Comparing Functional Testing Tools: Selenium vs. Cypress vs. Playwright

As software applications keep releasing in bulk around us constantly, it is also much sought after that these apps work flawlessly for the end user. As a result, testing tools play an important role in ensuring the overall efficiency of the testing process. When creating a mobile or web application, developers must conduct comprehensive testing to verify that it functions consistently across all platforms. 

For this, the QA team thoroughly tests the application in detail and ensures that all the functionalities are implemented exactly as mentioned per business requirements. This type of functional testing is mainly conducted through automated procedures, where the automation testing scripts are written using tools such as Selenium, Cypress, Playwright, etc. These are highly efficient and cost-effective for the testing process. 

In this article, we will explore these tools in detail. In this article, we will slowly start exploring these tools in detail. 

Understanding the Functional Testing Tools

Selenium is an open-source automatic testing framework for functional testing across all the major browser types. It can be very helpful in parallel testing, as we can run multiple test cases simultaneously using a grid of several browser instances. Selenium supports Java, C#, Ruby, Python, etc. 

Pros:

  • Extensive browser support, including old ones like the Internet Explorer browser.
  • Maintain a large ecosystem with a broad user base and intricate documents.
  • Flexible and adjustable, it is suited for developing complicated testing scenarios and integrations with external tools.

Cons:

  • It involves complex setup and configuration, installing browser drivers, and managing dependencies.
  • The slowness of running tests is getting particular attention in large test suites, as Cypress and Playwright are faster.
  • Static elements, along with waiting for page loading, may sometimes be frustrating and monotonous.

Playwright: This is an open-source framework used popularly in automated functional testing as it supports most of the modern browsers like Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome, etc. This testing tool was created by Microsoft, and since then, it has been growing with advanced features. Moreover, with this tool, you can also enjoy cross-language support, including languages such as JavaScript, Python, Java, etc.

Pros:

  • Comprehensive cross-browser support, including Chromium, Firefox, and WebKit (Safari), provides broader testing coverage.
  • Advanced automation capabilities for handling complex interactions like file uploads, downloads, and browser context management.
  • Faster test execution with parallel testing across multiple browser instances and platforms.

Cons:

  • It is relatively newer than Selenium and Cypress, with a smaller community and ecosystem.
  • Integration with third-party tools and frameworks may not be as extensive as Selenium.
  • The learning curve can be tough for teams transitioning from other testing frameworks, especially due to its advanced features and APIs.

 

Cypress: Next on our list is Cypress, a front-end testing tool mainly used for modern web browsers and devices. This is very helpful, as it handles all the edge cases easily. With the help of the Mocha test framework, Cypress is used for end-to-end testing with JavaScript. As days pass, the popularity of this tool is gradually increasing, making it a strong competitor to Selenium.  The best part is you won’t need to download a lot of dependencies here, and everything needed for writing the test cases comes as a bundle with Cypress. 

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Pros:

  • Effortless setup for tests written with JavaScript, primarily for front-end developers.
  • Fast and reliable test execution with built-in features like automatic waiting and time-traveling debugger.
  • Seamless integration with modern web development workflows and tools like Git and CI/CD pipelines.

Cons:

  • Limited browser support, primarily focused on Chrome-based browsers.
  • Lack of support for testing on non-Chromium browsers such as Firefox and Safari.
  • There is less flexibility for testing complex scenarios or applications with diverse technology stacks.

Comparison of Selenium vs. Cypress vs. Playwright

Let us thoroughly compare Selenium, Cypress, and Playwright to understand several factors, ranging from browser support, programming language support, cross-platform compatibility, and more.

 

Browser Support and Compatibility

 

  • Selenium: Selenium is compatible with all major browsers and offers strong browser support for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Microsoft Edge. It does this through the Web Driver interface.
  • Cypress: Cypress was initially intended for Chrome, but now it also operates on Chrome-based browsers such as Edge and Electron. On the other hand, this extension is not at all backward-compatible with non-Chromium browsers, especially Mozilla Firefox and Safari.
  • Playwright: Playwright, a native tool, supports multiple browsers; for example, Chromium, Firefox, and WebKit (Safari). This gives you a comprehensive and built-in cross-browser testing capability.

 

Programming Language Support

  • Sele­nium: Sele­nium allows testing across many languages like Java, Python, C#, Ruby, and JavaScript. This gives developers the flexibility to choose the language they are most comfortable with. 
  • Cypress: Cypress uses JavaScript for writing test scripts. So it is very suitable for web developers experienced with Node.js and JavaScript.
  • Playwright: Playwright stands out as it smoothly supports languages like JavaScript, Python, and C#. Programmers can select their preferred language for testing, similar to Selenium. This offers choices, which many find valuable.

 

System Architecture and Execution Speed

  • Selenium: Selenium operates on a client-server prototype that may create additional overhead and thus impact the speed of execution, particularly when we have a large repository of test cases being run on complex web applications.
  • Cypress: Cypress’s tests are run in the browser itself, which ensures incredibly fast test execution. This degree of architecture is convenient for debugging, and it gives real-time feedback, especially during program runs.
  • Playwright: As the architectures of the Playwright library have different execution methods where they are simultaneously executing tests across multiple browser instances, it is much faster than the Selenium approach. It further enables options such as auto-retry and process isolation, improving test stability and speed.

