Specflow vs Selenium | Top 10 Key Differences

June 14, 2024Priyanka
Specflow vs Selenium Top 10 Key Differences

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Testing frameworks can be built using different architectures. Test Driven Development(TDD) and Behavior Driven Development (BDD) are two major approaches widely used across the industry. When it comes to automation testing, irrespective of the approach you choose, you need to rely on some automation tools. Selenium and Specflow are developed to automate the manual test cases. To choose the best tool we need to understand and compare Specflow vs Selenium in detail.

What is Specflow?


Specflow is an open-source tool, that helps to develop the test automation framework in the BDD approach. Specflow is backed by Tricentis company. Speclfow belongs to the Cucumber family. The features are similar to Cucumber, Like Cucumber you need to write the test scripts in Gherkins syntax which is a Given-When-And-Then format. However, Speclfow is exclusively built for .Net(C#) based automation framework. 

What is Selenium?


Selenium is an open-source web application automation tool. Selenium helps to simulate the user actions on the browser. It supports different programming languages such as C#, Java, Javascript, Ruby, and Python. Selenium can interact with all modern browsers like Chromium, Chrome, Edge, Safari, and Firefox. Selenium can be integrated with JUnit, TestNG, Cucumber, and many other tools 

What is BDD?

BDD is a short form for Behavior Driven Development, it is an agile software methodology. This methodology enforces to build the application by prioritizing the user’s expectations, and experience. BDD Testing is a testing methodology to test the software application where test cases are designed in the form of Gherkin Syntax. The BDD testing approach makes the test cases more readable and understandable by anyone.

Gherkin Syntax 

Gherkin syntax is a unique language, it is written in plain English language with keywords. It is structured in the form of a Given When and Then format. Each statement describes a specific aspect of the system.

Example of Test Case

Generic Test CaseBDD Test Case in Gherkin Syntax
Test Case Title: Verify Login
Step 1: Navigate to Testsigma login page
Step 2: Enter username and password and submit
Step 3: Verify if the user can log in
Feature: Login
Scenario: User login with correct credential
Given: I navigate to the Testsigma login page
When: I Enter the correct username
And: I Enter the correct password
And: I click on the submit button
Then: I should see the dashboard page

Considering the above example, as you can see the Gherkin syntax is clearer with no ambiguity. Given, defines the prerequisite. When defining the action what the user does and then verifying the result.

Selenium vs SpecFlow: What are the differences?

Selenium and Specflow help to automate the manual test cases. Both are popular and widely used. However, it might be difficult to choose the best fit for your organization, without knowing their differences and features. In this section, we are comparing Selenium vs Specflow with top features.

LicenseOpen source, BSD licenseOpen source, Apache 2.0 license
CategoryAcceptance Testing Web Automation Testing
General informationSpecflow is similar to Cucumber but it supports automation with the .Net platform. Specflow follows the Gherkin syntax for automationSelenium is a web automation tool, which allows users to choose from different programming languages to build the framework. Selenium library provides a set of commands that can be executed on the browser.
Client-side Allows browser-based testing to verify the functionality of web applicationYesYes
Server-side Allows testing of server-side components like APIYes
It can be used for testing APIs by integrating with API-specific automation tool
Selenium is built for front-end testing it doesn’t provide any API testing libraries
Fixtures A set of tasks or actions that need to be completed before or after the testYes
There are many hooks available as part of Specflow to perform this action
with Testing Library IntegrationThough Selenium by default doesn’t provide any such fixtures, by extending the Selenium framework with TestNG or Junit we can achieve this
Grouping test cases Group and run the specific test case based on the requirementYes
Specflow allows to define the tags, these tags can be mapped against the test runners to execute the tests
with Testing Library IntegrationSelenium doesn’t provide by default but if you integrate TestNG with Selenium, you can achieve the grouping functionality
Programming language supportSpecflow supports only C# programming languageSelenium supports Java, Javascript, Python, and C# programming languages
Reporter Support The reporter contains the details of test cases and their outcomes. Yes
Specflow supports reporting features. This comes with an additional free-to-use tool, Specflow+
Selenium doesn’t support any reporting feature
Assertion Libraries Assertion libraries help to validate the actual outcome and expected outcome to mark the test fail or passNunitTestNG, Junit, Nunit, Mocha, Jasmine, etc.

SpecFlow vs Selenium: Major limitations

Specflow and Selenium both are widely used. Specflow aids BDD development while Selenium aids in automation testing. Both have some limitations let’s discuss each one of these in detail

Limitation of Specflow

  • Supported framework: Supports only .Net framework
  • Automation tool dependency: Specflow cannot be used independently as it only provides the BDD paradigm to the testing, It cannot perform automation testing on its own. You need to integrate with one of the automation testing tools such as Selenium.
  • Tool dependency: Specflow has a dependency on tooling to work efficiently like Visual Studio Extensions, Nunit, etc. Changing the toolset may impact their functionality
  • Community Support: Speclfow has a comparatively small community, and resources are less on the internet.

Limitations of Selenium

  • Technical skills: Selenium requires proficiency in one of the supported programming Languages
  • Lack of reporting: Selenium by default doesn’t provide any reporting option. As a tester, you need to explore and integrate the reporting plugins
  • Less reusability: As selenium scripts are written in programming languages, you need to maintain a separate library with reusable methods. This makes the reusability of test steps challenging.
  • Debugging and Analysis: Selenium tests are difficult to debug, it requires good technical knowledge to understand the root cause and fix them.
  • Maintenance: It requires a considerable amount of time and effort to maintain the scripts. If your test case number is big then you might need to spend a lot of time to maintain the test case.
  • Dedicated support: Selenium is a purely open-source tool that is driven by the community. So there will not be a dedicated support team to address your queries.

