If you’re at the start of your software testing journey, a beginner’s guide to Selenium could be the right step towards gaining new skills to kickstart your career. 

As you gradually learn new terms such as Java and C# (object-oriented languages used in programming), you will notice the concept of automation testing – specifically Selenium Automation Testing.

If Selenium piqued your interest, but you are unsure where to start learning about it, let’s take a look at what Selenium is all about.

Selenium, a short introduction:

The official site of Selenium describes it as a suite of tools for automating web browsers. Jason Huggins created it in the early 2000s to serve as means of automation testing for the company ThoughtWorks

More than fifteen years later, Selenium has gained popularity within the automation testing process, becoming one of the most popular web testing frameworks used worldwide. Browsers such as Chrome, Opera, Safari, and Firefox can benefit from web application testing by using Selenium.

Originally, Selenium was divided into four tools: Selenium Remote Control (RC), Selenium Integrated Development Environment (IDE), Selenium WebDriver, and Selenium Grid. As of now, Selenium RC is no longer available for recent updates following the release of Selenium 3.0, which leaves us with the remaining three: 

Selenium IDE

Created by Shinya Kasatani, Selenium IDE became a part of the Selenium suite in 2006. Selenium IDE currently works as a browser extension for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. It provides testers with an easy way to record a user’s interactions with the browser, which can be used to build automated test scripts. 

Selenium Grid

Running tests smoothly and efficiently requires good time management. Selenium Grid reduces the time duration by running multiple tests on different machines at the same time, a concept that is referred to as parallel testing. Its architecture consists of a single Hub – a server where the tests are loaded into, and one or more Nodes that execute the tests present in the hub.

Selenium WebDriver

By overcoming the obstacles faced by the now defunct Selenium RC, WebDriver (also known as Selenium 2.0) communicates directly with the browser. The tool itself takes on the role of an actual user employing APIs provided by the browser’s vendors to execute automation test scripts using browser-specific drivers. 

The Advantages of Learning Selenium

As a junior tester, here’s how you might benefit from learning Selenium:

→ Selenium is an open-source set of web testing tools with downloadable resources available on their official site;

→ Less time spent testing a web app to make sure it’s bug-free and ready to launch using parallel testing;

→ Test cases created with Selenium on an operating system such as Microsoft Windows can also be executed on other operating systems, i.e., Linux;

→ Several programming languages can be used with Selenium, such as Java, Python, Ruby, C#, Perl, .Net, all of which are languages used by other tools like Jenkins and JUnit;

Prerequisites

There are a couple of software testing fundamentals you must get familiar with before you start your onboarding journey with Selenium. For starters, the basics of automation testing should be no secret to you. Setting up and maintaining a test case using Java or other programming languages requires coding experience.

Getting started

Let’s take a look at the steps required to begin automation testing with Selenium.

If you want to begin with Selenium IDE, all you have to do is install the extension available on the official website for each of the most used browsers. Once the installation is complete, pick a URL, record your test case then export it in your format of choice. IDE recordings can be used again to execute the same test case.

Selenium Grid makes use of two components for its testing process. The first is a single Hub that handles the test machines. To run a test script with Grid, the Hub must first establish the DesiredCapabilities: browser, browser version, and operating system. 

Within this process, several registered nodes appear. A Node is the second component, an instance of Remote Selenium WebDriver, which interacts with the browsers. Once the Hub finds a Node that fits the DesiredCapabilities, you can run the test script for said browser

As we’ve said before, this tool can execute parallel testing on several machines. All it takes is A Hub and a connected Node. You can find a step-by-step guide to this process here.

Let’s move on to the final and most used tool of the Selenium suite: Selenium WebDriver

To get started with WebDriver, choose a library that fits your preferred programming language. Keep in mind the installation process for each library is specific to their language. 

Automating web testing for a certain browser requires a browser driver; only then can you open a browser in Selenium and run your first script. This process requires the following steps: the Selenium test script is transported using JSON Wire Protocol to the server and then to the browser client. To install Selenium WebDriver, check this tutorial with further information and reference images.

Hopefully, our beginner’s guide to Selenium gave you the push you needed to gain a deeper insight into Selenium automation testing.

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