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Selenium VS Cucumber: Top 10 Key Differences

May 20, 2024Priyanka
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Selenium VS Cucumber Top 10 Key Differences
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As organizations are realizing the benefit of automation testing, they are shifting to automation testing. Automation testing helps to rapidly increase the test coverage and can be executed as many times as possible without any additional human resources. Selenium and Cucumber are the most popular tools in automation. When it comes to choosing between Selenium vs Cucumber it’s challenging. In this article, we have compared Selenium vs Cucumber in detail and in-depth.

Selenium VS Cucumber – Overview

What Is Cucumber?

Cucumber is a Behavior Driven Development(BDD) tool that helps to develop the acceptance and functional tests for your application. Cucumber uses the Gherkin syntax, so it makes tests more readable for anyone. Cucumber supports multiple programming languages such as Java, Ruby, Javascript, Python, C# etc. Read here about – Gherkin vs Cucumber.

cucumber

Preferred by Business Testers

Cucumber uses the natural language structure for the test case. Hence it is more tester-friendly. It doesn’t require any technical knowledge to write the test cases so it is easy to write the automation scripts. Gherkin syntax is used to write the Cucumber test cases. Let’s understand the Gherkin syntax.

Gherkin syntax has a “Given–When–Then” structure. Optionally it can use “And”.

Given: it is used to define the pre-condition

When: it is used for performing specific actions

Then: it is used for asserting or verifying the specific use cases.

Example of Cucumber Test Cases

Feature: Login

Scenario: Successful login with valid credentials

Given: I navigate to https://app.testsigma.com/

When: I enter the username as xyz@testsigma.com

And: I enter the password as T#@sismga

And: I click on submit

Then: I should be able to see the Testigma dashboard.

Furthermore, if you want to use the data-driven testing you can use the “Scenario Outline”.

Considering the above syntax, the test case is more readable and easy to write. Hence it is preferred by business testers who have limited technical knowledge.

What Is Selenium?

Selenium is an open-source test automation tool, it supports many programming languages such as Java, Javascript, Python, C#, Kotlin, etc. Selenium provides libraries to launch the browser and perform the action on the browser. Selenium supports almost any type of web application testing. However, it doesn’t support desktop application testing. Selenium requires coding knowledge, testers need to build the framework using one of the supported languages.

selenium

Preferred by SDETs

Selenium is preferred by SDETs. As it supports many programming languages. Using coding knowledge it is easy to handle the edge case scenarios. Furthermore, the Selenium framework can be extended to support multiple browsers, multiple platforms, and multiple devices.

Selenium VS Cucumber – When to Use ?

When Should I Use Selenium Instead of Cucumber?

Selenium is a web application automation tool. It can be used to automate the application testing. Selenium requires coding knowledge and more technical skills. When acceptance criteria are not provided in story format, usually testers need to derive the test cases using acceptance criteria. This can be in plain English language and might have some steps for verifying the functionality. Later, such test cases will be converted to automation in such cases Selenium tools will be more useful.

When Should I Use Cucumber Instead of Selenium?

Cucumber is a tool preferred by businesses and it follows the BDD format for structure. If the acceptance criteria are provided in the story or feature(Gherkin) format, then it is easy to convert them to automation using the Cucumber. As mentioned earlier, if you already have the Cucumber automation framework in place, you can easily map the test cases using the Gherkin structure. This requires less technical skills, testers just need to provide the test cases in Gherkin format.

Selenium and Cucumber are the most popular tools in the market. The cucumber framework doesn’t require programming knowledge, once the setup is completed. This means that before using the Cucumber framework you need to set up the automation framework. Framework setup requires a deep level of technical knowledge and is time-consuming. When you consider an organization, no matter which framework the organization adopts, it requires technical resources, either to set up the automation framework or to write the test cases. Considering this, organizations are shifting towards the no-code automation tool like Testsigma. 

What Are the Advantages of Cucumber and Selenium?

Both Cucumber and Selenium have many advantages. Let’s understand them in detail.

Advantages of Selenium

  • Extensibility and Customization: As Selenium is an open-source test automation tool there are many third-party plugins built by the community for the community. It is easy to extend the Selenium framework to support additional features. Selenium framework can be customized as per the organization’s requirement with ease.
  • Large community base: Selenium has a huge community, there are plenty of resources, questions, and answers available over the internet. This includes documentation, tutorials, videos, etc.
  • Parallel test execution: Selenium supports cross-browser testing. You can execute the tests using Firefox, Chrome, Edge, and Safari browsers. Interestingly, all these tests can be run in parallel and save execution time.
  • Edge case scenarios support: If your business has edge case scenarios, you can cover it up with a workaround. Additionally, you can build your own test harness tool and hook it up with the Selenium framework with ease.

