Selenium Review: Mastering Web and Browsing Automation


Selenium is a collection of instruments designed to automate web browsers. The origins of Selenium trace back to 2004 at ThoughtWorks in Chicago. Jason Huggins initiated the development of the Core mode known as “JavaScriptTestRunner.”

This creation aimed to test an internal time and expense application (constructed using Python and Plone). The concept of automated testing for various applications was integral to ThoughtWorks’ approach, aligning with their Agile principles.

Jason Huggins received assistance from Paul Gross and Jie Tina Wang during this project, which was part of their daily work routine.

During the past ten years, a substantial network of open-source initiatives has emerged in connection with Selenium.

This article endeavors to outline a selection of these projects that incorporate Selenium WebDriver as a fundamental element of their operations.

Selenium’s versatility allows for various forms of expansion. Presented here are several drivers, interfaces, add-ons, and structures produced and upheld by external entities.


A. Selenium WebDriver

Selenium WebDriver operates a web browser like an actual user, whether on local machines or remote systems.

a. Clear and succinct

WebDriver boasts simplicity, presenting a concise and streamlined programming interface.

b. Compatibility across leading browsers

With a straightforward setup process, WebDriver seamlessly integrates with all major browsers. It facilitates the automation of genuine user interactions within Firefox, Safari, Edge, Chrome, Internet Explorer, and more.

Selenium WebDriver encompasses both the language bindings and the implementations of browser-specific control code.

c. WebDriver holds the status of a W3C Recommendation!

The W3C is an international collaborative that strives to formulate Web standards. In June 2018, WebDriver attained the status of a W3C recommendation.

Significant browser providers (Mozilla, Google, Apple, and Microsoft) endorse WebDriver and continually enhance both browsers and their control codes.

This results in more consistent behavior across diverse browsers, thereby enhancing the stability of your automation scripts.

B. Selenium IDE

Selenium IDE serves as a browser extension compatible with Chrome, Firefox, and Edge, facilitating the effortless recording and playback of browser tests.

a. Browser-Compatible

A straightforward and ready-to-use solution for efficiently creating dependable end-to-end tests. It is instantly functional for any web application.

b. Simplified Troubleshooting

Enhanced test debugging is made possible through a range of IDE features, including the ability to set breakpoints and pause upon encountering exceptions.

c. Multi-Browser Execution

Leverage the Command-line Runner for Selenium IDE to concurrently execute your tests on various browser and operating system combinations. This enables parallel testing across different platforms.

C. Selenium Grid

Selenium Grid elevates the capabilities of WebDriver by enabling the simultaneous execution of tests on multiple machines, leading to a reduction in the testing duration across various browsers and operating systems.

a. Diverse Browser Options and Operating Systems

Grid empowers you to execute your automation scripts across a myriad of combinations encompassing browsers, versions, and operating systems.

b. Enhanced Execution Efficiency

Accelerate the execution process and effectively minimize the overall runtime of your automation scripts. Parallel execution requires scripts designed to run concurrently.

Tools, Techniques, and Decision-Making

One of the fundamental insights recognized early in the Selenium project was that developers prefer coding in diverse languages. Some gravitate towards JavaScript, others towards Ruby, while others lean towards C# or Java.

Numerous components are intended for sharing among the various language bindings. These include “atoms,” reusable JavaScript segments responsible for common functions like “isDisplayed” or “getAttribute.” The goal is to ensure consistent functionality across different preferred coding languages.

The collaborative approach includes elements like CDP support and the Rust-coded Selenium Manager, bundled with language bindings.

  • The process of converting source code and other elements into distributed artifacts, like the Selenium Server or language bindings, is called “build.”
  • Build tools exist, such as Gradle, NPM, and CMake, each tailored to specific programming languages.

The challenge becomes apparent within the Selenium codebase, which spans multiple programming languages. It necessitates a unified build tool capable of seamlessly integrating various languages into a cohesive whole. Selenium JAR files encompass a considerable amount of JavaScript, a trait also observed in Ruby gems.

This is where Bazel enters the picture. Originally developed by Google and now an open-source tool widely adopted, Bazel offers a solution. Bazel comes with certain limitations, but developers can extend it effectively using “rulesets” that align with the needs of projects like Selenium.

Bazel represents a new breed of build tools that emphasize the interrelationships between different components of the build process.

Imagine a directed acyclic graph: nodes represent build elements (Selenium Manager, atoms, JAR files), connected by lines to show dependencies.

A notable aspect of these graphs is their ability to identify which parts of the build can run in parallel.

  • Bazel enforces a meticulous list of dependencies for each component in the build. This simplifies the onboarding process for new developers as Bazel automates the acquisition of necessary components.
  • This convenience extends to existing developers, who no longer need to configure unfamiliar toolchains—running the build suffices.
  • Leveraging the “build graph,” Bazel discerns the interdependencies between sections of the Selenium source code, facilitating intelligent test execution.
  • Bazel identifies the specific tests affected by the alterations, saving time and resources.

The advantage of this comprehensive build description is the ability to distribute builds across various machines. Partnering with EngFlow to harness their build grid, we’re able to enable rapid simultaneous builds on a larger scale.

Selenium is embracing Bazel for its language versatility, streamlined environment setup, efficient builds, and potential to use external grids for faster results.

Selenium Reviews

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2. Gartner

Final Thoughts

In the realm of web and browsing automation, the journey through Selenium’s capabilities has been enlightening. From WebDriver’s versatile adaptability across languages and browsers to the user-friendly Selenium IDE and the revolutionary Selenium Grid, the tools showcased here offer unprecedented efficiency in testing.

The exploration of Selenium’s construction process revealed the strategic decision-making behind its multi-language support. Bazel’s emergence as a modern building tool encapsulated the project’s commitment to efficiency and flexibility.

Selenium’s impact extends far beyond lines of code. It empowers developers to navigate the complexities of web automation with precision and ease.

With this mastery, the world of automated testing becomes more accessible, efficient, and responsive to the ever-evolving digital landscape. As we embrace Selenium’s capabilities, we embrace a future of seamless, reliable, and accelerated web automation.