Record and Replay Testing vs. Scripting: Which is Right for You?

  April 19, 2018

With so many tools on the market claiming to help you automate your tests, what do you choose? Between Selenium and record and replay testing, it can get a little confusing trying to differentiate and pick the best one for the job.

When it comes down to it, the most effective way to determine which path is better is to understand what the differences are and what you and your team need in a testing tool. All test automation tools have certain strengths; once you know how to leverage them, the answer becomes clear.

What is Record and Replay Testing?

Record and Replay, otherwise known as codeless automation, is a way to run tests without programming knowledge. This is done using a tool, like CrossBrowserTesting, that allows you to manually perform actions in the browser and save them as a test. You can then take this test and rerun it with a click, making regression and browser testing infinitely faster.

This means that manual testers or testers that are still new to Selenium can easily create automated tests. In addition, this allows other roles such as product managers, developers, designers, and even marketers participate in testing without having to learn an entirely new tool.

Record and Replay is the lightweight solution for test automation. The value is the most prominent for teams that are still transitioning from mostly manual testing to include some automation in order to speed up testing and help integrate it earlier in the software development lifecycle.

While Record and Replay may not be the ideal solution for teams who are well-versed in the intricacies of Selenium and who have lofty goals for code coverage on a multi-faceted web application, it is a great way to get started with automation.

Record and Replay is good for:

  • Individuals with little or no programming knowledge
  • Filling in the gaps of Selenium tests and transitioning from mostly manual testing
  • Lightweight automation for smaller tests
  • Non-technical roles doing one-off tests
  • Teams where members outside of QA take part in some testing

What’s Scripting?

Scripting is what you might traditionally think with test automation -- writing a test using Selenium commands and coding knowledge. In order to do this, you do need to have a foundational understanding of at least one programming language as well as what makes up a Selenium script and Selenium commands.

As teams focus on shifting left to incorporate testing earlier and integrate more often, Selenium should eventually be a part of this strategy. However, while Selenium is an invaluable tool for testing, it does have a steep learning curve. Scripting is a great option if there are existing team members that know how to write them, but you might want to seek out an alternative if not.

Fortunately, there are plenty of resources for learning Selenium because anyone who uses Selenium will tell you how it’s worth it. If your team knows how to leverage frameworks, maintain tests, and create stable scripts that provide insight for your team, you've probably already witnessed how valuable Selenium is. Additionally, you can multiply the effectiveness of your tests by leveraging cloud tools like CrossBrowserTesting to extend your browser library and capabilities.

Selenium is good for:

  • Highly technical practitioners that know the ins and outs of writing a Selenium script
  • Enterprise teams with an experienced QA team, expansive web applications, and a high volume of users
  • Creating robust suites and end-to-end tests
  • The largest reach in terms of automation speed and code coverage

Automation for Everyone

While Record & Replay and Selenium have different uses, they do share features in CrossBrowserTesting that will benefit anyone.

A stand-out detail is the ability to test on one of the largest browser selections in the cloud. This means that whether you’re a seasoned automation engineer or first-time tester, you can run a single test across an enormous array of browsers.

Additionally, you also have the ability to test in parallel. We can’t say it enough, parallel testing is one of the best ways to effortlessly accelerate the speed and coverage of your testing.

Once your tests are saved in Record & Replay, you can run up to 10 scripts in parallel across dozens of browsers with a few clicks. With Selenium, you use multithreading, which you can read more about in this blog about running your Selenium test in two browsers at once.

But what if you're still having troubling choosing? What if some people on your team are automation novices, while others are Selenium professionals? With CrossBrowserTesting, you don't have to choose. We have both Record & Replay and a Selenium grid, which means that every organization, every team, and every tester can discover the best way to achieve their automation goals.