How To Upgrade from Selenium RC To WebDriver
As the Selenium project continues to evolve, Selenium RC is moving closer to end-of-life. This is especially true with the upcoming release of Selenium 3 where minimal support will be offered for RC.
But how do you approach an upgrade like this? Especially if you have an enormous amount of Selenium RC tests that you rely on?
Take Jason Leyba’s advice. He works at Google and oversaw the transition of their tests from Selenium RC to WebDriver. And he posits that it can be done by following 4 simple steps:
- Clean up your tests
- Swap in WebDriver-backed Selenium
- Use WebDriver for all new features
- Replace RC usage as tests break
To give you some context, Google’s Selenium tests spawn something on the order of 3 million unique browser sessions per day. And they were able to make this transition happen with minimal disruption. If they were able to make this happen at such a scale, then hopefully this serves as inspiration for you to do the same at your organization.
4 Simple Steps
1. Clean Up Your Tests
“Turns out that tests that are easy to maintain are tests that are easy to migrate.” — Jason Leyba
The best thing you can do to keep your tests clean is to practice good abstractions. In the simplest form this means not referencing Selenium commands directly in your tests — pulling these out into something akin to page objects instead.
2. Swap in WebDriver-backed Selenium
With WebDriver-backed Selenium you get two driver instances to use in your tests — one for Selenium RC and another for WebDriver. This enables you to keep your Selenium RC tests running while simultaneously building out WebDriver functionality as you transition things over.
3. & 4. Improve Things Incrementally
For every new feature you write tests for, use WebDriver. And as your Selenium RC tests break go back and replace the broken bits with WebDriver.
Chip away at this over time and you’ll eventually be upgraded.
There are a handful of pitfalls to be aware of when stepping through this upgrade.
The best way to address this is to port your alert handling from Selenium RC to WebDriver — which is pretty straightforward and should be easy to accomplish assuming you have things well abstracted (re: Step #1 above).
Here is an example of the difference:
Waiting For The Page To Load
There’s no need to explicitly wait for the page to load anymore since WebDriver can implicitly do this for us.
Here’s an example:
If you run into timing issues with this newer approach, consider adding an explicit wait for the element you want to interact with.
Getting Text From The Page
It’s an expensive operation (and overkill) to get ALL of the text from the page to make a verification. And it takes longer to execute this in WebDriver.
A better approach is to find the element that has the text you want and check it’s text instead. Alternatively, if you want to search the entire page, it’s better to get the page’s source and parse that.
It’s worth noting that the hardest part of Google’s transition wasn’t technical. Teams were really slow to adopt WebDriver — even when the tools were readily available, well documented, and easy to use. Jason and his team were able to persevere and succeed through various means (e.g carrot, stick, elbow grease, etc.), but this really slowed their progress.
If you’re faced with a similar upgrade in your future hopefully this tip has helped prepare you for what lies ahead.
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