Selenium automation framework: What you need to know

 In Blog, Most Recent, Most Popular, Selenium Test Automation, Web Application Testing

Selenium automation framework: What you need to know

Anyone looking to get started with test automation has likely considered Selenium to be part of their automated testing process. This makes sense, as Selenium is the most common open-source code to use for test automation, with an ever-growing user base.

Yet, QA managers need to remember that there are two components that they need to get started with Selenium test automation: the automated tests themselves and the Selenium automation framework.

While the tests are obviously important, setting up the right test automation framework is also highly critical. As “the integration of tools, libraries, and utilities needed to interact with the system under test,” the test automation framework promotes test reusability and clean code. By separating the test data from test logic, the right framework is also simple to both maintain and expand.

There are various factors to consider when building your own Selenium test automation framework. This post will give an overview of what you need to know, as well as different options for building the most optimized test automation framework for your testing operation.

Define and organize which processes you want to automate

To start building your own test automation framework, your team needs to decide which processes they want to automate and then organize them accordingly. To begin, the team needs to familiarize themselves with the inner workings of the application they want to test. Once they understand how the internal workflows are set up, it will be easier for them to create the framework moving forward.

To better understand how the application works, the team will need to do more than just read the documentation. They should instead learn more about the application by doing exploratory testing and recording their actions. By doing this, they can better keep in mind the requirements they will need from the framework in the future.

Exploratory testing flowchart

Exploratory testing flowchart
Source: 3Pillar Global

Choose your framework tools and structure

After defining and organizing the process your QA team will need to automate, they will need to choose which tools they will use to set up the test automation framework. There are a few different options to consider when building a Selenium automation framework, including the following:

Programming language

With Selenium, there are a variety of programming languages to choose from when building your framework. Using the Selenium WebDriver API, it’s possible to do Selenium testing in languages such as C#, Java, Python, and others.

Unit or assertion framework

Next, it’s important to decide on a unit or assertion framework. This helps prioritize and group your test cases within the framework, as well as carry out different assertions or verifications in your tests. TestNG is an especially popular unit framework for Selenium, but there are other options you can choose from.

It’s also possible to use a unit or assertion framework to execute test cases from an IDE or CI/CD tool. Yet if you decide to do this, you will need to choose solutions for each of these functions to add to your framework as well.

Test framework structure

While not tooling specific, it’s also critical to determine how to structure your test framework so it best fits your application. There are two main options: a purely code-based structure or one that utilizes behavior-driven development (BDD).

BDD is preferable for shorter-term projects, especially when there are both technical and non-technical people on the team. Yet it’s also important to keep in mind that with a BDD framework, you will need to consider tools such as SpecFlow and Cucumber that will also support this structure.

Sample Cucumber BDD test automation framework

Sample Cucumber BDD test automation framework
Source: Github

Account for different software versions and environments

In addition to the considerations already mentioned above, you will also need to ensure that your test automation framework can manage different software versions, browsers, operating systems (OSs), and devices. Especially in agile environments that likely have multiple versions of your product in various stages of development, the framework needs to support each software version. Not only does the framework need to account for different software versions simultaneously, but it also needs to keep the relevant tests for each version separate from one another.

As for supporting different browsers, OSs, and devices, there are two ways to manage this within your test automation framework: either by building a test lab within the framework itself or by connecting to an external test lab. If you’re building a test lab yourself, you will also need to add servers to run your tests, whether they are physical servers or cloud services like Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure.

Set up reporting mechanisms

Another important feature of a robust test automation framework is that it generates proper reports for the QA team. Whoever is building the framework needs to ensure that the bug reporting integrates correctly with the framework’s setup.

In addition, these reports need to be easily understandable and accessible to both technical and non-technical personnel, since both will need to use the data from the reports to adjust their work. Since Selenium does not offer an option for built-in reports, this is something external that you will need to implement and integrate with the rest of a Selenium automation framework.

Another test automation framework option

As shown above, building a Selenium test automation framework from scratch takes a lot of time and effort. In fact, many companies hire specialists to build and maintain the framework either in-house or through an external company, which can also be a long and costly process.

Many teams often discover later on that even with a custom test automation framework, the Selenium testing they do is still time-consuming, with flaky tests that require a lot of maintenance. All things considered, teams can find it very difficult to scale their test automation efforts once they realize the hidden costs of custom solutions.

Yet there is another option for a functional, scalable, headache-less test automation framework: using a codeless test automation tool. Many codeless testing tools come with a built-in test automation framework, so there is no need to hire additional personnel or outsource this task. Plus, since the tool manages the framework, your team will not need to spend time building and maintaining it as you’re looking to increase your test coverage.

An effective test automation framework makes testing on multiple browsers a simple process.

An effective test automation framework makes testing on multiple browsers a simple process.

When codeless testing tools are SaaS-based, they offer an even greater advantage to custom test automation frameworks. With a SaaS solution, there is no need to worry about servers since they are maintained by the tool itself.

SaaS or cloud-based testing tools are also ideal for distributed or remote teams, making them more versatile than on-premise options. Furthermore, these tools often include or integrate with test labs on their own, so there is less for your team to manage.

Starting with the right test automation framework will ultimately help set your test automation efforts up for success. Get in touch with our test automation experts and learn how TestCraft can make your testing easier and more scalable.


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