Switching from commercial testing tools to Selenium purely for the cost factor – don’t do it!

Sometimes companies consider moving from a commercial test automation tool to Selenium purely for cost reasons. Here are a few thoughts why that’s a bad idea.

Commercial test automation tools are often targeted more towards non-technical testers and testing on a business level. Selenium however is geared towards developers and integration into a CI pipeline, .

Remember – Selenium automates browsers – that’s it. This is the sole purpose of Selenium.  It doesn’t  come with many of the add on functions that commercial tools come with (i.e. test data generation, testcase management).  Selenium however integrates very easily with tools that are specialized in providing such add on functionality and are part of a CI pipeline. If an organization wants to switch from a commercial tool to Selenium you can’t just easily switch one for the other. Working with Selenium is happening on a different level and requires a very different skill  set (i.e. strong development skills).

The cost factor:

Yes, Selenium is free in a sense that you don’t pay a license fee. But using Selenium still costs money. Namely you will need to spend money for integrating Selenium with the other tools in the CI pipeline, creating test data, generating shiny reports etc. You also require a browser / mobile infrastructure in order to run your cross browser and mobile tests (that said you also require that infrastructure when you use commercial tools). So switching  to Selenium usually shifts the cost from paying license fees for commercial tools to the integration work of Selenium with the rest of the system.

Selenium is not there to replace commercial tools. It is there to enable shifting left the testing activities and to enable developers to start testing at the same time when they develop the code. Commercial testing tools typically don’t integrate well into the world of developers. Developers don’t want a silo application to write their GUI level tests. Instead they want to seamlessly write their application code along with tests.

Bottom line:

  • Selenium is not there to replace commercial testing tools
  • It is there to complement the commercial tools by enabling teams to test earlier and on a more technical level
  • Selenium isn’t free either, you just spend the money in a different way

If you want to learn more about bringing Selenium into your organization, contact us at contact@element34.com .