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Playwright vs Cypress vs Selenium: Which Is Right for You

In this article, we will learn about the Playwright testing tool and see how it differs from other test automation tools in terms of architecture and other features. We will also make a comparison and gather insight into the battle of Playwright vs Cypress vs Selenium.

Playwright vs Cypress vs Selenium : Quick Compariosn

What is Playwright?

Playwright is a node.js library developed and backed by Microsoft. This tool is gaining popularity for web test automation due to its powerful features and cross-browser capabilities. It’s free and open source. It was first released in the year 2020 and since then it is growing strongly.

Playwright Features

The playwright tool provides lots of cool features that make it very popular among the software testing and automation community. Some of the features are listed below:

  1. Cross-browser Support: Like Selenium, Playwright supports multiple browsers for end-to-end testing including Chromium, WebKit and Firefox.
  2. Multiple Language Support: Playwright officially supports Java, Python, C#, Javascript and Typescript.
  3. Headless and headed mode: You can run your automation scripts in a headless mode (without a visible browser UI) for faster execution or in a headed mode (with a visible browser window) for debugging and visual inspection.
  4. Emulation of devices and networks: We can emulate various devices, such as smartphones and tablets, and simulate different network conditions to test how web application behaves under different scenarios.
  5. Auto-Waiting: With Playwright we don’t need custom wait functions. The playwright has in-built wait support.
  6. Enhanced automation capabilities: Playwright provides advanced automation capabilities, including support for file uploads and downloads, intercepting network requests, taking screenshots, and recording videos of test executions.
  7. Debugging Options: It provides several debugging options like Playwright Inspector, Browser Developer Tools, VSCode Debugger, and Monitor Viewer Console Logs.
  8. Parallel Execution: The playwright tool manages separate browser instances for each browser engine. These instances are isolated from one another, allowing users to run tests in parallel across different browser engines.

Playwright Architecture

Playwright’s architecture is designed to provide a powerful and unified automation solution for web browsers. In this section, we will understand how Playwright Architecture is different from Selenium.

Selenium tool uses HTTP protocols like JSON Wire protocol and W3C protocol(Selenium 4) where a client (usually a web browser) sends a request to a server, and the server responds with the requested data. Each HTTP request is typically independent because it is stateless and carries no information about the previous request, meaning a new connection is established for each request-response cycle.

Contrary to Selenium, the Playwright tool uses a Web socket connection protocol. Unlike HTTP protocol, WebSocket is designed for bidirectional communication, meaning both the client and server can send messages to each other simultaneously without the need for multiple request-response cycles.

This makes Playwright comparatively faster than Selenium as Playwright communicates all requests through a single Web socket connection until test execution is completed.

Playwright vs Cypress vs Selenium

Before selecting any tool it is essential to understand and evaluate its features and limitations. We should also evaluate the scope and requirements of the project. Most of the time we get this question “Is Playwright better than Selenium” ? that truly depends on the requirements. However here are some of the key comparisons among Playwright, Cypress and Selenium.

PlaywrightCypressSelenium
Browser SupportChromium, Firefox, WebkitChrome, Firefox, Safari, EdgeChrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera
Language SupportJava, C#, Python, Javascript and TypescriptSupports Only Javascript and TypescriptJava, C#, Python, Javascript, Ruby and PHP
Operating SystemWindows, Linux, and macOSWindows, Linux, and macOSWindows, Linux, and macOS
ArchitectureFollows Event-Driven Architecture, relies on a single WebSocket connection to communicate with all driversCypress runs directly in the browser and executes JavaScript alongside the application being tested.Follows client-server architecture and uses Browser specific drivers to interact
ProtocolsPlaywright uses WebSocket protocol Custom Protocol, runs a Node.js server that communicates with the browser via a WebSocketUses HTTP Protocol (Json Wire and W3C)
Multi-Tab SupportSupport multi-tab executionDoes not support multi-tab executionSupport multi-tab execution
Iframe SupportHandles Iframe with the help of the FrameLocator methodIframe support is not provided. However, iframes can be handled using the iframe plugin.Supports Iframe handling
InstallationEasy SetupEasy SetupTime-Consuming and complex setup
Headless ModeBy default run in headless modeDon’t run in headless mode by default.Executes in headed mode, Headless mode supported.
Framework Support
Mocha, Jest, Jasmine
MochaPyUnit, JUnit, TestNG almost any language-specific test framework can be adapted
Automatic WaitingProvides automatic waiting for DOM elements, making tests more robust.Automatically waits for DOM elements to become available, reducing the need for explicit waits and making tests more reliableNo Automatic Waits.
Parallel Execution supportBuilt-in parallelization supportOfficially not supported and not recommended. However possible.Requires a third-party tool.
Advanced FeaturesBuilt-in support for recording and screenshotsBuilt-in support for recording and screenshotsRequires a third-party tool and customization to integrate screen capture.
Community SupportGrowing and Active CommunityLarge and Active CommunityVery strong and mature community
API SupportHas Built-in API testing support Has Built-in API testing supportDoes not have in-built API testing support
CI/CD Integration Very Well SupportedVery Well SupportedVery Well Supported
Execution SpeedFastFastSlow then Cypress and the playwright

Based on the above comparison you can decide which tool caters to your needs.

Playwright Limitations

Playwright is a fantastic tool however it has some limitations as well. A few of them are listed below:

  1. The playwright test automation tool does not support Microsoft Edge or earlier IE11.
  2. Playwright is relatively new as compared to other automation tools like Selenium so community support is limited.
  3. Some of the CI/CD tools are not supported For example Team City.

To know more about the Playwright tool read the official documentation.