Playwright vs Selenium: Which one should you choose?

Playwright vs Selenium: Which one should you choose?

The agile development methodology focuses on the rapid and speedy delivery of the software in a phased manner. The agile methodology recommends testing should be on a sprint basis. Rather than testing the entire application in one go, the tester should focus more on testing the individual components than the entire system. Manual testing is time-consuming; the same test cases need to be tested multiple times as part of the testing strategy.

However, manual testing is a highly difficult task considering the timeline and promised deadline. Though the development and deployment are faster, manual testing delays the delivery of the product. The best solution for this is automation testing.

Once you create the automation test, you can run it multiple times without any intervention. Though automation testing takes time to create test cases, it is cost-effective when you consider the long period.

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.

What is Selenium?

Selenium is an open-source test automation framework. It was originally developed in 2004, actively developing and releasing its features since then. Selenium is the most widely used tool in the market. Selenium WebDriver implementation is a W3C recommendation since 2018.

Selenium is not a single tool, instead it is an application suite. It contains 3 significant tools: Selenium WebDriver, Selenium IDE, and Selenium Grid.

Understanding Selenium Tools

Selenium WebDriver

Selenium WebDriver component provides libraries to automate the browser. It accepts the commands, processes, and actions on the browser. The WebDriver is browser specific. For example, to run the automation tests on Chrome, you need ChromeDriver. Similarly, the specific driver is available for Firefox, Safari, etc.

Selenium Grid

Selenium Grid helps to run the test on multiple machines. It increases the speed of execution of Selenium tests. If you have a specific requirement to run a test against multiple browsers and operating systems, you may consider integrating the Selenium Grid.

Selenium IDE

Selenium IDE (Integrated Development Environment) is a record and playback tool. It is available as a browser extension or plugin. Selenium IDE helps beginners and manual testers to learn more easily. It also helps to speed up the automation of test cases. The Selenium IDE was created long before for Firefox. However, it has gone into a maintenance state over a period of time. The latest Selenium 4 release re-introduced the Selenium IDE with revamped user interface, new design, and more features.

Selenium Architecture

Selenium uses the WebDriver API to interact between the web browsers and browser drivers. The browser driver is specific to the browser, and it is platform dependent. Selenium uses JSON to translate test cases before sending them to the browser. Then the command is executed on the browser, receiving the response back using the HTTP protocol. However, recent Selenium version 4 changed its architecture and replaced the JSON wire protocol with W3C standards, which sends and receives the request using the HTTP protocol.

History of Selenium

Selenium has existed for 18 years, and though its contributors are changing over the years, it is still maintaining the stable release and adding new features. Selenium supports multiple languages such as Ruby, JavaScript, Java, Python, C#, etc. Selenium has huge community support, and the internet is filled with Selenium tutorials and technical videos.

What is Playwright?

Playwright is an open-source tool for test automation managed by Microsoft and its initial release was made in May 2020. Since then, 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 the Playwright.

The Playwright is initially developed considering end-to-end testing in mind. However as per audience demands, it has started experimenting with API testing and component testing. Playwright supports almost all major browsers Chromium, Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Webkit Browser.

In comparison with Selenium, Playwright has become quickly popular due to its simplicity and advanced features.

Playwright Architecture

The Playwright uses the WebSocket connection, unlike Selenium which doesn’t use the HTTP or JSON protocols. The WebSocket connection stays until the test execution is complete, so the Playwright is faster and less flaky.

History of Playwright

As mentioned before, Playwright is new to the market; however, it is aggressively delivering new features and fixing bugs. Playwright started in 2020; since then, it has evolved a lot. The Playwright’s initial version was built to support only end-to-end tests. Today it supports API testing, and component testing is in the beta phase. Though the Playwright community is growing, it has enough community members to support the project. Since Microsoft backs it, the testers are most hopeful about long-term support.

Playwright vs Selenium: Core Differences


FeaturesPlaywrightSelenium
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: Features & Limitations

Let’s explore some key features & limitations of Playwright and Selenium.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Playwright vs Selenium: Which one is better?

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.”

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.

Alternative to Playwright and Selenium

Selenium and Playwright are both open-source frameworks with some major limitations, so it is important to consider an alternative to these tools. Before we think of other options, let’s see some of the major limitations of these tools.

Playwright vs Selenium: Major limitations

  • Selenium and Playwright both require major technical knowledge. Manual testers cannot learn easily, and it is difficult for beginners to set up the framework.

  • Selenium and Playwright don’t 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 reporting features. Though 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 recording and playback features are not great in both tools; it generates flaky tests.

  • The test scripts can be developed only for those who deeply understand the test framework.

Considering the above limitations, it is important to think of an alternative. Testsigma is one such tool built by understanding the pain points of both testers and the organization as a whole. Though it has been a few years since Testsigma was released, it is capturing market attention. Let’s understand why Testsigma is better compared to these open-source automation tools.

Highlighting Features of Testsigma

  • Testsigma is a codeless automation tool. Anyone who knows application features can start automation testing.

  • Testsigma is manual tester friendly. Manual test cases can easily be converted to automation, and run tests as many times as you want.

  • Testsigma has dedicated technical support, and your issue is guaranteed to resolve. No need to sit and wait!

  • No need to spend time and money on upgrading resource skills.

  • The report generation features work like a charm, and you can send the report to stakeholders instantly.

Summary

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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