Selenium has carved a niche in the software testing tools world and has a dedicated user base with consistently increasing adoption in the last few years. While this tool was always popular with Open Source enthusiasts since the RC days, we now have increased acceptance in enterprises as well. In the last couple of years, quite a few Fortune 500 companies and banks have diversified their skill-base and tool portfolio with Selenium, in addition to traditional HP toolset.
Let’s look at a recent product offering in the market-place, which could be very relevant to the continued growth of Selenium user base. This post describes a brief analysis of HP LeanFT with respect to Selenium. Unsure if Learn-Selenium blog is the right medium for comment on HP tool, but it seems that this tool is HP’s response specifically to counter the increasing popularity of Selenium in the testing world.
Selenium – what has worked
1. Cost. Cost. Cost.
Cost by far remains the biggest differentiator for Selenium. Being open-source, this becomes the automation tool of choice for browser-based applications in small and medium enterprises. Vibrant user community and strong support base help mitigate concerns around open source usage in enterprises. HP licensing is disproportionately expensive.
2. Object Identification
As web technologies get advanced, we have third-party toolsets that cause issues in object identification during automation with HP QTP-UFT. AngularJS, Ajax, Oracle Forms are examples. While HP keeps refining with every version, there are easy alternatives. Selenium uses XPATH, and identifies objects where we face challenges in detecting unique properties using QTP.
3. The Buzz around Dev-Ops
Dev-Ops is the approach of leveraging test assets and automation in Development and Operations. With increasing agile adoption, the lines blur between traditional roles of developer, functional tester, and test automation specialist.
Application Development Leads and Architects are interested in test-automation for continuous integration, build sanity, and unit-testing. This is a community with expertise in Java/C#, and very comfortable with IDEs like Eclipse. They find it difficult to digest that anything worthwhile can be done with VBscript. These stakeholders are often key influencers in management decision-making on Enterprise Tool Usage, leading to increased acceptability for Selenium in large enterprises.
4. Multi-browser Testing
Even today, Selenium is a clear winner in cross-browser testing against UFT. Multiple UFT add-ins have to be tried for different browser versions and we have compatibility issues. Examples – UFT 11.5 does not support Chrome v40, you need to downgrade to Chrome v36 for automating scripts, which would not be in sync with production. HP license upgrades do not keep pace with browser version changes.
Selenium – where it falters
1. End-To-End Automation
Large Enterprises have multiple applications under test and end-to-end testing flows that traverse more than one application. Any tool restricted to browser testing would limit coverage of automation. Example – A very common scenario in banking systems would be transaction initiated on front-end web application that would have validation step on mainframe and backend database.
2. Object Identification and Script Build Productivity
While XPATH usage helps identify problematic objects, we have a lot of instances where QTP can easily get unique property index, which may be cumbersome in Selenium. HP QTP/UFT is feature-rich and easy to use. Invariably, script build productivity is higher as compared to Selenium, although this would vary based on an application under test.
3. Skill-based and staffing
HP QTP has been the industry leader since ages, and sourcing experienced automation testers skilled in coding with VBscript is relatively easier. In comparison, ramping a project team on Selenium skills may be more of a challenge. Note- this is a snapshot as of mid-2015, things change very fast.
HP LeanFT – What’s on offer
Circa 2015 July, HP has introduced LeanFT along with the UFT 12.5 upgrade. Refer the figure below.
Figure: Reproduced from datasheet on HP home-site
We have detailed below features and observations of LeanFT, which bear relevance to the analysis above.
1. LeanFT provides Support for multiple IDEs (Eclipse, Visual Studio) and coding languages (Java, C#).
HP keeps pushing features every few years to retain its dominance (and premium licensing), BPT was introduced to sell the concept of BA–Tester, now LeanFT is built to whet the interest of the Dev-Tester. IDE and language flexibility would make the tool popular with the Application Developers community.
2. Dev-Ops and CI support. LeanFT supposedly integrates well with standard SCMs, build/deploy tools and approaches, as compared to UFT which is heavily ALM centric. Selenium was an easy choice compared to QTP in building CI/CD solutions closely integrated with dev-workflows. This may change with LeanFT and needs to be investigated.
3. Object identification & Multi-browser support. LeanFT has an object identification engine similar to Spy in UFT which is installed as a plug-in to the IDE. This is an advantage and could be quite powerful. HP datasheet indicates LeanFT to be a lightweight tool with good cross-browser support. This could potentially address a gap in HP toolset where Selenium has an edge over QTP.
4. Cost: LeanFT licenses are free for HP UFT12.5 users, this helps penetrate the existing user base in large organizations and halts the move to Selenium.
5. We have clean integration of LeanFT with UFT12.5, which aids in the end to end automation. This permits automation beyond browser-based applications, a clear advantage over Selenium in organizations like banks and insurance companies.
6. QTP-skilled staff has no learning curve to start automation using LeanFT. Existing resources can be used for automation, as against Selenium projects which need well-thought-out staffing and training strategy.
It seems that LeanFT has been specifically targeted at the Selenium user base – would be very interesting to see how this pans out in the marketplace in the next 12 months. Much of the recent increase in Selenium projects has been because of large organizations seeking to diversify their tools portfolios. Technology trends are extremely dynamic and you prepare today for anticipated changes or risk obsolescence. Would LeanFT stem the tide? – We would watch the events and follow up on this in another six months.