An Introduction to Selenium IDE

Manual testing is both powerful and highly reliable. However, sometimes manual testing can get repetitive and tedious. This is where test automation comes in. Test automation is essentially writing the tests so that they can run independently of the human tester. The results of the tests are then shown in IDE, informing the tester on whether their tests have passed or failed.

Test automation is one of the most powerful and useful testing techniques available to the industry today, but at first glance the different Testing Tools and Frameworks can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there is a testing tool that cuts all the fat out of the Automated Testing Process for webpages. That testing tool is Selenium IDE.

Selenium IDE is super easy to use—even for beginners—while also including the layers of depth that many experienced testers desire. In fact, Selenium has many awesome advantages, but due to its simplistic interface, it’s not necessarily a perfectly well-rounded tool. That’s why it’s important to review what this tool can do before deciding if it’s right for your project.

Advantages

  • Of all the automation tools out there, Selenium IDE is the fastest, with adjustable speed to accommodate the needs of both the tests and the users.
  • Selenium IDE automated tests are easy to write, record, and adjust. The tests have fields where a user can input Selenium IDE-specific commands at any point. These commands are clearly defined and easily researchable.
  • Of all the testing tools, the integrity of Selenium IDE’s test cases and data remains among the most consistent, making Selenium IDE one of the most reliable testing tools one can use.
  • In addition to Selenium IDE writing the tests via its recording software, Selenium IDE also comes with a wide selection of specialized commands that can be manually written into the test in order to adapt to the user’s needs.
  • This tool was designed for repetitive tests that rarely change, such as regression tests. This means that while Selenium IDE is performing these normally labor-intensive tests, your QA team can instead focus on other critical areas that the test can’t pick up, such as the visual aspects of the site. In the long run, Selenium will save you time and resources, and you can expect a higher return on investment.
  • Even if the site itself changes, Selenium IDE won’t: the program uses HTML elements—the bare bones of a webpage—instead of coordinates, which makes it ideal even in testing environments where elements that shift the layout of the page exist. The user doesn’t need to be experienced in HTML either to be proficient in Selenium IDE.
  • Selenium tests are incredibly easy to debug. When bumps in the test occur, the test stops and the offending step is highlighted for the user.
  • Selenium IDE comes with its own Assert and Verify functions. These are the backbone of any automation test because they decide if a test passes or fails, and what to do in the event of a failure.
  • Selenium IDE is free to use, so it’s always a good testing tool just to have around.


Failed Selenium IDE test case

Disadvantages

  • Selenium IDE is a Firefox attachment, which means that it cannot test on any browser other than Firefox.
  • A lot of recording software suffers when dealing with popups and the like, but few more so than Selenium IDE. When using Selenium IDE, it may be advantageous for the user to separate each test case by webpage.
  • Selenium IDE may be too fast in some cases, with the steps running faster than the application being tested can keep up with. Keep an eye out for tests that give a false negative or positive because of this, and adjust the test speed accordingly!
  • Sometimes, Selenium IDE’s recording software will pick up more volatile elements, such as a webpage’s frames rather than its elements. Debugging these either requires re-recording the step or using some knowledge of HTML to rewrite the step manually.
  • Unlike many other testing tools, Selenium IDE cannot do data-driven testing, meaning that Selenium IDE can only use test data that’s been pre-written into a test case. It also cannot read from an XML document or a spreadsheet to supply test data and inputs.

So when should you use Selenium IDE?

  • If you don’t have to test a field for valid and invalid inputs, then you should consider using Selenium IDE before any other testing tool.
  • If you expect to run a test over and over again and want consistent results, you should have at least one Selenium IDE Test Suite handy.
  • If you just want to learn Test Automation, Selenium IDE is always a good place to start! Be sure to research Frameworks alongside the tool to best enhance your knowledge.

Having Selenium IDE on hand is always good, but like all automated tests, it has to be managed in a dynamic and agile environment. Remember to pay attention to both the test itself and the project requirements, and you’ll have streamlined, powerful, easily adjustable, and—most importantly—quick tests in no time.

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