Selenium is a handy tool for automated website testing

Get loony with Selenium

Your site is up and running. You’ve worked out all the bugs that caused visitors grief and you’ve even successfully rolled out some new products, new articles and new features. Now you’ve decided you want to spruce up your design without losing the functionality you rely on. How do you make sure you can make updates to your site and ensure you don’t break anything in the process?

Selenium IDE is a recording add-on for the Firefox® browser that simulates a user on your website. The Selenium tool records the pages you visit and the links you click and sets validation points that check those pages against expected results. For instance, let’s say you have a page of links that you want to make sure resolves correctly. You can record a test case that not only validates that the link works, but also ensures that the link connects to the expected page with the expected content.

Selenium validates everything from IDs to XPath expressions, and it has its own debugger and break-point functionality.

A regression test that used to take minutes each time can take mere seconds with browser automation.

Each section of your site that you test is considered a test case. With Selenium, you can combine several smaller test cases into a larger test suite. For example, you can test the creation of new accounts, the actions of signing in and signing out, redirecting links and the return values of search results. Additionally, you can verify that forms have the proper validation, emails send correctly and much more.

Selenium is currently only available on the Firefox browser. That said, Selenium has a solution called the Remote Control server that can execute your recorded test cases from the IDE on any browser.

How do you get started with Selenium?

Visit and click the “Download Selenium” link in the sidebar. Click on the version number and Firefox will install it for you. Once Selenium is installed, restart your browser. You’ll notice that the Firefox Tools menu now contains an item called “Selenium IDE.” If you click on it, the IDE will pop up in a secondary window and you’re now ready to record your first case.

Want to see an example? Here’s a video of a quick test of the search functionality in the GoDaddy Garage using Selenium.

Happy testing!

Image by: Tama Leaver via Compfight cc

Christopher Carfi
A veteran of both startups and the enterprise, Chris has a deep track record in developing customer community and evangelist programs for brands such as Adobe, H&R Block and Aruba Networks while holding executive positions at Ant’s Eye View and Edelman Digital, and he was co-founder and CEO at Cerado. He currently lives in the Bay Area with his family.