5 Common Challenges of Automated Testing With Selenium

 In Blog, Selenium Test Automation

Considering automated testing with Selenium?

Many companies begin their test automation journey by looking into this widely known, open-source framework. The Selenium automation framework makes it easier for organizations to test web applications and websites. But teams can encounter certain challenges when implementing it.

Keep scrolling to become familiar with a few common issues.

5 Common Challenges of Automated Testing With Selenium

1. Learning Curve

If you don’t have in-house coding experience, Selenium comes with a learning curve. That’s because code is involved in every aspect of the Selenium test automation process — from test authoring to test maintenance.

So getting started with Selenium often requires one of the following:

  • Getting manual testers to learn how to code.
  • Outsourcing efforts to a contractor or consultancy.
  • Hiring in-house developers and/or other specialists.

Each requires either significant restructuring of the QA team or training. Keep in mind, few business testers got into testing because of a love of coding.

2. Flaky Tests

Another challenge teams encounter with Selenium is what’s called flaky tests. Meaning, the test scripts written to automate test actually break. Scripts often break when you make changes in your application. Maybe you moved a button to a different part of a page and now the test script doesn’t “see” it. The test fails.

Fixing those scripts? It also has a name: test maintenance.

Test maintenance isn’t a deal-breaker for some teams. At least not in the beginning. When you only have a limited number of tests automated, fixing a few of them doesn’t slow you down. But down the road, when you’re automating thousands or even hundreds of thousands of tests, fixing scripts can pull you into the red in terms of productivity. It’s ironic. The automation that once brought you quickly to the finish line is now tying an anvil around your release speed!

Fixing Selenium scripts is one thing. Deciphering whether a test failed due to flakiness or because it actually failed is another. Test automation with Selenium can create what are called false positives (test shows that it was passed, but it wasn’t) and false negatives (test shows it failed, when it didn’t). In the end, you can have a lot of noisy data to sift through, which brings us to the next challenge.

3. Test Reporting

Yes, you can create reports with Selenium. Is it easy? Depends on who you ask.

It’s especially important today to be getting constant and fast feedback from data. Testers need to be able to see the big picture — what’s failing and where — to prioritize issues and make decisions about where to allocate resources.

If making decisions based on data and getting fast feedback is important to you (for example, if you have interest in Agile, DevOps, and/or CI/CD), then you’ll want to invest some time and attention to pulling this off with Selenium alone.

Otherwise, consider a dedicated test automation tool that can provide more in-depth test reporting.

4. Scaling

The entire promise (and premise) of automation is that it helps you test more frequently, enhance test coverage, and do it all without a commensurate increase in testing costs. In short, it helps you scale quality. With Selenium, teams that want to scale can run into a couple key obstacles.

With Selenium, you can run tests in parallel to avoid waiting several days for the tests to finish execution.

There’s a catch though. You can only run parallel tests on a specific operating system or browser at any given time. You can’t execute across combinations of operating systems and browsers.

We’ve already covered another main factor that contributes to trouble scaling with Selenium. That’s right: test maintenance. As you start scaling your test automation, the sheer amount of maintenance required can hold you back.

5. Various Technical Limitations

Finally, there are a number of challenges with Selenium test automation that can be filed under the “technical issues” category. For example, Selenium test automation can:

  • Have difficulty recording pop-up windows.
  • Stall because of page loading issues.
  • Generate unknown anomalies when cross-browser testing.

There are other technical nuances, but we won’t get into them here. The important thing is to do your research so you can approach the framework pragmatically, with a sense of the technical limitations. 

Bringing It All Together

There are two categories of organizations that have automated their testing with Selenium.

On one hand, there are those that have experienced success with it. They have technical skills and resources to invest in coding and test maintenance.

On the other hand, there are those that tried Selenium and, due to some of the challenges we mentioned above, had to reverse out of their decision and reassess their automation strategy.

Whether you’re of the latter group or whether you’re just getting into automation, you should know that there are codeless Selenium tools, like TestCraft, which let you:

  • Automate Selenium without coding. Use your existing resources, however technically skilled they are.
  • Avoid test maintenance with AI. Let a machine learning algorithm do the dirty work of ensuring changes in your app don’t break the scripts.

Sound interesting? Discover more about code vs codeless Selenium in the free eBook below.

Selenium Testing eBook

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