Selenium vs. Playwright: Choosing the Right Automation Tool

Selenium vs. Playwright: Choosing the Right Automation Tool

Websites are becoming more complex with advanced features, responsive designs, and dynamic content, posing challenges for developers to scrape them. Therefore for efficient, accurate, and cost-effective application development and staying consistent with the constantly evolving demands of modern web applications automated testing tools like Selenium and Playwright are crucial because they ensure consistency, support continuous integration, and help find and fix issues early.

Selenium is an open-source tool that has been ruling the testing industry for a long time now. The scalability and ability to handle complex scenarios make Selenium testing indispensable from other testing frameworks, as it allows for maintaining high-quality applications throughout its lifecycle.

While Selenium has maintained its position for more than a decade now as a long-running open-source browser automation tool, Playwright is comparatively a newer, open-source tool developed by Microsoft. 

Playwright stands out in large-scale tasks and complex sites, and Selenium offers wider language support and a larger community. Both tools provide support for headless browsing to interact with dynamic content. Consider project requirements to choose the best tool for your needs.

In this article, we will explore Selenium vs. Playwright, including their differences and commonalities in features, capabilities, and performance. Later we will discuss which one to choose for web automation. So let’s begin with what Selenium and Playwright are, and what are their benefits.


Selenium is one of the most widely used open-source tools for web automation. It is a NodeJS-based framework that is capable of automating and controlling web browsers interacting with UI elements, and imitating user actions on web applications. This capability makes it one of the most popular frameworks in the testing industry today.

The impact of Selenium goes even beyond the core framework, as many other popular tools, such as Appium and WebDriverIO, are built on top of Selenium’s API.

Selenium supports automating almost all major browsers, in popular programming languages like Java, C#, Python, Perl, JavaScript, and Ruby, on various operating systems such as Windows, macOS, and Linux. It can even automate mobile apps by using Appium

Selenium is not a single tool but a suite of tools, containing several core components including Selenium WebDriver, Selenium IDE, and Selenium Grid.

The Selenium suite contains several components, including:

Selenium WebDriver- WebDriver provides a flexible collection of open-source APIs that allow direct interaction with web browsers.

Selenium IDE- It is an integrated development environment, a record-and-playback tool, available as a Chrome and Firefox browser extension or plug-in. It allows users to create and edit Selenium test scripts and record browser interactions with the web page.

Selenium Grid- The Grid lets users distribute and run WebDriver test scripts in parallel on multiple machines and allows them to perform cross-platform testing.

Benefits of Selenium

Below are some of the most valuable strengths of this framework.

  • Parallel test execution to run test scripts on multiple browsers and machines in parallel using Selenium Grid. This parallel test execution helps users reduce overall test execution time by distributing test execution across connected environments.
  • Selenium Grid enables users to perform cross-browser testing, which means testing a website or web application in multiple browsers simultaneously. Its primary goal is to ensure web apps render the same and function correctly and consistently across different browser environments. It supports major browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari. 
  • Selenium supports multiple programming languages including Java, Python, C#, Ruby, and JavaScript through language-specific bindings, allowing developers to create Selenium test scripts in their preferred programming language to automate browser interactions and test web applications.
  • Selenium WebDriver supports headless and headed modes to run browser automation tests. Headless mode does not display its graphical user interface (GUI) while running the browser in the background. Since they do not render the GUI, headless browsers make the testing process faster and more resource-efficient. In contrast, the headed mode allows users to run the browser with a visible GUI. This is useful when debugging or monitoring the test execution.

Limitations of Selenium

  • No doubt Selenium is the leading web automation framework, providing many powerful features, but a few areas where it lacks are mentioned below.
  • Compared to Playwright, Selenium requires a third-party tool for parallel execution of tests.
  • It does not have any built-in reporting support, e.g., for recording a video it requires using an external solution.
  • It is challenging to scrape data from multiple tabs in Selenium.
  • For debugging it doesn’t generate an execution report.


Playwright is a new open-source browser automation library that allows developers to automate browser actions and interactions. Its first version was released in 2020 by Microsoft. It was built by the same team that built Puppeteer, a headless testing framework for Chrome/Chromium. 

However, Playwright goes beyond Puppeteer by providing support for multiple browsers, among many other advanced features. It provides wider coverage, accuracy, and higher speed for cross-browser testing by supporting various browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and WebKit.

Playwright is specifically designed to address the needs of modern web testing and automate end-to-end testing of complex web app testing through its high-level API, allowing the tester for faster and more consistent testing across multiple browsers.

It’s cross-browser and cross-language and includes helpful features like auto-waiting.

Playwright is also cross-platform, that is, compatible with Windows, Linux, and macOS, and can be seamlessly integrated with major CI/CD tools such as Jenkins, CircleCI, Azure Pipeline, TravisCI, etc. in addition to the testing frameworks like Jest, Jasmine, and Mocha. Playwright also supports multiple programming languages such as Python, Java, and .NET C#, giving developers more options to write test scripts in their preferred programming language.

When testers write code for the wait explicitly for other frameworks, Playwright provides helpful features like auto-waiting, making it easier to write concise test scripts, and performs all relevant checks for an element only when the checks are duly passed.

