Python Automation Testing Tutorial: Why Python is the Go-To Choice for Test Automation

Himanshu Sheth

Posted On: October 9, 2020

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When it comes to automating the test cases, one of the most difficult choices one has to make is to select the programming language that has good support for test automation. Python, Java, C#, Ruby, etc. are some of the prominent languages that can be used with a Selenium test automation framework. However, Python testing automation testing is widely used by QAs all over, especially with Selenium WebDriver.

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Developers and automation engineers have multiple choices when it comes to using programming languages with the Selenium framework. As an automation engineer, I have had the opportunity of working on different programming languages, starting with C and eventually using Java, Python, C++ for various projects. Though I am comfortable in using Java and C# with Selenium, Python is the best scripting language for Selenium test automation.

In this article, I will be sharing the top 12 reasons why Python Automation Testing with Selenium WebDriver is my go-to combination.

If you’re new to Selenium and wondering what it is then we recommend checking out our guide – What is Selenium? If you are preparing for an interview you can learn more through Automation Testing Interview Questions.
Let’s get started

Less Verbose & Easy To Read

Most of you would agree that Python is one of the best programming languages when it comes to ease of coding and ease of reading. In comparison to other programming languages that can be used for Selenium test automation, Python contains less verbosity and is relatively easy to use.

As Python is a scripting language, the automation engineer need not worry about running a compiler for converting code into an executable. The Zen of Python, which is an ideal guide for Python automation testing, mentions that an implementation that is easy to explain is always a good idea! What this essentially means is that the tests implemented as a part of the test case (or test suite) should be readable, descriptive, and easy to explain.

APIs that realize Python test automation is used for connecting to the web browser through the Selenium automation framework. Automation tests can be written with utmost ease using Selenium WebDriver in an intended manner. Here is the screenshot of the guiding principles for Python’s design (Run import this in Python command-line to get PEP 20 — The Zen of Python):

Exhaustive List Of Python Automation Testing Frameworks

PyUnit (or Unittest) is the default test framework for Python testing. Apart from PyUnit, the Python language supports a number of frameworks for Selenium Testing. Some of the widely used test frameworks for Python automation testing are PyTest, Behave, Robot, Lettuce, Nose2, and Testify. Frameworks like PyTest, Nose2, and Testify can be used for performing automated unit, integration, and system testing.

Robot framework is a preferred Python test automation framework for Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Selenium testing, and ATDD (Acceptance Test Driven Development). Lettuce and Behave are Python testing frameworks that are best-suited for BDD (Behavior Driven Development). These wide range of frameworks can be installed with minimal effort (i.e., using pip install command) and are highly usable with the Selenium WebDriver.

Very few programming languages offer such variety in automation test frameworks like Python, thereby making it the best scripting language for Python web automation.

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Here’s a short glimpse of the Selenium Python 101 certification from LambdaTest:

PyTest – Best Python Testing Framework

Earlier, we listed the widely used Python automation testing frameworks using Python, but PyTest tops the list of the best automation framework (available in any language). PyTest is also used for unit testing, integration testing, and end-to-end testing like other Python frameworks.

Though PyUnit (unittest) is the default test framework in Python, developers and automation testers widely prefer PyTest since it is more feature-rich than PyUnit. Tests can consist of simple functions, or they can also take input parameters to support parameterized testing.

PyTest fixtures make it easy to execute tests on a different web browser and platform combinations. Parameterized PyTest fixtures can be executed across different input values.

Porting of existing implementations that use PyTest and Selenium WebDriver to parameterized PyTest fixtures requires minimal effort. Fixtures are best to handle setup and cleanup operations. Plugins that extend the PyTest framework help in doing code coverage, parallel testing, and more.

Super Easy ‘Parallel Testing’

Parallel testing in Selenium is used extensively for performing automation testing across different combinations of browsers and platforms (i.e., operating systems) in an accelerated manner. All programming languages support parallel testing (or parallel execution) with the Selenium test framework, but it is darn easy to use in Python testing.

When using the PyTest framework, the pytest-xdist plugin helps in running tests in parallel. It is a preferred option when tests are not thread-safe and need state isolation. Installing the plugin can be done by running the pip install < plugin-name > on the terminal. pytest-parallel is a plugin that should be used for running Selenium tests in parallel that is thread-safe and has no state management in the Python environment.

Hence, pytest-xdist does parallelism whereas pytest-parallel does concurrency & parallelism. There are options to provide maximum workers (or processes) to start and maximum concurrent tests per worker (i.e. tests-per-worker).

Enabling parallel execution with PyTest does not require any change in the existing implementation as the relevant options for parallel testing are provided on the terminal when running the Python code.

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The same principle for parallel testing also applies to other Python automation testing frameworks like Nose2, Behave, Lettuce, and more. On the other hand, enabling parallel testing with Selenium Java or Selenium C# or other combinations require code changes and involve more steps than Python.

Easy To Install Packages

PIP is the standard package management system in Python. Installing a new package using pip does not require downloading of the package. The pip install command looks for the required package in PyPI, looks for its dependencies, and installs the necessary packages for ensuring that the install request is served without any hassles.

