Thu, 28 Sep 2023

Selenium vs. Playwright: Is the king in trouble?

15 Jul 2022, 22:42 GMT+10

For many years now, Selenium has been reigning in the world of automation testing tools. All these years, virtually every company failed to release a product that can challenge the domination of Selenium. Selenium has received some form of rivalry from Cypress and Protractor. However, it remained the first preference for almost every developer in the market.

Some time ago, a new competitor arrived in the market that wanted to challenge the domination of Selenium. It is known as Playwright. The primary advantage of Selenium lies in the long period through which it has remained in the Application Development Industry. Most developers have found it to be the most stable and simple form of automation tool.

In this article, we will assess the pros and cons of Playwright and will try to directly compare it to the advantages of Selenium.

Furthermore, we will also discuss some advanced test automation frameworks that can help you do utilise the full potential of Selenium. We will make the comparison of Selenium version 3 with Playwright version 1.19. We will make all the programming considerations in terms of the Java programming language.


Let us begin the comparison by analyzing the language support for both of the test automation tools. It is not a surprise for the Development Industry that Selenium supports more programming languages compared to Playwright. The support for more programming languages can make a huge difference when it comes to customizing the test cases for the application development process. On the other hand, Playwright focuses on supporting the most popular and commonly used programming languages. It is also quite inevitable that Playwright will increase its support of programming languages in the coming years. Another important factor in this segment is that Playwright doesn't introduce the new features in all programming languages at the same time. It first introduces the update for JavaScript and TypeScript. Then, it releases the update for Java and finally for .NET language.

Depending on your preferred programming language, you might have to wait a longer period to implement the new features in the web application.


Similar to the language support, Selenium also has the upper hand when it comes to supporting multiple Browsers and browser versions. The main reason for this feature is the longer period that Selenium has remained in the market compared to Playwright. Playwright aims to support all the common and popular browsers that are currently available in the market. So, if you are using Playwright for developing and testing the applications then, there are very low chances of browser compatibility issues in your software. However, as a developer, it is always a good idea to have some extra options available in your hand. This process will help you to be completely sure about the proper functionality of your application.

Working With Various Elements

This is the major differentiating factor between both of these test automation tools. This factor can tilt the balance completely towards a single side. Selenium performs all the interactions with the DOM elements by using WebElements. The developers have to use locators to link all the DOM elements with the other elements present on the web page. Some good examples of locators are Link Text, ID Name, CSS Selector, etc. There are various ways to create these elements for the linking process. However, a major issue with this process is that all of them assume that the element is going to be already present on the web page. This is because many times the system would not be able to find the element of the webpage and finally fail the test. All these factors have a vital role in delaying the application delivery process.

To bypass this issue, the developers have to load the Framework with the help of explicit and implicit wait. This process adds unnecessary complexity to the testing framework. On the other hand, Playwright uses a completely different philosophy. It ensures that all the interactions are completed with the help of locators. Initially, the developers might find the locator creation process to be tricky. However, it is very easy to understand the process that the developers can pick up very quickly. Moreover, these locators have the wait function available natively. This function also contributes massively to increasing the stability of the framework. Another attractive piece of information is that it is one of the primary focuses of the Playwright developers to improve this feature with future updates.

In terms of preferences, the application Development Industry is split into two parts. The first part prefers the traditional methodology of Selenium. On the other hand, the second half of the industry prefers the modern stability offered by Playwright. Playwright Is also very strict when it comes to locating the different elements on a web application. For instance, if there is a locator that returns 2 elements when it is supposed to return only one, the Framework will immediately display an error message. On the other hand, Selenium will display the first occurrence in this scenario.

The Page Object Model

The page object model design pattern has become a standard process in the test automation industry. So, it is not surprising that this model can be implemented by using both Selenium and Playwright. This point justifies that the standard processes and important features are almost similar for both of these test automation platforms. We can find the main differences in unconventional approaches and hard to implement features.

Availability of Alerts

The approach for handling dialogues is quite different for both of these test automation tools. So, we can analyze this feature to understand the uniqueness of each of these projects. Simply speaking, Selenium has a natural approach to tackling all of these dialogues. When the developer expects the arrival of an error, they have to move to it and interact. Playwright takes a different approach to this process. By default, it will auto discard the handler errors. However, if the developers want to interact with it, they have to define a handler. This handler must have the desired behaviour with the help of anonymous functions.

Possibilities for Screenshots

In terms of Screenshots, Playwright crosses Selenium by a huge margin. It also brings massive versatility to this process. Let us take a quick look at the various options that Playwright offers:

  • The Developers can capture the full screen with the screenshot feature.
  • They can store the screenshots in a buffer for further referencing.
  • The Developers can also capture individual elements with this feature. This process is essential for troubleshooting and critical bug detection processes.

The developers also have the option to customize various aspects of the screenshot process. For instance, they can define the image format, the image quality and even the area that they want to capture. Playwright also has the developers perform video recordings of the web pages. This feature is completely absent from Selenium. For Selenium, developers have to work with multiple elements for capturing screenshots.

Availability of Support

To some extent, this comparison might seem unfair as Selenium has been in the market for a very long time. So, it has managed to develop a massive community of tech enthusiasts. Therefore, it will be very difficult for the developers to find an unanswered question in this community.

On the other hand, Playwright is only in the market for a very short period. Therefore, the only type of support is present in the form of documentation. This documentation does not come with enough examples and so the developers might find it difficult to understand the meaning. The developers can also get support by creating tickets on GitHub. A market study shows that most of the tickets are addressed within 24 hours of creation.

It is a very positive sign for a project that is trying to make its stand against a market giant like Selenium.

Framework Support for Selenium and Playwright

Various Tools and platforms play a vital role in improving the stability and simplicity of the test automation process. Therefore, this is another important factor that we must analyze while comparing Selenium with Playwright. Before the comparison, we must understand how the developers can choose the perfect tool according to the development requirements.

Considering some factors such as tool preferences, knowledge of programming languages, company budget and Expectations can massively influence the decision-making process. It will be a good idea to compare the support of Selenium and Playwright by using a similar test automation platform. So, let us make the comparison with the help of LambdaTest:

LambdaTest is a cloud-based platform to verify the cross-browser compatibility of websites and web applications. The developers can use this platform to perform automated browser testing with Selenium and Playwright frameworks. For Selenium, Developers can verify the functionality of the web application on more than 3000 different Browsers and browser versions with this platform. For Playwright, it currently supports testing on 50+ browsers.

However, the support will increase in the future. Using this cloud platform, the developers can perform test processes from anywhere in the world. LambdaTest also generates highly accurate test results. It achieves this goal by combining the test results from not only virtual machines and emulators but also from real devices as well.

From the above analysis, we can understand that Selenium has better support of tools and frameworks compared to Playwright.

The Conclusion

There are various other aspects that we can use to compare both of these test automation tools. However, in this article, we tried to keep the comparison limited to the important factors that can change your testing experience. If we consider the long period through which Selenium has been in the market, we can easily title it to be one of the most solid tools for performing test automation processes.

The massive community of Selenium also plays a vital role in improving its position when it comes to user preferences. This community not only works for developing interactive features for Selenium but also helps fellow developers who are new to this tool. With Playwright on the table, Selenium seems to be a bit heavy. The slow release of Selenium updates also hampers its reputation.

Playwright has done a wonderful job when it comes to making a name in a short period. Although, it has a long way to go if it wants to completely conquer the position that is currently held by Selenium. Playwright is on the correct path and will improve its position in the future. Currently, many developers tend to use Playwright, in case the development project allows it.

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