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If you are in the software development game for a while, then you know that testing is an ongoing phase throughout the development process because testing ensures that the final product meets the objectives we defined right at the beginning.

Though testing can be done both manually and automatically, automation testing is on the rise due to its speed and ability to cut down labor costs.

While there are numerous tools and frameworks to perform automated testing, Cypress and Selenium are popular among them. Thus, let’s explore the unique features of both frameworks and Cypress vs. Selenium to find which one to use when.

What is Cypress?

After spending countless hours developing software, it’s common to feel drained to test the product you developed. Here comes the Cypress for rescue!

Cypress is primarily written in JavaScript, which lets you write automated tests for software products. This front-end-centric framework is specially crafted for modern web applications and specialized in testing applications built on React, Angular, and Vue.js

Today, numerous automation tools in the market utilize Selenium in the backend to write tests however, Cypress is a completely independent tool that doesn’t rely on other tools to create tests.

Though Cypress uses JavaScript to create tests, it doesn’t demand you to be proficient in JavaScript or coding. Just basics are enough to go ahead with Cypress testing.

Cypress supports the following famous testing types:

  • End-to-end tests.
  • Component tests.
  • Unit tests.
  • Integration tests.

Unlike many other testing frameworks, Cypress doesn’t pass commands to the browsers for testing; Cypress itself is a browser that runs your tests instead.

What is Selenium?

The popular among all! Selenium is an automated end-to-end testing tool that lets you write tests in any of the major programming languages.

The framework allows you to test the web application on multiple browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer, to make sure the app is bug-free for production. Selenium supports various types of testing including

Selenium as a whole is a tool that consists of Selenium IDE, Selenium WebDriver, and Selenium Grid. Each of them possesses its unique advantages.

Selenium IDE

This is an easy-to-use IDE that doesn’t require any installation to begin using. All you need to do is integrate the IDE into the Firefox browser and start writing tests.

The tool records your interactions with the application and browser to create automated scripts for testing purposes. You can export these scripts in your preferred programming language.

Despite offering numerous functionalities, Selenium IDE doesn’t support full-fledged testing due to some limitations.

Selenium WebDriver

Unlike Selenium IDE, WebDriver supports various browsers, including Chrome, Safari, Edge, and numerous others.

After creating test scripts in the WebDriver’s programming interface, it takes you to the unique instance of your preferred web browser, allowing you to start testing the application functionalities.

Selenium Grid

A parallel testing tool that allows you to run tests on multiple machines simultaneously. That means it follows a hub-to-nodes connected architecture, meaning you can monitor all the tests performed on the nodes(child systems) from a central system referred to as a hub.

You can notice from the above graph how competitive the tools are.

The visualization shows the volume of downloads per year. It’s evident that Cypress has gained much popularity in the last couple of years.

Features or Benefits of Cypress

  • Simple to install: You don’t need any external libraries or dependencies to work with Cypress. Given that Cypress is coded using JavaScript, you can directly download it via command prompt using “npm install cypress” command.
  • Runs fast: As Cypress itself is a browser that runs tests, it is faster than many other testing frameworks available.
  • Automatic waiting: Thanks to the automatic waiting feature of Cypress, which doesn’t require you to manually add waits to your tests. Cypress automatically waits for the commands and assertions.
  • Modern framework: As web apps move towards SPA(single page application) frameworks like Angular and React, there is a need for a dedicated framework to test them. Thus, Cypress is the best for testing front-end applications built on the latest technologies.
  • Detailed documentation: Cypress community is considerably strong and offers comprehensive official documentation.
  • Readable errors: Error messages in Cypress are in plain English that can be easily understood by non-technical people too. Moreover, the framework visually captures bugs that help you learn what is exactly wrong in the app. Consequently, debugging becomes seamless and faster for you.

Features or Benefits of Selenium

  • Supports multiple web browsers: Though Selenium itself is not a browser, it can test the app functionality for various web browsers like Safari, Opera, Chrome, and Edge.
  • Multiple devices: The framework is not just limited to testing web apps; it can also test mobile apps for Android and iOS.
  • Community support: Selenium is not new, it’s been in existence since 2004, and the best thing is it is an open-source that attracts developers, testers, and professionals across the globe resulting in a bigger community.
  • Integration options: Selenium can be seamlessly integrated into various other tools and frameworks like Maven, Docker, JUnit, and many others.
  • Parallel Testing: With Selenium Grid, you can run multiple tests on multiple machines at the same moment.
  • Portable: Selenium works on almost all the major operating systems and supports various programming languages.
  • A suite of tools: Selenium is a set of tools available for all levels of developers. For instance, Selenium IDE is so simple that even a non-technical guy can work with it, whereas Selenium WebDriver enables you to create customized tests for complex applications.

Cypress vs. Selenium: Key Comparisons

Primary use caseFront-end testingEnd-to-end testing
Supported languagesThough Cypress has plugins to support multiple programming languages, it primarily utilizes JavaScript or TypeScript to write tests.Default Support for various major programming languages like Python, Java, C#, etc.,
Installation/ SetupAs Cypress is built on top of Node.js, it comes as a package that can be simply downloaded with npm install cypress command.Little time-consuming as it demands both selenium and drivers to be downloaded and configured.
Supported browsersCypress only supports Chrome, Edge, and Firefox browsers for now.Can test compatibility with all major web browsers including Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Edge.
SpeedSince Cypress runs directly in the browser, it is much faster.Selenium generally offers high speed, but it cannot beat Cypress.
CommunityComparatively, Cypress has a smaller community but it is growing really fast.Selenium has strong community support.
IntegrationCypress has limited integration options.Selenium can be seamlessly integrated into numerous tools and platforms.
Mobile testingCannot perform mobile app testing.Yes, Appium WebDriver API
LicenseOpen-source, meaning free.Open-source, available at no cost.

Limitations of Cypress

  • Cypress currently supports only Firefox and Chromium-based browsers. It doesn’t offer support for other browsers like Safari and Internet Explorer.
  • Cypress testing doesn’t allow you to run tests on multiple tabs.
  • Limited programming language support to write tests.
  • You cannot test mobile or desktop applications using Cypress.
  • It doesn’t have native support for parallel testing.

Limitations of Selenium

  • Installation setup of Selenium is challenging compared to Cypress.
  • Doesn’t support automatic waiting. You should explicitly add waits to the tests.
  • Comparatively slow, as it doesn’t run directly on the browser, it sends remote commands to operate the browser instead.
  • No default support for testing images.
  • You should have a basic technical understanding to create tests in Selenium.

Final Thoughts

Now ends the wait for key comparisons of Cypress vs. Selenium. Cypress and Selenium are very competitive in the automated testing world.

No matter which framework you choose, it’s all about the application’s performance in multiple browsers and devices. Features, Limitations, and comparisons of Cypress vs. Selenium in this article should help you determine which one is best for your project requirements.

If your testing application is front-end-centric or has built-in modern frameworks like React or Angular, you should go for Cypress. Also, to alleviate headaches for testers, use Cypress, as it is simple and requires no programming expertise.

On the other hand, for complex and end-to-end testing, utilize Selenium.

You may also explore Selenium interview questions and answers.

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  • Srujana Maddula
    Srujana is a freelance tech writer with the four-year degree in Computer Science. Writing about various topics, including data science, cloud computing, development, programming, security, and many others comes naturally to her. She…

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