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Difference Between Robot Framework vs Selenium

Testing is a crucial phase of the software development life cycle. Software test automation tools simulate the user actions, used for testing, and execute them on the browser without any manual intervention. When it comes to test automation tools Selenium and Robot Framework are the popular ones. In this article, we have made a detailed comparison between  Robot Framework vs Selenium

What is Robot Framework?

Robot Framework is an open-source automation framework for acceptance testing. It follows the keyword-driven architecture of the test automation framework. The Robot Framework is efficient enough to support both Robotic Process Automation(RPA) and Functional test automation. Under the hood, it uses the open source RPA tools to support RPA and Selenium to support the functional testing. Robot Framework is highly extensible, it can also be extended to support BDD features.

Why is Robot Framework Used?

Robot Framework decreases the requirement of programming language knowledge. It is also an easy-to-use framework. If you are aware of the basics of Selenium, the basics of testing, and minimal knowledge of command line tools then you can start using the Robot Framework. Compared to other test automation tools, Robot Framework has a less learning curve. Hence Robot Framework is widely used. Additionally, the Robot framework supports RPA, which helps to fulfill any process automation requirements.

Pros of Robot Framework

Below are some of the pros of Robot Framework

  • Open-source and free
  • Easy-to-use framework
  • Less time to set up the framework
  • Less learning curve
  • A higher degree of reusability
  • Parallel Test Execution
  • Frequent releases and updates
  • Supports multiple operating systems

Cons of Robot Framework

Below are the cons of the Robot Framework

  • Limited programming capabilities
  • Lack IDE support
  • Lack of Community support
  • Slow execution speed especially in CI/CD pipelines
  • Difficult to extend and customize
  • Difficult to integrate with other tools
  • It helps keyword-driven, behavior-driven, and data-driven patterns

What is Selenium?

Selenium is an open-source test automation framework. It supports multiple operating systems and multiple browser test executions. Selenium helps to automate almost every possible scenario of functional test automation. Selenium just provides the plain library to simulate the user actions on the browser; users can build the framework by implementing this library as per their requirements and standards. 

Why is Selenium Used?

Selenium is used to automate the functional test cases and execute them on a variety of browsers to perform browser compatibility testing. It supports all major browsers such as Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and MS Edge. Furthermore, it has a very large community support. If you are a beginner, there are many tutorials and video instructions available all over the internet. 

Selenium is the first choice for many experienced test engineers, as it supports different programming languages, and they are free to use the programming languages of their choice. 

Pros of Selenium

Selenium has many benefits; community support is one big plus for Selenium. There are many frameworks, including the Robot Framework, that use Selenium in the background. Its benefits include:

  • Open source framework
  • Cross-platform support
  • Cross Browser support
  • Easy to extend and customize
  • Supports multiple languages
  • It can be integrated with many tools such as Cucumber BDD, TestNG, JUnit frameworks
  • It supports cloud testing execution support
  • It can be integrated with DevOps tools (CI/CD)

Cons of Selenium

  • Setting up a selenium framework is difficult
  • Steep learning curve
  • Does not support mobile testing
  • Reporting is not provided inbuilt.
  • Requires a good understanding of programming knowledge
  • It does not support desktop app test automation

Selenium VS Robot framework – Which companies use?

Selenium and Robot frameworks have existed for decades hence many larger companies are using them. One of the main benefits of using both of these frameworks is, that they are available as an open-source framework and free to use. In comparison with the Robot Framework, Selenium has more customers. 

Selenium is used by Queensland Health, Sogeti, Accenture, Grant Thornton International, Swiss Post, CRED, Delivery Hero SE, etc. 

Standard Chartered Bank, Lear Corporation, Bank of New York Mellon Company, Kongsberg Gruppen ASA, etc use Robot Framework.

Robot framework vs Selenium – What tools to integrate?

