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Migrating from Selenium to Cypress

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What you'll learn

  • Why migrate from Selenium to Cypress
  • How to migrate Selenium tests to Cypress

Introduction

While both Selenium and Cypress are popular tools for web automation, each framework possesses distinct strengths and weaknesses. For instance, Cypress stands out as one of the easiest automation frameworks to begin with, while Selenium boasts the status of being one of the oldest and most widely used frameworks.

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If you see any inaccuracies with this guide or feel like something has been misrepresented, please start a discussion here.

Taking a closer look at Selenium WebDriver reveals its longevity and extensive library of documentation and troubleshooting guides. Supported by an active community, Selenium benefits from robust documentation across multiple languages including Java, JavaScript, Python, C#, and Ruby. Its widespread adoption is further evidenced by its integration into various low-code tools, underscoring its versatility in browser interaction.

A key differentiator of Cypress, not only from Selenium but also from other test automation frameworks, is its unique approach of running tests inside an interactive browser rather than against one. This approach minimizes flakiness and grants users greater control over both the framework and the application under test. Cypress's ability to wait for page loading without explicit declaration allows for patient execution until the application is fully ready. Additionally, Cypress simplifies test recording without requiring complex configurations or setups, facilitating easy troubleshooting and bug reporting with access to screenshots, videos, and time travel debugging.

Furthermore, the addition of Component Testing to Cypress has fostered collaboration between testing and development teams, enabling them to work with the same tools and language. This alignment streamlines the testing process and promotes consistency and efficiency across teams.

Top 5 reasons to migrate

While migration is often perceived as a hassle, investing in Cypress is undoubtedly worthwhile. In fact, migrating to Cypress may not even pose a significant challenge.

1. Reduction of Flakiness

One of the primary benefits of Cypress is its ability to reduce flakiness in tests. Occasional test failures can undermine trust in the testing framework. Cypress addresses this concern by offering features such as automatic retries and implicit waiting on the application, effectively minimizing flakiness and enhancing test reliability.

2. Ease of Setup

Unlike traditional test automation frameworks that require cumbersome setup processes, Cypress streamlines the setup with just two Node.js commands: 'npm install' and 'npx cypress open'. Within seconds, users can have a fully functional framework up and running. Since Cypress utilizes locally installed browsers, there's no need for complex configurations or additional installations.

3. Infinitely Expandable

Recognizing the diverse needs of web applications, Cypress offers extensibility through various plugins. These plugins, many of which are contributed by the community, allow users to tailor their testing framework to specific project requirements, ensuring flexibility and scalability.

4. Strong Community Support

Cypress boasts a vibrant community that contributes plugins and prioritizes documentation. With extensive documentation, support initiatives like the Ambassador program, and a Discord community of over 10,000 testers and developers, Cypress users benefit from wealth of resources and assistance, making it a highly supported testing framework.

5. Ease of Use

Compared to Selenium, Cypress offers a more intuitive and user-friendly experience. Features like the selector playground and built-in screenshots simplify test writing and debugging, allowing users to focus on creating effective tests without the need for constant navigation between the test server and browser. This streamlined approach enhances productivity and accelerates the testing process. Cypress Test Replay, which provides the ability to time travel and interactively debug tests in your CI/CD pipeline, is not a capability that Selenium provides. While debugging is never the most enjoyable task in development, Cypress is here to assist us. With its clear and concise error messages and multitude of plugins for feedback, debugging has never been easier.

With Cypress, testing becomes not only more reliable and efficient but also more enjoyable for developers and QA professionals alike.

Evaluating Suitability for Migration

In order for a migration to proceed smoothly, it is important to conduct a thorough analysis of the existing test cases and framework functionality. This analysis serves as a cornerstone for determining the priority of test case migration since not all test cases need to be migrated at once. Depending on the organization's needs, emphasis may be placed on high-priority cases rather than quick wins. Additionally, it is essential to evaluate whether any business or organization-specific logic embedded within the framework can be rebuilt or migrated to JavaScript or TypeScript.

If the current test automation framework employs the Page Object Model, it may be advantageous to start with simpler tasks before tackling more complex test cases. Beginning with low-hanging fruit allows for the migration of selectors and basic interactions, providing the test automation engineer or developer with a gradual introduction to the framework. This incremental approach facilitates faster migration of additional tests and reduces the complexity of larger, more intricate tests. Alternatively, if the current framework does not utilize the Page Object Model, selector migration will occur naturally as part of migrating the actual codebase.

It's important to note that if the Selenium framework relies on XPath, migration will necessitate changing those selectors. While the 'cypress-xpath' plugin remains functional, it is deprecated and may not be the optimal solution in the long term.

Alternatively, this could present an opportune moment to adopt the Page Object Model methodology, streamlining test maintenance and enhancing readability.

Getting started with Cypress

Installing and configuring Cypress is very easy and we have provided step-by-step guides to help you get started.

You will first install Cypress. You will then open the Cypress application.

Check out our in-depth E2E getting started guide.

