10 Best Practices for writing Selenium Tests

Selenium test automation is one of the top open-source testing frameworks comprising of multiple tools within it. Through Selenium, testers can automate web testing and perform regression testing easily and effectively. But the one-size-fits-all approach does not work for Selenium automation tests. Although there are no standard rules for design and development of Selenium tests, there are certain principles the users must follow while writing test cases using the Selenium framework.  In this blog, we talk about the top 10 best practices for writing Selenium tests that can help create scalable, well-designed test suites. All the best practices mentioned here are platform agnostic and will add value to Selenium test automation irrespective of the programming language/platform used.

Selenium Framework Explained

The Selenium framework is a test automation suite that can be used to perform automation testing of mobile browsers and desktops. The code for automation testing can be written in any language supported by Selenium that enables automation test scripts to run smoothly for any process or application.

Selenium is rather a collection of frameworks combined into a single test suite. It is a toolbox that helps the testers to create and run robust and scalable browser-based automation tests.

The parts that make up the Selenium test suite are:

Selenium IDE The Selenium IDE is available only for Firefox and Chrome browsers. This IDE is an extension that helps to record Selenium tests in the browsers. The recorded script can be viewed and modified to suit other languages. To write advanced test cases, Selenium RC or WebDriver is more suitable.

Selenium RCSelenium RC is a client-server model that allows the user to control the web browsers on local and other computers through any language or testing framework. Selenium RC can be combined with WebDriver to update it, and that version can be further improved and so on.

Selenium GridSelenium Grid helps you run test cases parallely with many servers running simultaneously through the Hub and Node architecture. Selenium Grid supports WebDriver and RC scripts and these scripts are communicated to the Nodes via the Hub and then they are executed.

Selenium WebDriverSelenium WebDriver helps in the access and launch of specific web browsers whether desktop or mobile. Each browser has a different driver to run its test scripts. For instance, Chrome has ChromeDriver, and Safari has SafariDriver. WebDriver offers an interface to create, run Selenium scripts and run them dynamically. It offers the capability to test innovative and modern websites where the content changes often.

With the cloud-based cross browser testing platform LambdaTest, you can perform Selenium automated testing for over 2000 browsers and operating systems.

Top 10 Best Practices for Writing Selenium Automation Tests

Regardless of the language used, given below are the top 10 best practices that must be followed to achieve optimal value from our test automation efforts:

1. Begin Early and Test Often

This is one of the most important practices for Selenium Test Automation. Testing is not a one-off activity but a continuous and repetitive one. Testing must be done early to avail the maximum benefits of the process. This approach helps to detect and fix bugs early in the project lifecycle and not post development.  Testers can give their valuable feedback continuously to the developers to improve the product features and enhance user experience.

The testers must implement the Selenium Testing attributes right from the requirements gathering phase. By beginning early, testers and developers can ensure that the application is responding quickly and effectively to the end-user’s requirements. The test results can be provided to the project stakeholders on time so that project deadlines are met, and costs are minimized in the long run.

2. Utilize the BDD Framework

BDD or Behavior Driven Development is a successful methodology adopted during Selenium Test Automation. BDD enables testers to write Selenium test cases in plain and simple English that can be understood by novice users without or with minimum coding knowledge. BDD helps to reduce the gap between the technical and business team, boost collaboration, and understand the project in depth.

If Selenium scripts and specifications are written in BDD, your team will understand the test requirements better. The tests become self-explanatory without requiring any detailed clarification.

3. Use the Page Object Model (POM)

The user interface for web applications keeps changing along with the locators associated with it and the tests need to be re-written in these cases. The solution to this is to use the Page Object Model that will not require the users to change the test scripts multiple times. Through POM, you will need to change only the page objects as all locators are in a centralized place. Every webpage has a unique class which makes it easier for the user to find the web elements. The project becomes reliable, and developers can easily incorporate minor UI changes without scanning the entire test code.

