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Selenium and Puppeteer have almost the same purpose, but they are essentially different. Both solutions can facilitate automation testing, but they fundamentally differ in the approach.

Software testers and developers depend on selecting the right tool for their specific needs, whether they’re long-term or project-based. Since your software delivery pipeline depends on automated UI testing, you can’t afford to make costly mistakes. This type of UI testing is already complicated by nature.

Thankfully, there are browser testing libraries to make the process more straightforward. Two of such libraries are Puppeteer and Selenium. In this Puppeteer tutorial, we’ll explain these libraries and their core elements to help you choose the right tool for your testing needs.

Basics of Puppeteer

Puppeteer or Headless Chrome Node API is a Node browser library designed as a high-grade API for increased control over headless Chrome over the DevTools protocol. This Node API is perfect for running automated tests on Chrome websites, as it can fully automate the Google Chrome browser.


Essentially, Puppeteer is a powerful automation tool for web scraping, generating PDFs from website screenshots, and more. It uses Chrome DevTools protocol to perform clicks, screenshot testing, performance testing, web scraping, and seamless automation of mundane and repetitive tasks.

However, Puppeteer is designed to support only the Chrome browser and Chromium. Although it’s mostly a testing library, its primary purpose is to control Chrome and Chromium browsers.

Introduction to Selenium

Just like Puppeteer, Selenium also automates browsers. Its primary function is to automate testing of web apps, but Selenium can do more than that. It supports several features for automation testing and is compatible with multiple programming platforms and languages.

Unlike Puppeteer, which only supports Chrome and Chromium, Selenium supports automation testing on numerous common web browsers. It is freely available due to being an open-source solution, and users can integrate it with Agile and CI.

It supports cross-browser testing and an array of programming languages and operational systems. It comes with a range of valuable extensions, a vast library, and unprecedented community support.

Although it requires some time, effort, and tech-savvy skills to learn to use it, Selenium supports various browsers and is a web-UI testing library rather than an automation tool. It supports both web and mobile automation.

Puppeteer vs. Selenium

The most significant difference between Puppeteer and Selenium is the range of browsers and programming languages they support.

While Puppeteer only supports Chrome, Chromium, and Node.js, Selenium supports multiple programming languages like Java, JavaScript, Ruby, C#, and Python. It’s compatible with Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, and Chrome and can provide cross-platform support.

Puppeteer is just a Node library, whereas Selenium is an automation framework for testing web apps.

However, although limited, Puppeteer excels when it comes to ease of use. Selenium requires tedious amounts of coding for each browser it supports. The problem is that you can’t apply automatic control code.

On the other hand, Puppeteer focuses on a single API, making it easier and simpler to automate generating the required code. Compared to Selenium, Puppeteer gives you unlimited access to the internal functions of the Chrome browser.

Because of that, it can perform actions that Selenium can’t, such as giving you the highest level of control over the Chrome browser. As a library for controlling Chrome and Chromium, Google’s team of developers writes and maintains Puppeteer.

Determining which one you need

If your software testers and developers are explicitly working with Chrome and Chromium, Puppeteer should be their go-to solution.

However, if you require an automation tool with cross-browser support that allows you to test web apps across multiple browsers using multiple programming languages, Selenium makes more sense. It provides drivers for various browsers and has a vast library that supports the most commonly used coding languages.

Selenium also comes with more functionalities for web app testing, such as recording and playback features. It creates code developers can reuse or load with test suites and testing packages.

Because of these advantages, Selenium is probably the best solution for automation testing. If you’re required to work with Chrome only, we recommend Puppeteer. However, if you need to support cross-browser applications, Selenium is a better option.

Conclusion

Puppeteer and Selenium may have similarities, but they are two different tools. Both are robust solutions that can help your testers and developers expedite preparing tests for testing web applications.

Puppeteer is an excellent option for software testers and developers working explicitly with Chrome and Chromium, while Selenium fits better when you need additional support for cross-browser testing. Selenium also supports multiple programming languages and can facilitate a more secure code for automation testing.

Both solutions are excellent and can improve your experience with automated tests, so which one you’ll choose depends on your preferred browser and programming language.

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