Selenium vs. Codeless Automation: Which is Right for Me?
In part two of our codeless automation testing blog series, we dive into Selenium and codeless automation testing, underpinning which technique is best for DevOps teams. While Selenium automation testing has been the de facto choice for web testing, it is notoriously complex and can only be performed by a developer.
Codeless automation, meanwhile, is growing in popularity amongst business testers with varying levels of coding skills as well as developers who are focusing more on reducing time in test creation and maintenance to increase software release velocity. So which approach is best for your team?
Let’s explore the answer to this question as it relates to test authoring and skillset; test execution and maintenance; and tool maturity of both test solutions.
Test Authoring and Skillset
Developers who run Selenium automation testing must have superior coding and code development skills. Because these tests typically take longer to develop than standard tests — about six hours per test — and are more complex, developers need to have a more advanced skills set. Typical test authoring that is performed with Selenium automation testing includes:
- Defining manual test scenarios and user story styles.
- Creating scripts in Java/JS from within IDEs (IntelliJ, Eclipse).
- Define Objects using Object Spy tools, DOM viewers, and more.
- Page-based test step creation.
- Inserting visual validations and assertions.
In contrast, teams of all skill levels can perform codeless automation testing. Test reusability is simpler with codeless automation testing, meaning team members do not need to continuously write new test scripts for different scenarios.
What’s more, test scenarios are typically less structured and more exploratory based, and the time to author is much shorter. Whereas tests can take up to six hours with Selenium automation testing, with codeless automation testing, it takes about an hour on average per test.
For QA teams, codeless cross-browser testing takes the complexity out of writing test scripts, so they can create and execute fully-automated test scenarios without coding. For developers, codeless automation testing makes test creation and execution substantially faster — even for the most complicated test scripts — allowing developers to save time and focus on product development and innovation.
Test Execution and Maintenance
When conducting Selenium automation testing, execution is either done locally via continuous integration (CI) or through CI in a cloud-based environment. The environment is configured using tools like TestNG Data Provider. Tests are also managed and maintained in a SCM tool such as GIT or Perforce, and any changes to the tests need to be done manually as the website changes.
Similar to Selenium automation testing, codeless automation testing can be done locally via CI or through a cloud-based solution. However, a stark difference between Selenium and codeless automation testing is how tests are maintained and managed.
A key benefit of codeless automation testing solutions is that the tools support self-healing. This means updates and changes to test scripts are made agonistically. Scripts can continuously run and fix themselves without disrupting operations.
Codeless Selenium tools are able to learn the website DOM object tree, meaning any changes to objects are caught by the tool and can be resolved in the background without impacting ongoing and scheduled test execution.
Because Selenium testing has been in the market for over 10 years, the tools needed to carry out such testing are highly mature. Solutions typically include samples and have a standard set of best practices and a means of documentation.
In contrast, we find that codeless automation testing tools are less mature since they are quite new in the market. However, these tools are powered by emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. It is these capabilities that make it possible for Perfecto Codeless to automatically self-correct errors in code and complement testing areas, where Selenium would either require longer time to address the error, or cannot deal with it.
Today, codeless automation testing solutions for web testing are much more mature and developed when compared with codeless solutions for mobile testing. While we are only seeing basic integrations for mobile testing, we expect this to change in the coming years as solutions continue to evolve.
Both solutions offer different advantages to developers. When determining which solution to use, it’s important to consider the skillset of the team running the tests and the end goal.
Codeless Selenium offers a great opportunity for both business testers and developers to close test automation coverage gaps and complement the Selenium test code that is already in place.
To be successful in adopting codeless and embedding it into the DevOps pipeline testing activities, teams ought to identify the right test flow candidates that can be done via codeless, ensuring that they are stable and that they do not duplicate existing Selenium code. They also need to be sure to include them in the existing CI/CD activities.
In addition, organizations should remember that codeless automation testing will never completely replace all manual testing. There are always going to be some tests that need the “human touch,” or to be monitored much more closely. It is the combination of code and codeless tests that will ultimately result in teams achieving success and meeting velocity goals.