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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Software Design 101: What is Selenium?

Selenium is freeware, open-source integrated development environment (IDE) that allows developers to do automated browser testing. Automated browser testing is used to debug web applications, but the software also has the capability to automate repetitive and tedious web administration duties as well. You can download Selenium IDE as a plug-in for Mozilla Firefox that also includes Selenium Web Driver, which allows for more robust testing.

A Brief History of Selenium

Jason Huggins and other programmers and testers at ThoughtWorks developed Selenium in 2004 because Huggins was dissatisfied with other testing products on the market. Huggins was mocked one such competitor, Mercury Interactive QuickTest Professional, in an email suggesting their product should be called Selenium because Selenium is a cure for mercury poisoning; the name stuck. Over the years the number of people who have contributed the software's development has grown considerably. ThoughtWorks employees all over the world helped with testing and deploying the application. In 2007, Huggins left ThoughtWorks and became part of Google's Selenium support team. The most recent change in the IDE is that the long-standing Selenium Remote Control tools have been depreciated and replaced by Selenium Web Driver.

Why Use Selenium?

Say you've built a web-age with a form on it. The form has about 20 fields and you need to test it with multiple variable inputs. Repeatedly filling out the form manually is tedious and a waste of precious development time. With Selenium, you can automate the testing and record the results to see if any errors pop up. Selenium is also handy for testing JavaScript applets to ensure that they work properly and the end users doesn't encounter any frustrating errors. Selenium helps free web developers from mundane tasks so that they can spend more time concentrating on developing and not debugging.

What is Selenium Compatible With?

Selenium is compatible with the C#, Java, Perl, PHP, Python and Ruby programming languages. Additionally, Selenium is available for the Linux, OSX, Solaris and Windows operating systems. Selenium also supports a wide variety of testing frameworks such as: Bromine, Hermes, ISFW, JUnit, NUnit, Robot Framework Selenium Library, RSpec (Ruby), Test:Unit (Ruby), TestNG (Java) and Unittest (Python). Selenium has limited support for other web browsers, but it primarily intended to be used with Firefox. SeleniumHQ maintains an updated list of what features are compatible with different browsers.

For Web Developers, Selenium is a must have tool in their arsenal and many couldn't fathom working without it. Selenium is also extremely popular among web development students as well because it is a free download. If you're looking to automate some of your development and testing chores, Selenium is worth trying.

About the Author: Ela Osinski has worked for several software and app development companies and enjoys learning about different types of software. Selenium is an important programming tool and you need to have a working knowledge in your arsenal.

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