AIMultiple ResearchAIMultiple Research

Playwright vs Selenium: A Detailed Comparison in 2024

Updated on Jan 2
5 min read
Written by
Gulbahar Karatas
Gulbahar Karatas
Gulbahar Karatas
Gülbahar is an AIMultiple industry analyst focused on web data collection, applications of web data and application security.

She is a frequent user of the products that she researches. For example, she is part of AIMultiple's web data benchmark team that has been annually measuring the performance of top 9 web data infrastructure providers.

She previously worked as a marketer in U.S. Commercial Service.

Gülbahar has a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Management.
View Full Profile

Websites now offer advanced features, responsive designs, and dynamic content, allowing users to engage. On the other hand, developers face the challenge of adapting their techniques and tools to accommodate the constantly evolving demands of modern web experiences. As websites become more complex, it becomes more difficult to scrape them.

Web automation tools like Selenium and Playwright play a vital role in addressing these challenges by allowing web scrapers to easily navigate web pages and efficiently extract data from dynamic websites.

In this article, we will explore the differences between Playwright and Selenium, including their features, capabilities, and performance. The article will also discuss how Playwright and Selenium tackle dynamic websites and extract data more effectively.

What is Selenium?

Selenium is an open-source NodeJS-based framework used for automating web browsers. 1 Since it allows interaction with websites and web applications, it is useful for web scraping, particularly for scraping dynamic websites. The Selenium suite contains several components, including:

  1. Selenium WebDriver: WebDriver is an API that allows direct interaction with web browsers. It supports automation across all major browsers rather than focusing on a single browser.
  2. Selenium IDE: It is an integrated development environment for creating and editing Selenium test scripts. Selenium IDE allows users to record their browser interactions. It is available as a Chrome and Firefox browser extension.
  3. Selenium Grid: This component enables running WebDriver scripts on multiple machines and browsers in parallel. Selenium Grid helps quality assurance teams and developers perform cross-platform testing.

Benefits of Selenium

  • Parallel test execution: Selenium’s Grid component enables developers to run test scripts on multiple browsers and machines in parallel. It distributes test requests among the available nodes (test execution environments). Using parallel test execution with Selenium Grid helps users reduce overall test execution time by distributing test execution across connected environments.
  • Cross-browser support: Cross-browser testing is the process of testing a website or web application in multiple browsers. The primary goal of cross-browser testing is to ensure it functions correctly and consistently across different browser environments. Selenium allows testers to perform cross-browser testing. It supports major browsers, including Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Safari. Selenium’s WebDriver allows users to write test scripts that work across different browsers.
  • Multi-language support: Selenium supports multiple programming languages through language-specific bindings, including Java, Python, C#, Ruby, and JavaScript. It allows developers to write Selenium scripts in their preferred programming language to automate browser interactions and test web applications.
  • Headless and headed modes: Selenium WebDriver supports headless and headed modes when running browser automation tests. Headless mode allows testers to run the browser in the background without displaying its graphical user interface (GUI). Because they do not render the GUI, headless browsers make the testing process faster and more resource-efficient. In contrast, headed mode runs the browser with its GUI visible. This is especially useful when debugging or observing the test execution.

What is Playwright?

Playwright is an open-source cross-browser web automation library developed by Microsoft that allows developers to automate browser actions and interactions. 2 It is specifically designed to address the needs of end-to-end testing, allowing for faster and more consistent testing across multiple browsers.

Benefits of Playwright

  • Cross-browser support: Playwright supports all major web browsers, including Chromium-based browsers (Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge), WebKit, and Firefox, for end-to-end testing and web automation tasks.
  • Auto-waiting: Playwright offers built-in auto-waiting functionality to eliminate the need for manual waiting, such as custom wait functions. It automatically waits for elements before executing actions or retrieving elements, making writing end-to-end tests more straightforward.
  • Screenshots and screen recording: Playwright includes built-in support for taking screenshots and screen recordings while running tests. You can capture screenshots of the entire page or specific elements, making it easier to understand test failures.
  • Headless and headed modes: Playwright supports headless and headed modes when running browser automation tests. In headless mode, tests can be run in the background without browser windows interfering with workflow. If you need to debug test failures and address browser-specific issues, headed mode is beneficial for debugging, visual testing, and addressing browser-specific issues.
  • API support: You can evaluate JavaScript within the browser context to interact with the web page, retrieve information, or manipulate elements. The page.evaluate() API in Playwright allows you to run JavaScript code directly in the web page context.
  • Authentication and cookies: Many web applications have different behaviors for authenticated and unauthenticated users. For example, some websites require HTTP authentication to access protected resources. Handling authentication is important when conducting browser testing. Playwright allows testers to simulate the login process and manage user sessions when interacting with a web application. Most single-page applications (SPAs) use cookie-based or token-based authentication to validate users’ identities and grant access to protected resources. Playwright provides “browserContext.storageState ([options])” method enables you to retrieve the storage state, such as cookies and storage data, from an authenticated context.

