What is Selenium WebDriver : Understanding the Basics


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What is Selenium

Selenium encompasses a set of widely employed tools within the testing community, primarily for cross-browser testing. Its scope is confined to browser automation and does not extend to desktop applications. Selenium stands out as a top choice for automating web application testing due to its exceptional compatibility with popular web browsers, rendering it a potent tool.

It boasts compatibility with an array of browsers, including Google Chrome 12+, Internet Explorer 7, 8, 9, 10, Safari 5.1+, Opera 11.5, and Firefox 3+, spanning across various operating systems like Windows, Mac, and Linux/Unix.

Selenium offers versatility by accommodating different programming languages such as C#, Java, JavaScript, Ruby, Python, and PHP. Testers have the freedom to select their preferred language for crafting test cases, reinforcing Selenium’s appeal as a flexible choice.


What is WebDriver in Selenium

Selenium WebDriver serves as a web framework enabling the execution of cross-browser tests. Its primary purpose is automating the testing of web-based applications to ensure they function as intended.

One of its key features is the flexibility to select a programming language for crafting test scripts. In comparison to its predecessor, Selenium RC, WebDriver represents an advancement aimed at addressing several limitations. Notably, it should be noted that Selenium WebDriver lacks the ability to manage window components, but this limitation can be overcome by leveraging additional tools like Sikuli or AutoIT.

Benefits of Selenium WebDriver

Now that we saw what is Selenium WebDriver lets look at it’s benefits:

1. Open Source Nature

One primary advantage of employing Selenium WebDriver for automation testing is its open-source nature. It delivers all the functionalities of QTP, and even more, without any cost. You can easily access it from the official website, and because it relies on a community-driven approach, support for this tool is readily accessible.

2. Versatile Language Compatibility

Selenium WebDriver offers a significant advantage in terms of multilingual support for automation testing. It is compatible with a wide array of programming languages, including Python, PHP, Java, C#, Ruby, JavaScript, and more. While it features a specialized scripting language, it also provides bindings for all major programming languages. This flexibility empowers web developers to work with their language of choice, enhancing their comfort and adaptability.

3. Cross-Platform Compatibility

A noteworthy advantage of Selenium WebDriver for automation testing is its seamless operation across various operating systems, including Linux, UNIX, Mac, and Windows. By harnessing its suite of solutions, you can craft a tailored testing suite that functions on any platform. WebDriver facilitates the creation of test cases on Windows and their execution on Mac, exemplifying its cross-platform versatility.

4. Cross Browser Compatibility Testing

In contrast to its earlier iterations, Selenium WebDriver offers an enhanced array of advantages in the realm of automation testing, particularly in the domain of cross-browser testing. It extends support to a wide spectrum of major browsers, enabling testing on Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, IE, Edge, Yandex, and numerous others. When conducting cross-browser testing for a website, WebDriver serves as an automated and efficient solution.


5. Versatile Frameworks and Language Compatibility

Unlike its previous versions, Selenium WebDriver provides an extended range of benefits in the automation testing landscape, especially in the context of cross-browser testing. It caters to a broad selection of prominent browsers, allowing testing across Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, IE, Edge, Yandex, and many more. When engaged in cross-browser testing for a website, WebDriver serves as an automated and highly effective solution.

6. Versatility in Cross-Device Testing

Another significant advantage of utilizing Selenium WebDriver for automation testing is its capability to support multiple devices. It enables the creation of automated test cases for assessing performance on a range of devices, including iPhones, Blackberry, and Android, effectively tackling cross-device compatibility challenges.

7. Community-Driven Assistance

Selenium relies heavily on a community-based support system, ensuring continuous improvements and updates. These updates are readily accessible without the need for specialized training. This aspect renders Selenium WebDriver both cost-effective and a valuable resource.

8. User-Friendly Implementation

The ease of use is a highly lauded feature of Selenium WebDriver in automation testing. As an open-source tool, it permits users to script their own extensions, enabling the creation of customized actions that can be further fine-tuned as users advance to higher skill levels.

9. Extensions and Reusable Scripts

Selenium WebDriver scripts are designed to accommodate browser compatibility testing, allowing testers to conduct a wide range of testing scenarios. This comprehensive approach encompasses all facets of functionality testing. The ability to customize extensions further broadens the application testing scope, exemplifying the valuable advantages of automation testing with Selenium WebDriver.

