What Is Selenium And What Is WebDriver?


Selenium is a free (open source) automated testing suite for web applications across different browsers and platforms. Primarily it is used for automating web applications for testing purposes, but is certainly not limited to just that. Selenium has the support of all of the major browser vendors who have taken (or are taking) steps to make Selenium a native part of their browser. It is also the core technology in countless other browser automation tools, APIs and frameworks.

Selenium is not just a single tool but a set of different software tools each with a different approach to support the test automation of an organization. From a broader perspective previously it had four components as follows:

  • Selenium Integrated Development Environment (IDE)
  • Selenium Remote Control (RC)
  • WebDriver
  • Selenium Grid

An year ago, Selenium RC and WebDriver are merged into a single framework to form Selenium 2.x. Perhaps, Selenium 1 refers to Selenium RC. The current released version is Selenium 3.x.


Selenium-RC worked the same way for each supported browser. It injected javascript functions into the browser when the browser was loaded and then used its javascript to drive the AUT within the browser. Selenium WebDriver fits in the same role as Selenium-RC did and has incorporated the original 1.x bindings and included the WebDriver API. It refers to both the language bindings and the implementations of the individual browser controlling code. This is commonly referred to as just WebDriver. In short, WebDriver is the remote control interface that enables introspection and control of user agents. WebDriver provides a platform and language-neutral wire protocol as a way for out-of-process programs to remotely instruct the behavior of web browsers.

Highlights of WebDriver

  • WebDriver is designed in a simpler and more concise programming interface along with addressing some limitations in the Selenium-RC API.
  • WebDriver is a compact Object Oriented API when compared to Selenium1.0
  • It drives the browser much more effectively and overcomes the limitations of Selenium 1.x which affected our functional test coverage, like the file upload or download, pop-ups and dialogs barrier
  • WebDriver overcomes the limitation of Selenium RC’s Single Host origin policy.

Current Implementation

WebDriver is the name of the key interface against which tests should be written in Java/C#/Ruby/Python/NodeJS, the implementing classes which you can use are listed as below:

  • ChromeDriver
  • EventFiringWebDriver
  • FirefoxDriver
  • HtmlUnitDriver
  • InternetExplorerDriver
  • PhantomJSDriver
  • RemoteWebDriver
  • SafariDriver

Leave a Comment