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6 Popular Challenges In Automation Testing using Selenium

Selenium is one of the most popular automated testing frameworks, with a market share of about 26.4% in the software testing tools category. This open-source testing framework enables you to automate user actions on your software application under test. Selenium has its fair share of challenges that developers face while working with it. The Selenium automation software consists of a host of software tools to cater to an organization's different quality engineering needs. These are: Selenium IDE (Integrated Development Environment) Selenium RC (Remote Control) Selene WebDriver (Selenium WebDriver) Selenium Grid (Selene Grid)
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Selenium is one of the most popular automated testing frameworks, with a market share of about 26.4% in the software testing tools category. This open-source testing framework enables you to automate user actions on your software application under test.

Using this free testing framework, you can also verify & validate your software products across multiple browsers. Additionally, you can create Selenium test scripts using various programming languages such as C#, Java, Python, etc.

The Selenium automation software consists of a host of software tools to cater to an organization's different quality engineering needs. These are:

  1. Selenium IDE (Integrated Development Environment)
  2. Selenium RC (Remote Control)
  3. Selenium WebDriver
  4. Selenium Grid

Even though Selenium is among the most preferable web-app testing frameworks, it is not completely flawless. This automation framework has its fair share of challenges that developers face while working with it. Let us discuss some of the most common challenges and how you can tackle each of them.

1. Pop-up windows

The prompt or confirmation pop-ups you receive on screens during test automation are a part of the operating system.

Challenge

One of the most common challenges for any automated testing is the recurrence of pop-ups. Since these pop-ups are a part of the OS (operating system) and not the browser, Selenium is usually unable to detect them. This inability to record pop-ups poses a significant challenge for developers to automate a process.

There are three distinct types of pop-up windows –

  1. Prompt alert – instructs the user to input something.
  2. Simple alert – anything that displays a message.
  3. Confirmation alert – requests the user to confirm an operation.

Solution

There are two ways of tackling this issue:

1. The Selenium WebDriver can manage multiple windows. So, by using this, you will be able to take care of web-based alerts. Here you need to take the help of the switchTo technique and handle the pop-ups as the browsers continue to run in the background.

2. Applying a getAlert function is another way of handling pop-up alerts. Here you need to import a package to create a WebDriver script just prior to running the Selenium script. It provides you with an interface for different methods that can handle most of the alerts.

These methods work as a Cancel or OK command to control pop-up alerts, thereby automating your testing.

With Selenium WebDriver, you can effectively handle this challenge pertaining to pop-up alerts.

2. Page load

The page load issue significantly impacts the selenium test automation.

Challenge

There are a handful of websites that contain dependent web elements based on their varied users. These dependent elements may include a drop-down list of products or countries based on the user’s preferences. In these cases, the Selenium scripts may fail to identify the elements resulting in a page load issue.

One of the most common reasons for Selenium scripts to behave abruptly is the inability of WebDriver to process the adequate time taken for a webpage to load completely.

Solution

To overcome this challenge, you would need to use explicit waits in the script. This, in turn, will give ample time for a web page to load and enable seamless detection of all the elements. You can ensure this by utilizing the readyState property that explains any document or web page's loading state.

3. Identifying dynamic elements

In general, websites have both static and dynamic components on their web pages. Testing the static elements with automation is quite simple, but the same cannot be said for the dynamic aspects.

Challenge

In the dynamic pages, the information, as well as the display images, are user-specific in nature. In such cases, a user may not be able to find all the information by visiting the page for the first time. Here, the new information (on website) that emerges can be seen only after a specific time or by clicking somewhere on the web page.

Solution

You can handle the dynamic elements by bringing in dynamic CSS selectors or dynamic XPath. In addition, using the following functions – ends with, starts with, contains, etc. can also help you take care of the dynamic webpage element.

Selenium WebDriver has an integrated Explicit Wait function that enables you to specify a particular wait time before automating any command. Such specific intervals can provide a website ample time to load as well as aid you detect the dynamic element in a website.

4. False Positives & False Negatives (Flaky Tests)

Getting flaky tests has always been a common concern for testers who perform automated
testing.

Challenge

Even with Selenium test automation, the case is no different. This issue can be more conspicuous when running many tests (in thousands). If left unchecked, such a flaky test can also dampen the confidence of testers towards their respective codes.

Solution

There is not a single reason for flaky tests. Here are some solutions for different testing scenarios:

  1. You can get false negatives or false positives due to the poor use of bad, unreliable locators such as CSS and Xpath.
  2. There are also situations where a lack of knowledge about tools or having incomplete data about the tests can
    result in flaky tests.
  3. Some flaky tests are due to unstable test environments, so it is better to check for browser crashes or bad network latency before starting the software testing process.
  4. Incorrect usage of waits (explicit & implicit) can also lead to flaky tests. So, use it wisely while running your scripts.

The key here lies in identifying the problem, isolating it and finally debugging it.

5. Scalability

Being an open-source framework, Selenium allows automated testing on most operating systems and browsers.

Challenge

However, there is a limitation when it comes to the number of automated tests you can run in one go with Selenium. Additionally, this roadblock also comes up about the swift execution of tests based on whatever number of node/hub configurations you have.

Automated testing is all about executing numerous tests within a limited amount of time. Therefore, any form of hindrance in this process can be seen as a drawback for Selenium test automation.

Solution

Here Selenium Grid can come in real handy as it enables parallel test runs for your testing process. It still allows you to test the web apps only on specific browsers and OS at a time and not across different combinations of browsers or OS.

Nonetheless, using a cloud-based tool, you can even achieve automated, simultaneous testing in several browsers and OS.

6. Testing of Mobile Apps

Selenium is a favorite test automation framework among QA experts and is used by numerous quality engineering organizations.

Challenge

In the initial years, after the formation of Selenium, the mobile applications were not extensively used. So, its inability to test mobile devices was not a cause of concern. However, with mobile usage skyrocketing every passing day, this drawback has become a major issue in Selenium test automation.

Solution

Appium, another open-source automation framework, is the only alternative option to Selenium. Since Appium also uses the WebDriver protocol, it has similar features as Selenium, along with an addition of testing mobile devices.

The way ahead...

Despite all these challenges, Selenium continues to remain quite popular among automation engineers from organizations specializing in brand assurance and technology assurance.

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