Test Automation: Selenium Vs Playwright

| | 5 min read

Test automation has become an integral part of our processes. Wherever there are manual, recurring tasks, we strive to implement automation using the most suitable tools or scripting languages. For many years, Selenium was our go-to tool. We extensively utilized it to automate test cases and integrate them into our CI/CD pipeline. However, web application development practices have evolved significantly, and many new test automation frameworks have emerged. In an era increasingly influenced by AI's role in test automation, we have started adopting modern frameworks for our QA processes. Cypress and Playwright are two such modern frameworks we've experimented with on recent projects, and we've found that both frameworks align exceptionally well with our needs.

As our team began utilizing these frameworks, we developed capabilities in writing test automation scripts in JavaScript and Python, in addition to Java, which we used with Selenium. My colleague Gowri recently wrote an article comparing Selenium with Cypress, and this is my attempt to provide a similar analysis, this time comparing Selenium with Playwright. We have applied Playwright to multiple use cases, and the article on how we used Playwright to test the job application section of our website offers a practical example of its application.

This article focuses on how Playwright differs from Selenium and outlines the best use cases for each tool.

Selenium vs Playwright Comparison

Language SupportJava, C#, Python, Ruby, JavaScriptJavaScript, TypeScript, Python, C#, Java
Browser CompatibilitySupports all major browsers, including legacy browsersChrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, including headless browsers
ArchitectureServer-client modelDirect browser control (API-based)
Execution SpeedCan vary, sometimes slower due to network latency in the server-client modelGenerally faster due to direct browser control
Handling Complex InteractionsStrong (handling multiple windows, iframes, and dynamic content)Strong (optimized for modern web applications, handles dynamic content efficiently)
Testing EnvironmentWeb and mobile browsersPrimarily web browsers (supports mobile emulation)
Parallel TestingSupported with Selenium GridNative support for parallel testing
Real-Time FeedbackIndirect feedback (via test reports)Direct feedback (tests run in real-time, with a browser context)
Community and EcosystemLarge, mature, and well-establishedRapidly growing, vibrant community
Ideal Use CaseBroad, cross-browser testing, and complex application scenariosModern web applications, especially SPAs and PWAs, requiring rapid development and testing




Selenium stands out as a venerable framework in the world of test automation, with years of proven effectiveness and adaptability in a wide range of testing scenarios. Here's a deeper look into its capabilities:

Extensive Cross-Browser Compatibility

One of Selenium’s strongest suits is its ability to support a vast array of browsers, including older, legacy versions. This compatibility is indispensable for projects that require testing across a diverse range of user environments, ensuring consistent application performance regardless of the browser.

Diverse Language Support

Selenium’s flexibility is further enhanced by its support for multiple programming languages, including Java, Python, Ruby, and C#. This versatility makes it an ideal tool for teams with varied programming backgrounds, allowing them to leverage existing skills and knowledge in automation script development.



Robust Workflow Handling

When it comes to managing complex web interactions, Selenium is unmatched. It navigates effortlessly through multi-window applications and intricate iframes, handling complicated workflows with ease. This capability is crucial for testing advanced web applications that feature complex user interaction sequences.

Parallel Testing Powerhouse

For large-scale projects, the efficiency of Selenium’s parallel testing capabilities cannot be overstated. By enabling simultaneous test execution across different browsers and environments, Selenium significantly reduces the time required for comprehensive testing, which is a critical factor in speeding up the development cycle and ensuring rapid delivery.

Mature Ecosystem and Support

With a history spanning over a decade, Selenium has built a robust ecosystem. This maturity is reflected in its extensive documentation, a vast array of integrations, and a supportive community that contributes to continuous improvement and troubleshooting support.

Why Choose Selenium?

Selenium is the framework of choice for projects that demand extensive cross-browser testing, especially those that must function flawlessly across both modern and legacy browser environments. It’s also ideal for tackling complex automation tasks that require advanced interaction handling. For teams with proficiency in the programming languages Selenium supports, it offers a deep and powerful toolset for comprehensive test automation.

Playwright: Built for Speed and Efficiency

As web development evolves, Playwright emerges as a powerful framework, designed to meet the demands of modern web application testing. Here’s a closer look at its strengths:

Modern Web Application Expertise

Playwright is specifically engineered for the contemporary web. It shows exceptional prowess in testing Single-Page Applications (SPAs) and Progressive Web Applications (PWAs), which are at the forefront of today's web development. This makes it an invaluable tool for projects that are built using the latest web technologies.

Direct Browser Control

Unlike Selenium's server-client model, Playwright operates by directly controlling the browser. This approach results in significantly faster test executions, a key advantage in agile development environments where speed and efficiency are paramount.

Advanced Interaction Handling

Playwright excels in managing dynamic web features, including sophisticated interactions like drag-and-drop, context menus, and headless testing. These capabilities make it particularly effective for modern web applications that heavily rely on dynamic content and complex user interactions.

Native Parallel Testing

Similar to Selenium, Playwright offers native support for parallel testing. This feature allows for efficient use of resources and faster execution times, which is essential in rapidly evolving project environments.

Rapidly Growing Community and Development

Playwright’s development is marked by continuous enhancements and a growing community. This vibrant ecosystem is a testament to its rising popularity and commitment to addressing the evolving needs of modern web application testing.

Why Choose Playwright?

Playwright is particularly suited for projects that are centered around modern web technologies and require rapid, efficient testing processes. Its compatibility with JavaScript and Python makes it a natural choice for teams that specialize in these languages and are exploring advanced testing techniques like headless testing.

Matching Your Needs with the Right Tool: Playwright vs Selenium

Choosing between Selenium and Playwright depends heavily on the specific needs of your project. If your project involves extensive cross-browser testing and complex interaction handling, Selenium’s long-standing reliability and versatility make it an excellent choice. On the other hand, if your focus is on modern web applications where testing speed and efficiency are critical, Playwright’s modern architecture and capabilities offer a compelling advantage.

A Diverse Tool Set at Your Command

The landscape of QA tools and frameworks is rich and diverse, offering a range of options for different project requirements. Our QA team is well-versed in a variety of these technologies and stands ready to assist you in selecting the most appropriate tool for your project. Whether it requires the comprehensive capabilities of Selenium, the agile proficiency of Playwright, or another specialized framework, our objective is to ensure that quality is not just a feature but the cornerstone of your software product.

An effective QA strategy deployment hinges on selecting the right tools aligned with your project goals and team expertise. Both Selenium and Playwright offer unique advantages, and your choice should be guided by your specific testing requirements. With the right approach, you can ensure that quality is embedded at the heart of your software development process.