Selenium – first impressions

I’ve recently been trialling  Selenium to see if it would be suitable replacement for our current, very expensive tool, Rational Functional Tester. For those not in the know, Selenium is an open-source test automation tool that is currently very popular in the testing community.

The Selenium IDE acts as a plugin for Mozilla Firefox. It allows you to record user interaction with a website via a toolbar, and presents the steps in an easy-to-read format.

Here are my impressions so far, as a comparison to Rational Functional tester:


  • Very good record and playback feature. The tool integrates seamlessly with Mozilla Firefox to enable easy recording and, more importantly, easy editing and playback. This feature works better than all other record and playback tools I have tried previously.
  • Stable. The irony of many test automation tools is that they are full of bugs. So far this one seems pretty stable, without any glaringly obvious quirks.
  • Free. Rational Functional Tester costs a small fortune on a per-license basis.
  • Cross-browser compatible. It is easy to configure Selenium to use any of the popular web browsers.


  • Web applications only. Selenium cannot be used to test desktop applications. Bit of a downer.
  • Steep learning curve. While record and playback is easy, setting up advanced editing in Java (or C#, Perl, Python or Ruby) is not so straightforward. However, this is typical of most test automation tools. Usually these tools are easy enough to use once they are set up, it is getting there that is the problem. Almost all of the documentation on the website is “Coming soon…”

Thoughts so far:

Given that the tool is free, I am leaning towards using it as a complementary tool to Rational Functional Tester, using the record and playback feature for simple data-driven automation tasks. Maybe if I spend more time on it, I could start using it for more complex functions as well.

4 thoughts on “Selenium – first impressions

  1. Instead of using Selenium directly, I like to use it thru the key driven test frameworks. My favorite is Robot framework ( which is developed with Python and works with Jython as well as with “norman C Python”. You lose recording with that option, but in my opinion it is worth of losing that. Key word driven tests are much more maintainable than recorded if you plan the tests carefully.

  2. A few months ago I too had to make an evaluation and choose between RFT and Selenium for a web site automation project. I chose Selenium and did not regret this choice.

  3. Thanks TAB. If ever given the choice between these two tools for a new project, I would definitely choose Selenium.

    However, I’ve since moved on from the place that predominantly used RFT, and I’ve inherited a suite of tests that use WebAii.

  4. Hi, is this Selenium IDE a complement of Selenium Webdriver, for more robust test regretion tool?

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