Advantages of Cucumber

  • Less technical knowledge to write tests: Through Cucumber framework setup requires in-depth technical knowledge, once the setup is complete, anyone can write the test cases using the Gherkin syntax.
  • Easy to debug: As Cucumber uses the plain English-like language if your test cases fail, you can easily debug by looking at the test steps.
  • Re-usability: A higher degree of reusability can be achieved using the Cucumber. If your tests share similar steps, no need to write them again, Cucumber automatically maps them to existing test steps.
  • More readable test reports: Cucumber reports are more readable and easy to understand for stakeholders. Hence, no further clarification is required when it is shared.

What are the Challenges of Using Cucumber and Selenium?

Selenium and Cucumber both have challenges or disadvantages. Let’s look at each one of them in detail.

Challenges of Selenium

  • Requires in-depth technical knowledge: Not only for building the framework but even while writing the test cases Selenium requires coding knowledge. This may upset many manual testers who are ready to switch to automation. From the organization’s point of view, resources cannot be utilized across the manual and automation.
  • Lack of Reporting: Interpreting the test reports is more complicated. If you are not from a technical background you may not be able to find the root cause easily. 
  • Complexity in reusability: Test Scripts are difficult to reuse, one needs to write the helper methods to make them more reusable. This increases the complexity.
  • Maintenance: Test case maintenance is more challenging in Selenium. Once the test case fails, the tester needs to spend time analyzing and needs to fix them manually.

Limitation of Cucumber

  • Complexity in framework setup: Though Cucumber follows plain English-like syntax, the initial framework setup is complicated. Designing a framework might take more time and effort. Also, it demands more technical skills.
  • Difficult to support edge case scenario: If your business has a specific edge case scenario, it will be difficult to support them using Cucumber. As Cucumber has some restrictions you may not be able to cover all use cases as part of automation.
  • Slower Execution Speed: In comparison with plain Selenium tests, Cucumber tests may execute slowly. When you have thousands of scenarios, it may take a long time to complete the execution.
  • Complexity with parallel execution: Though cucumber supports parallel execution, it is difficult to implement, especially if you require to execute the scenario level parallelism then it becomes challenging.

Why is Selenium More Reliable than Cucumber?

Selenium comes with many advantages. If your organization has the required skill-set then it is easy to use the Selenium framework. Almost every use case can be automated using Selenium. The framework can be extended to support numerous functionalities, including responsive testing, accessibility testing, visual regression testing, and API testing. All required testing types can be brought into a single umbrella using the Selenium framework. As it reduces the Cucumber layer, complexity will be reduced. Selenium results are comparatively faster and more stable than the Cucumber results.

Selenium VS Cucumber: How they’re used Together?

Selenium is a tool for test automation, Cucumber is a BDD tool. Interestingly you can combine them to use the power of both Selenium and Cucumber. In fact, Cucumber cannot run independently without any test automation tools. Cucumber works well with Selenium. 

Below are some key pointers on how Selenium and Cucumber framework work together.

  • Cucumber is integrated as an entry point for the framework
  • The cucumber framework helps to write the test cases in a plain English-like structure(Gherkin)
  • Each step in Cucumber is mapped to a step definition file in the background; generally, those are written in one of the programming languages.
  • The step definition file uses the Selenium libraries and launches the browser
  • Selenium helps to perform specific actions or simulate the user actions and record the output
  • Cucumber then interprets those outputs based on the reporter implementation, pass or fail results will be provided
  • Considering the above, once the framework is mature, the need for step definition file implementation is reduced as most of the scenarios are already handled, it can be reused with different parameters.

Selenium VS Cucumber: What are the Differences?

Both Selenium and Cucumber mainly focus on web application testing. However, they are built to solve different problems. Let’s compare Selenium vs Cucumber to understand them better.

SeleniumCucumber
What is it?Selenium is a test automation tool, aimed to automate the web application.Cucumber is a BDD tool that provides integration to popular test automation tools.
PurposeSelenium aims to simulate the user actions or simulate the user journeys. Thus, helps to automate the manual use cases.Cucumber aims to align test automation into business. Makes more readable and understandable test cases with the Gherkin structure
DependencySelenium doesn’t require any testing tool to work. Though we integrate reporting and other libraries, those are optional.Cucumber requires to be integrated with the test automation tool to get meaningful results.
Coding knowledgeIt requires technical knowledge for both framework setup and writing the test casesIt requires technical skills only during the automation framework setup. You may not need coding knowledge to write the test cases.
ComplexityThough the framework requires coding knowledge, it is less complicated in comparison with the CucumberThe framework setup itself is complicated. Later whenever there are edge case scenarios testers may struggle to automate them
Reliability and StabilitySelenium tests are more reliable and stableLess reliable and stable in comparison with Selenium
Execution speedSelenium tests are fasterIt is slower when compared to Selenium
MaintenanceTest case maintenance may be challenging. Additionally, when test cases fail, it may be difficult to find the root causeTest case maintenance is easier, and anyone can find the reason for the failure
CustomizationSelenium framework can be extended and customized as it provides many community plugins.Customization is limited
IntegrationThere are a lot of tools that support Selenium integration directly into their platformFewer tools support Cucumber integration compared to Selenium

Selenium vs Cucumber – Choosing the Right Tool for Your Software Project

It is a known fact that, once you choose the test automation framework it is difficult to migrate into another. So choosing the right tool is crucial. Often many organizations make the mistake of not giving importance to tool evaluation and later stage they will find challenges with the automation framework. It is important to evaluate all possible frameworks before concluding.

