Playwright vs. Selenium: an Ultimate Guide for Your QA Tester Career Path

Explore the critical differences between Playwright and Selenium automation testing tools, and gain tips and insights to steer your QA tester career path effectively.

The tools you choose can significantly impact your career as a QA Tester. Today we’d like to stop at such well-known QA products as a distinguished market leader Selenium and a promising freshman Playwright: they both are widely acclaimed for their unique capabilities in browser testing. But how do these tools differ, and what implications do those differences have for your career in quality assurance?

In this article, we will embark on a comparative journey of Playwright vs. Selenium, offering tips and insights to harness their potential effectively. Let's start!

Table of contents

What is Selenium?

Selenium has firmly established itself as a cornerstone in the world of web testing. At its core, Selenium is an open-source tool, which is specifically designed for testing web apps at various browser systems and platforms. It contains several separate components, including:

  • Selenium WebDriver: This is a game-changer for QA testers, as it directly interacts with the web browser, allowing them to execute tests against different browsers on different OS. Unlike its predecessor, Selenium RC (Remote Control), WebDriver doesn’t rely on a separate server and interacts natively with browser applications, giving more realistic and reliable test outcomes.
  • Selenium IDE: The Integrated Development Environment is a Firefox and Chrome extension that provides an easy-to-use interface for developing automated tests. It’s known for its record-and-playback feature, which enables testers to record their actions in the browser and then play them back in the form of a script. This tool is particularly beneficial for beginners or those looking to quickly create test scripts without delving deep into coding.
  • Selenium Grid: This component adds a layer of flexibility and efficiency to Selenium. The Grid allows for simultaneous execution of tests across different browsers, OS, and machine combinations. It dramatically speeds up the testing process by running tests in parallel, reducing the time it takes to get feedback from comprehensive test suites. This is super useful in large-scale projects where time and efficiency are of the essence.

As we can see, Selenium’s automated testing solution offers a full suite of tools that cater to diverse testing needs. Its flexibility in handling various aspects of web testing, from simple record-and-playback tasks to complex browser and environment combinations, makes it an invaluable asset in the QA tester’s toolkit.

What Are the Selenium’s Advantages?

Selenium, as a powerhouse in the realm of test automation, brings a host of advantages to the table, making it a preferred choice for many organizations and individual testers alike. Here are some key benefits of Selenium automated testing:

  • Suitable with major types of browsers: One of the standout features of Selenium is its ability to run tests across a variety of browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer. This ensures that web applications function smoothly across all user platforms;
  • Language flexibility: Unlike some other testing tools, Selenium supports all modern languages, including Java, C#, Python, Ruby, and JavaScript. This flexibility allows testers to write scripts in the language they are most comfortable with or one that aligns best with the project requirements;
  • Can run tests in parallel: Using Selenium Grid, you can run several tests in parallel, reducing the time for test execution and speeding up the feedback loop for development teams;
  • Huge community: Being open-source, Selenium has a robust and active community. This community contributes to constant improvements and updates, providing a wealth of resources, guides, and forums for troubleshooting and learning;
  • Vast integration capabilities: Selenium can be easily integrated with other tools like TestNG and JUnit for managing test cases and generating reports and with tools like Jenkins for Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines;
  • No cost: Being open-source, it's free to use, which makes it accessible for small businesses or individual developers without the budget for expensive proprietary tools;
  • Versatility and high performance: Selenium WebDriver’s ability to interact directly with the browser brings a high level of realism to testing scenarios, making it possible to simulate almost any action a user could perform;
  • Platform independent: Tests written using Selenium can be run on different operating systems like Windows, Mac, and Linux, offering a great deal of flexibility in terms of test environments.

These pros make Selenium an ultimate all-in-one tool, suited for a wide range of web app testing scenarios, from simple to complex.

What Are the Selenium’s Disadvantages?

