Difference between Selenium IDE, Selenium WebDriver, and Selenium Grid

No one can deny the fact that Selenium has always been a buzzword in the software testing industry. In fact, this free automated testing suite has gained immense popularity in the automation testing world. After all, the advent of Selenium made the vision of maximum automation possible and highly realistic!

The most critical part of the life cycle of software is testing the end product for defects or bugs. Manual testing for every single functionality wastes a lot of valuable time and resources. Moreover, it also leads to plenty of extra costs. Despite all that, the end result is not 100% accurate since manual testing is always prone to some level of human error. However, the Selenium framework facilitates high levels of automation and provides precision and results along with cost-effectiveness.

The Selenium framework is a tactful blend of some key Selenium tools used for automating the testing process of web applications. As Selenium became mainstream, the time of testing cycles has greatly reduced. Its foundation lies in a scriptless concept with minimal initial coding. This automation framework seamlessly runs on mobile devices.

Now that you get the gist, we’re going to take a detailed look at the key components of Selenium and how they’re different from each other. In this post, we’re going to discuss the differences between Selenium IDE, Selenium WebDriver, and Selenium grid in detail. So let’s dive right in!

How Are The Key Components of Selenium Different From Each Other?

The distinct advantage Selenium framework offers is the parallel testing of web applications. The fact that it has several grids make it possible. In addition to that, it also features accelerators to further fasten the web application testing process and make it more efficient. You can easily integrate Selenium with other tools, thanks to its flexibility.

Users can easily download the Selenium framework as an extension with zero cost. Selenium automatically generates HTML reports and notifies users via Email about the necessary reports and records. There is no need for server installation, thanks to the WebDriver serving as a direct link between the browser and the automation script.

What makes Selenium so useful is that it’s a tactful amalgamation of its three main useful tools. They include Selenium IDE, Selenium WebDriver, and a Selenium Grid. But there’s a lot of ambiguity around the functioning of each. To address that, we’re going to demarcate the differences between them in a tabular format. But before that, we’ll explore all these three tools in detail.

1.   Selenium IDE

Selenium IDE first came into existence as a Firefox plugin to assist with creating tests. This easy-to-use interface first came out in 2006. Its purpose was to record user interactions made on browsers and export those interactions as reusable scripts.

It quickened the pace of creating automation scripts even if engineers with no programming knowledge work with them. This rapid prototyping tool offers support for Firefox, Chrome, embedded JavaScript, code runs, adding breakpoints, step execution, code exports, control flow statements, and parallel execution with the help of command-line runner.

It works on a record, playback, and save principle. The IDE script is made up of user interactions with browsers. It then executes the recorded script for verifying and monitoring its success rate and stability. The last step involved saving the recorded script for future regressions and runs. The installation of Selenium IDE is simpler than you might think. All you need to do is open Firefox, click on add-ons from the menu on the top right-hand side, type ‘Selenium IDE’ on the ‘Find more add-ons’ option and click ‘Add to Firefox’.

Selenium IDE Commands

Selenium IDE commands include action, accessors, and assertions.

  • Actions

These are the types of commands that carry out direct interaction with the application. They include:



  • Accessors

Accessors facilitate the storage of values to user-defined variables. For example, storeTitle().

  • Assertions

These types of commands facilitate verification of an application’s present state with the expected state. The three types of assertions include Assert, Verify, and WaitFor.

It also supports debugging of test scripts by providing breakpoints to users as a place for halting test script execution. This way, users can inspect the state of the browser.

2.   Selenium WebDriver

Many QA teams prefer working with Selenium WebDriver due to its salient features. It’s a browser automation framework that offers support for various programming languages including Java, JavaScript, C#, Perl, PHP, Ruby, and Python. It facilitates direct communication with the browsers and supports operating systems such as Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.