Many factors need to be considered while evaluating the tool. These factors may help you to decide on the right fit automation tool for your organization.

  • Technical skills: Selenium and Cucumber both demand technical skills. Selenium might require coding knowledge throughout the automation, while the latter requires only building the automation framework.
  • Business requirements: Businesses may be specifically interested in BDD architecture and it might be enforcing the BDD approach across the teams. In such cases, Cucumber becomes a great choice.
  • Application complexity: Certain use cases may not be supported when you integrate the Cucumber with your automation framework. Additionally, Cucumber may limit the customization and extension capability of your automation framework. Be careful of this.
  • Testing and execution strategy: The test execution strategy may involve different types of tests at different levels. For example, many organizations are now mandating responsive testing, and accessibility testing as part of the testing framework. In such cases, the Cucumber framework may lag to adopt them all.
  • Test metrics and reporting: Cucumber report provides more readable reports however if your organization requires them in customized format it may be challenging.
  • Third-party tool integration: Selenium is supported by third-party tools. But Cucumber may be supported by only a limited set of tools. So, have an integration requirement ready before evaluation.

Test automation is continuously evolving. Modern test automation demands more than just automation. The automation framework has now started integrating with many different types of testing. The scope has significantly increased. Let’s look at the future of test automation.

Shift left testing: Shift left testing focuses on starting the testing at an early phase. Many organizations now focus on Agile. Testers will be part of all agile ceremonies, and they will write the automation scripts on a sprint basis. Testing will be carried out in a sprint rather than waiting for the whole feature to finish.

Integrating into the DevOps ecosystem: Since the development process is automated, testing also needs to be part of the DevOps ecosystem. Both Cucumber and Selenium already provide such capabilities. However, testers need to have DevOps skills to use it efficiently.

Leveraging the third-party tools: Instead of setting up your infrastructure for multi-browser testing and responsive testing, one can use the existing cloud platform to achieve such requirements. Similarly, there are many uses where the Cucumber and Selenium framework can be integrated with existing third-party tools to optimize the cost.

Alternative Tools for Selenium and Cucumber

Organizations are trying to reduce the complexity of automation and focusing on efficiently utilizing the resources. Considering Selenium and Cucumber, both of them require coding knowledge at different stages. This increases the complexity of the automation framework and also demands more technical resources. Hence organizations are shifting towards alternative tools, that is no code automation tool. When it comes to no-code automation, Testsigma has captured a major market share.

Some of the notable features of Testsigma are given below

  • No setup, no installation, and access to all your test artifacts anywhere over the browser
  • AI-driven test creation and execution
  • Support for all major testing types, including end-to-end testing, functional testing, API testing, visual regression testing, etc.
  • No-code tool, coding skill is not required to create any type of test at any stage
  • Rich reporting, easy to share with targeted stakeholders
  • Testsigma supports different testing types, such as end-to-end testing, functional testing, API testing, Visual Regression testing, responsive testing, cross-browser testing, etc.


Conclusion

Selenium and Cucumber both are powerful test automation tools; both require coding expertise at different stages of automation. While choosing the Selenium vs Cucumber, you need to consider different factors and carefully evaluate to make the right choice. No matter which tool you choose the complexity cannot be reduced unless you choose the no-code automation tool.

 No-code automation tools don’t require any coding skills even for setting up an automation framework. Testsigma is a key player in the market when it comes to no-code automation tools. Testsigma can help the organization to optimize the cost, and efficiently utilize the resources. It can also save time and effort as the tool is shipped as a framework-ready tool. Interestingly, all the test artifacts can be accessed remotely(via cloud) just by using the browser. 

As the modern automation scope has increased, covering all the scope using legacy approaches may not be feasible, However, tools like Testsigma may come in handy to align with modern development practices.



Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Selenium more reliable than Cucumber?

Businesses often rely on Selenium for its ability to easily interact with web elements, provide comprehensive browser support, and offer extensive community adoption. Being a popular tool, Selenium comes with a widespread user base that has led to extensive documentation, resources, and community support, making it a go-to choice for web testing.

While Cucumber enhances collaboration and test readability through behavior-driven development (BDD) practices, Selenium’s versatility and depth in web automation make it a preferred option for many testers and developers.

Can I learn Cucumber without Selenium?

Cucumber is a BDD framework and Selenium is a test automation tool, both are different tools. However, to make Cucumber work you may need to integrate one of the test automation tools in the backend. It can be Selenium or any other.

Can we integrate Cucumber with Selenium?

Cucumber and Selenium are integrated to make a BDD automation framework, which helps to utilize the power of both Selenium and Cucumber.

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