Playwright vs Selenium: Which One should You Choose?

Playwright vs Selenium: Which one should you choose?

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There are many test automation frameworks in the market. Selenium was dominant for many years. However, the latest evolution in web development made many automation frameworks popular. The Playwright is one such application that is competing with Selenium. Through this post on Playwright vs Selenium, we’d try to cover their features, limitations, and differences.

Playwright vs Selenium – Overview

What is Selenium?

Selenium is a popular open-source test automation framework that was developed in 2004. It is one of the most widely used testing frameworks in the market. 

Selenium is not a single tool but a suite of tools that supports different testing needs, such as Selenium WebDriver, Selenium IDE, and Selenium Grid.

Selenium supports multiple languages such as Ruby, JavaScript, Java, Python, C#, PHP, Python, .NET, and Perl. It has a very active community support.

Read moreSelenium automation testing.

Features of Selenium

  • Selenium is open source and backed by large community and donors.
  • Selenium supports native browsers Firefox, Chrome, Edge, and Safari. Tests are run on native browsers, not stock browsers.
  • Selenium test scripts are easy to understand.
  • Selenium supports Mobile devices using third-party libraries.
  • Since the Selenium tool has existed for 18+ years, long-term support can be expected.

Advantages of Selenium Over Playwright 

  • Supports various browsers, like IE, Edge, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Firefox
  • Supports multiple programming languages, like Java, .NET, JavaScript, PHP, C#, Python, Perl, JavaScript, and Ruby
  • Works on Windows, Mac, and Linux

Limitations of Selenium

  • As Selenium uses a middle layer browser-specific drivers tests are slow and flaky.
  • Selenium doesn’t support any in-built reporters.
  • Selenium can be treated as a library rather framework. Using the Selenium API one can develop the automation framework which is complicated and time-consuming.
  • Selenium doesn’t come with any inbuilt assertion libraries. One needs to rely on third-party libraries.
  • Selenium doesn’t support Image processing features such as Visual Testing etc.
  • Selenium doesn’t support API testing or Component testing. It supports only browser-based testing.
  • Supported by all major cloud testing providers.
  • Great community support, and a lot of tutorials available across the web.

What is Playwright?

Playwright, developed by Microsoft in 2020, is an open-source test automation library for automated browser testing and web scraping. Since its launch, Playwright has undergone many changes, and each release has added new features. Playwright shares a lot of similarities with Puppeteer; in fact, the same team built Playwright.

Read more – Take a quick look at Playwright vs Puppeteer

Playwright supports almost all major browsers Chromium, Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Webkit Browser. Compared with Selenium, Playwright has become quickly popular due to its simplicity and advanced features.

Features of Playwright

  • Playwright is not just a library, instead the complete framework is shipped as a package, you can start testing easily.
  • Playwright supports different types of testing such as API, end-to-end, and component testing.
  • It is developer friendly and provides a lot of debugging features, such as tracing, logging, and IDE integration.
  • Playwright directly injects commands into the browser, so tests are the most faster and reliable.
  • Playwright comes with built-in reporters where it supports multiple types of reporters such as list, line, dot, JUnit, and HTML reporter.
  • It is shipped with in-built assertion/test runner libraries; third-party libraries are optional.
  • Playwright supports mocking and stubbing, which is a big plus if you want to have a single framework for API and end-to-end testing.
  • Playwright can be used for Visual comparison testing, where UI can be tested independently without integrating data. The visual comparison involves testing styles, UI designs, layout, etc.
  • Playwright performs automatic waiting, no need to add explicit waiting.
  • It has good documentation. Since Microsoft backs it, Playwright documented everything with an example. It is easy for a beginner to learn and start testing.

Advantages of Playwright Over Selenium

  • Playwright supports modern rendering engines like WebKit, Chromium, and Firefox.
  • Compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac OS
  • Supports programming languages like TypeScript, Python, C#, Node.js, and Java
  • Playwright is faster than Selenium
  • Provide auto-waiting capability
  • Supports parallel testing for concurrent test execution

Limitations of Playwright

  • It is relatively new to the market as the community is still growing.
  • Playwright doesn’t support the native Safari browser.
  • The Native mobile application support is still not official.
  • Playwright doesn’t support legacy IE 11
  • It uses its stock browser, which is not a real browser.
  • Cloud platform testing support is limited.

Playwright vs Selenium in Web Scraping

Web scraping is a technique that helps extract data from websites. Both Playwright and Selenium support web scraping. Let’s see which one is useful for what scenario:

When to choose Playwright over Selenium,

  • For extensive web scraping on a large scale
  • For consistent behavior across various browsers
  • While extracting data from websites that have dynamic web pages
  • When managing isolated browsing sessions for parallel testing is necessary

When to choose Selenium over Playwright,

  • If you’re looking for a browser automation tool with multi-language support
  • When you want to test across a diverse set of browsers
  • If you’re a fan of a large community and resources

Playwright vs Selenium: Core Differences

Playwright and Selenium are both popular tools for browser automation and testing, but they have some key differences. The core differences between Selenium and Playwright are as follows,