Leveraging the Page Object Model simplifies test maintenance, enhances web page visualization, and improves code reusability.

4. Avoid Blocking of Sleeping Calls

There are several factors that impact the behavior of web applications such as network speed, access location, device capability, server load and so on. These factors make it challenging for the software engineers to estimate the exact time taken to load a web element. So, they add a delay of a few seconds through the Thread.sleep() function before executing any action on the element. But this delay will not always be beneficial as they will waste the time of fast loading webpages.

To avoid this loss of extra time to run Selenium Test Automation, you will need to incorporate explicit or implicit waits.

5. Test Design and Identification

Test cases and scenarios must be created before setting up the environment for Selenium Test Automation. Prior planning and strategizing of test cases is essential for the complete success of Selenium Testing.

The tester must determine his goals and decide on what test cases to automate first. It is advisable to go for test cases that include layouts, colors, and fonts first. Then, you can move to other test cases in a synchronized manner.

By naming the test cases and test suites appropriately, the team members can easily identify any failed test cases and the reasons for the same. The problems can be quickly fixed without wasting time reading the implementation documentation.

6. Prepare the Browser 

Sometimes, Selenium Test implementation may not work properly on some browsers. This typically happens when the cross-browser testing is performed on an outdated browser like internet explorer.

Setting the browser zoom level to 100% is one of best practices to be followed irrespective of the browser on which automation testing is being run. This will allow the native mouse event to align the coordinates.

Fix the Protected Mode settings to the same value for all zones, whether it is turned on or turned off. This must be done to avoid getting a NoSuchWindowException message.

7. Implement Logging and Reporting

If a test case fails, it is a tedious task to locate the failing test case. Logging is the best solution to this problem as console logs as relevant places in the test code help the developers to understand the code better and identify the problems.

But only necessary log levels like info, debug, warning, critical and error must be included. Adding unwanted logs in tests will only delay test implementation and execution.

Apart from logging, test reporting is also a necessary Selenium Test Automation best practice. The test reports determine the test result status-whether they pass or fail. Test automation reports help testers keep track of the progression of the test suites and their corresponding results. Test reports also minimize the time needed for test data maintenance due to enhancement of readability of the test output. Automation test logs and reports help the users to analyze tool features, access test coverage easily and accurately.

8. Hire a professional team of experts

A successful Selenium Test Automation team must consist of both automation and manual testers and they must perform their dedicated tasks only as both automated and manual testing are time-consuming processes by themselves. If you are contemplating leaving the automation tasks to manual testers, first free them of manual tasks.

If the organization is operating on a large scale, it is advisable to hire a dedicated test automation architect and engineers.

9. Choose the right Web Locator

One of the biggest challenges in Selenium Test Automation is that they have to be modified if there are any changes in locator implementation used in test code. Some of the frequently used locators of Selenium WebDriver are Name, ID, Link text, XPath, DOM Locator and so on.

With so many choices, it is imperative to choose the correct one to minimize impact caused due to changes in the UI. For instance, XPath engines vary from one browser to another and XPath for one browser may not work for the other.

10. Leverage the Parallel Testing feature

One of the main reasons for Selenium Testing tool’s popularity is the support for parallel testing. All popular testing frameworks have features for executing tests in parallel on the Selenium grid.

Parallel testing on Selenium grids lets the testers execute the same test case simultaneously on a combination of browsers, platforms, and devices. Parallel testing reduces testing execution time significantly.

Testers and developers can use a cloud-based Selenium grid testing tool such as LambdaTest for executing automated testing in over 2000 browsers and operating systems. The platform supports most of the popular frameworks. The highly reliable and scalable Selenium grid can be utilized to enhance the performance of parallel test case execution.

Conclusion

These are the most common best practices for writing automation test cases. In general, bugs must be found early, and test design and strategy must be decided before you begin writing Selenium Test Automation scripts.

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