While Selenium stands as a robust tool in the automation testing landscape, Selenium-based testing does come with certain limitations. Understanding these can help QA professionals make informed decisions when selecting tools for their projects:

  • Little support for desktop apps: Selenium is primarily designed for web application testing. It does not support testing of desktop applications, which can be a limitation for projects requiring testing beyond web environments;
  • No built-in reporting and test management: Selenium lacks built-in features for reporting and test management. Creating reports or managing tests, requires integration with third-party tools, adding an extra layer of complexity;
  • Requires good programming skills: To effectively use Selenium, testers need to have a strong grasp of programming. This can be a barrier for teams with limited coding expertise or for manual testers looking to transition into automated testing;
  • Handling dynamic web elements is hard: Dealing with dynamic and complex web elements, such as pop-ups, can be tricky in Selenium, often requiring additional coding efforts to handle them accurately;
  • Browser support issues: Though Selenium supports multiple browsers, sometimes tests may behave differently on different browsers, necessitating additional efforts to ensure cross-browser compatibility;
  • Lack of support for image testing: Selenium does not natively support image-based testing. This means it cannot validate visual aspects like font, color, or layout directly;
  • No built-in object repository: Unlike some other testing tools, Selenium does not have a built-in object repository, which can make managing and maintaining web elements more challenging, especially for large projects;
  • Short mobile testing possibilities: While Selenium can be used for mobile testing through tools like Appium, it is not inherently designed for this purpose, and thus, might not offer the same level of efficiency as specialized mobile testing tools.

Each of these disadvantages underscores the importance of understanding project requirements and team capabilities when choosing Selenium as your automation tool.

What Is Playwright?

Playwright is a relative freshman in the world of automated testing, rapidly gaining popularity for its robust features and capabilities. Developed by Microsoft, it's designed to simplify the process of writing reliable and robust end-to-end tests, especially for complex modern web applications. Its growing community and frequent updates make it a compelling option for teams looking to streamline their testing processes.

What Are the Playwright’s Advantages?

Let’s now take a closer look at the benefits that the Playwright automation testing tool offers:

  • Testing across multiple browsers: Playwright supports testing across multiple browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, as well as different browser versions, ensuring comprehensive cross-browser compatibility checks;
  • Headless mode support: It provides the ability to run tests in headless mode, which is particularly useful for continuous integration environments where you don't need a UI for each test;
  • Native mobile environments emulation: Unlike Selenium, Playwright can emulate mobile environments natively, offering more accurate testing scenarios for mobile web applications;
  • Rich API for automation: Playwright comes with a rich set of APIs that make it easier to deal with modern web app features, including complex AJAX-based interactions, shadow DOM, and more;
  • Handling of modern web features: It can efficiently handle modern web features like single-page-applications (SPAs), making it a suitable choice for testing advanced web applications;
  • Impressive language support: Playwright supports multiple programming languages including JavaScript, Python, C#, and Java, offering flexibility in terms of development language choices;
  • Auto-wait feature: One of the standout features of Playwright is its auto-wait functionality. This feature automatically waits for elements to be ready before executing actions, reducing the number of explicit waits and sleep commands in test scripts;
  • A set of debugging tools: Playwright provides a rich set of debugging tools that make it easier to diagnose and fix issues in tests.

As you can see, Playwright also offers a rich set of testing features, and at some points, it’s even better than Selenium, for example, it offers mobile environment emulation and modern web features handling. But, of course, it also has some drawbacks, which we’ll consider in the next paragraph.

What Are the Playwright’s Disadvantages?

So, what are the cons of using the Playwright automation tool for testing? Here we go:

  • Relative newness: Being relatively new in the market, Playwright might lack the extensive community support and breadth of resources available for more established tools like Selenium. This can be a challenge when looking for solutions to specific problems or when requiring detailed documentation;
  • Limited browser support: Despite supporting multiple major browsers, Playwright’s coverage is not as extensive as Selenium's. This might be a limitation when working with less common browsers or specific browser versions;
  • Steep learning curve: For teams already familiar with Selenium, transitioning to Playwright can require a significant learning curve. The difference in architecture and API design means existing knowledge and scripts may not be directly transferable;
  • Ecosystem integration: Integrating Playwright into existing testing ecosystems that were built around other tools can be challenging. This includes adapting to different reporting tools, CI/CD pipelines, and other integrations;
  • Limited mobile testing: While Playwright offers native mobile emulation, it might not fully replace the need for dedicated mobile testing tools, especially for complex mobile applications;
  • Less extensive plugin ecosystem: Compared to Selenium, Playwright’s plugin and extension ecosystem is less developed. This can be a drawback for teams relying on specific plugins or extensions for enhanced testing capabilities.

We’d like to mention that despite these disadvantages, Playwright remains a powerful automation tool, especially for testing modern web applications. Teams considering Playwright should weigh these challenges against its benefits to determine if it aligns with their specific testing requirements and infrastructure.

