Selenium’s suite of testing tools has long dominated QA automation, and for good reason. The open-source testing framework gives engineers plenty of options when it comes to putting web applications through their paces. But, it’s not the only framework out there – and it never hurts to explore others.
Enter Cypress: a testing tool targeting front-end developers. Since its creation, Cypress has skyrocketed in popularity, boasting a dedicated community of developers and engineers to rival Selenium’s. So, is Cypress a contender for the QA automation throne?
Both have their strong suits and their weak points. It’s important to understand exactly what those are before coming down on either side of the Selenium versus Cypress argument. Here’s how they stack up:
If you want flexibility, look no further than Selenium. With its broad range of options, it reigns supreme over Cypress.
Want to work in a specific coding language? Selenium supports all of the major coding languages, giving you the freedom to use whatever you’re most confident in..
The same goes for supported browsers. Selenium supports testing in all popular browsers, while Cypress only interacts with Chrome and Firefox (for now). Both can integrate with BDD software like Cucumber, but again – if you’re using Cypress, it’ll only work within those two browsers.
Both Selenium and Cypress are popular open-source frameworks. So, they both have active online support communities. Indeed, while Selenium has been around longer, the Cypress community has grown to match it in size and activity.
This is why you could argue that, when it comes to support, Cypress comes out on top. It provides a simpler framework with easy troubleshooting and development thanks to its single-language, limited-browser approach.
With that said, Selenium’s longevity means its community can comprehensively answer most questions. It’s so well-established, they even hold annual conferences.
So, on the support front, it’s a fairly even match-up. Which is a good thing, because Selenium’s major drawback is its complexity. Which brings us to:
Selenium may have dominated the flexibility round, but Cypress easily takes home the prize for ease-of-use.
There’s not much debate to be had on this front: Selenium is complex and sometimes unwieldy, and Cypress’s design is much more user-friendly. In their own words:
‘Testing…is the part that every developer dreads. It’s often harder to write a passing test than an actual feature.’
Cypress was designed with front-end developers in mind which imposes some restrictions on its capabilities. The results are, however, worth it. What’s more, it’s incredibly easy to set up, manage and troubleshoot.
Frameworks like Selenium are the reason that Cypress exists and has grown so popular. From a lengthy, complex setup process to the need for swathes of plugins and supporting applications, the learning curve is far from shallow.
Who does it best?
Choosing between Selenium’s suite of testing tools and Cypress comes down to two things: who you are, and what you need to test.
If you’re a front-end developer without much QA experience (or without a team of testers to support you), then Cypress is the obvious choice, as long as you’re developing for Chrome or Firefox.
If you’re an experienced automation engineer, have a preferred coding language or need to test across several browsers, Selenium is still the way to go. It’s not the easiest framework to grow accustomed to, but once you do, you’ll be able to create tests that are tailored to even the most granular details.
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