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Selenium vs Protractor

Selenium vs Protractor

April 11th, 2019

Selenium vs Protractor : A Comprehensive Comparison

This blog post gives a comprehensive comparison of Selenium and Protractor, and lets you understand when to choose which tool and the reasons behind it.

What Selenium is all about?

Selenium is an open source testing tool for performing automated testing on web applications. It is designed dedicatedly for web-based applications and is compatible across different browsers and platforms. Licensed under Apache License 2.0, Selenium is not a single tool; instead it is a comprehensive suite and is a conglomerate of four different tools as discussed here under:

  • Selenium Integrated Development Environment (IDE)
  • Selenium Remote Control (RC)
  • WebDriver
  • Selenium Grid

Selenium IDE

This is the simplest among the Selenium suite. This is a Firefox plugin that testers use to record their sequence of work flow. It is easy to install and is compatible with other plugins too. This tool has the most basic features and many testers use this for prototyping purposes. Besides, this is learner friendly and user friendly too.

Selenium RC

Selenium Remote Control (RC) is an automated web testing tool that gives the testers the choice to choose their preferred programming language. It is matured, contains a complete API and has more features than just browser based tasks. The current version 2.25.0 is fully powered to support Java, C#, PHP, Python, Ruby and PERL and to perform tests of difficult level too.

Selenium WebDriver

An advanced version of Selenium RC, Selenium WebDriver is a modern and stable form of testing a web application. It interacts with browser by directly communicating with it and retrieving the results. Another advantage with WebDriver is that is does not need JavaScript for Automation. Similar to RC, WebDriver too supports Java, C#, PHP, Python, Ruby and PERL.

Selenium Grid

This testing tool from Selenium is specifically designed for parallel execution of tests, simultaneously on multiple browsers and environments. The core functionality of Selenium Grid revolves around hub and nodes concept. The main advantage of using this is time saving and faster execution.

What Protractor is all about?

Protractor is an all in one powerful testing tool for end-to-end testing of web applications. It comes with a right mix of the power of NodeJS, Selenium WebDriver, Jasmine, Cucumber and Mocha – which makes it a preferred testing tool for web applications.
Though Protractor is designed keeping in mind AngularJS applications, it performs with equal competence with non-AngularJS applications too. Initially it was developed by Google developers and later converted into an open source framework.
Talking in terms of Selenium WebDriver, Protractor is a wrapper developed on the top of webdriver.js, with added features and functionalities. To interact with browser, WebDriver uses the Selenium JSON-Wire-Protocol. WebDriver is also the official JavaScript implementation of Selenium.

What makes Protractor more attractive?

  • Most angular JS applications are embedded with HTML attributes such as ng-model and ng-controller. Selenium locators do not include them and hence cannot trace such web elements through pure Selenium code. Written as a wrapper on the top of Selenium code, Protractor can easily trace such Angular-specific locators and control such web application attributes.
  • Performs multi-browser testing on oft used browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE11, Edge, in shorter duration and in a simplified manner.
  • Protractor performs equally good for both Angular and Non-Angular web applications.
  • Protractor comes with parallel execution feature that lets a tester run test cases in multiple instances of the browser simultaneously.
  • Since Protractor has node at its core, wide variety of packages can be installed as and when needed. It means installation of various packages and working with them is easier in Protractor.
  • Working with multiple assertion libraries is possible with Protractor. Though it works comfortably with Jasmine and Mocha, the default is Jasmine.
  • Testers can run Protractor on their code deployed in cloud very comfortably. Protractor supports SauceLabs and CrossBrowserTesting and other such cloud testing platforms.
  • Working with Protractor is much speedier as it optimizes sleep and wait time to a farther extent. Also, Protractor runs equally well with real browsers and headless browsers.

Difference between Protractor vs Selenium

The following table brings out the key comparisons for both the testing tools – Selenium and Protractor:

Selenium WebDriver Protractor
You can automate the web applications using the selenium WebDriver with Java or any programming language of choice. Prefer Protractor when you are not comfortable with handling the ajax and angular waits using fluent wait in Selenium.
The languages supported by Selenium are Java, Python Kotlin, C, C#, PHP. All js related languages are supported by Protractor. Ex: Type Script and Java Script
Supports many frameworks of unit testing, such as TestNg and Junit. Protractor works well with Jasmine and Mocha frameworks.
You need lesser number of code lines for testing with Selenium. Code length is longer when you use Protractor because all of the fetch operation return promise, so you have to solve the promises first.
Selenium’s performance is faster for a non-Angular web application. When working with Angular applications, protractor offers faster performance.
It is an open source software. It is also an open source software.
Enough options for locators. Lesser option for locators.
Debugging in easy owing to Java based design. Debugging needs expertise and time consuming.
Technical skills mandatory to work with this tool are Java and TestNG. One needs to know JavaScript and Node.js to work with Protractor.
Licensed under Eclipse. Licensed under Webstorm7.0.
The framework is proven and widely used. The framework is budding and harder comparatively.
Compatible on Windows and Linux. This is also compatible on Windows and Linux.
Works well with Angular pages too; however page synchronization issues may crop up. Designed specifically for Angular pages and works with non-angular too without any issues.
Proven, widely used for automation, well extended support and stable API. New entrée in the market and needs expertise to work with.
You can work in popular programming languages such as Python, Ruby, Java, Perl, C and C## . Available only for JavaScript.
Offers comprehensive support for all sorts of testing needs for web applications. This is just a wrapper developed over WebDriver JS. No new verticals for browser automation are developed as such.
Cannot trace and work with angular directives in a code. Rich in angular specific locator strategy and can work comfortably with locators.

On a Final Note

When you are working on a grid, there is no much difference between Selenium and Protractor. All that you need to take care is the configuration and the choice of browser. Selenium is widely established and proven one, and Protractor is emerging in the market as of now. As such the comparison can be done as we have discussed in this post however, a decision about which tool to choose is based on many factors and a simple judgment can never be made in one word.
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