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Selenium 4 vs Selenium 3


Selenium is probably the first choice of all web developing companies to perform automated cross-browser testing on their applications and software. With the help of cross-browser testing, developers ensure that the web application maintains peak performance irrespective of the browser or browser version. This test also ensures that the operating system does not have any form of negative influence on the web application. The fourth version of Selenium was introduced in the later part of 2018. Since its introduction, Selenium 4 has become the Revolutionary framework to perform automated cross-browser testing. This latest version provides various improvements and unique features.

To date, there isn’t any official announcement for the stable release of Selenium 4. However, you get the option to download the beta version from the official website. While considering the requirements for automated cross-browser testing, we can analyze that Selenium 4 has a lot to contribute to this segment. Its unique features like enhanced Selenium grid architecture, improved IDE, relative locators, W3C standardized protocols can help to uplift the standards of automated testing. However many developers are still skeptical about the future of Selenium 4. So, in this article, we are going to discuss the massive differences between Selenium 3 and Selenium 4.

Selenium 3 Architecture

The architecture of Selenium 3 has support for JSON Wire Protocol. However, Selenium 4 doesn’t support the JSON Protocol. This is one of the major architectural differences between Selenium 4 and Selenium 3. The full form of JSON is JavaScript Object Notation. This protocol is responsible for the transfer of information from the client to the server using a hypertext transfer protocol. The system will send a Selenium request from the Selenium client and WebDriver language binding components. The JSON Wire Protocol will receive this request over HTTP and secure it by implementing browser drivers.

The request will eventually be delivered to the Web Browser. This is the place where automation testing will take place. After completion of the automation process, a response will travel back to the Browser Driver. This response will also reach the JSON Wire protocol, WebDriver language bindings and the selenium client. On the Internet, various diagrams elaborate the Selenium 3 architecture.

Selenium 4 Architecture

Unlike Selenium 3, Selenium 4 facilitates direct communication between clients and servers. Here, the client is still divided into two parts namely the Selenium client and the web driver language binding. On the other hand, the Browser drivers become the server. Let us now understand the working process of the Selenium architecture:

  • Initially, the Selenium Client will send out a request to perform the required command.
  • The WebDriver Language bindings will drive all the necessary actions. In theory, it is a code library.
  • Browser Drivers will receive the request sent from the Selenium Client. It will eventually return a response after the successful execution of an automation test script on the Web Browser.

The client and WebDriver language bindings are part of similar architecture. In this architecture, every language has its unique binding. We can define bindings to be the line of commands that you have to write for every programming language. For instance, Java has a set of commands that is similar to other programming languages like Python. While discussing Browser Drivers and WebDrivers, we must remember that the WebDrivers will drive every browser. For this process, they will use the browser’s built-in support for Automation testing. Specific Browser Drivers, like the ChromeDriver, will control the Chrome browser.

Selenium 4 made some significant changes to the browser drivers. ChromeDriver and EdgeDriver became the extensions for the ChromiumDriver. On the other hand, the RemoteWebDriver became the parent driver for the ChromiumDriver.

Selenium 4 Advantages

While upgrading to Selenium 4, the web developing companies will witness some vital advantages in this process. The three most important advantages are stability, updated actions API and standards for testing. Standards help to maintain the consistency of automated test scripts on every web browser. Every web browser vendor has its unique standards for displaying specific web applications. Since Selenium 4 supports W3C WebDriver, you do not have to waste any more time encoding and decoding the standard requests.

Stability is another advantage as it supports backwards compatibility during the testing process. Using Java binding and the Selenium Server, the developers can use a specific mechanism for implementing old JSON wire protocols. The Actions API have been updated in Selenium 4 to support various events related to mouse and keyboard inputs. Now, the developers can use it to carry out more than 2 inputs at the same time like pressing two different keys. This process will help them to analyze the reaction of the web application based on various human interactions.