Though languages like C# and Java offer relatively similar features (e.g., Package Manager Console in C#), installation packages in Python using pip is altogether different experience!

Multi-Paradigm Programming Language

Python is a multi-paradigm programming language. Hence, there is full-fledged support for object-oriented programming and structured programming. A majority of the features in Python support functional programming and aspect-oriented programming.

The needs of aspect-oriented programming are realized by the inclusion of meta-programming which gives programs the ability to consider other programs as their data. The readability and implementation of test functions using Python are better since the framework does not put compulsion of adding test functions into classes.

Unlike other programming languages, Python lets the test automation engineer decide whether classes or functions should be used for Selenium test automation.

Read More– Get started with your easy Selenium Python tutorial!!!

Wide Range Of IDEs

For Python automation testing, my preferred IDE is PyCharm (Community Edition) since it can be used with ease irrespective of the framework that enables Selenium test automation. I would recommend upgrading to PyCharm (Professional Edition) only if you are using BDD frameworks in Python.

There is an option of using GVim, Notepad++, and Visual Studio Code for quick editing, especially if the Python automation testing scenarios are not so complex. Visual Studio Code is my go-to IDE when it comes to editing code, as it provides several plugins that ease the editing task to a great extent!

Dynamic Typing

The Python language uses dynamic typing and uses late binding (or dynamic name resolution) that binds the methods and variable names during the course of execution. This feature comes in super-handy for Python test automation.

Python also offers options like Pyre (a performant type checker for Python 3) and Mypy, which are popular static type checkers. With these checkers, Python lets you combine the power of dynamic and static typing.

Powerful & Hassle-Free Reporting

Reporting is one of the principal factors for Selenium test automation, as reports provide greater visibility into the automation testing process. Powerful reports that give the right information in a concise and understandable form can be sent to necessary stakeholders (in the team) so that they are aware of the progress on the testing front.

Integrating reporting with Selenium test automation using PyTest can be done through the usage of the pytest-html package. The test reports generated using pytest-html provide visual content for easy comparison. Report generation for Selenium tests can be done without much effort in PyTest (the most popular framework for Python).

Using APIs offered by cloud Selenium Grid like LambdaTest, you can build a more formidable reporting strategy for Python test automation.

Command-Line To The Rescue

We earlier mentioned the range of IDEs that can be used to develop and execute Python testing. Most test frameworks in Python are equipped with command-line runners, which help execute tests from the terminal (or command prompt).

If you are well-versed with Python, the combination of Python IDE (like Visual Studio Code) and the command-line runner can do the job for you! Just empower the IDE with the necessary plugins for the popular Python testing frameworks (e.g., PyTest, Behave, etc.), and you are all set for an eventful journey with automation in testing using Python!

Suited For Small & Large-Scale Projects

Python has a comprehensive standard library. The language-constructs and object-oriented approach help programmers to come up with easy-to-read code that does the intended job.

The simple naming nomenclature followed by test frameworks (e.g., Test functions in PyTest should start with test_) eases the job of identifying test functions.

It is easy to get started with automation testing using Python, as there is a low entry barrier as far as the programming language is concerned. It is suited for small-scale and complex projects, making Python the best scripting language for test automation.

Easy Integration With CI/CD tools

Jenkins is one of the most popular, widely used open-source tools for Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD). Travis CI, Circle CI, TeamCity, Bamboo, Azure Pipeline, etc. are the other options that can be used in Jenkins’s place, but I prefer Jenkins, an ‘open-source tool’ above these options.

Freestyle project and Jenkins pipeline are the two options for orchestrating jobs for a project. Unlike other compiled languages, Python does not require a ‘build’ per se, but the strong Python ecosystem makes Python, Selenium, and Jenkins a killer combination.

The Python ecosystem comprises tools that can be easily integrated into Jenkins for reporting & testing and code metrics report creators like Pylint. Since reporting with PyTest can be triggered from the command line itself, there is no need to add ‘Post-Build Actions’ when using Jenkins Pipeline with PyTest.

It is easy to use Jenkins with PyTest as the shift from the local-execution environment to Jenkins involves minimal steps (i.e., project creation, adding command-line options for execution, etc.), making the switch super-simple! Jenkins does offer a direct option to create a Maven Project, but there is a learning curve involved if you want to use ‘Reporting,’ which is not the case with Python on Jenkins.

That’s All Folks!

Though the choice for the best programming language for Selenium test automation is highly subjective, Python is by far the best scripting language for test automation. It is easy to get started with Python test automation, and its wide range of test frameworks can be used for unit testing, cross browser testing, and more. We’re sure you will fall in love with automation testing using Python once you start.

Let us know below your preferred programming language for Selenium testing and how you rate it against Python, the undisputed king for automation testing.

Happy testing!

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Himanshu Sheth

Himanshu Sheth is a seasoned technologist and blogger with more than 15+ years of diverse working experience. He currently works as the 'Lead Developer Evangelist' and 'Senior Manager [Technical Content Marketing]' at LambdaTest. He is very active with the startup community in Bengaluru (and down South) and loves interacting with passionate founders on his personal blog (which he has been maintaining since last 15+ years).

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