Web browsing has changed considerably over the past few years, becoming much more experiential than it was in the past. Websites have recently evolved into more interactive, dynamic, and engaging due to the focus on delivering consistent user experiences. However, they are also getting more complicated, which makes it more difficult to scrape them. Even the most sophisticated scraper, which can readily extract data from a static page, may encounter some difficulties when it encounters a dynamic page. Scraping dynamic web pages has become much easier thanks to modern web automation frameworks like Playwright and Selenium. The challenging part is figuring out which one is best for your endeavor.
Before checking their differences, let us know about Playwright and Selenium.
What is Selenium?
Selenium is an open-source testing automation tool. Since its initial development started in 2004, it has aggressively developed and launched new features. Selenium WebDriver implementation has been a W3C suggestion since 2018. Selenium is a group of interconnected apps rather than a single tool. It includes the Selenium WebDriver, the Selenium Editor, and the Selenium Grid, three crucial tools in its suite.
Here is the brief about all three Selenium components/tools:
- Selenium WebDriver: It offers libraries for browser automation. It processes and performs the requested activities by the browser’s instructions. Only a few browsers are compatible with the WebDriver. To run the automatic tests on Chrome, for instance, you’ll need ChromeDriver. Similarly, Safari, Firefox, and other browsers support the specific software.
- Selenium Grid: It can be used to run the test across multiple computers. Consequently, the pace at which Selenium tests are run is accelerated. Consider incorporating the Selenium Grid into your testing process if you need to perform a test across various operating systems and browsers.
- Selenium IDE: IDE stands for Integrated Development Environment. Selenium IDE is a tool that captures and replays data. It is available as a plugin or extension for your machine. Inexperienced and seasoned human testers find learning simplified by the Selenium Interface. Additionally, it dramatically speeds up the automation of test situations. The Selenium Integrated Development Environment (IDE) was first created for Firefox. However, after a certain period has passed, it is now in maintenance condition. The Selenium integrated development environment (IDE) was reinstated in the most recent edition of the software, version 4, with a revised user interface, new features, and great design.
Selenium uses the WebDriver API to simplify interactions between browser drivers and online browsers. Each browser has its engine, which functions differently depending on the device. Selenium converts test cases via JSON for easy reading before sending them to the browser. After that, the browser executes the command, and the response is received using the HTTP protocol. On the other hand, the most current Selenium version, version 4, changed its architecture by substituting W3C standards for the JSON wire protocol. Due to these specifications, the HTTP protocol sends and receives requests.
What is Playwright?
Microsoft is in charge of the open-source test automation Playwright. Playwright was first introduced in the market in May 2020. Since then, Playwright has experienced several revisions, and every new release has added many new features. Both Playwright and Puppeteer are very similar applications; in fact, Playwright was created by the same team as Puppeteer.
End-to-end testing is considered from the very outset of the development of the Playwright. But it has started experimenting with API and component testing in reaction to audience requests. Playwright is compatible with many famous web browsers, including Chrome, Chromium, Webkit, and Firefox. Compared to Selenium, Playwright has quickly grown in prominence because of its advanced features and relatively simple interface.
The Playwright uses the WebSocket connection in opposition to Selenium, which does not use JSON or HTTP protocols. The Playwright is faster because the WebSocket connection is kept until the test is executed.
Dynamic and Static websites
However, dynamic websites can render content reacting to user actions because they are developed using a server-side programming language. Therefore, two users can view utterly different content depending on location, browsing history, device specifications, and other factors. It brings a lot of difficulties for online scrapers, including infinite scrolling, asynchronous loading, and browser fingerprinting. Selenium and Playwright become significant in this situation.
Even though both are web automation frameworks, by enabling headless browser capabilities, both play a crucial role in web scraping. “Headless surfing” uses a browser without UI components or a GUI. The loss of these features is not guaranteed. Instead of simulating actions like downloading, clicking, or browsing, you can instruct the browser to do so by creating a script.