Integration of test automation framework with third-party tools plays a crucial role as it enhances the framework capability and helps in customization. Both Robot Framework and Selenium support integration, but the Robot Framework supports only a limited set of tools.

Selenium can be integrated with Saucelabs, BrowserStack, Jira, Jenkins, Gitlab, LamdaTest, etc. Similarly, Robot Framework can be integrated with Jenkins, CircleCI, XRay, LamdaTest, BrowserStack, etc.

Should You Use Robot Framework, Selenium WebDriver, or Both?

Robot Framework can be integrated with SeleniumLibrary. SeleniumLibrary is a web-testing library that utilizes the power of Selenium. SeleniumLibrary works with the latest version of Selenium. If you want to use the old version of Selenium, you can use the Selenium2Library. However, if the organization has the desired skill set to implement the core Selenium framework, then you can use the Selenium without Robot framework. 

In short, Selenium can be used independently to write the functional tests. The Robot Framework requires SeleniumLibrary to be integrated for functional test automation. It supports keyword–driven, BDD-style test automation without any hassle. Selenium can also be configured with keyword-driven and BDD using Cucumber however, it is more complicated.

As mentioned before both frameworks have pros and cons, so you need to evaluate both the frameworks against your requirements and choose the better one. Remember, if none of the tools fit and if your organization is lacking skilled resources you may also need to consider alternative tools such as Testsigma, which is capable of automating the test cases without prior programming knowledge.

Testsigma is a no-code automation tool that:

  • Enables you to start automating in minutes
  • Supports all different types of testing without expecting any coding knowledge. 
  • Supports API Testing, end-to-end testing, functional testing, visual regression testing, mobile testing, and responsive testing.
  • Also offers cross-platform and cross-browser support. 
  • Has a team that manages the testing infrastructure for you, and it further reduces the infrastructure maintenance overhead. 
  • Is a cloud-based tool and is budget-friendly. 
  • Lets organizations share the resources across the project, as no technical knowledge is required to automate. 
  • Provides highly customizable reporting
  • Comes equipped with a great support team, available 24×7

Because of all these modern features and dedicated support, Testsigma has gained a lot of customers within a short period.



Best Practices While Using Robot Framework With Selenium

The best practices make the framework more structured, and more readable. It also makes maintenance easier in the long run. Below are some of the best practices that you can follow while using the Robot Framework  with Selenium

  • Use the Setup method to perform the prerequisite tasks before test execution such as launching the browser instance, navigating to the base URL, opening any files, etc.
  • Use Teardown methods to perform clean-up tasks
  • Write independent tests, this helps to configure the parallel execution to reduce the execution time. Additionally, independent tests help to maintain the test cases easily.
  • Have common libraries or utilities to perform the frequently used actions.
  • Create a separate file for environment configurations; do not hardcode
  • Build a data-driven test to utilize the code reuse feature
  • Use proper naming conventions for files, variables, and keywords
  • Avoid hard sleep, instead use dynamic sleep such as wait For Visible, Wait Until, etc.
  • Consider timely maintenance of your test cases
  • Integrate the automation framework into the CI/CD pipeline to get the most out of it.

Selenium VS Robot framework – How are they similar?

Robot Framework and Selenium have many similarities below are some of the key similarities between them.

  • Both of them can be used for functional testing
  • Both are open-source
  • Both support multiple operating systems
  • They can support multiple browser execution
  • Both of them are open source and have community support
  • Selenium and Robot Framework can be integrated with CI/CD tools
  • There are many free community plugins available to extend
  • They don’t  have inbuilt support for mobile automation 

Key Differences between Robot Framework vs Selenium

We have discussed the pros and cons of both frameworks, however, when it comes to choosing the best fit for your organization, you might still be confused about which one to choose. The side-by-side comparison can help you in deciding the best fit. Below are the Top 10 differences between Robot Framework vs Selenium.

