Read about automated browser testing, why it's important, and what are the best tools for testing your web apps across different browsers, platforms, and operating systems.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the digitalization of the workplace and this is directly linked to an increase in quality assurance at IT companies. Based on the World Quality Report published this summer by Capgemini, their sample of 1,750 CIOs and senior tech leaders emphasize the importance of testing more than ever and consider a quality product along with a seamless customer experience to be of the utmost importance.
What’s the difference between automated and manual testing?
In manual testing, humans need to perform tests. In automated testing, a computer performs them, which is faster and more efficient. So for cross-browser testing, manual testing requires the developer to test in different browsers and search for errors. Automated testing would run a script and output errors.
Browser testing tools can help developers find bugs and mistakes in their web and mobile applications by giving developers access to the tools required to write reliable and efficient tests. They can then use the framework’s features to fit their use case and testing requirements.
What kind of issues can browser testing tools come across?
Browser testing frameworks and libraries can look for various conflicts in your code, including (but not limited to):
- Errors associated with updating your code - making changes in your code can also cause conflicts in its unmodified segments. Regression testing makes sure the new version is still fully stable and functional.
- Incompatibility of features - Some browsers or operating systems are simply too old or do not support a particular set of features that you might’ve taken for granted.
- Issues connected to display size - Over half of online users access the web via their phone, making responsive website design necessary. But having too many elements on a page can break up its structure when viewed on a small screen.
- Compliance with WCAG - Websites and web apps should be accessible to everyone. Automated testing can notify you when your code is limiting people with disabilities by not implementing features such as semantic HTML or alt text in images.
What are the best automated browser testing tools for developers?
Now that we know what these tools are, what they’re used for, and what kind of errors they search for, let’s take a look at the most popular libraries or web apps used for automated browser testing within the developer community:
Puppeteer is a Google-built Node.js library that provides a high-level API for controlling headless Chrome over the DevTools protocol. It was primarily developed for performing automated tests but is also great for web scraping and data extraction of any kind. Puppeteer can extract PDFs from web pages, automate any action in the browser, and integrate with other test frameworks like CodeceptJS, Jest, or WebDriverIO.
Playwright is a more recent Node.js library/browser automation framework launched in 2020. It is maintained by Microsoft and was built by the same people as Puppeteer, which explains the many similarities between the two. It also supports more browsers and languages, making it ideal for end-to-end automated testing of web apps.
Supported languages: TypeScript via Babel | GitHub: 40K+ stars | link
Selenium is an open-source automated testing framework for web applications across different browsers and platforms. It provides a single interface allowing you to write test scripts in languages such as NodeJS, Java, Ruby, PHP, and many others. Thanks to its diverse compatibility, testing web apps should be a breeze, even across multiple browsers.
Nightmare is a modern Electron-based automation library from Segment that allows you to conduct tests in both headless and window modes for debugging purposes. Compared to PhantomJS, it’s about twice as fast! Unfortunately, it has suffered the same fate as PhantomJS and is no longer maintained, so you might want to think again before using it.
Supported languages: Ruby | GitHub: 19K+ stars | link
Supported languages: Python, Ruby, C#, Perl, PHP, NodeJS and others | GitHub: n/a | link
BrowserStack markets itself as the “Most Reliable App & Cross Browser Testing Platform.” This is probably due to its cloud capability to test developer code on over 3,000+ real devices and browsers. The software uses Selenium infrastructure to test your code and can be accessed through a monthly membership.
And that’s it for automated browser testing tools. You might be wondering which of the bunch is our favorite?
Well, we’d probably have to go with Playwright: it’s well-maintained, open source, can be used with a number of languages, and is probably the most advanced in terms of browser control. That’s why we also love writing about it! Check out our other blog articles on Playwright.
If you’re interested in diving deeper into the world of web automation and data extraction, you can browse through our ready-made tools in Apify Store. Want to take it even further? You can build and deploy automation software to the Apify platform and gain passive income by monetizing your code.