The browsers Selenium WebDriver supports include Internet Explorer, Opera 11.5, Safari, Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, GhostDriver, Android, HtmlUnit 2.9, iOS, and more. It has JSON wire protocol, Selenium client libraries, browser drivers, and browsers as the 4 core components in its architecture. Since it supports compatibility testing, cross-device testing, and an array of browsers and programming languages, Selenium WebDriver is a widely preferred tool within the Selenium framework.

The JSON protocol converts test commands into HTTP requests. Every browser’s driver initializes the server before beginning the execution of test cases. The driver then facilitates the receiving of requests by the browser. The reason why Selenium WebDriver came into existence is to eliminate the complications Selenium RC caused. It had a complicated architecture which increased the execution time since Selenium RC used an additional server.

3.   Selenium Grid

Selenium Grid is the go-to tool if you wish to run test cases across different platforms and different machines. In other words, it is a smart proxy server facilitating easy parallel testing on a wide array of machines. It allows you to build a network of nodes or connected test machines. Hub controls this network with the help of which users can run tests on various connected nodes. Every node is a virtual machine or a computer featuring a combination of browsers and operating systems.

As long as you specify the operating system, browser version, and browser you can easily connect to the Selenium grid with the help of Selenium remote. There are two versions of the Selenium grid, 1 and 2. The first one has its very own remote control while the second one comes enclosed with a server JAR file. The updated version also offers support for the WebDriver script and it eliminates the need for installing Apache Ant.

Selenium grid offers users a diversity of different browsers and facilitates the distribution of test load. Thanks to the parallel running of tests, the test suite doesn’t take as much time for completing a test pass as usual.

The remote machine automatically executes test cases when they are triggered. All you need to do is configure the remote server and the execution of test cases will occur over there. The fact that it supports browser versions as old as Internet Explorer 9 proves the versatility of the Selenium grid.

Cloud-based testing platforms like LambdaTest offers online Selenium Grid that lets you test websites and web applications across 3000+ browsers and OS combinations. By executing parallel tests, you can cut short test execution time and ship quality products at a breakneck pace.

Selenium IDE Selenium Grid Selenium WebDriver
1- It is an add-on only Firefox browser supports. 1- It’s a smart proxy server that supports Firefox, Safari, IE, Chrome, and much more. 1- It works with Firefox, IE, Chrome, Opera, and others.
2- It features top-notch record and playback. 2- It doesn’t offer support for record and playback. 2- You can’t use it for recording and playback.
3- It doesn’t depend on the Selenium server for running the test script. 3- It uses the Selenium server prior to processing the test script. 3- Selenium server isn’t a requirement for running the test script.
4- It has a UI for working with test scripts. 4- It’s a proxy server that supports Selenium RC and Selenium WebDriver scripts. 4- It is a full-fledged API that offers support for languages like Python, Java, C#, and Webdriver APIs.
5- Its core engine is dependent on Javascript. 5- Javascript drives its core engine. 5- It has native integration with the browser.
6- It uses Selenese which is a procedural language. 6- Its APIs are not fully object-oriented. 6- Its APIs fully support the object-oriented approach.

Summing It Up

The web has a tendency to become more and more complicated with each passing year. But the good thing is that new technologies keep adding on to websites or web applications which leads to more innovation. The role of QA teams is to keep up with the mission of maximum automation.

Every Selenium tool supports a different aspect of test automation. While most Selenium Quality Assurance engineers impart their focus on a single tool or at most two tools, learning about all of them offers a wider perspective. This also helps in increasing the flexibility of different operations.

It’s no secret that the need for test automation is going to skyrocket in the coming years. Therefore, sharpening related skills is important to eliminate ambiguity regarding core concepts and practically apply them in projects. Selenium is by far the most well-developed and influential framework for automation testing. That’s why it makes sense to dive into the details of the tools that make up this resilient framework.

So are you thorough with the building blocks of Selenium after looking into the differences in detail? If yes, gear up and begin your Selenium test automation journey today! If you have any queries, we’re more than happy to offer you more clarity in the common section below.