Cypress vs. Selenium: The Ultimate Showdown

Scraping Robot
January 10, 2024

As far as showdowns go, Cypress vs. Selenium may not rank up there with Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier, but comparing these two automated cross-browser testing tools can help you pick the best one for the job. For many years, Selenium was the go-to for automated web application testing, and it’s still the most widely used tool. However, Cypress has emerged as a new contender and has been quickly gaining adoption. This guide will compare the various features of Cypress vs. Selenium so you can make an informed decision.

Table of Contents

Selenium: Why Do We Need It?

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Any comparison of Cypress vs. Selenium should include an overview of what Selenium is and why it’s used. Selenium is used for testing web applications to make sure they work as expected across different browsers and platforms. By automating the actions that a user might perform when interacting with a website, Selenium helps identify issues and bugs in the application during the development phase. Automated testing maintains the quality and performance of web applications, especially in fast-paced, agile development environments where manual testing can be time-consuming and prone to human error.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Selenium

how useful selenium

Selenium’s strengths include its versatility, multi-language support, and extensive cross-browser compatibility. However, the features that make it so flexible also make it more complex and harder to use. When you’re comparing Cypress vs. Selenium, here are some of Selenium’s pros and cons to keep in mind.

Advantages of Selenium

In comparing Cypress vs. Selenium, consider Selenium’s strong points:

  • Cross-browser compatibility: Selenium supports various browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari.
  • Multi-language support: You can write test scripts in multiple programming languages such as Java, C#, Python, Ruby, and JavaScript.
  • Open source: Being open source, Selenium is free to use and has a large community and lots of support resources.
  • Platform portability: Tests can be executed for different operating systems like Windows, Mac, and Linux, so you can run it in multiple development environments.
  • Integration: Selenium integrates well with tools for continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) and other testing frameworks.
  • Flexibility and scalability: With its modular approach to testing, you can write scripts for simple to complex test cases and scale testing efforts as needed.

Disadvantages of Selenium

When considering why we need testing in Selenium, you should also think about the following negatives. Having the complete picture will help you decide whether to use Cypress vs. Selenium:

  • No built-in reporting or test management: Selenium doesn’t have built-in reporting and test management capabilities. You’ll need to integrate it with other tools, which can add complexity to the testing setup.
  • Steep learning curve: While powerful, Selenium can be complex to learn, especially if you aren’t familiar with programming and testing concepts.
  • Browser control limitations: Selenium interacts with web elements but has limitations in handling browser pop-ups, new window tabs, and elements that are disabled or not visible.
  • Time-consuming for complex tests: Writing scripts for complex test scenarios can be time-consuming and may require advanced programming skills.
  • Limited support for image testing: Selenium is not ideally suited for testing images. It focuses on functional testing and might require additional tools for visual testing.

Cypress Automation for Web Testing

learn cypress

Introduced in 2018, Cypress is the new kid on the block. It’s a JavaScript-based test automation tool for end-to-end testing of web applications. It simplifies the process of setting up, writing, running, and debugging tests for web applications. Cypress is designed to operate directly in the browser. One of the biggest Cypress IT pros is that developers can see exactly how and why tests are passing or failing. It’s particularly valuable for agile and DevOps teams that need real-time, interactive testing. People who prefer Cypress vs. Selenium often cite its ease of use.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cypress

useful cypress

Cypress’ fast adoption rate is a testament to how much developers love its fast API, end-to-end testing, and front-end testing. However, in a Cypress vs. Selenium comparison, one of its main drawbacks is its limited language and browser support. Here’s a look at the positives and negatives of Cypress in more detail.

