The contemporary practice of accessing applications in the early period was downloading a physical application and installing it for performing every single task. This means the end users had to use different applications according to their requirements. This process was not only time-consuming but also consumed a lot of space on the native system. Moreover, with the advancement of time and technology the end user became more and more engaged in their lives. It was no longer possible to download different apps for every task. So, companies started integrating the app’s functioning with websites. This means modern websites could perform all the functions of a physical application while eliminating the hassle of downloading and installing any third-party software. WebDriver is an important component of modern web app development technology.
In this article, we’re going to discuss everything that you need to know about properly managing your WebDriver. We will also discuss some of the important things that you must consider while working with browser drivers.
The Diverse Browser Market
Before the arrival of Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer was the only web browser to access the Internet. Due to this lack of diversity, the developers didn’t have any problem developing web pages. They had to only ensure the proper functioning, visuals, and stability of one browser. However, in the current market, the situation has completely changed. This is because there are multiple popular browsers in the web development industry depending on the device configuration. Device configuration became an important factor during application development as the current user base uses multiple smart devices like smartphones, tablets, and even smartwatches to access the Internet.
Therefore, the developers do not only have to ensure compatibility on desktop browsers but also with their other device counterparts as well. To have a basic idea a recent survey shows that Google Chrome is the most popular browser in the desktop segment followed by Mozilla Firefox and safari. Now if we change our focus to the mobile market, we can see that even in the mobile market Google Chrome maintains the top position followed by Samsung browser and safari. Specific other browsers like Microsoft Edge and opera mini are also important contenders. Therefore, it becomes an important practice for application developers to provide stable support on all these browsers.
The Need for Browser Drivers
Browser drivers are an essential component of the application testing process. Using browser drivers, the developers can smoothly execute the test cases on every browser. Multiple automation testing frameworks like selenium and Cypress provide their browser drivers from their official websites. So, the application developers must have the latest version of these drivers on their system to ensure the smooth execution of the test cases. Browser drivers also help the developers to keep track of all the failed and successful test cases. These reports are essential for debugging processes and maintaining an activity log for the application development process. We will learn more about effectively maintaining the browser drivers in the latter part of this article.
Managing the Browser Drivers
To create a basic idea the selenium WebDriver is a component of the selenium test suite. It helps the developers to control the browser drivers programmatically. In simple terms, it creates a cross-browser API to implement different programming languages for different web browsers. The selenium WebDriver is an important component for initiating automation testing on web browsers. It is also essential for allocating the browser test cases to all the specific elements present on a web browser. Now that we have understood the basics of the selenium web browser and its uses let us move our focus toward browser driver management:
- The first step in this process is to download the platform-specific browser drivers. The developers must ensure that they have drivers for all the browsers on which they want to conduct the testing processes. To simplify this process, it is one of the best practices to plan all your target browsers during the test planning process. We can define browser drivers as a set of platform-specific binary files. Moreover, it is important to remember that the browser drivers are different according to the version of the current browser.
- The next step in this process is to set up the browsers with the respective browser drivers. The developers can easily locate the browser drivers from the selenium WebDriver test file. This file will have all the data that is necessary for keeping track of the automation test case. The developers can conduct this setup process in two different ways while using the Java programming language. The first way is to add the location of the browser driver in the path environment variable and the second way is to directly import the driver path into the Java system properties.
- The last process is to ensure the proper maintenance of all the browser drivers. It is an important process as it will be responsible for storing some of the vital data related to your testing process. Proper maintenance of browser drivers is also essential as it is one of the most common practices to reuse major segments of the testing data in future development projects.
- Now it is time to understand about WebDriverManager. This is an open-source Java library that performs the management of all the browser drivers. The developers need to remember that using this project the developers can only maintain the browser drivers specific to Selenium WebDriver. All the maintenance processes are performed in a completely automated manner. The latest version of WebDriverManager is version 5, and it provides some additional features to improve the testing experience. For instance, the latest version can automatically detect all the browsers that are currently present on the system. Then, it can automatically download the latest drivers for these browsers. Some of the other features present in it are the capability to run browsers in docker containers and monitor the capabilities.
- One of the most important things that the developers must remember is that they must have a detailed knowledge of the Java programming language for using this tool. This is because its primary functions are based on this language, and it uses this language for creating all the automated functions for maintaining and storing the browser drivers.
Now that we have finished discussing everything that you need to know about WebDriver manager it is time to understand some of the most basic, yet important features offered by this tool. They are as follows:
- It helps the developers to efficiently manage the browser drivers to properly store them and initiate them when and where required.
- It has an interactive resolution algorithm that is highly beneficial for conducting browser testing on modern web applications. This algorithm helps the driver manager automatically detect the browsers available on the system and download the relevant drivers. This feature is aimed at reducing the manual hassle that needs to be performed by automation testers.
- The management system is very generic which means the developers can customize all the parameters according to their requirements.
- It provides an advanced settings option to improve the test execution processes with the help of various API methods. These API methods also help to reduce the test execution time.
Role of Cloud Platforms in Browser Testing
Availability of all browsers and real devices are two of the most important components of successfully executing accurate browser test cases. Now maintaining a real device test bench can be highly expensive considering the variety in the mobile market. Moreover, the developers will also have a hard time keeping these test benches updated as thousands of new devices come to the market every year. So many app developers try to take the shortcut and release the final application by only verifying its performance on emulators and simulators. However, it is a very risky practice as these emulators often fail to analyze the behavior of the application based on some critical physical specifications. For instance, emulators cannot show the change in app behavior due to a low battery or a broken screen.
So, the developers can easily perform real device testing on an economical basis with the help of cloud platforms. This is because there are many cloud platforms available in the market which have multiple real devices stored on their servers. The developers can execute the test cases on these servers not only from their testbench but also from anywhere in the world. For performing this process, the developers only have to pay a minimum license fee. We can understand more about the functioning capabilities of cloud servers by forcing our LambdaTest as a discussion point:
We can introduce LambdaTest to the new developers as a cloud integration platform for executing secure cross-browser compatibility test cases. Cross-browser compatibility has become the new industry standard for ensuring that web applications provide the optimum end-user experience. This is because cross-browser compatibility ensures the best user experience respective of random shifts in the operating system and device version. To ensure proper execution of cross-browser compatibility testing LambdaTest has various interactive features like parallel test conduction. It is the process of initiating and executing multiple test instances at the same time based on different test configurations. While using LambdaTest the developers can import test scripts from different automation frameworks like Selenium, Cypress and Playwright. LambdaTest also helps app developers to verify the proper functioning of their local web applications for internal work.
LambdaTest improves the accuracy of the test cases by combining subsequent reports from simulators, emulators, and different real devices.
So, we can see that the proper management of browser drivers is highly essential to improve the capabilities of the web application development process. Browser driver management is also important for developers to properly implement browser testing. Selenium WebDriver is one of the top performers in the automation testing segment for almost a decade now. So, application development companies need to have a proper idea about this modern testing practice.
While we’re on the topic of automation testing, it is worth noting that the initial expenses for introducing it can be quite high. So, it is very important for the app development company to properly analyze its business perspectives before making this venture. Understanding the balance between automation and manual testing is also important. This is because certain test cases are simply impossible to automate. These test cases like visual testing and exploratory testing depend on the knowledge and experience of a human developer.