Despite Selenium's popularity across the QA industry, it has drawbacks and won’t be the best fit for everyone. Specifically, Selenium IDE:
In this post, we'll compare seven alternatives to Selenium, focusing primarily on our platform, Rainforest QA, and explore how the alternatives approach solving these drawbacks.
Rainforest QA is our no-code QA platform that enables anyone responsible for the product experience (such as product managers, designers, QA specialists, and engineers) to easily create, maintain, and run automated tests.
As we'll discuss below, running automated QA tests in Rainforest instead of Selenium has the following benefits:
Here's a detailed look at various Rainforest QA benefits compared to Selenium:
One of the biggest challenges companies have with Selenium is cost—not because the software is expensive, of course (Selenium is just an open source framework for automating web browsers), but because it requires a dedicated engineer (or engineering team) to create and maintain test code.
Rainforest QA’s solution, in contrast, is no-code, which means anyone can create and maintain tests. Here’s an example of what it looks like to create a step in a Rainforest QA test:
Simply select a preset action (like “click”, “select”, or “type”) and then click-and-drag to select the element you want to apply the action to.
(Click "play" below to see the process in action.)
Notably, anyone can set up, edit, or read the steps of this test. This is transformative for organizations. They no longer have:
QA becomes the shared responsibility of everyone involved in the product experience rather than of a siloed QA team or developer. That means more people can create tests or fix broken tests, speeding up the QA process and reducing bottlenecks for code releases.
It also often results in better, more detailed testing since additional team members that have a vested interest in product quality can work with the QA team on building the right tests. (We discuss these benefits at length in this article.)
Rainforest QA is also unique from Selenium in that our tests interact with the UI of your app, not with the underlying code. So Rainforest tests reflect the actual experience of your users or customers interacting with your product.
For example, if we were creating a test step for clicking on the ‘Try for Free’ button on our www.rainforestqa.com homepage, we would: (1) Select the “click” action from a list of action options and (2) Drag-and-select the element on the page—the ‘Try for Free’ button—upon which we want to apply the action, as illustrated in the GIF above.
When the test runs, Rainforest executes the test by looking for the pixels of that ‘Try for Free’ button (as we designated during the drag-and-select step), and clicking it if it finds that button.
Notably, Rainforest does not execute this “click Try for Free” step by searching for the underlying code of that button. A minor, behind-the-scenes code change, such as renaming some CSS classes or IDs (which don’t actually impact the user experience), could cause a Selenium test to fail. But these types of changes won’t break a Rainforest test.
A Rainforest test would fail only if the actual visual appearance of the button changed. For example, if the button was accidentally hidden due to a bug in a recent code push, the test would (and should) fail.
In this way, we feel our pixel-matching method is more useful than having automated test steps be based on the underlying code.
That said, Rainforest QA tests are not totally immune from “false positive” failures in that a minor UI change, such as the shape of the button changing, for example, may break the test in Rainforest QA.
To help with this, Rainforest QA also offers optional text matching, which you can turn on or off in any test step. This way, even after a minor UI change, Rainforest can still find the text in the ‘Try For Free’ button and successfully complete that step.
Almost every company that scales automated testing will have several common user flows that will be part of many tests. For example, SaaS applications typically have login steps, and e-commerce apps have add to cart and checkout flows.
Normally, if you have dozens or hundreds of automated tests running and a change to the login page or add to cart button breaks a test on those pages, someone would have to adjust that test step in every test that uses it.
Unless your QA engineer has been particularly thoughtful in structuring and maintaining their code, that’s not scalable.
In Rainforest you can quickly embed one test in another, so you can create just one test for signing up, for example, and embed that test in every other test that requires a login step.
For example, here’s the test we created to validate the signup flow in the Rainforest QA web app:
And here’s how we’d embed the steps of the signup flow into the steps of another test (click "play" below to see the process in action):
If any steps in the signup flow need to be updated (due to a product change), we can update the test in just one place and it’ll automatically be updated in every single test that has the “Rainforest Signup Flow” test embedded in it.
This is a massive time saver for organizations that are deploying automated tests at scale.
To be fair, since Selenium is a coding framework, a common set of test steps can be coded and called upon by multiple tests in Selenium, as well. But the difference with Rainforest is that anyone can understand and edit the steps in embedded tests—the team isn’t reliant on specific developers to fix a problem if one ever comes up. Nor are you reliant on the coding conventions and practices of specific QA engineers. Embedding a test in Rainforest takes just a few clicks in the visual editor.