Advantages of Cypress

In a Cypress vs. Selenium comparison, the following features lean in Cypress’ favor:

  • Real-time testing: Cypress runs tests in the same run loop as the application, offering real-time, faster test execution and feedback.
  • Ease of setup and use: It is easier to set up compared to some other testing frameworks, and its syntax is straightforward, making tests easier to write and understand.
  • Automatic waiting: Cypress automatically waits for commands and assertions before moving on. This reduces the flakiness of tests caused by timing issues.
  • Debuggability: Cypress provides excellent debugging capabilities through readable error messages, and allows you to directly debug from the Developer Tools.
  • Consistent results: Tests in Cypress are less prone to flakiness and are more reliable due to its architecture and handling of asynchronous events.
  • Integrated development environment: Cypress includes a test runner that allows you to see commands as they execute while also viewing the application under testing.

Disadvantages of Cypress

The following negatives might sway your decision about Cypress vs. Selenium:

  • Browser support: Cypress currently has limited browser support, mainly focused on Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Electron, which can be a drawback for comprehensive cross-browser testing.
  • Limited multi-tab support: Cypress does not support testing across multiple tabs or multiple browsers in a single test, which can be limiting for certain test scenarios.
  • No native mobile support: Cypress is designed for testing web applications and doesn’t support native mobile application testing.
  • Large video and screenshot files: Cypress records videos of test runs, which can be large and consume significant disk space.
  • JavaScript only: Cypress languages are limited to one — JavaScript. Tests can only be written in JavaScript, so it’s automatically out if you need to work in another language.

Cypress vs. Selenium: A Head-to-Head Comparison

compare cypress vs selenium

Here’s a detailed breakdown of Cypress vs. Selenium regarding popular features:

Cypress Selenium
Architecture Operates directly within the browser and runs in the same run-loop as the application being tested to allow for faster execution and real-time testing feedback Runs outside the browser and controls the browser through a driver, which can lead to slower execution and may introduce issues with synchronization
Language Support Built on JavaScript and only supports JavaScript, which aligns well with modern web development but limits usage to JavaScript developers Supports multiple programming languages including Java, C#, Python, Ruby, and JavaScript, offering flexibility to teams with diverse programming backgrounds
Browser Compatibility Initially focused on Chrome but has expanded to support Firefox and Edge Extensive browser support, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge, making it a better choice for comprehensive cross-browser testing
Test Runner and Framework Comes with its own test runner and assertions library, providing an all-in-one solution but less flexibility in choosing different testing frameworks or assertion libraries Requires integration with test runners and assertion libraries (like JUnit or TestNG), offering more flexibility but also requiring more setup
Environment Setup Offers easier setup with fewer dependencies, making it more accessible for quick startup and use More complex to set up, especially when integrating with various languages and frameworks
Execution Speed and Feedback Faster test execution and immediate visual feedback — good for debugging and development Tests can be slower and may not offer the same level of immediate feedback, particularly in complex test suites
Asynchronous Operations Automatically waits for elements to become visible, commands to complete, and AJAX calls to finish, reducing flakiness in tests Requires explicit waits and handling of asynchronous operations, which can lead to more flaky tests if not managed properly
Community and Ecosystem Growing community and ecosystem, but it’s relatively newer and smaller compared to Selenium Large, well-established community and ecosystem, with extensive resources and support available

How to Choose Between Cypress and Cypress Alternatives

In some cases, the best choice between Cypress vs. Selenium is obvious. If you need to write tests in languages other than JavaScript, Selenium is a no-brainer. In other cases, the choice is more nuanced and depends on factors such as your comfort and experience level. Cypress is great for newer developers who want to get up and running quickly. Selenium has a pretty steep learning curve, so you can expect to spend a lot of time coding and building.

If speed is your biggest concern, Cypress is the clear winner. On the other hand, if you need to run tests in browsers that Cypress doesn’t support, you’ll have to use Selenium. Ultimately, you’ll need to look at the needs of your project to pick between Cypress vs. Selenium. Cypress performs better than Selenium in many use cases but isn’t as flexible.

Final Thoughts

conclusion on cypress and selenium

When you’re building web applications, you have a lot of decisions to make. Picking the best option between Cypress vs. Selenium is just one of them. Gathering data through web scraping can help you in many aspects of your projects. Web scraping uses automated bots to crawl web pages, extract data, and export it into a readable format so you can analyze it

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