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What is a Playwright? How Playwright Automation can help

For over a decade, Selenium has been a prominent and jutting testing and automation tool. However, the time has changed, the web has transformed and browser-based test automation has become a tricky job now irrespective of the type of testing tool used. Today web applications are feature-rich and responsive. 

They can be classified as highly asynchronous because of the responsive nature of these applications. There are many asynchronous events happening inside web applications (for instance making an HTTP request using the fetch() function) and automating these behaviours is difficult for any developer or tester. This is where we need a new approach to deal with these modern applications. 

From this whole flakiness and brittle idea, the Microsoft team presented the Playwright testing tool. It promises to handle these flakiness situations very well. Now, let us see what a Playwright is and how it is helpful?

What is a Playwright?

Playwright is a new open-source, JavaScript-based cross-browser automation framework which is built on top of Puppeteer. It is an end-to-end testing library which is developed and maintained by Microsoft. It is a new addition to the headless browser testing framework. It can test across all modern browsers and is helpful in solving the testing problems of today’s web applications like slow speed execution of the test scenarios, parallel execution, and writing long code for the browser setups. Playwright addresses all these issues and makes your test executions more reliable, fast, and readable.

One of the main features of the playwright test script is that the process of auto wait is inbuilt into this. The UI gets ready at the backend before the test and web elements interact with each other. Therefore, the tester need not write a separate code for the “Wait” function. Whereas, in the other frameworks, testers have to explicitly write code for the same. 

The scripts are also concise due to the inbuilt processes. Its capabilities allow a wide range of complex scenarios to be tested through this. This leads to more accurate test results as all the relevant checks for an element are performed. Once all the checks are passed, it then moves on to perform the desired actions. It also allows the execution of multiple tests at once (parallel testing)  through the Browser context. It enables optimal usage of resources as its browser instance is capable of creating multiple, concurrent and isolated browser contexts. The contexts are closed when not needed.  This allows the contexts to host multiple web pages simultaneously.

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How to run Playwright tests?

By default, the browser is launched as headless, but browsers can run in a headed mode as well. For testing, if you want the browser to run in headed mode then you have to pass a flag when the browser is launched.

For launching headful browsers xvfb is very important for a Linux system. GitHub Action and Docker image have a preinstalled xvfb, Node.js command runs before xvfb which permits the headful browser to run. 

Some important features of the Playwright:

Let us focus some light on the most important features of the Playwright:

  1. Whether you are working on any browser headless or headed or using any platform Linux, Windows, etc, Playwright supports all types of platforms, browsers, languages, and native mobile web.
  1. Elements need to be actionable before performing any kind of action, so Playwright will wait till the time element gets actionable. There are many introspection events. The main reason for flaky tests is that the combination of the two removes the requirement of any artificial timeouts. 
  1. For each test, a browser context is created by Playwright. The browser context is almost the same as the brand new browser profile. Without any overhead, it delivers with complete test isolation. It takes just a few milliseconds to create a new browser context. 
  1. The best part about this is that it records your actions to generate tests and later it saves those tests in any of the languages. This has a trace viewer, which researches the failure of a test as it has all the information. 

The features that make Playwright one of the best testing tools are cross-browser, cross-platform, cross-language, auto wait facility, web first assertions, tracing, no trade-offs, trusted events, fast execution, log in once, trace viewer, playwright inspector and codegen. 

How Playwright automation can help?

Playwright is a tool which serves as one of the most reliable, fast and capable automation and testing over all the browsers. All current browsers, including Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge (with Chromium), Apple Safari (with WebKit), and Mozilla Firefox, have full API coverage in Playwright. Playwright as said is a multi-platform Webkit testing. 

Playwright allows you to test your app in Apple Safari using WebKit variants for Windows, Linux, and macOS, local and CI testing. Playwright testing is the one for mobile devices. To test your responsive web apps in mobile web browsers, you may use device emulation. For all browsers and platforms, Playwright supports both headless (without browser UI) and headed (with browser UI) modes. Headless is faster and better for CI/cloud executions, whereas headed is fantastic for debugging. Interactions with the playwright are paused until all elements are ready. This increases test composition efficiency while also increasing reliability. 

To avoid sleep timeouts that cause flakiness, Playwright receives browser signals like network requests, page navigations, and page load events. You can use a single browser instance for many browser contexts in isolated execution environments. To select elements, Playwright can use user-facing strings like text content and accessibility labels. Selectors that are firmly tied to the DOM structure are less resilient than strings. Playwright testing tool has various frames, pages, and domains.

Playwright is an out-of-process automation driver that can automate scenarios with several pages and is not constrained by the scope of in-page JavaScript execution. It has a strong network control. To skip and simulate network requests, Playwright adds context-wide network monitoring. Everything from shadow-piercing selectors, geolocation, permissions, and web workers, to other current web APIs are all supported by Playwright. File downloads and uploads are supported, as well as native input events, out-of-process iframes,  and even dark mode.

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Try LambdaTest for Automated Playwright Testing

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Now you can cut off your test execution time by performing parallel test execution using the LambdaTest automation testing cloud. Also, you can run your Playwright test scripts on more than 50+ browsers and operating system combinations. LambdaTest is a leading software testing company that aims to provide the most secure and powerful cloud-based test platform. Here are some of the highlights features of the tool:

  1. As mentioned above, you can run your Playwright test script on multiple web browsers online and OS combinations.
  1. With parallel execution, the test execution rate will increase exponentially.
  1. The platform has a powerful tool called “HyperExecute” that is claimed to be the fastest test execution platform.
  1. Integrate with DevOps and get the complete details of your automation test in your CI/CD pipelines.

Conclusion

Playwright has a headless browser with event-driven architecture. Playwright only supports emulators if you will talk about real devices then it’s a big no. Talking about the community level, language options and integration support the Playwright being relatively new, the support is limited. It is completely subjective to the situation that you need to use Playwright as your testing tool. Although for complex web applications, Playwright offers faster testing, it only has one prerequisite and that is to have NodeJS. With due accuracy, the tool supports CI/CD for a software project. Though it has limited coverage, it is big support when it comes to complex web applications.

Author Bio: Vixit Raj is Product Growth and Marketing Specialist in LambdaTest : The Cross Browser Web App Testing Platform. An E&C engineering background & Digital Marketing domain experience of 5+ years has aroused his interest towards learning more about latest technology advancements, product marketing, coding and testing. 

Chris
Chris
Chris Evan was born in Quebec and raised in Montreal, except for the time when he moved back to Quebec and attended high school there. He studied History and Literature at the University of Toronto. He began writing after obsessing over books.

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