10. Mouse and Keyboard Emulation

A key attribute of WebDriver is its ability to replicate real user interactions, effectively managing mouse and keyboard events. Within the API, the Advanced User Interactions feature includes the essential action classes for executing these events. This capability extends beyond basic functions like mouse clicks and keypresses to encompass more intricate actions such as drag and drop, click-and-hold, and multi-item selection, among others.

11. Harnessing Code Integration

Automation testing with Selenium WebDriver offers the valuable benefit of expediting test cycles through code integration. Testers can tap into the same programming language used by developers. For instance, when verifying a date field updated in the database, testers can directly access the application’s data model instead of navigating to another page for an indirect check. This streamlines the automation of data flow, simplifying the process.

12. No Need for Server Startup

One significant advantage of automation testing with Selenium WebDriver is the absence of a prerequisite server startup. The commands coded are directly interpreted as web services, and the remote driver receives these commands via HTTP requests, allowing them to be executed in the browser and subsequently generating responses.

13. Sophisticated Browser Manipulation

Selenium WebDriver empowers you to simulate advanced interactions, including the ability to navigate the browser’s back and forward buttons. Such capabilities are not readily available in open-source tools for automated testing. This proves particularly valuable for testing fintech applications related to online money transfers or banking, where cookies and cache are not stored.


How Selenium WebDriver works

In the preceding section, we delved into the architecture of Selenium. Now, let’s explore the underlying mechanics of how communication unfolds behind the scenes. The diagram below offers a visual representation of the actual workflow.

When a user creates and runs WebDriver code in Selenium, the following sequence of actions occurs in the background:

  1. An HTTP request is generated and directed to the respective browser driver (e.g., Chrome, IE, Firefox). Each Selenium command triggers an individual request.
  2. The browser driver receives these requests through an HTTP server.
  3. The HTTP server determines which actions or instructions need to be executed in the browser.
  4. The browser carries out the designated instructions and steps as determined in the previous step.
  5. The HTTP server subsequently receives the execution status and relays this status back to the automation script. The script then presents the outcome, indicating whether it passed, encountered an exception, or resulted in an error.

How to Use Selenium WebDriver

WebDriver offers a user-friendly and convenient way to automate tasks across different web browsers. It provides support for major browser vendors, simplifying the process of setting up Selenium for automation. In Selenium test scripts, there are typically seven common steps applicable to all test cases and applications under test (AUT). These steps include:

1. Instantiate a WebDriver tailored to the chosen browser, like this example for Firefox:

import org.openqa.selenium.WebDriver;

import org.openqa.selenium.firefox.FirefoxDriver;

WebDriver driver = new FirefoxDriver();

These steps are consistent and can be used across various scenarios and applications.

2. Access the target web page for automation by using a command like this:

For instance, to go to “https://demoqa.com/text-box,” you can employ the following code:


3. Identify an HTML element within the web page:

To interact with a web page, it’s essential to pinpoint the HTML elements on the page. You can employ any of the element locator methods discussed in “Selenium Locators.” For instance, if you’re looking to access the “Full Name” text box, you can use the following code:

import org.openqa.selenium.By;

import org.openqa.selenium.WebElement;

WebElement usernameElement = driver.findElement(By.id(“userName”));

4. Perform an action on an HTML element:

Interact with an HTML element by executing specific actions. This might involve inputting text using the “SendKeys” method or clicking the element if it’s a button. For instance, if you need to enter a name into the identified text box, you can utilize the following command:

usernameElement.sendKeys(“Ravinder Singh”);

5. Run tests and record test results using a test framework:

After completing these steps, you’ve effectively utilized WebDriver to locate and execute the necessary actions within the web application. Depending on the specific browser you intend to test your application on, you can employ the corresponding WebDriver for that purpose.

Here is a list of various browsers and their respective browser drivers:

Chrome Driver, Internet Explorer Driver, Opera Driver, Gecko Driver, etc.

Microsoft recently transitioned their Edge browser to the Chromium platform, which is the foundation for Chrome. As a result, ChromeDriver can now be used to support Microsoft Edge Chromium as well.


How to Learn Selenium WebDriver

You can always opt for the Certification Program in Software Testing from EduBridge where you will learn to automate web applications by installing and utilizing Selenium WebDriver or you can even opt for the Advanced Certification Program in Software Testing in collaboration with IBM from EduBridge a comprehensive software testing course that covers all the tools and techniques you’ll need, from scratch to mastery with practical business assignments, to be industry-ready.


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