 

Community and Familiarity in the Ecosystem

  • Selenium: Selenium’s audience is wide and active, with detailed tutorials, documentation, and second-explained resources. It is a mature system with a lot of third-party integrations and plugins that cover different needs.
  • Cypress: Cypress is valued by the developer community because it comes with a simple implementation, rich documentation, and active support groups. First of all, you will test your program with a zero-pain testing system and access debugging tools such as time-traveling debuggers and automatic waiting.
  • Playwright: Playwright offers similar debugging features to Cypress, with the ability to inspect test steps, capture screenshots, and trace test execution. Its rich debugging capabilities contribute to faster troubleshooting and resolution of test failures.
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Setup and Configuration

  • Selenium: Installing Selenium can be a complicated process. It requires you to download the browser’s driver files and set up config files for each browser you want to utilize. Managing dependencies while developing multiple versions may require careful attention to detail.
  • Cypress: Cypress has a simple install procedure that executes with no optional extras. It comes with a self-contained Test Runner, similar to the Node package manager, ready to use for testing purposes after a straightforward installation.
  • Playwright: The playwright developer’s setup sequence is relatively easy because one can install it as a node package manager. It provides browser drivers ready-made in binary form, which removes the necessity of manual configuration and may ensure the setup across environments is equally consistent.

 

Cross-platform Compatibility

  • Selenium: Selenium can run on various operating systems, for example, Windows, macOS, and Linux, which makes this tool cross-browser compatible.
  • Cypress: Cypress is aimed at running testing on desktops and runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux.
  • Playwright: Playwright is a cross-platform compatible tool supported by Windows, macOS, and Linux, with additional platforms such as Docker containers and CI/CD environments.

 

Test Automation Capabilities

  • Selenium: Selenium provides full testing automation functionality and lets the user perform all sorts of web element interactions, such as clicking, typing, and finding specific text.
  • Cypress: Cypress, in particular, concentrates on offering a thorough collection of automation tools. These tools target specific web applications and possess native abilities for stubbing and mocking requests, as well as automatic waiting for UI elements.
  • Playwright: In addition, Playwright features advanced automation capabilities with support for interactions such as file upload and download and browser context management. These capabilities provide more control and flexibility, making test automation better and more result-oriented.

 

Parallel Testing

  • Selenium: Selenium can run parallel tests utilizing Selenium frameworks like TestNG and JUnit, but managing and setting up the parallel execution can be complex.
  • Cypress: Cypress doesn’t have the option of parallel testing across different browser instances by default, but it can run tests in succession in a single browser instance.
  • Playwright: Playwright offers built-in support for parallel testing across multiple browser instances, making it easier to scale test execution and reduce overall testing time.

 

How to Perform Functional Testing Using LambdaTest

Functional testing ensures your application features adhere to software requirements and deliver consistent outputs aligned with end-user expectations. It evaluates several areas of software functioning, including the user interface, database interactions, client and server connectivity, and other critical components. 

This testing method does not require software testers to have access to the application’s source code. Instead, the tests evaluate adherence to criteria and expected functionality without considering the internal system design. Let us see how you can effectively perform functional testing using LambdaTest. For this, there are primarily two processes, real-time manual testing and automation testing. We will learn both of these separately:

  1. Real-Time Manual Testing 
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Step 1: Begin by creating a free LambdaTest account.

Step 2: On your LHS, from the sidebar menu, select Real Time > Desktop.

Step 3: Now, select the type of device you want to test on. Select your Windows or MacOS, browser, version, and resolution for desktop testing from the screen below. Then tap on Start.

 

Step 4: You have already done all the hard work! The platform will now launch a cloud-based real OS. 

  • Automation Testing

LambdaTest also provides an automation testing platform using several frameworks, including Selenium, Cypress, Playwright, Appium, and Puppeteer. Follow the steps below to automate your functional testing requirements.

 

Step 1: Log in to your LambdaTest account or simply sign up for a free account.

 

Step 2: On your LHS, choose Automation from the sidebar menu.

 

Step 3: You can now Configure Test Suite under Web Automation.

 

Step 4:  Next, select your desired framework.

 

Step 5: Then configure your test based on the given screen instructions.

 

When To Choose Which Functional Testing Tool?

 

Selecting the right functional testing tool for your project can be a challenge. Say, if you need to develop a web-based application that should be compatible with various platforms and browser versions, then Selenium is your go-to choice. Selenium is ideal to be picked when your team is proficient in languages such as Java, Python, C#, or Ruby. This is simply because Selenium supports multiple programming languages. Also, Selenium is a widely used testing framework, and with its extensive user community and documentation, it also offers customization options and thus excels at handling challenging test cases.

 

On the other hand, if simplicity and ease of use are paramount, particularly if your team is proficient in JavaScript, Cypress shines. It’s perfect for testing modern websites and Chrome-based browsers, offering fast and reliable performance. This makes it ideal for small to medium-sized projects where front-end testing is a priority. Cypress’s built-in functionalities, such as the time-traveling debugger and automatic waiting for UI elements, help speed up the testing process, enhancing efficiency.

 

Playwright is your tool if your project requires comprehensive cross-browser testing capabilities across Chrome, Firefox, and WebKit (Safari). With advanced automation capabilities like automated downloads and browser context management, Playwright excels in meeting automation feature demands. By parallelizing testing with multiple browser instances and platforms, Playwright helps reduce test execution time significantly. Additionally, Playwright’s strong business backing ensures better integration with the developer’s toolkit, making it a modern and reliable choice for your testing needs.

Final Words

The landscape of automation testing is being transformed by tools like Selenium, Cypress, and Playwright, simplifying the tasks of QA professionals. By discerning your specific requirements and aligning them with the diverse use cases outlined in this article, you can discover the ideal solution for your testing needs. Selecting the appropriate tool not only streamlines your workflow but also elevates the quality of your testing endeavors.