Playwright vs. Selenium: A Comparison Table

When it comes to choosing the right automation tool for web application testing, both Playwright and Selenium offer unique features and capabilities. Let's compare these two prominent testing tools across various criteria:

Parameter

Selenium

Playwright

Language Support

Supports multiple languages including Java, C#, Python, Ruby, and JavaScript.

Primarily supports JavaScript and TypeScript, with Python, Java, and C# versions available.

Ease of Installation

Requires separate installations for each component like WebDriver and Grid, which can be complex.

Offers a simpler installation process with a single package that includes all necessary components.

Test Runner Frameworks Supported

Compatible with various test runners like JUnit, TestNG, NUnit, and Mocha.

Works seamlessly with Jest, Mocha, and other JavaScript-based test runners.

Prerequisites

Needs browser drivers for each browser you intend to test.

No separate browser drivers are required as it comes with built-in browser binaries.

Operating Systems Supported

Support all major OS like Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Open Source

Open-source tool available for use and contribution by the community.

Architecture Used

Operates on a client-server model which can lead to latency issues.

Uses a more integrated approach which tends to be faster and more reliable.

The number of browsers Supported

Supports numerous browsers including older versions.

Focuses on modern browsers, including Chromium, Firefox, and WebKit.

Community Support

Benefits from a large community and extensive support resources.

The community is growing but has fewer resources compared to Selenium.

Real Devices Support

Can be integrated with device farms for testing on real devices.

Primarily focused on emulators and simulators, with limited support for real device testing.

Thus, both tools have their strengths and drawbacks, so the best choice may involve using a combination of both to leverage the unique benefits they offer.

Which One to Choose?

Deciding between Playwright and Selenium automated testing is not a straightforward choice. It primarily depends on your specific project requirements, team skill set, and the type of application you are testing. Here are some considerations to help you make an informed decision:

  • If your project is heavily JavaScript or TypeScript-based, Playwright might be a more natural fit due to its native support for these languages. For projects using other languages like Java, Python, or C#, Selenium could be more suitable due to its broader language support.
  • If you're looking for a tool with a straightforward setup, Playwright offers an easier installation process. Selenium might require more configuration but is a more familiar choice for many teams.
  • Playwright is ideal for modern web applications that require testing in Chromium, Firefox, and WebKit. For broader browser support, including older browser versions, Selenium is the go-to tool.
  • Playwright offers a faster execution speed due to its more integrated architecture. Selenium might experience latency issues but is robust for diverse testing scenarios.
  • If testing on real devices is a critical requirement, Selenium’s integration with device farms is advantageous. Playwright primarily focuses on emulators and simulators.

Driving the line, both tools have their merits. For teams aligned with modern JavaScript development and seeking faster performance, the Playwright automation tool is an excellent choice. Conversely, Selenium is unmatched in its versatility and broad language support, making it suitable for diverse and complex testing environments. Ultimately, the decision may involve considering a combination of both, depending on the varied needs of different projects.

Also, we’d like to remind you that if you have any testing-related questions, or need help with our no-code testing tool DogQ, don’t hesitate to contact us – our team is here to help you! Happy testing!

Which Is Faster: Playwright or Selenium?

Playwright offers faster execution speeds compared to Selenium. This is due to Playwright’s more modern architecture and direct communication with browsers, which reduces latency.

Is Playwright better than Selenium?

Whether Playwright is better than Selenium depends on the specific needs of a project. Playwright is often preferred for its speed, native support for modern JavaScript frameworks, and straightforward setup. However, Selenium's broader language support and established ecosystem make it a better choice for some projects.

Playwright has gained popularity for several reasons: it offers native end-to-end test support for all major web browsers; its API is straightforward, making test writing more accessible; it provides advanced features like network interception, emulation capabilities, and cross-browser testing out of the box.


Latest Posts:

How To Reflect On The Past Year and Get Ready For The New 2024. Get ready to set new goals for 2024 together with the DogQ no-code testing tool.

Top 9 Ways to Make Your QA Tester Career Path Successful. The ultimate checklist with the top 9 ways to make your tester career path successful.

The Best QA Courses to Take In 2024. Read this article to explore the best QA courses available online.


How to Choose the Functional Testing Tool for Your Project. We have the list of automation testing tools for all kinds of projects.

Selenium Automation Testing: Exploring Basics and Getting Started. Explore the fundamentals of Selenium testing.

10+ Best UI Automation Testing Tools. We delve into the depths of UI automation testing, and highlighting some of the best tools available in the market.