Selenium is a test automation suite and it has many components. Out of all the components, webdriver is the latest addition and it is the most powerful component that makes testing easier and perfect.
Webdriver, basically is a web automation framework that permits to execute tests in different browsers. This is not possible when you use Selenium IDE, as IDE is compatible only with Mozilla Firefox. Besides, the webdriver allows you to use a programming language that is supported by Selenium to write test scripts. It permits to use conditional operations such as if-then-else or switch case and also perform looping.
How Does WebDriver ‘Drive’ the Browser Compared to Selenium-RC?
Webdriver was invented in 2006 and before its invention another component of selenium called selenium remote control or selenium RC was used. Both are similar to a certain extent. Both permit the use of programming languages for writing test scripts and also to run the tests in different browsers. However, the similarities between the two ends there. Actually, the differences are more than the similarities.
- Architecture of webdriver is simpler than that of RC and it controls the browser from the OS level. With the programming language’s IDE and a browser the testing can be begun. At the same time the architecture of RC is more complicated and at first you will have to launch a separate application called selenium RC before performing the test and this will act as a mediator between the test commands and the browser.
- Since selenium webdriver interacts with the browser directly it is faster than selenium RC.
- Selenium webdriver supports HTMLUnit headless browser which is a fast browser, there is no time lapse for the page elements to get loaded whereas selenium RC does not support it.
- However, selenium webdriver is not friendly with new browsers. As mentioned already, webdriver communicates with the browser in the OS level and when a new browser is introduced, the OS may not be familiar with the webdriver. Hence, it will take time for the webdriver team in supporting the new browsers.
- Setting up a selenium webdriver project is very easy as the webdriver is highly user friendly.
Selenium webdriver is the latest component to get added to selenium testing suite and hence it will be taught only in the advanced selenium testing training programs. However, you need to learn webdriver also if you are really serious about building a career in selenium testing.