The Basics of Selenium Testing: A Guide for Beginners to Learn Selenium

Developing software applications means testing them in many environments. One of the leading ways is called Selenium Testing. New developers usually learn Selenium as it is an opensource (free) automated suite that is well-suited to the task.

When you are new to developing web applications, finding out how to test them using a platform like Selenium is critical for your business. 

Why Learn Selenium?

There are other tools available for testing, so why learn Selenium? Selenium is a widely used automation suite for many reasons, aside from being free. A great community backs this opensource tool and allows QA engineers to write/run test cases in Java, C++, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, and Scala. 

It is essential to note that Selenium Testing is not just a single tool; it encompasses a whole suite of software. Each component caters to the different testing needs of an organization. 

The Four Components of the Selenium Suite

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

Who Developed Selenium?

Selenium is a collection of different tools. As such, it has had several developers as well. The principal people who made significant contributions to the Selenium Project are listed below.

Selenium was initially the creation of Jason Huggins in 2004. Back then, he was an engineer at ThoughtWorks. At the time, he was working on a web application that required frequent testing. 

When he found that the repetitious manual testing of their application was very inefficient, so he created a JavaScript that would automatically control the browser’s actions. He called this program “JavaScriptTestRunner.” Later it was renamed as Selenium Core and, after further modifications, the officially fully working program was named Selenium Remote Control or Selenium 1. 

Selenium IDE

Selenium Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is touted as the most straightforward framework in the Selenium suite. It is undoubtedly the easiest one to learn.

Developed by Shinya Kasatani of Japan, it is deployed as a Firefox plugin that you can connect just as quickly as any other plugin. Still, due to its simplicity, Selenium IDE should solely be applied as a prototyping agent. If you want to create more advanced test cases, you will need to use either Selenium RC or WebDriver.

When Should You Use Selenium IDE

  • Selenese commands like type, open, clickandwait, assert, verify, etc.
  • Locators like id, name, xpath, css selector, etc.
  • Executing customized JavaScript code that uses runScript
  • Exporting test cases in many formats.
  • To create tests when you have very little or no knowledge of programming.
  • When you need to make simple test cases and test suites that can be exported later to RC or WebDriver.
  • When you need to test a web application against specific browsers, like Firefox and Chrome only as an example.

Selenium Remote Control (RC)

Selenium RC was the flagship testing structure of the entire Selenium project for a long time. This web testing tool was developed by Paul Hammant and is the first that allowed engineers to use the programming language they choose. From version 2.25.0, RC can support these programming languages:

  • Java
  • C#
  • PHP
  • Python
  • Perl
  • Ruby

When Should You Use Selenium RC

  • To design a test that needs a more expressive language than Selenese
  • When you need to run your test against different browsers (except HtmlUnit) on various operating systems.
  • When you need to install your tests across many environments using Selenium Grid.
  • When you need to test your application in a new browser that supports JavaScript.
  • When you need to test web applications with complicated AJAX-based scenarios.

Selenium WebDriver

More reliable than both Selenium IDE and Selenium RC in many aspects is the Selenium WebDriver. It was created by Simon Stewart in 2006, executing a more modern and stable way of automating the browser’s operations.

WebDriver, unlike Selenium RC, doesn’t depend on JavaScript for automation. Instead, it controls the browser by direct communication with it. Its supported languages are the same ones used in Selenium RC.

  • Java
  • C#
  • PHP
  • Python
  • Perl
  • Ruby

When Should You Use WebDriver

  • When you need to use a specific programming language in designing your test case.
  • When you need to test applications that will be rich in AJAX-based functions.
  • When you need to execute testing on the HtmlUnit browser.
  • When you need to make customized test results.

Selenium Grid

The Selenium Grid is a tool from Patrick Lightbody that is used in conjunction with Selenium RC to run parallel tests across many machines and different browsers simultaneously. Parallel execution involves running multiple tests together.


  • This component permits running tests at the same time in many browsers and environments.
  • It saves valuable time immeasurably.
  • It utilizes the hub-and-nodes idea. The hub acts as a central source of Selenium commands to every node joined to it.

When Should You Use Selenium Grid

  • When you need to execute your Selenium RC scripts in many browsers and operating systems at the same time.
  • When you need to execute a comprehensive test suite that needs to complete in the fastest amount of time possible.

What Are the Key Benefits of Using Selenium for Testing?

As one of the most useful tools for automation testing, Selenium is revered by engineers, developers, and testers everywhere as their choice for testing. The question that lingers is with all the automation testing tools available that deliver nearly the same results. Why choose only Selenium?

The answers are many, but we’ve summed up to these:

  • Language and Framework Support
  • Open Source Availability
  • Multi-Browser Support
  • Support Over Varied Operating Systems
  • Ease Of Implementation
  • Reusability and Integrations
  • Flexibility
  • Parallel Test Execution and Faster Market Launch
  • Less Hardware Usage
  • Easy to Learn and Manage
  • Constant Updates

Final Thoughts on the Selenium Suite

Testing your app is complicated, but finding a tool that makes it simple for testing doesn’t have to be.

There are many sites out there that bring you the data you need to make an informed choice. Of course, there are also several reasons why you should learn Selenium, but the automation of the test stands out. If you found this post helpful, we have many more on a variety of topics that you may find interesting. Make sure to check them out.