Testing a web app and ensuring that it is functioning according to the user’s needs is essential. Test automation is crucial in application development to deliver a high-end user experience in a shorter release cycle. To test the web apps there are a lot of Test Automation frameworks available in the market to name a few among the big names Playwright, Cypress, Puppeteer, and Selenium.
Hence choosing the right one to meet all the testing requirements is critical. Different automation tools have different characteristics and each can be used for different testing purposes and goals.
To help you identify among so many frameworks when to choose which? We will be discussing here four popular automation frameworks individually with their special characteristics. Then we will compare them based on their various features and also their limitations. This will help you to choose which one would be a more appropriate fit for your needs.
It is also to keep in mind that just one tool cannot be the best or better than the other. It totally depends on the need and characteristics of the application to be tested. Comparing tools make it clear to mark the things in common and also the differences that make them on their own track.
Let’s discuss in detail what these two tools are. We will first start with Selenium as it is the most widely used framework with rich features and multiple language support. Then comes the newest tool that is Cypress which takes the lead in test automation for a lot of good reasons. Then is the Playwright and lastly Puppeteer.
What is Selenium?
Selenium frequently releases its advanced features to offer the most up-to-date capabilities to its users. It consists of three primary components:
- WebDriver- For executing cross-browser testing.
- Grid- For distributing test workloads over different environments for running multiple tests simultaneously.
- IDE- For recording and replaying test cases.
These three components together make Selenium a complete toolset for any test automation need, say advanced user input simulation distributing the workload.
The Selenium WebDriver sends commands in various development languages from the test environment (IDEs) to a selected desktop browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari).
Benefits of using Selenium Test Automation Framework
- Selenium can directly interact with supported browsers using each browser’s native support for automation.
- Selenium offers Support for all major operating systems and mobile platforms.
- Selenium can be integrated with many third-party tools and platforms to enhance or extend automation functionality.
- Using Selenium with a cloud-based platform you can also perform parallel testing to cut down on testing time, where you can get access to thousands of browsers.
Shortcomings of Selenium
Even by providing ease-of-use, and all the advanced features and functionalities Selenium lacks in some. This is not a perfect tool for all cases. It does have its limitations, which include:
- Lack of built-in commands for automating test result generation.
- complexity in page load or element load handling.
- Lacks image testing support.
- The process of creating a test script is time taking.
- Setting up the test environment is complex as compared to Cypress.
What is Cypress Framework
It is also used for end-to-end testing. It is a developer-friendly tool specially designed to meet the front-end developer’s needs and enables them to create their own test cases for web test automation. Using Cypress, developers can build, Unit tests, integration tests, and end-to-end tests
Cypress also provides a unique interactive test runner that makes Cypress testing even more interesting. It executes all commands and directly operates in the browser without needing separate browser-specific drivers.
Benefits of using Cypress framework
Cypress offers the following Supported Capabilities
- provides fast, consistent, reliable, and non-flaky tests.
- Provide automatic waiting for commands and assertions before moving on.
- Provide API testing capabilities.
- There is no need to configure/set up browser-specific drivers.
- Cypress provides a very handy feature of live reloading capability that gives you instant feedback on the test you are writing.
- For every step of your script, there is a screenshot feature to see exactly what happened at the particular step that helps in finding out false passing or failing tests, and it also offers real-time debugging.
- Earlier it only supported Chrome testing. With recent updates, it provides support for Firefox and Edge browsers.
Limitations of using Cypress
- There is no multi-tab support.
- No support for browsers like Safari and IE at the moment.
- One cannot drive two browsers at the same time as it has restricted browser support.
What is PlayWright?
Playwright is coming with more regular updates and improvements and comes out as a strong competitor to Cypress. It gaining popularity among developers and testers as it allows them to write powerful, stable automated tests and robust their capabilities
Playwright uses Browser Context where you can create simultaneous tests that are totally separate from each other and executed in parallel to the browser context. Browser Context is an isolated environment built on a single browser instance.
