Quality assurance: Automated front end tests with Selenium IDE

A form that issues an error message after completing is an annoyance for the user and doesn’t generate any requests. Or: An interactive feature suddenly no longer functions after maintenance work on the code. These and similar scenarios are well-known to web developers.

Therefore, it is indispensable for solid high-quality web applications, to run an acceptance test on a regular basis and make use of systematic bug tracking. True, testing of websites or web applications is often a cumbersome and complex process; especially, if very complex websites with many interactive features or dynamic applications are concerned. Repeated manual checks and combinations of possible user actions are particularly inefficient.

With the Selenium IDE Framework, an HTML and Java based Plugin for the Firefox browser is available, that allows automated front end tests. Like a macro-recorder, this plugin records all user actions, that are later available as test cases. The entire handling, as well as the recording and play-back of these user actions, takes place via the browser with an adjustable test speed.

The software automatically generates the selenium-owned Selenese Source Code and saves the test cases as HTML files by default. Test cases can also be exported as Perl, PHP, Java, C#, Ruby and Python files or can be created manually in the source code.

You can also repeat these test cases as often as required and modify them afterwards: The application automatically runs through either selected or all pages of a website. In doing so, it not only checks static pages including links, but also forms, logins to newsletter-accounts, etc., JavaScript and AJAX features as well as the operation mode of the web client.

The benefits of Selenium IDE are obvious:

  • systematic and constant bug tracking
  • efficient and effective software development and quality assurance
  • test sessions that can be repeated and modified as often as desired
  • automated tests of interactive elements as well as dialog and web client behavior
  • exportability of test cases to other programming languages
  • web-based and complete handling through the browser
  • open source software

The essential features of Selenium IDE and how to work with this tool are part of this video tutorial:

Automated acceptance tests are major contributors to efficiency and effectiveness, especially regarding further development and constant quality assurance of web applications. Automated acceptance tests also save lots of work on the keyboard. Selenium IDE is an open source tool underl the Apache-2.0-License.

Surely, Selenium IDE will not replace a systematic quality assurance of web projects or a professional interaction design.  However, the benefits of this plugin regarding time and cost savings and the resulting increased productivity within the framework of test cases are substantial.

Further information:

The Selenium IDE Website

View this blog in German.