QA Automation

Selenium vs Cypress vs Playwright vs WebDriverIO vs NightWatch

comaprison-post

Nowadays, every organization wants an all-in-one automation testing tool that can perform several types of testings such as frontend web UI’s, backend APIs, etc. Also, we must be able to extend that tool/framework further as per the needs i.e. it should support various third-party integrations. So, In the current competitive market situations finding such a perfect tool becomes a critical task for any organization. A complete comparative analysis of current modern automation tools including Selenium WebDriver, WebDriverIO, Cypress, Playwright, and Night Watch is provided in this blog.  

This blog covers most of the important key features of mentioned automation tools, with complete in-depth comparative analysis. Finally, this blog will undoubtedly assist you in selecting the ideal automation solution that can meet the majority of the project’s requirements. 

Overview 

Selenium WebDriver is by far the most popular framework with large community support. It uses a JSON wire protocol to communicate between the selenium script and the browser drivers like chromedriver, geckodriver, etc. It is widely used with Java but it can also be used with python, javascript, ruby, c#, etc. Whereas  WebDriver IO is a custom implementation of Selenium WebDriver which overcomes some of the Selenium limitations, for example, It has default implicitly wait for an element, etc. Nightwatch is a Node.js application. It uses the W3C WebDriver API to drive browsers like selenium or WebDriver IO to perform commands or assertions on DOM elements. Automation tools like Selenium work by running outside the browser. However, the Cypress has a different architecture and it runs within the browser. Cypress is based on the proxy server – Node.js. Playwright is also a Node.js library, developed by Microsoft for automating browsers. Playwright is a more powerful version of Google’s Puppeteer, which isn’t compatible with Safari or Firefox.

Licensing or Pricing 

Selenium WebDriver, WebDriver IO, NightWatch, Cypress and Playwright are Open-Source and free to use. However, Cypress provides advanced features in its paid version which includes Cypress Dashboard, DOM snapshots, video storage, etc which are useful for debugging. 

Installation & Setup 

Installation of selenium and WebDriver IO is complex for new users whereas for NightWatch, Cypress and Playwright are easy to set up. 

To install and set up the WebDriver IO project, first select your preferred programming language. 

Selenium Installation: Some jar files are required to install and set up the selenium project in Java, which are shown below.

  1. Selenium Jar – Automation Tool 
  1. WebDrivers – chromedriver, geckodriver, etc 
  1. TestNG Jar – Testing Purposes 
  1. Maven/Ant – Build or dependency management tool 
  1. Apache POI – Excel related tasks 

Find out the required jars files on official websites or on the maven repository – https://mvnrepository.com/ 

Refer to this official documentation for configuration of the project – https://www.selenium.dev/documentation/ 

WebDriver IO Installation: Find out the installation setup details here on their official documentation – https://webdriver.io/docs/gettingstarted/ 

NightWatch: To install and setup night watch, refer to this official documentation – https://nightwatchjs.org/guide/getting-started/installation.html 

Cypress: To install and setup Cypress project, refer to this official documentation – https://docs.cypress.io/guides/getting-started/installing-cypress 

PlayWright: To install and setup PlayWright refer to this official documentation – https://playwright.dev/docs/intro 

Programming Languages Support 

The language support for the Selenium, WebDriverIO, Nightwatch, Cypress and Playwright are mentioned in the below table. 

Browsers Support 

It is critical to pick an automation tool that works with popular browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and others. Most of these tools support various browsers for automation purposes. The chart below shows a comparison. 

Element Locators / CSS Selectors 

Locating exact elements in a page DOM is important while automation of an app. We can find an element with the help of class id, attribute, tag name, XPath, etc. Some automation tools also provide some extra features to find out the dom elements differently. The table below shows the comparison. 

Modern Development Frameworks Support  

Although, one can automate any modern web app using Selenium WebDriver, WebDriver IO, Night Watch, Cypress, or Playwright. However, E2E tests must validate all the application’s layers. This includes not only frontend UI but also all associated backend services and infrastructure that is more representative of the environment that users will be in. E2E tests are typically the key to higher confidence in whether an application is functioning properly or not by testing how user activities affect the application. Hence, one must choose the right automation testing tool. Cypress, Playwright and NightWatch are best for testing React, Angular or Vue.js applications, as they provide some extra features. 

Testing Scope – Web/Mobile App/APIs 

Selenium is used for automation of Web UI only, but one can extend the framework with the help of third-party tools such as Rest APIs to automate API services and Appium tool to automate Android Applications. WebDriver IO, Cypress, and Playwright can all be used to automate Web UI and API services. Also, with the help of WebDriver IO and Playwright, one can easily automate mobile web applications also. NightWatch, on the other hand, can only be used for web UI automation because it currently lacks an out-of-the-box solution for API testing. 