If visual components don’t need to be loaded, you’ll use fewer resources to scale up your operations. You can scrape information from several websites at once, for example, by running multiple instances of your browser.
How to choose between the Playwright and Selenium?
How can you choose between Selenium and Playwright if both can implement headless browsing? Placing the two side by side can be a difficult task. One option may perform better under various conditions, including the programming language, browser combinations, and the requirements of the scraping project. Let’s look at some of the most crucial factors you must consider before selecting one option over the other.
- Browser Assistance
Although Selenium supports various browsers, users had to download and install the correct WebDrivers for every browser to use the framework. On the other hand, Playwright comes pre-packaged with its software, significantly simplifying the implementation process. However, you should know that it only functions with WebKit, Chromium, and Firefox. You should consider the web platforms you’ll need to finish your project before deciding between Selenium and Playwright.
It is crucial to remember that Selenium has recently launched Selenium Manager to address the problem with WebDriver management. It’s still in the beta testing stage, so using it might still cause issues with your current process.
Playwright works faster as compared to Selenium. Because increased computing capacity will greatly slow the process, Selenium is preferable for scraping small to moderate-scale projects.
- Programming Languages
- Parallel Test Execution
Both of these web automation tools support parallel test execution. It is in-built into Playwright, but for Selenium, the user needs to opt for third-party solutions like LambdaTest. If you want to achieve scalable and advanced parallel testing, try using Selenium Grid.
The Playwright promotes the execution of many test scenarios for multiple users, origins, and tabs. The user can use scenarios in varied contexts and execute against the server in a single test.
- Community Support
Playwright was recently launched, so it lacks the internet support that Selenium has. The latter features a sizable community that is highly active and has a ton of in-depth documentation. As a result, whenever you encounter an issue, you will probably be able to find assistance online, as opposed to Playwright, where it will be much more challenging.
Playwright and Selenium each have their unique architectural framework. Installing a Selenium client driver (binding) for a particular language enables you to build scripts that can communicate with the Web Driver, as was already stated. Additionally, this can be done by sending and receiving JSON messages over HTTP. Every string of Selenium code will request a transfer of the JSON Wire Protocol, which can cause delays.
On the other hand, the event-driven architecture used by Playwright comprises separate systems that can respond to events. This shows that each part can work separately from the others and interacts with them by exchanging events. The system can scale more efficiently, be more flexible, and operate more rapidly because it allows intermittent communication.
With Selenium and LambdaTest’s secure, dependable, and scalable Selenium infrastructure, you can run completely automated tests from start to finish. Automated tests can be performed on various operating systems, browsers, and devices using cloud testing tools like LambaTest as a test case runner. Users can use this feature to find and fix any issues by ensuring that their websites and apps work correctly with a wide range of operating systems, hardware, and software.
Combining LambdaTest with Selenium scripts allows you to perform cross-browser testing on more than 3000+ operating systems and browsers. Consequently, build times are significantly shortened, and test coverage is increased.
Choosing between Selenium and Playwright can be difficult; both are excellent illustrations of automation testing tools and have many uses. On the other side, our suggestions would be as follows:
When the languages and platforms that Playwright offers can meet the needs of your project, Playwright is the tool to use. If you require a fast, efficient, and simple autonomous browser, pick Playwright. Even though Playwright uses a headless architecture to allow quick testing of complex web apps and requires Node.js, it is still in its infancy. It needs more support on several fronts, including the community, browsers, actual devices, language options, and integrations. Selenium is a mineral that can provide all of these advantages.
Selenium is the tool when you require a lot of flexibility and want to use a particular web browser and programming language. In addition, Selenium might be a handy tool for learning how to scrape websites using a headless browser because of the enormous variety of materials that can be located online. However, each one accurately supports continuous integration and delivery for a software project. Although Playwright has a smaller market share, it has an advantage in complex web applications. On the other hand, Selenium offers complete coverage, scalability, adaptability, and strong community assistance.
Ultimately, no single answer can be used in all situations, so carefully considering the undertaking’s requirements is imperative.