Selenium 4 New Features

Some of the new features in Selenium 4 include the Selenium integrated development environment, the Selenium grid and the Selenium WebDriver. Now, let us briefly discuss the most important features introduced in Selenium 4:

  1. Improvements in the Selenium Grid

The earlier versions of the Selenium grid had a complex setup and scaling process. The latest version of the Selenium grid comes with support for Dockers. Using this feature, the developers can simply spin up the containers instead of spending lots of time setting up virtual machines. Moreover, using the new Framework design, the developers can deploy the grids without scaling them. Thus, Selenium 4 helps in the simplification of the grid management process. Finally, Selenium 4 eliminates the hassle of setting up and managing each node and hub separately. The Selenium grid also provides a secure environment to test the compatibility of sensitive applications.

  1. Innovations in the Selenium IDE

The most popular record and playback tool for the Selenium environment is Selenium integrated development environment. During the early years of Selenium, the record and playback feature was only available in Mozilla Firefox. Later, Firefox completely removed it after the recent update. The recent version made all the add-ons part of the standard web extension mechanism. Selenium 4 played a major role in the revival of the integrated development environment. With the latest version, Selenium helped to make the IDE an integral part of all major browsers like Chrome and Firefox. Selenium IDE also helps to test the compatibility of any web application from the browser itself.

  1. The Relative Locators of Selenium 4

Using the relative locators, the developers can locate any element on the web application. They can also use this feature to specifically search for any element on the web application. For this purpose, the developers have to use specific commands like the top left, above, top right and below. The relative Locators use Visual locations of other DOM elements of other web applications to find the required element.  The new automation testers can follow various guides to understand the working mechanism of relative locators. They can also find support from the official community of Selenium. This community consists of various tech enthusiasts who aim to improve the Automation Testing industry.

  1. Major Improvements in the Documentation Process

Selenium 4 uses an interactive user interface to implement various improvements in the documentation process. The developers can use this feature to navigate to any portion of the web application. They can also use this feature to find various details such as binding languages, data concerning tools and other relevant information. Using this new documentation, the developers can find all the information regarding various tools and APIs that fall under the Selenium umbrella.  Individual testers will also find all the information that will prepare them to perform automation testing. Thus, the documentation feature is one of the most important aspects to implement test automation.

  1. The Support for all the Chrome Debugging Tools

With Selenium 4, the company added support for the Chrome DevTools protocol. The quality assessment teams can use this feature to access various tools like profiler, performance manager, network features and many more. This tool will help them to maintain the performance of the web application. For instance, they can ensure that the application maintains an optimal performance even in a poor bandwidth connection. The Geolocation testing feature ensures that the web application remains accessible to the entire audience base irrespective of the location. The developers can also use this feature to test some of the most critical bugs in the web application. Then, they can simply remove them on the go and proceed to the production process.

The Role of Selenium 4 in Test Automation

Before we understand the role of Selenium 4 in test automation, we need to understand the history of automated testing. During the early years of software development, the developers had to test the functioning of every application individually.  For web applications, they had to repeat the testing process for every single Browser. This process drained a lot of time and resources. However, with the advancement of Technology, Automation Testing was introduced. The primary goal of Automation Testing was to replace Manual Testing for conducting redundant processes. Automation Testing uses automated test cases to conduct the testing process. Selenium 4 introduces new features to increase the efficiency of test automation. For instance, the Selenium Grid helps the developer to test the functioning of sensitive applications related to eCommerce and health.

Various Tools to perform Test Automation in a Selenium Environment

Tools play a major role in increasing the efficiency of the Selenium environment for automation testing. Using the correct tool, the developer can contribute massively towards the simplification of the testing process. Let us consider LambdaTest Automation Testing to understand the contribution of a tool in test automation:

LambdaTest is a platform to perform automated cross-browser testing in a safe and Secure Selenium grid. Using this platform, the developers can test the compatibility of the web application on thousands of browsers, devices and operating systems at the same time. They can achieve this goal by using the parallel testing feature. Lambdatest uses a cloud-based secure & scalable Selenium grid to help the developers perform various tests from anywhere in the world. LambdaTest also maintains an activity log to store all the final test reports. This platform is trusted by millions of users all around the world.

The Final Verdict

The Selenium IDE, Selenium Grid and the Selenium WebDriver were added to help the developers dive deeper into the Selenium ecosystem. The primary goal of selenium was always to uplift the standards of automated testing in the future. The Selenium 4 update takes them one step closer to achieving this dream. As a developer, you should always maintain the perfect balance between Automation testing, manual testing and correct tools to achieve the ultimate success.