Open sourceYes, Apache 2.0Yes, Apache 2.0
Browser SupportChrome/Chromium, Firefox, and Webkit (Open-source version of Safari)Chrome, Firefox, Edge, IE
Programming languageJava, Python, C#, JavaScript/TypescriptJava, Python, C#, JavaScript, Ruby, Perl, PHP, Typescript
Test runner supportPlaywright comes with an in-built test runner.Also supports third-party test runners, Mocha, Jest, Jasmine, Ava, etc.Selenium doesn’t have any inbuilt test runner.Selenium supports TestNG, JUnit, NUnit, Mocha, Jest, Jasmine, 
Operating systemWindows, macOS, LinuxWindows, macOS, Linux, Solaris
ArchitectureFollows Websocket protocol with event-driven headless architecture.Follows JSON wire protocol/HTTP protocol. Uses the browser Specific Webdriver to communicate with browsers.
Mobile Device SupportExperimental featuresSupports third-party libraries like Appium
Donors/Backed CompanyMicrosoft/CommunityCommunity
CI/CD integration support YesYes
Community SupportGrowing communityLarge community support
Record and Playback supportYes, Playwright CodeGenYes, Selenium IDE
Visual Comparison Testing supportYesNo

Playwright vs Selenium: Which One to Choose for Your Test Automation

Selenium is the most widely used tool and comes with great community support. However, it lacks many advanced features. The Playwright has limited community support, but it has many modern features. Now the question arises, which one to choose, Playwright or Selenium? There is no direct answer.

The test automation tool completely depends on organization and project requirements. It involves a lot of factors, such as skilled resources, types of web applications, development frameworks used, required features, time to deliver, etc.

“The best test automation tool in the world doesn’t exist, but the best tool for the project exists.”

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Key pointers to choose the best test automation tool

  • List down the scope and requirements of the project.
  • Conduct proof of concept (POC) on both tools.
  • List down the blockers and features during the POC.
  • Analyze the outcome of the POC and discuss it with higher management and team members.
  • Take the collective feedback and derive a conclusion.
  • Prepare the supporting documents why and/or why not considered a tool for your project.
  • Consider alternatives to Playwright and Selenium, don’t be biased.

Even after POC, there is a high chance that you might not be content with both tools. When you have time constraints and are most cautious about the cost and a skill gap, you might have to look for an alternative to Playwright and Selenium, which has features like cost-effective, skill-friendly, and more.

Selenium vs Playwright: Major Limitations & Alternatives

  • Selenium and Playwright are open-source automation testing tools that require major technical knowledge. So, it can be difficult for manual testers to set up the framework and create test scripts.
  • Selenium and Playwright do not provide any technical support. If you are stuck at some point, you need to ask in the community, and there is no guarantee that you will get the answer.
  • Selenium doesn’t provide any test reporting features. Though the Playwright supports reporting, the reports cannot be directly shared. You need to depend on third-party tools to send the notifications and share the test report.
  • The record and playback features are not great in both tools. They generate flaky tests.
  • The test scripts can be developed only for those who deeply understand the test framework.

Consider the above limitations before you choose them for your test automation needs. Now that we know the pros and cons of both Selenium and Playwright let’s talk about the alternatives that could make your test automation even better.

Playwright vs Selenium Alternative: Testsigma

The best alternative could be to opt for a scriptless testing tool like Testsigma. It helps address these pain points of both testers and the organization as a whole.

Testsigma is a low-code cloud-based test automation tool that allows testers to plan, create, run, and maintain tests on the cloud. Testsigma is faster than Playwright and Selenium in terms of both test creation and execution. Let’s see how in the below section.

Selenium vs Playwright vs Testsigma

Selenium and Playwright are both open-source test automation frameworks with some major limitations, so it is important to consider an alternative that increases your testing efficiency. 

Key Features of Testsigma

  • Testsigma is a unified low-code test automation tool that allows testers to create and run end-to-end automated tests on the cloud for your web, mobile, and desktop apps and APIs. 
  • Not just browser automation, you can automate your entire functional testing in one platform.
  • No coding skills required. Leverage low-code testing techniques to create and run automated tests quickly and efficiently using NLPs, Record & Playback, or Data-driven testing. 
Playwright vs Selenium Alternative - Testsigma Test Run screenshot
  • You can use Java to customize automated scenarios that might require coding. That way, it supports both codeless and code-based testing in one place.
  • Makes your testing process 10x faster and helps ship your products 8x faster
  • Offers detailed and custom test reporting features. 
  • Provides 24×5 extended customer support via chat, email, call, and community
  • Supports parallel testing across multiple test environments 
  • Has an intuitive user interface, which is simple and easy to use for both technical and non-technical users.
  • No need to install or set up the framework. Simply create and run automated tests on the cloud.
  • Makes testing more accessible by providing different low-code techniques.

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Selenium and Playwright are both open-source tools and are backed by the community. Both tools support multiple browsers and operating systems. However, Selenium and Playwright framework demands more technical expertise compared to Testsigma.

Compared to Selenium and Playwright, Testsigma is easy to learn and use, and provides a cost-effective solution. Every organization is keen on reducing costs. We know there is a cost involved in everything, from maintaining the test infrastructure to upskilling the resources. Considering the cost, ease of use, and modern features, Testsigma is the first choice for the organization.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Playwright a product of Microsoft?

The Playwright is open source, and it is backed by Microsoft. Keep in mind Microsoft doesn’t provide any technical support for the Playwright issues. All technical issues have to go through open-source community guidelines.

Is Playwright built with Selenium?

No, Playwright is a completely different tool right from architecture. It doesn’t use any Selenium components.

Can Playwright be used for API Testing?

Yes, Playwright can be used for API Testing.

Does Playwright support codeless automation?

Playwright supports the record and playback feature; however, the tests produced using the record and playback feature are not reliable and need frequent maintenance.

What is the major limitation of Playwright and Selenium?

Both are open source and lack technical support. Each application is built with unique architecture, and automating modern web application is a challenging job. While using an automation framework, it’s most common to encounter challenges or blockers. Since there is no technical support, you are not guaranteed to get the solution.

Which is the best alternative to Selenium and Playwright?

Considering the limitations of Playwright and Selenium and the ease of integration with modern web applications, Testsigma is the best alternative.


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