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Which Testing Tool Should You Choose: Selenium WebDriver or Cypress? Part 1

Gabriel Bononi
Uncover the key differences between testing tools Cypress and Selenium WebDriver, including distinguishing features, usability, and best practices.
Two QAs at their computers running testing tools on their monitors.

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As web application development has become increasingly complex in recent years, the need to use automated testing tools to ensure software quality and reliability has also increased. Two front-end testing tools widely used by the software development community to automate testing in web applications are Cypress and Selenium WebDriver.

While both tools allow developers and testers to run tests on different browsers and platforms, they have significant differences in terms of features, usability, and best practices. In this article, we will compare Cypress and Selenium WebDriver. Additionally, we will highlight best practices for maximizing the effectiveness of automated testing in both tools.

Differences Between Cypress and Selenium WebDriver

Cypress and Selenium WebDriver are two popular testing tools for software testing automation. Both tools allow you to write test scripts to simulate user interaction with your application. However, there are some important differences between them that we will look at below.

1) Architecture

One of the main differences between Cypress and Selenium WebDriver is their architecture. Cypress runs directly in the browser and is an end-to-end test automation tool. Meanwhile, Selenium WebDriver uses a browser-specific driver to run the tests and is a server-based test automation tool.

2) Execution

In Cypress, when you use commands such as cy.click, cy.navigate, or cy.type, you do not execute these commands immediately. That’s because Cypress records them for later playback, which allows you to optimize and control test execution more efficiently.

The test itself is not run inside the it function. Instead, the recorded commands are executed after the it function ends. This allows Cypress to optimize and control test execution more efficiently.

Meanwhile, Selenium is based on a client-server model. Selenium WebDriver acts as the client, where you write your test code using a library specific to your chosen programming language (e.g. Selenium WebDriver for Java, Python, C#, etc.). This test code interacts with the WebDriver, sending commands to control the browser.

WebDriver functions as the server, receiving commands from the client and executing them in the browser. For example, when you use WebDriver methods such as click, navigate, and sendkeys, the browser executes them immediately.

Several QAs in a coworking space using Selenium WebDriver and Cypress on their computers.

3) Speed of Execution

Cypress runs directly in the browser. In some situations, this can result in faster execution speed when compared to Selenium WebDriver.

4) API

The Cypress API is simpler and easier to use than the Selenium WebDriver API. Cypress provides a consistent and intuitive API that allows you to write tests faster and more efficiently. On the other hand, Selenium WebDriver requires more technical knowledge to use its API.

5) Debugging

Cypress makes the test debugging process easier by providing advanced debugging features. That includes screenshots and video recordings of tests. Selenium WebDriver also supports screenshots but does not offer the same advanced debugging features as Cypress.

6) Configuration

Cypress is easy to configure and install. Meanwhile, Selenium WebDriver requires more configuration and installation of browser-specific drivers.

Conclusion

In this first segment, we have explored the main differences between the Cypress and Selenium WebDriver testing tools. We investigated their architectures, execution models and speeds, APIs, debugging and configuration capabilities. It is crucial that you understand these differences from the beginning to choose the test automation tool that best suits your project needs.

In part two, we will discuss situations where one tool may be preferable to another, examining the differences in the context of frameworks like Angular, and finally, we will address the fundamental question: which of these tools is the best overall choice. We’ll explore specific usage scenarios, analyze code syntax in practical examples, and provide guidelines for making an informed decision about which tool to use.

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