Test Automation

Taming the Legacy Beast: Internet Explorer (IE) and Edge Selenium Automation Testing

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

In the ever-evolving landscape of web browsers, two names hold a unique position:

write for us technology

Internet Explorer (IE) and Microsoft Edge. While Edge has embraced the Chromium engine, a significant portion of the enterprise world still relies on IE for legacy applications. This creates a challenge for software testers – ensuring seamless functionality across these browsers while leveraging the power of automation frameworks like Selenium. This article delves into the strategies and considerations for automating tests on both IE and Edge using Selenium, catering to software testers of all levels, from those starting their journey to senior experts and VP-level quality assurance leaders.

Why Automate Tests on IE and Edge?

While the dominance of Chrome and other Chromium-based browsers is undeniable, IE and Edge retain a significant user base, particularly in specific industries like finance, healthcare, and government. Here’s why automating tests on these browsers remains crucial:

  • Comprehensive Test Coverage: Ensuring your web application functions flawlessly across a broader range of browsers, including legacy ones like IE, strengthens your test suite’s robustness.
  • Reduced Regression Risks: Automating tests on IE and Edge minimizes the risk of regressions creeping in during development cycles for functionalities used on these browsers.
  • Improved User Experience: A wider net of automated testing helps identify and address potential compatibility issues specific to IE and Edge, leading to a more consistent user experience.

Challenges of Automating Tests on IE and Edge

While Selenium offers powerful tools for automating tests, specific hurdles exist when dealing with IE and Edge:

  • Limited Support for IE: Microsoft officially ended extended support for IE in June 2022. While some versions continue to receive security updates, new features and bug fixes are no longer provided. This lack of active development can lead to compatibility issues with emerging web technologies.
  • Edge Version Inconsistency: With Edge transitioning to the Chromium engine, ensuring compatibility across all Edge versions can be tricky. Organizations with a mix of older Edge versions (built on EdgeHTML) and newer Chromium-based versions require additional considerations in test automation scripts.
  • Legacy Browser Quirks: IE, well-known for its quirks and inconsistencies, can present unique challenges for automation. Understanding these quirks and tailoring test scripts accordingly becomes essential for reliable test execution.

Strategies for Effective Selenium Automation on IE and Edge

Despite these challenges, effective strategies can help you automate tests on IE and Edge with Selenium:

  1. Targeted Test Selection: Not all functionalities require testing on IE and Edge. Prioritize tests based on user base demographics and identify critical features heavily used on these browsers. This focused approach optimizes resources and reduces overall test execution time.
  2. Leveraging Cross-Browser Compatibility Tools: Tools like Selenium WebDriver with appropriate browser drivers for IE and Edge (Chromium and EdgeHTML versions) form the foundation of your automation framework. These tools provide a unified interface to interact with both browsers using the same Selenium scripts.
  3. Addressing IE Quirks: Common IE quirks include rendering inconsistencies, ActiveX controls, and specific security settings. Be prepared to handle these issues through code adjustments or by utilizing community-developed libraries that address these specific challenges.
  4. Version-Specific Test Suites: For organizations using a mix of Edge versions, consider creating separate test suites for EdgeHTML and Chromium-based versions. This allows for targeted testing and avoids compatibility issues arising from engine differences.
  5. Emulation vs. Direct Testing: While emulating IE functionality within a modern browser like Chrome is tempting, it’s not a perfect substitute. Direct testing on physical or virtual machines with IE installed is still recommended for critical functionalities.
  6. Cloud-Based Testing Platforms: Cloud-based testing platforms offer a robust solution for running automated tests across multiple browser versions, including IE and Edge. These platforms provide pre-configured environments, eliminating the need to manage physical infrastructure for legacy browsers.
  7. Continuous Integration and Delivery (CI/CD) Integration: Integrate your Selenium test suite into your CI/CD pipeline. This allows for automated execution of tests on every code commit, ensuring early detection of issues specific to IE and Edge.
  8. Clear Documentation and Communication: Document your automation strategy clearly, outlining the specific functionalities tested on IE and Edge. This transparency fosters communication and collaboration between development, testing, and quality assurance teams.

Pro Tip for Senior Testers and QA Leaders: As a senior software testing expert or VP of quality assurance, consider conducting a cost-benefit analysis to determine the long-term viability of supporting IE. While automation can help manage legacy applications, a migration plan towards modern browsers might be a more sustainable strategy in the long run.

The Road Ahead: Selenium and the Future of Browser Testing (Continued)

  • Headless Browsers and BrowserStack: Headless browsers, which run browsers in the background without a graphical user interface, offer a faster and more efficient way to execute automated tests. Platforms like BrowserStack provide access to a vast array of browser versions, including legacy versions of IE and Edge, within a headless environment.
  • API Testing and Microservices: As web applications increasingly rely on APIs and microservices, incorporating API testing into your Selenium automation framework becomes essential. This ensures seamless integration and data exchange between different components, regardless of the browser used.
  • Machine Learning and AI-powered Testing: Emerging technologies like machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) can play a significant role in future browser testing. AI-powered tools can analyze test execution data and identify potential issues specific to IE and Edge, further enhancing the efficiency and accuracy of your test suite.
  • Community Support and Open-Source Tools: The Selenium community remains a valuable resource for staying updated on best practices and troubleshooting challenges specific to IE and Edge automation. Open-source libraries and frameworks built on top of Selenium can provide additional functionalities and address specific browser quirks.

Conclusion: Balancing Legacy with Modernity

While the dominance of modern browsers is undeniable, Internet Explorer and Edge remain relevant players in the enterprise landscape. Leveraging Selenium for automated testing on these browsers allows software testers and quality assurance teams to ensure a robust and user-friendly experience across a wider audience. By following the strategies outlined above and staying updated on emerging technologies, you can effectively navigate the challenges of legacy browser testing and ensure the quality of your web applications, regardless of the browser used.

Dinesh is a dedicated and detail-oriented Software Testing & QA Expert with a passion for ensuring the quality and reliability of software products, along with web and mobile applications. With extensive experience in the field, Dinesh is proficient in various testing methodologies, tools, and techniques.

Write A Comment