 

Testing Framework Support 

Most of these tools are used for automation, however, a testing framework is required to perform assertions and grade a test as pass/fail/skip. For example, Selenium with Java, TestNG framework is most widely used. The following is the comparison chart. 

Cross-Platform Support / OS Support 

Nowadays, a wide variety of Operating Systems is available. Windows, Linux, and Mac are commonly used. The primary goal of every company is to reach out to every customer/user. For this, the application must be properly working on widely used OS such as Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. So, Choosing the right automation tool which supports most of the Operating systems, is important as it helps to identify the stability of the application across all the platforms. All these automation tools – Selenium, WebDriver IO, Night Watch, Cypress, and Playwright supports cross-platform testing on Windows, Mac, and Linux 

Multiple Windows / Tabs Support 

In this era of information, most of the users do multitask on their systems. When we are surfing on the internet, we do have plenty of tabs and windows opened. So keeping this in mind, our automation tool also supports multiple windows or tab handling like an end-user. Choosing the right automation tool which supports the handling of multiple windows/tabs becomes a very essential feature. The following is the comparison chart. 

Parallel Execution Support 

The parallel execution across multiple browsers saves our time and effort. We can cover a number of tests and increase the stability of the application. Which results in a higher Return On Investment(ROI). The good news is that all Selenium vs WebDriver IO vs Night Watch vs Cypress vs Playwright does support parallel execution of tests. 

 

Auto wait / Default Timeout 

Except for selenium, all other tools have default page load timeout, command timeout, etc already preset to a few seconds. However, one can easily configure timeouts or auto waits for all these tools including Selenium. 

Headless Execution 

All these modern automation tools – Selenium vs WebDriver IO vs Night Watch vs Cypress vs Playwright supports headless execution. 

Screenshots & Video Recording 

When a test fails then finding out the exact cause of failure becomes a very crucial task. In these situations, screenshots and video capture become incredibly useful in determining the actual cause of test failures. Most of these modern automation tools – Selenium vs WebDriver IO vs Night Watch vs Cypress vs Playwright supports screenshots and video recording.  

The comparative analysis for screenshots is given below  

The comparative analysis for video recordings is given below in tables. 

Executes Javascript 

All these automation tools – Selenium vs WebDriver IO vs Night Watch vs Cypress vs Playwright supports execution of javascript.  

Manage/Handle Cookies 

All these automation tools – Selenium vs WebDriver IO vs Night Watch vs Cypress vs Playwright can manage/handle cookies. 

Continuous Integration 

Selenium vs WebDriver IO vs Night Watch vs Cypress vs Playwright can be part of Continuous Integration as all of them support cloud execution. 

Reporting Frameworks 

Having a reporting framework that is flexible, lightweight, multi-language supported and which shows a very concise representation of what has been tested in a neat web report form and allows everyone participating in the development process to extract the maximum of useful information from the everyday execution of tests become important. 

The comparative analysis of automation tools Selenium vs WebDriver IO vs Night Watch vs Cypress vs Playwright with their supported reporting frameworks are mentioned below. 

Page Object Model (POM – Design Pattern) Support 

Selenium, WebDriver IO, Night Watch, Cypress and Playwright supports Page Object Model (POM – Design Pattern). 

Flaky Resistance – Retry Test 

Sometimes a test fails because of some external issues like internet connectivity issues, page timeout, UI not loaded properly, etc. And not because of any bug. So we must give such tests another try and execute them. If any such test passes in its next attempt are called a flaky test. So having such retry test capability in automation tools is especially important. The comparison chart is shown below. 

 

Community Support 

While developing a framework, one may face any error, doubt, or had found any critical bug in the existing tool, he needs community support where he can resolve the issue. The comparison chart is shown below. 

Community support

 

Extra Features 

Every new tool is created to address the shortcomings of existing automation software. As a result, each tool has a few extra functions.. The following is a comparison chart. 

Some Extra Information 

Some extra information related with this automation tools is mentioned in below table. 

Automation Tool Owner Company Launced Year Official Website 
Selenium ThoughtWork 2004 https://www.selenium.dev/ 
WebDriver IO OpenJS Foundation 2014 https://webdriver.io/ 
NightWatch BrowserStack Inc 2014 https://nightwatchjs.org/ 
Cypress Cypress 2014 https://www.cypress.io/ 
Playwright Microsoft 2020 https://playwright.dev/ 

Conclusion 

Day by day, modern applications are becoming increasingly complex as they are developed with various layers of sub-systems, UI components, APIs, databases, micro-services, and even third-party integrations. So to find out the perfect or best tool to perform End To End (E2E) testing on such applications requires lots of research. However, this blog covers in-depth comparative analysis on Selenium vs WebDriver IO vs Night Watch vs Cypress vs Playwright automation tools. One should choose the automation tool based on the project requirements, then analyze the cost before making any final decision. This blog will help to find out the right tool or at least gave some key insights which could satisfy any automation project needs.