Here is an example of how you can automate interaction with a login form using Playwright:

Playwright enable users to automate interaction with web applications such as login forms and simulate the process.
  • Geolocation and device emulation: With Playwright, you can emulate a real device such as a mobile phone or tablet. This enables you to test your app on any browser without requiring physical access to them. Playwright allows users to simulate browser behavior such as userAgent, screenSize, and viewport. You can set the geolocation coordinates for a browsing context, then conduct your tests within that context. This allows you to ensure your web application works properly for users in different locations.

Playwright vs Selenium in web scraping

While Playwright is more suitable for web scraping projects, it is essential to consider your project’s specific scraping requirements and your team’s familiarity with the tools.

Where you might choose Playwright over Selenium :

  • When dealing with large-scale web scraping tasks
  • If you value consistent behavior across browsers
  • When you extract data from complex websites, such as dynamic web pages
  • If you need to manage isolated browsing sessions for parallel testing

Where you might choose Selenium over Playwright:

  • If your team prefers to use an browser automation tool across all languages
  • If your project requires testing or automation on a wider range of browsers
  • If you value the larger community and a wide range of resources

Scraping dynamic content with Playwright and Selenium

Scraping dynamic websites may be challenging for various reasons, such as asynchronous loading (creates timing issues for web scrapers), user interactions, and anti-scraping techniques. Playwright and Selenium enable users to overcome such challenges while web scraping. They support headless browsing, which allows you to run browsers in the background without displaying GUI. Headless browsers enable users to interact with JavaScript-rendered content and emulate user interactions while keeping the resource usage low. Playwright and Selenium can interact with JavaScript-rendered content and emulate user interactions, which makes them suitable for web scraping dynamic websites.

Playwright vs Selenium: Which One to Choose

Before choosing between Playwright and Selenium, you should evaluate the specific requirements of your project. The choice between Playwright and Selenium depends on the preferences of your team, the needs of the project, and the factors listed below. To make an informed choice, you can consider the following measures:

Figure 1: The key differences between Playwright and Selenium

This table summarizes the key differences between Playwright and Selenium.

Language support:

  • Playwright: Supports TypeScript, JavaScript, Python, .NET, and Java.
  • Selenium: Supports a wider range of programming languages than Playwright, including Python, Java, C#, Ruby, and JavaScript. This versatility enables developers from different programming backgrounds to use the tool in their preferred language.

Browser support:

Selenium supports a broader range of browsers. However, you must install and manage WebDriver for each browser with Selenium. The setup process may be complicated because you must ensure that the WebDriver versions are compatible with your browsers. In contrast, Playwright has built-in support, which simplifies the setup process.
Playwright:

  • Chromium (Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and other Chromium-based browsers)
  • Firefox
  • WebKit (Safari)

Selenium:

  • Google Chrome
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Safari
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Internet Explorer

Performance and reliability:

Playwright generally offers better performance and speed compared to Selenium due to its easy-to-use API, auto-waiting capabilities, etc. For instance, Playwright’s auto-waiting function eliminates the need for manual waiting and reduces the chances of timing-related issues.

Community support and documentation:

Both Playwright and Selenium have solid community support and documentation. While Selenium has been around longer than Playwright, it has a larger and more mature community. 3 On the other hand, Playwright’s documentation is particularly well-organized and more comprehensive than Selenium’s. 4

Further reading

If you have more questions, do not hesitate contacting us:

Find the Right Vendors
Gulbahar Karatas
Gülbahar is an AIMultiple industry analyst focused on web data collection, applications of web data and application security. She is a frequent user of the products that she researches. For example, she is part of AIMultiple's web data benchmark team that has been annually measuring the performance of top 9 web data infrastructure providers. She previously worked as a marketer in U.S. Commercial Service. Gülbahar has a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Management.

Next to Read

Comments

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.

0 Comments