The pricing plans of these browser testing providers often come in tiers. If your team needs to run more tests than normal in a given month, you may have to upgrade to a large, expensive plan that may be more than you need most of the time. Or, if you avoid upgrading, you might not be able to run as many tests as you need.
On the other hand, Rainforest QA lets you run as many (or as few) tests as you want, in parallel. Rather than capping the number of tests you can run on any plan, we offer usage-based pricing.
Scale your testing up and down, as needed, and only pay for the tests you run.
If a test fails in Selenium, you don't know when, why, or how it failed. To reduce debugging time, some developers add code to capture a screenshot and/or the HTML DOM when a test fails, but those are imperfect solutions.
That’s a major inconvenience for QA, as developers or QA specialists end up having to spend a lot of time figuring out exactly what caused the failure.
In Rainforest, we offer video replays of every single test (both pass and fail) to combat this issue.
If your test passed on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, but fails on Thursday, you can find the exact test that failed and view a recording to quickly uncover the root cause.
You can check out the advantages of Rainforest for yourself with our 14-day risk-free trial. Because Rainforest is no-code, anyone in the company can set up and run their first tests in minutes to see these benefits in action.
Now we’ll discuss six other popular alternatives to Selenium.
According to users, one of the main benefits of Cypress (and it’s main selling point) is that it is easy to set up and start using. A QA engineer can get it up and running in a few minutes simply by executing a couple of simple commands. Plus, there are plenty of plugins to customize and improve performance.
Cypress also makes functional testing easy, with some users claiming they could set up working functional tests in a CI/CD pipeline in just three hours.
Similar to Selenium, cross browser testing is also possible in Cypress and while they do support Chrome and Firefox, they don’t currently support Safari.
In addition, Cypress is compatible with operating systems such as Linux, Unix, Windows, and Mac OS.
But, unlike Selenium, it is a paid tool, and you'll also incur the costs of a Cypress engineer to write and maintain the tests.
Screenster is another test automation solution that uses UI testing for web applications. They tout features like coded and codeless tests, parallel test execution, self-healing tests, and more.
Therefore, it's much more user-friendly than Selenium testing, though they don't support iPhone, Android, or iPad platforms and only offer business hours support.
Also, their paid plans only allow you to run between two and eight concurrent tests, and there’s an absolute limit to the number of tests you can run in a month.
In contrast, Rainforest has no limit on the number of concurrent tests you can run and no limit on the number of tests you can run in a month—you simply pay for what you use.
Watir (Web Apps Testing in Ruby) is another test automation tool similar to Selenium in that it is an open source family of Ruby libraries for automating web browsers. As the scripts are written only in Ruby, you must have a Ruby engineer to write and maintain tests, and run tests in grids like Sauce Labs or BrowserStack.
Protractor is an open source automation framework for Angular and AngularJS applications that is commonly used as a Selenium alternative. It essentially tests your application against how a user would experience it in real time.
It uses Jasmine syntax which is clean and easy to write tests in for the right kind of engineer.
We’ve heard from users that it tends to have more stable scripts than Selenium and is designed specifically for angular applications.
Katalon Studio is another popular automation testing tool that creates automated test scripts for UI. One of its main selling points is that it has a wider variety of integrations than Selenium and is easier to deploy.
Katalon also has some built in tools so it requires less coding than Selenium, but it doesn’t have the fully no-code, visual editing capabilities of Rainforest that allow any non-coder to create and edit tests.
It also offers a number of integrations for your devops team to better collaborate including Slack, GitHub, Microsoft Teams, and more.
Selenium may not be the best choice for every organization as it's a high code solution that requires extensive maintenance, minimal user insight, and scales poorly.
As we explained above, for many organizations, Rainforest QA may be a better choice as it is a no code alternative that is fast, does not require engineering resources to use, and scales easily. And you can quickly debug every test failure with video replays.
You can try Rainforest QA yourself by starting a free 14 day trial.
Not all free test automation tools include everything you need to get started. Here's a list of free tools and what they include.
Learn how Signagelive built 500 tests in record time and dramatically sped up development cycles with automated tests.
Testing the visual layer of your app is more reliable than testing the underlying code, especially for automated UI testing.
Follow these 5 steps to create an automated testing strategy that answers the who, what, when, why, and how of software test automation.