Playwright also supports the execution of simultaneous tests (parallel testing) through Browser Context, and each browser context can host multiple web pages simultaneously. 

Although the primary role of this framework is to test web applications, it also fits for web scraping purposes.

Benefits of Playwright

Playwright’s execution speed is faster than Selenium’s.

Playwright supports all major web browsers, like Chromium-based browsers (Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge), WebKit, and Firefox, for end-to-end testing and web automation tasks.

Playwright offers built-in auto-waiting functionality to perform relevant checks for elements. It automatically waits for elements before executing actions or retrieving elements, allowing developers to write end-to-end tests more simply.

It has built-in support for taking screenshots and screen recordings while running tests. This allows users to easily understand test failures by capturing screenshots of the entire page or specific elements.

The playwright also supports headless and headed modes. The headless mode allows testers to run tests in the background without browser windows interfering with workflow. Headed mode is beneficial for debugging test failures, visual testing, and addressing browser-specific issues.

Besides the above benefits, Playwright also has some shortcomings like, it does not have as large community support as Selenium, and it doesn’t support older browsers and devices.

Selenium vs. Playwright; choosing the right one

Selenium and Playwright both are fantastic tools capable of web automation. Both of them have their strengths and weaknesses, however, the real headache comes while picking any one of these frameworks.  Below are some similarities and differences in features and functionalities among the two.

Therefore deciding between Playwright and Selenium depends on the preferences of the team, the need of the project, the type of target data, browser support, and many other factors, evaluating these specific requirements would serve best.

Although Playwright offers fast testing in complex web applications, it has limited coverage. It lacks support in various aspects, such as community, browsers, real devices, language options, and integrations. Selenium, on the other hand, offers all of this, including broad coverage, scalability, flexibility, and strong community support.

Each framework is open-source, cross-language, and developer-friendly. Selenium supports multiple languages including Python, Java, C#, Ruby, and JavaScript, and Playwright provides broader language support including TypeScript, JavaScript, Python, .NET, and Java. This versatility allows developers from different programming backgrounds to use the tool in their preferred language.

Both support CI/CD tools like Jenkins, Azure Pipelines, etc. with due accuracy and advanced features like screenshot testing and automated visual testing. Both the tools offer headless mode, but compared to Selenium, Playwright provides superior speed and efficiency and generally delivers better performance.

Playwright has built-in support for major browsers, like Chromium for Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and other Chromium-based browsers. Whereas, Selenium focuses only on cross-browser support. For a broader range of browsers, Selenium WebDriver needs to be installed and managed for each browser. Additionally, the setup process may be complicated because it needs to ensure that the WebDriver versions are compatible with the browsers.

Selenium does not provide any built-in support for features like detailed reporting and video recording, while Playwright provides built-in support for this functionality.

Selenium can be used in real devices and remote servers, while Playwright can only be used on emulators and does not offer testing on real devices.

Playwright has in-built parallelization support, whereas Selenium needs integration with a third-party tool.

Playwright provides an easy-to-use API and has built-in auto-waiting functionality that reduces the need for manual waiting and minimizes timing-related problems. Whereas Selenium requires explicit wait statements

Both Playwright and Selenium have strong support for community and documentation. Selenium, being around for longer, has a larger and more established community support. However, Playwright being new in the market stands out with its well-organized and comprehensive documentation that offers valuable resources to users.

Utilizing LambdaTest to perform automated web testing using Selenium and Playwright

There are several test automation frameworks available in the market, but Selenium and Playwright are among the best. However, here it is to remember that successful test automation is not only about the tool or framework, having a proper testing strategy, practices, and effective planning is equally important.

Additionally, it is also important to test web applications on real devices, browsers, and operating system versions to ensure that the website delivers a seamless and consistent user experience, no matter which device and browser is used to access it.

But getting the test infrastructure to upskill the resources and maintain it, involves cost, time, and effort. Considering the cost, ease of use, and modern features, an automation testing platform like LambdaTest is the best choice.

LambdaTest is an AI-powered test orchestration and execution platform that provides testers with more than 3000 environments, real mobile devices, and browsers to perform testing of web and mobile applications at scale; this applies to both manual and automation testing.

The platform supports popular automated testing frameworks like Selenium, Playwright, Appium, Puppeteer, Cucumber, etc., allowing testers to easily create high-quality web applications while performing real-time and automation testing. They can also leverage the cloud Selenium Grid to perform cross-browser testing on multiple devices and browsers at once and take advantage of parallelization for quicker testing with greater coverage.

Additionally, LambdaTest can be integrated with popular CI/CD tools such as Jira, Jenkins, TeamCity, Travis CI, and more. It also provides various in-built debugging tools, enabling testers to identify and resolve bugs immediately.


In conclusion, it can be said that when choosing the test automation framework it’s important to consider testing requirements and pain points for optimal results. It involves various factors, like resources, types of web applications, development frameworks used, required features, delivery time, etc.

It is difficult to say whether Selenium is better or Playwright for test automation. In some areas, Playwright is better than Selenium and in many other areas, Selenium is dominant. Each of them has distinct strengths and weaknesses, choosing to choose the right one project dependent.

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