In this article, we share an in-depth look at the Selenium IDE. This tool helps programmers save time with integration testing, performance testing, compatibility testing, system testing, end-to-end testing, and regression testing phases. First, we discuss the history of the Selenium IDE. Then, we discuss its features. Finally, we give step-by-step instructions on how to install the Selenium IDE.
About the Selenium IDE
So what exactly is Selenium? Selenium is a testing framework where you can write test cases in languages like Java, Groovy, C#, PHP, Python, Scala, Ruby, Perl, and Selenium’s scripting language called Selenese. It has three components – Selenium WebDriver, Selenium Grid, and the Selenium IDE.
The Selenium IDE is a recording and playback tool to functionally test any web application without the need for any coding or knowledge of a scripting language. The tool works on many browsers, including Firefox and Chrome, as an add-on. Automation testing with the Selenium IDE helps with Agile development. With this IDE, developers ensure integration/delivery wherein code is built, deployed, and tested continuously.
There is no setup required for Selenium IDE. All you need to do is install the browser-specific extension. Testers can record their interactions with any website using the GUI provided by the IDE. Selenium IDE is available as part of the Selenium Test Suite.
Whenever a test has to be performed, testers enable the recording option within the IDE and then play the test case on the browser. IDE is then able to replay the same interactions and report the differences/errors, if any.
History of the Selenium IDE
Initially developed by Jason Huggins in 2004, Selenium was later named Selenium Remote Control or Selenium RC when Paul Hammant joined the team. The project continued to be developed, and many others joined hands. Simon Stewart, from a company named ThoughtWorks, was able to create a better browser automation tool i.e., Selenium WebDriver, around the same time. After some talks, it was decided to merge both projects, and the final tool was named Selenium WebDriver.
The Selenium IDE was developed separately by Shinya Kasatani, who donated it to the Selenium project in 2006; however, it wasn’t maintained well until the year 2018.
Unique Features of the Selenium IDE
Some unique features and advantages of the Selenium IDE are:
- You can select the test cases to be run or run the entire suite at once.
- A particular test case can be paused/resumed at any time.
- Controls the speed of test cases.
- Able to group all the Selenese commands and execute them as a single command.
- Automatic recording of test cases.
- Easier debugging as testers can set breakpoints anywhere during the test case execution.
- Test cases can be reused across multiple functionalities in the entire suite.
Selenium IDE as an Extension/Add-On
Previous versions of the recording tool had multiple issues like lack of cross-browser support, inability to extend functionality or do visual testing, no provision for debugging or running scripts in parallel, and more. The Selenium IDE did not see the light of day until 2018 as mostly everyone focussed on Selenium WebDriver. That changed around December 2018. Since then, we have seen a steady increase in the growth of Selenium IDE. It's getting more popular each year.
As of 2006, the IDE only worked with Firefox, but today it works on all major browsers as a plugin. Using SIDE runner, the command line test runner, the IDE can also test cases on the Selenium WebDriver server. Browsers supported by Selenium IDE are:
Installation and Setup
The Selenium IDE installation and setup are pretty straightforward. Here, we describe the installation and setup for Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.
Selenium IDE installation on Chrome
The first browser is also the simplest. To install Selenium on Chrome, visit the Chrome web store, search for Selenium IDE, and click on ‘Add to Chrome,'. That's it. You should now have the Selenium IDE on your browser!
Selenium IDE installation on Firefox
Need to install the Selenium IDE on Firefox? The process is almost exactly the same as with Chrome. Head to the official add-on page on Firefox, then click on ‘Add to Firefox’. That adds the Selenium IDE to your browser.
Selenium IDE Installation on Edge
To get install the Selenium IDE on Edge, there are a few extra steps. The process doesn't require much extra time, but we broke down these instructions to make sure you know exactly where to go. After all, once you have the Selenium IDE installed, you're ready to go right away.
1. Go to the official Microsoft Edge installation page.
2. Click on ‘Get’
3. A popup will appear, requesting confirmation to add:
4. Click on ‘Add extension.’
5. Once done, you will get a notification that the extension has been added. To verify the same, click on settings (the three dots on the top right) and then Extensions:
6. A new tab with all the installed extensions will open, where Selenium should be the most recent one:
Selenium commands are written in its programming language called Selenese. We use these commands to test the web applications.
There are three types of commands in Selenium:
- Actions: a change in the state of the application – for example, if you click on the submit button, you are redirected to some other page.
- Accessors: enable the verification and storage of the current application state.
- Assertions: assertion of the result, if expected and actual results are the same, returns true, else false. Assertions tell us whether a test case has failed or passed. There are three modes of assertion – Assert, Verify, and WaitFor.
Check out the Selenium API to know more commands.
Selenium IDE Basics
One thing we appreciate about the Selenium IDE interface is its ease-of-use. Users quickly define their preferences without much instruction. However, we recommend a deeper look at a few of the most impressive features of the Selenium IDE.
First, check out the basics. Users explore the menus and options for a basic overview. Note that your experience will vary based on your browser. Our evaluation includes screenshots from Chrome.
Here's where to launch Selenium IDE from the menu bar of the browser:
Note that you can also pin the IDE so that you don't need to visit the Extensions area again.
You will get a welcome window with four options:
So, let's create a new project! Select “Create a new project” and give a unique name for your project. Then you can give the URL of the website or application that you are going to test. Open the TestSuite or Tests that you want to run.
Notice the highlighted content in the above image. You can choose from Tests, TestSuite, and executing test cases view. On the top right, you can see an option for disabling or enabling breakpoints in the Selenium IDE, and then the option to record. The results of test cases appear in the log. For example, if an assert fails, you will get something like this:
Here's an example of an action. Once you click on any link, Selenium IDE gives a message that it has recorded a click (action):
Everything gets recorded on the dashboard:
Tests: New tests can be added at any point using the ‘+’ icon at the top left (side-bar menu).
Suites: Many tests can be grouped to form a suite that can be run at once. Selenium IDE creates a suite by default when you create a new project, and the first test gets added to the default suite. You can also add a suite manually by clicking on the ‘+’ icon from the left menu next to the Test Suites heading. You can remove a single test or an entire test suite using the ‘Delete’ option. Same way, you can save the tests or test suite using the save icon.
Some Limitations of Selenium IDE
While we can argue that Selenium has some excellent capabilities, it is not suited for testing extensive sets of data. It cannot handle multiple windows or a dynamic part of web applications. Further, other tools in the market even capture the screenshot of a failed test. That's one area where the Selenium IDE still needs improvement. We cannot test cases related to database connectivity.
Selenium IDE is no doubt the easiest and most accessible testing tool that doesn’t require any setup. It can be installed in a jiffy. Lightweight and cross-browser compatible, it comes with a host of commands that can record a variety of scenarios to test a web application on the browser. To learn more about Selenium IDE and WebDriver, check out these tutorials.
You can smoothly playback the tests in the IDE using the in-browser playback option. You can select a single test or the entire suite. To run the tests on other browsers parallelly, you can install the Selenium IDE command line runner, get the required browser drivers, and launch the runner from cmd (command prompt) with whatever options you want.
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