And now you're all set to start the migration.

Strategy and Considerations

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If the current automation framework supports Cucumber, jump to the section Migrating test cases with Cucumber.

Before starting to write any code, take the time to assess the architecture of your framework. A well-structured framework will be a great deal easier to maintain and expand in the future.

Some questions to discuss:

  • Will we use Page-objects?
  • Will we mock API calls?
  • How will we divide the tests?

For example: While the utilization of the Page Object Model (POM) has been widely discussed and embraced as a best practice, there remains divergence in opinion regarding its implementation. Some advocate for a minimalist approach, wherein the POM solely comprises page selectors, while others advocate for a more comprehensive approach that includes both selectors and all possible page actions. It's crucial to engage in team discussions to align on POM structure, thereby avoiding surprises during the initial pull request.

Another critical consideration is whether the team intends to leverage Cypress intercept functionality to stub API calls. While this approach reduces the need for end-to-end tests, it significantly increases the number of smaller tests. For some teams, the heightened maintenance overhead may outweigh the benefits. However, stubbing API requests can diminish backend dependencies and enhance framework stability.

In larger applications, locating specific tests within the framework can prove challenging. Therefore, establishing guidelines for test organization is essential for creating a maintainable framework. Some teams prefer organizing tests based on application functionality, while others opt for organization by webpage. While performance and functionality remain unaffected, clear guidelines on test placement are imperative for framework maintainability.

These considerations serve as a roadmap toward crafting a well-structured, easily maintainable, and enjoyable-to-use framework. Investing time in contemplation and extensive team discussions regarding these questions will yield significant dividends in the long run.

Migrating test cases

With thorough preparation underway, it's time to initiate the actual migration process.

One of the first things to migrate would be all page-objects or selectors, and depending on the frontend framework the developers are using, this could be a quick find and replace. For instance, in Vue.js the selector in Selenium would be vl-checkbox while in Cypress this would be .vl-checkbox. This will allow you to quickly have Cypress tests that can be used to test your application. This may also be an opportunity to review your tests to see how subject to change the selectors are today. Cypress documents many best practices about how to write robust tests and the section on selecting elements is a great resource to review.

One of the most significant changes between Selenium and Cypress is the actual testing syntax. While Selenium will run a class or different scenarios, Cypress will run every it in a *.cy.js file. So, the flow of a test should be transferred inside an it. To make matters more structured, it is possible to add several its inside a describe. This allows you as the user to create a subdivision akin to test suites and test cases.

describe('General information', () => {
beforeEach(() => {
cy.get('#loginButton').click()
})

it('Header is visible', () => {
cy.get('#header').should('be.visible')
})

it('Footer is visible', () => {
cy.get('#footer').should('be.visible')
})
})

Another big change is that you no longer need any WebDriver definitions. Cypress takes care of opening and closing the browser without any explicit prompting, unlike Selenium. Any code that is used to define the WebDriver is now obsolete.

 WebDriver driver = new ChromeDriver();

WebDriverWait wait = new WebDriverWait(driver, 10);

driver.quit();

Next would be to replace all the potential actions. The following code is fairly standard in Selenium frameworks.

wait.until(EC.element_to_be_clickable((By.ID, "myButton"))).click()

It is fairly easy to change this line of code to work inside a Cypress framework. It could even be done with a find and replace. In Cypress, the command would be the following:

cy.get('#myButton').click()

Any wait until functionality that you have been using in Selenium is no longer required in Cypress. This functionality is built in.

The next vital part to migrate would be the assertions. We can all agree assertions are moderately vital to a test automation framework. The next piece of code is a python Selenium assertion to validate if a button is visible. While it is possible to add third-party libraries, the built-in assertions of Cypress can tackle a wide range of situations.

assert driver.find_element(By.ID, "myButton").is_displayed()

In Cypress, the same command would be:

cy.get('#myButton').should('be.visible')

Considering the easy and clear syntax of Cypress, transferring all the selectors might take the longest. And while copying and pasting the selectors is definitely an option, rewriting the selectors might be required to conform to the best practices.

Multiple tabs

When you have the need to interact with multiple browser tabs in Cypress, an official plugin has been provided to accomplish this goal. The Puppeteer plugin utilizes Puppeteer's browser API with one command within Cypress.

File upload

Because Selenium cannot interact with the file upload dialog, it provides a way to upload files without opening the dialog. Cypress provides support uploading files through the built-in .selectFile() command. There are many options available to allow you to upload a single file, multiple files, and even drag and drop in Cypress.

GraphQL

Given the increasing prominence of GraphQL, the community has responded accordingly. Validating the contents of GraphQL requests or responses is entirely feasible using Cypress's native intercept functionality. This plugin enhances both the stability and usability of the intercept feature: Shopify/cypress-graphql

Migrating test cases with Cucumber

If you're currently using a Cucumber framework, this Cypress plugin can assist you in transitioning smoothly. Although it alters the conventional describe and it functionality, the adjustment process should be relatively straightforward.