Specflow vs Selenium: Which one is better?

Selenium and Speclfow are developed to address different problems. As mentioned earlier Specflow is developed to aid the BDD approach in test automation. BDD has its advantages such as anybody can understand the test cases, easy to write the test cases, test scripts are more readable, etc. However, testers need to convert the acceptance criteria to BDD style (Gherkin syntax) to adopt the Specflow. If your organization is enforcing BDD at the development level then Specflow is the right choice.

Selenium on the other hand developed to automate the web automation. Manual test execution may take more time and effort. Selenium can address such problems like the need to spend a lot on human resources by efficiently automating the test cases. As it also allows multi-browser testing, the same test cases can be executed on any browser. If you require to only automate the test cases then Selenium is the right choice.

Considering Specflow and Selenium, Specflow independently cannot make a complete automation framework, it can only help to build the automation framework with the BDD approach. Specflow needs an automation testing tool to be placed in the background to launch and perform the user actions. However, Selenium alone can execute the automated test cases with the TDD approach.

Selenium VS Specflow: How They’re Used Together?

Selenium and Specflow can be used together to get the most out of both tools. Selenium framework supports integration with Specflow using C# programming languages. This way you can use the power of both Selenium and Specflow to build a robust framework. Using Specflow you can write the test cases in BDD format and Selenium can be used to simulate the user actions. You can use the Nunit assertion libraries for the marking report as pass or fail. The major advantage of using them together is code reusability can be improved considerably, It makes test cases more readable and understandable, and once the framework matures it requires less technical expertise to write the test case. However, keep in mind that combining may make your automation framework more complex and it can restrict some customization features. It is essential to understand the future roadmap before building the automation framework.

Selenium vs Specflow: Who prefers what?

Specflow is most preferred by the business team in the organization. As a business or product team is less aware of technical details and internal implementation. The BDD syntax in the Specflow makes test cases more readable and understandable. Even manual testers who are enthusiastic about learning automation prefer Specflow. However, integrating specflow in the automation framework may limit customization.

Selenium is most preferred by developers and SDETs. One of the major reasons is the less complexity involved in building the plain Selenium framework. Selenium is a highly extensible and customizable framework that can be extended to cover any edge case scenarios and organization-specific scenarios. Furthermore, It helps SDETs to keep their skills updated with the industry and it helps them in their career plans. 

Alternative to Selenium and SpecFlow

Testsigma Test cases

As we discussed above, whether it is a Selenium or Specflow it requires programming language knowledge to set up the framework and maintain the test scripts. One of the major challenges organizations face is resource sharing. For example, if Project A has less work and more resources and Project B has more work and fewer resources, resources cannot be shared across as there is a dependency on technical expertise. This problem can be easily solved if there is no technical dependency. Testsigma is one such tool that doesn’t require any technical knowledge to write the automation scripts. If an organization has additional resources whether it is manual testing resources, development, or even product oriented, sharing them is easy.

Furthermore, Testsigma has a lot more advantages when compared to Specflow and Selenium let’s understand them.

No-code automation supportNoNoYes
Installation on Physical machineYesYesNo
Remote test artifact accessNoNoYes
Mobile Testing SupportNoNoYes
API Testing supportNoYesYes
Support for Inbuilt reportingNoYesYes
Visual Comparison Testing NoNoYes
AI-Driven Test automationNoNoYes
Dedicated Technical SupportNo NoYes
Infrastructure support for test executionNoNoYes
Cross-browser Testing supportYesYesYes
CI/CD integrationYes, but requires technical knowledge.Yes, but requires technical knowledge.Yes,  Just with a few clicks.
LicenseOpen sourceOpen source Commercial
Third party tool integration supportYesYesYes

Specflow and Selenium both are built for different purposes, Specflow aids in building a BDD framework, and Selenium can help in simulating the user action. Combining Specflow and Selenium can be helpful to get the powerful features of both. However, integrating them may make your framework more complex and challenging to maintain as the test case number grows. Testsigma can help reduce the complications in automation. It is a no-code-based tool widely used across the industry. As Testsigma supports all different types of testing such as Mobile, web, and API testing, you can bring all your different testing needs under one umbrella which makes it easy to maintain

Frequently Asked Question

What is SpecFlow in Selenium?

Specflow is a BDD tool, which can be integrated with Selenium. However, it is not mandatory that the Selenium framework needs to have Specflow. 

Is SpecFlow similar to Cucumber?

Yes, Specflow belongs to the Cucumber family. Cucumber supports Javascript, Java, etc. Specflow is specifically built to support a .Net-based automation framework. Hence Specflow provides similar functionality that Cucumber provides, but for .Net.

Can Selenium be used without Specflow?

Selenium can be used without Specflow if you do not have a requirement to set up a BDD framework. However, if you need to build the BDD framework, you need to integrate Specflow to transform BDD syntax.

Specflow vs Cucumber
Specflow vs Cucumber | 10 Top Key Differences
Behavior Driven Testing
Behavior Driven Testing | What it is , How to Do & Tools


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