SeleniumRobot Framework
What is it?Selenium is an open-source functional test automation tool. It supports a high degree of customizationRobot Framework is a general-purpose open source test automation framework. Internally, it uses many open-source frameworks to support Robotic Process Automation and Functional test automation
UsageFunctional TestingAcceptance Testing
LicenseApache License 2.0Apache License 2.0
DependencySelenium has no dependency on functional test automationRobot Framework needs SeleniumLibrary for functional test automation
Learning CurveSelenium requires a deep level of programming language understanding to set up and write the test cases hence there is more learning curve.Robot Framework requires less programming language knowledge as it uses the keyword-driven approach
Robotic Process Automation SupportSelenium does not support RPARobot Framework supports RPA
Third-party library integrationSelenium can be integrated with many third-party tools such as DevOps tools, versioning tools, Cloud-based testing tools, and defect-tracking toolsIt supports many integration tools. However, the tools list is limited
Programming language supportIt supports many programming languages Java, C#, JavaScript, Python, etc.It supports Python as the core language. Can be extended to support other languages
Record and Playback supportSelenium supports record and playback using the SeleniumIDEIt doesn’t support record and playback feature
ReportingIt doesn’t have inbuilt reportingIt provides basic reporting

Alternatives to Robot Framework and Selenium

Alternatives to Robot Framework and Selenium

Robot Framework and Selenium both are very popular test automation tools. However, both of them require programming language knowledge. Additionally, the testing scope has been increased in recent years. Organizations are focusing on many other testing types such as API testing, visual testing, mobile testing, accessibility testing, etc. Achieving all testing requirements using these frameworks requires in-depth programming language expertise and integration with supporting libraries. Though these libraries are freely available, integrating them is not an easy task. There is a lot of complexity involved in it. These integrations can also increase the framework complexity and make maintenance tough in the longer term. Hence, organizations are looking for an easy way to fulfill their testing needs. Testsigma is one such tool that supports no-code testing and supports different types of testing under one platform.

Testsigma is a cloud-based test automation platform. That requires no framework setup, no library integration and not even need to know programming languages. It supports API testing, visual testing, native mobile application testing, cross-browser testing, cross-platform testing, and many other features. All these can be done just using the rich user interface hence there is not much learning curve. Additionally, existing manual testers can easily contribute to the test case automation, this helps to increase the test automation coverage faster. Rich reporting, customization of reporting, and online access to test artifacts are other notable features of Testsigma.



Conclusion

Robot Framework and Selenium are popularly used for test automation. RobotFramework is a general-purpose automation tool, and the latter is a functional test automation tool. Selenium requires good programming knowledge and requires time and effort to set up the framework work. Both of them lack many test automation requirements as they are designed to support only one type of automation which is functional test automation. Robot Framework can also support RPA however, that might not be a major need for test automation. Considering drawbacks, organizations are switching to no-code-based tools like Testsigma to fulfill all of their different types of testing needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Robot Framework better than Pytest?

Both Robot Framework and Pytest are Python-based frameworks. Under the hood, both use Selenium. Robot Framework doesn’t require in-depth coding knowledge. Anyone aware of the basics of test automation can perform automation. Pytest may require good programming knowledge, however, this comes with additional benefits such as various integration tools, good level customization, and extensibility, hence, the best fit based on your requirements. 

Why is Selenium better than Robot Framework?

Considering the functional testing Robot Framework uses the Selenium library in the backend. However, Robot Framework is keyword-driven and might restrict certain features. Consider your organization’s requirements and evaluate both the frameworks to choose the best one.

Can Selenium be used for Robotic Process Automation?

Selenium is a functional test automation tool, that can support web application automation. It is not a general-purpose automation tool. So, Selenium cannot support Robotic Process Automation. Robot Framework is one such tool that can support the RPA and functional testing.

Does Selenium support no-code Automation?

Selenium does not support no-code automation, it provides record and playback features with Selenium IDE, it might be helpful only for beginners to learn automation. The code generated using the Selenium IDE is generally not stable and tests may become flaky.


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