate the test cases in real-time. It is possible with the help of the record and playback mechanism that is available as a browser extension. Let us consider some of the factors that justify the use of the Selenium IDE:

  • Simple and Easy to Use: It is one of the easiest tools to adopt and start using. Moreover, the integration and configuration process of Selenium IDE is very simple.
  • Quick Prototyping: Since it generates the test cases based on user interactions, they are highly accurate based on the real-world scenario. This process also makes it very easy to generate the test cases and rapid prototyping.

Downsides of the Selenium IDE:

  • Limited Functional Features: All the features available with the Selenium IDE may seem limited when compared to the Selenium WebDriver. This tool is also not suitable when the developers are working on projects with extensive scripting and complex testing structures.
  • Restricted Browser Support: The browser support for the Selenium IDE is very limited and is not suitable for executing cross-browser testing. Cross-browser testing is one of the modern automation testing processes that helps developers guarantee the stability of their app irrespective of changes in operating system, device version, or any other platform parameters.
  • Need for Maintenance: All the test cases generated by the Selenium IDE require a certain level of maintenance. This is because as the web apps continue to change, it can be challenging for the developers to keep up if they are not familiar with the core infrastructure of the app.

Exploring The Selenium WebDriver

The Selenium WebDriver is often considered one of the improved versions of the Selenium remote controller that was previously present in the test suit. With the recent Selenium 4 update, the simplicity and usability of the Selenium WebDriver have further increased. Using this tool, the app testers can automatically analyze the testing parameters and redirect them to the target elements for the execution process. The Selenium WebDriver can also run the test cases in the native environment of a browser without the involvement of any dedicated test engine. Let us consider some of the most important factors that justify the integration of Selenium WebDriver:

  • Ease of Accessibility: It is one of the most flexible tools that can adopt and control the test automation scripts. The testers can write custom codes for handling various scenarios and implementing conditional logic. Using this tool, it is also possible to integrate additional frameworks and testing libraries.
  • Implementation of Cross-Browser Testing: Selenium WebDriver allows the application developers to implement cross-browser testing on all applications. This is possible due to the wide range of browsers that are supported by this tool. Moreover, the developers can use universal test codes that can work on multiple browsers like Chrome, Safari, and even Firefox.
  • Availability of Parallel testing: Using the Selenium WebDriver, the app developers can initiate and execute thousands of different test instances in a parallel format. The advantage of this process is that it allows the execution of various testing configurations on different machines at the same time.
  • Additional Integrations: It is also possible for the developers to integrate the Selenium WebDriver with various popular testing frameworks like TestNG, JUnit, and others. The developers can also use continuous integration with the help of tools like Jenkins.
  • Scope of Scalability: The Selenium WebDriver is considered to be one of the most useful tools when developers are working on large-scale application projects or for complex test cases like end-to-end testing.

Factors for Choosing the Right Automation Tool

Now let us go through some of the most important factors that the developers must consider for choosing between the Selenium WebDriver and the Selenium IDE:

  • In case the testers are new to the market and need a simple way to initiate automation test cases, the Selenium IDE would be the perfect choice for them.
  • While working on complex and robust automation testing projects especially those that require cross-browser testing and other complex test cases, Selenium WebDriver would be the more appropriate choice.
  • Many automation testers prefer to create the perfect balance between the Selenium IDE and the Selenium WebDriver. For instance, they use the IDE for the initial test case creation processes and on basic regression test instances. Then they implement the Selenium WebDriver for working on the complex test cases in the app development project.

LambdaTest as an Automation Tool

Both the Selenium IDE and the Selenium WebDriver can benefit from the integration of a cloud testing platform. This is because, with these platforms, the developers can execute all the Selenium test cases on thousands of different devices using remote servers. LambdaTest is one such platform that also provides an artificial intelligence integrated mechanism for initiating and executing test cases. LambdaTest is an AI-powered test orchestration and test execution platform. 

By integrating the LambdaTest API and the LambdaTest real device testing cloud with the Selenium test cases, the developers can utilize the following benefits:

  • LambdaTest provides native features to initiate parallel testing with the Selenium WebDriver. This process helps boost the efficiency of the test cases by several times.
  • LambdaTest also provides an efficient way of initiating automated browser testing while using the Selenium WebDriver. We have mentioned a sample test code to initiate this process with LambdaTest.
  • The LambdaTest real device testing cloud not only provides thousands of real devices but also legacy hardware and browser combinations. So using these features, the app developers can massively extend the compatibility of their app.
  • Using the LambdaTest API, the app developers can run the Selenium test cases on more than 3000 modern browser instances at the same time.
  • LambdaTest also has elaborate documentation on its official website which consists of sample test cases and uses simple language for explanation. It also has an efficient support system consisting of over-the-call support, a mailing feature, and live chat. All these features allow the developers to gain the required information about various tools, features, and methods. To help the developers and testers collaborate among themselves, LambdaTest also has a dedicated community.
  • After executing the Selenium test cases, LambdaTest will generate a detailed test report that will consist of various vital information like videos, screenshots, and test activity logs that are automatically captured during the execution process. All this data massively helps in the troubleshooting and debugging process later on.
A screenshot of a computer  Description automatically generated

The Conclusive Views

To conclude, we can say that the developers must consider their requirements to choose either the Selenium WebDriver or the Selenium IDE as their automation tool. On the other hand, they always have the option to use both of these tools at the same time and create a balance between efficiency and quality. It is important to constantly monitor the requirements of the target audience to have adequate information for customizing the app and reaching out to a wider audience base. Finally, app developers should constantly gain more information about the revolutionary innovations in the segment of automation testing.

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