Benefits of using Playwright Framework
Playwright offers the following Supported Capabilities
- Intercepts network activity to stub and mock network requests.
- Emulates mobile devices, and enables notification and geolocation permissions.
- Allows to download, upload files, and generate allure reports.
- It allows cross-browser web automation testing.
- Easy to install.
- Can be used with major CI/CD servers like TravisCI, Jenkins, GitHub Actions, etc.
Limitations of using Playwright
- APIs are still evolving as they are very new.
- No support for non-browser platforms.
- Very few integrations and tutorials.
- There is a challenge with Grids.
- Docs and community are not as good as the others.
- Allows mobile testing via emulators rather than real mobile devices.
What is Puppeteer?
Puppeteer is a popular stable and easy-to-use test automation tool maintained by Google. It is used to automate Chrome and Firefox. Puppeteer is a Node.js library and is developed by the Chrome DevTools team. It is a browser-driver framework that enables the programmers to interact with a web browser directly and provides additional functionality for intercepting network requests.
When you install Puppeteer it also takes care of downloading a compatible version of Chromium for you. This helps you to avoid situations where your browser gets an update that breaks Puppeteer.
Benefits of using Puppeteer
- Easy to set up and use for development flow.
- Does not require any standard of DevTools protocol, to control Chrome as it interacts with the browser directly.
- Provide good documentation.
- Automatically installs Chrome in a working version.
- Maintained by Google.
- Used in cases such as scraping, generating PDFs, etc.
Limitations of using Puppeteer
- Cross-browser support is Limited with only Chrome and Firefox.
- It is an automation framework and not a test framework, this means you often need to re-implement testing-related tools.
- Grids running concurrently are often a challenge.
- The automatic browser setup does not download Chrome but Chromium and there are exquisite differences between the two.
A quick comparison among the above four test automation framework
Now when you gain an understanding of the top four testing frameworks let’s have a quick comparison among them.
Cypress supports end-to-end testing whereas Selenium includes this as well as offers performance testing, mobile app testing, and unit testing. Cypress is restricted to cross-browser testing, as it does not support browsers like Safari when compared to Selenium where Cross browser testing at scale becomes easy.
Running a test case on different browsers simultaneously works the best on Selenium Grid, then Cypress which cannot be used to drive two browsers at the same time.
Both can run Chrome and Chromium and have almost the same API methods that offer the devs the same functionality to use but Playwright’s API is slightly ahead. It is a new library and it seems to be developing faster at the moment.
Playwright has better cross-browser support and also multiple programming language support. Simulating multiple devices with a single browser, Playwright is a better option than Puppeteer. It can be used with Firefox and Safari too. When talking about the community, both are well-covered.
When it comes to choosing the right testing framework, the focus of attention remains on the usage and the functionality. Because the right testing tool makes the entire testing process smooth running.
No matter which test automation framework you choose, cross-browser testing is a must to check how different browsers render your website. This guarantees that the website is delivering a seamless and consistent user experience irrespective of the device and browser used to access them. For that, you need to consider running your tests on a real device cloud like LambdaTest.
LambdaTest’s lets you perform real device testing online across 3000 real browsers, devices, and operating systems versions for instant, on-demand testing. It is applicable to both manual and automation testing. It can also be integrated with popular CI/CD tools such as Jira, Jenkins, Travis CI, and much more. This cloud additionally provides an in-built debugging tool that enables the testers to identify and resolve bugs immediately.
LambdaTest’s cloud Selenium Grid allows you to run cross-browser tests on different browsers and devices simultaneously and leverage the benefit of parallel testing for faster testing with wider coverage.
Author Bio: Vixit Raj is growth hacker, currently handling product growth and communication in LambdaTest. He has been into this domain for the last 5+ years. He always tries to stay updated with the latest advancements in technology, product growth, software testing and coding.