The main difference would be that instead of adding the whole flow into a single it section, you add the different steps into an it like section, where the it is replaced with the standard Gherkin syntax.

The first snippet comprises plain Cypress code, whereas the second snippet demonstrates the Cucumber version.

it("I should see a search bar", () => {
cy.visit("https://www.duckduckgo.com");
cy.get("input").should(
"have.attr",
"placeholder",
"Search the web without being tracked"
)
import { When, Then } from '@badeball/cypress-cucumber-preprocessor'

When('I visit duckduckgo.com', () => {
cy.visit('https://www.duckduckgo.com')
})

Then('I should see a search bar', () => {
cy.get('input').should(
'have.attr',
'placeholder',
'Search the web without being tracked'
)
})

As evident, the actual code or logic remains unchanged. The difference lies in the structure of the spec file and the framework's architecture.

Integration with CI/CD Pipeline

Integration with the current Pipeline

Cypress can be integrated into any pipeline technology using its headless runner. This headless runner leverages the Electron browser, ensuring minimal adaptation of the current CI/CD. Given the widespread usage of Docker in most pipelines today, the Cypress pipeline is no exception. Integration becomes effortless by employing a Node.js docker image or one provided by Cypress via Docker Hub. These Docker images, not only furnished by Cypress, include various versions of Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.

Executing the following command initiates a headless run against the Electron browser. Upon completion, a succinct table is generated, detailing the number of tests for each 'cy.js' file, in addition to the failed, skipped and passed tests with the run time of each specific 'cy.js' file. At the bottom of the table, a comprehensive summary displays the total number of tests run, the duration of the run, and the counts of failed, passed, and skipped tests.

npx cypress run

This would completely replace the Selenium step in your current CI/CD workflow.

Learn more about running Cypress tests in Continuous Integration.

Cypress Cloud

The notable distinction in integration between Cypress and Selenium emerges when discussing Cypress Cloud, a service built on the rich result data coming from tests run in the open source application.

Cypress.io offers its tailored pipeline structure, meticulously designed to execute tests efficiently. Accompanying this structure are several advanced features that warrant attention during migration to Cypress. While it's feasible to harness all the advantages of migration without Cypress Cloud, it would be remiss not to explore the potential benefits afforded by its features.

Some of the core features include:

Test Replay

One of the major difficulties in troubleshooting headless testing is having to reproduce the failure in your local environment in order to debug failures in CI. Cypress Cloud resolves this issue with Test Replay. Test Replay's interactive interface allows for faster debugging, enabling your team to time travel through your application under test to rapidly identify and resolve issues that surfaced in CI. This eliminates the need to reproduce CI issues locally so you can swiftly get back to shipping valuable software for your users. Gain visibility into the events leading up to crashes or failures by inspecting the DOM, network events, and console logs of your application under test exactly as they ran in CI.

Parallelization

To enhance testing efficiency further, Cypress Cloud offers a built-in solution for test parallelization. With a simple toggle, tests can run in parallel, eliminating the need for complex configurations to run tests concurrently.

Cypress will assign each spec file to an available machine based on our balance strategy. Due to this balance strategy, the run order of the spec files is not guaranteed when parallelized.

Analytics and Reporting

The last step in pipeline integration is reporting the results. While most pipelines can report if there is a failure, precise numbers require a bit more configuration. One of the most popular plugins to show reports is mochawesome (cypress-mochawesome-reporter). This plugin can easily be integrated into most pipeline infrastructure, with the correct CI/CD plugin.

But even without the mochawesome package, any pipeline infrastructure can register the error code (error code 1) if there are test failures. And as soon as this error code is found, webhooks can trigger a notification in your medium of choice.

Cypress Cloud can also serve as an automated pipeline integration, furnishing built-in analytics and reporting capabilities. This feature grants you visibility into metrics such as run duration, flaky tests, and the slowest-performing tests, enabling comprehensive monitoring of test health at scale. Moreover, this negates the necessity of adding another package or dependency, as Cypress Cloud seamlessly interacts with the tests.

Conclusion

In this migration guide, we've delved into a diverse array of topics. Beginning with a brief overview of the advantages and limitations of both testing frameworks, we've advocated for the feasibility of migration and delved into key design considerations before initiating the transition.

Following this, we've discussed the initial steps of the migration process and prioritized which tests to migrate first. Recognizing the significance of the migration process itself, we've devoted attention to exploring various implementations and identifying plugins that could enrich the Cypress experience.

Welcome to the world of smooth testing!

Cypress not only competes effectively with established frameworks like Selenium but also introduces a host of enhancements. These enhancements encompass easier setup and maintenance, along with significant quality-of-life improvements. The minimized flakiness and simplified programming experience have positioned Cypress as a premier Test Automation framework, embraced by thousands of development and testing teams.

Migrations have traditionally been perceived as costly and time-intensive endeavors. We trust that this guide has alleviated those concerns. The migration process is not only straightforward but also promises a more stable and efficient framework, delivering substantial benefits in the long run.