A practical guide: Which tool to use for the automated testing of web applications?

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Anyone who is at least a little familiar with web applications knows that their testing is absolutely crucial and determines the quality of any software developed. Finding errors and correcting them is often done automatically (this is more convenient for the repeated running of a large number of tests or tests with large amounts of generated data). But you have to choose the right software for automated testing. Let’s take a look at two of the most popular instruments - Selenium and Cypress.

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Simplicity and error rate

Selenium is the most widely used open-source tool, which was created in the Java programming language and supports several commonly used programming languages - Java, Python, Ruby, C# and others. It enables the automation of almost any test depending on the programming language and framework used, such as regression tests, smoke tests, UI tests, database tests, mobile tests, unit tests or integration tests. It has several advantages:

  1. Ease of use
  2. Extensive documentation and community
  3. Many available plugins and extensions
  4. Support for web application testing on various browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera and Internet Explorer) and headless testing (web browser without a graphic user interface)
  5. Use on various operating systems (Windows, Linux and MacOS)
  6. Possibility of automated tests on mobile devices using the Appium framework (unlike other open-source tools)

For the sake of completeness, it should be noted that Selenium has its limits, which you may not like.

  • It can sometimes be slow and prone to errors.
  • Tests can be difficult to maintain and extend, which can be a problem for teams working on large projects.
  • Native reporting of runs and test results is not ideal in Selenium and depends on other tools such as TestNG or Cucumber.
  • A strong programming knowledge is required to use it.

Fast but less widespread

Cypress is a relative newcomer compared to Selenium but is quickly gaining popularity due to its advanced features and performance (speed). It is written in JavaScript, has an intuitive syntax and enables the automation of unit tests, integration tests and end-to-end tests. It boasts a built-in function to capture screenshots during the test. Unlike other tools where “wait” and “sleep” functions are used to achieve synchronization during test execution, it has a built-in function that waits for further actions in the default setup, and also waits before moving on to the next step in the test. Its advantages include:

  1. Speed and stability (unlike other tools, it operates in a real browser, not a simulation)
  2. Clear test results
  3. Ability to monitor tests in real time
  4. Easy installation and setup
  5. Developer support for test creation thanks to a built-in development environment

But what might not suit you?

  • Some plugins may be paid and less widespread.
  • Cypress is limited to testing web applications in the Chrome browser only. Since it is written in JavaScript, it only supports this language for the creation of automated tests.
  • Compared to Selenium, the smaller user community and ensuing more limited resources for solving specific problems can be considered a minor disadvantage.
  • Lack of native mobile application testing capabilities.

[.infobox]First and foremost, remember that automation should be attempted where it is easy to implement, using the right tools. In this article, we discussed the differences between Cypress and Selenium. There are advantages and disadvantages to both tools, so make a decision based on the project you are working on and how experienced your team is. If you’re already using Selenium, there is no point switching to Cypress unless a major upgrade of the application is planned. Because the two tools differ in their architecture, such an upgrade could take some time.[.infobox]

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