Selenium IDE Tutorial For Beginners

By Prometteur solutions 19 Min Read

Welcome to our Selenium IDE Tutorial for Beginners.

Selenium IDE is one of the most popular tools for test automation. This comprehensive beginner’s guide will teach you how to get started with Selenium IDE, from installation to creating effective automated test cases.

You will learn how to record, playback, debug, and troubleshoot test scripts using the Selenium IDE interface. The guide covers advanced features like incorporating variables, conditional logic and loops to make your test cases more powerful.

Strategies for handling common test automation challenges like dynamic web elements and cross-browser testing are also discussed. Alongside best practices for maintaining and updating your automated checks.

By the end, you will have mastered the basics of Selenium IDE. You will also have the confidence to start automating browser-based test scenarios for your web apps more efficiently.

So let’s begin exploring the world of simplified test automation with this Selenium IDE tutorial!

What is Selenium IDE?

Selenium IDE is one of the most popular open-source test automation tools. It is used by software testers to record, edit and debug web application test cases quickly without needing to write complex code.

Selenium IDE is simply an easy-to-use Firefox plugin that enables recording user actions on a web app and exporting them as a reusable test script. The exported tests can playback the exact clicks and steps performed during recording to simulate user behaviour.

Some key benefits of using Selenium IDE are:

  • The tool requires no programming knowledge to create test cases
  • It allows recording, editing and playing back tests visually
  • Selenium IDE is easy to install as a browser add-on/extension
  • The software plugin enables export of test cases to multiple languages and frameworks (Java, C#, Python etc.)
  • It is available completely free of cost with open-source licensing

Compared to other Selenium testing tools, Selenium IDE is the simplest and fastest way to build browser test Selenium automation.

Selenium WebDriver provides more flexibility for advanced users while Selenium Grid enables distributed test execution.

Selenium IDE is best suited for UI test automation by beginners on a single machine.

In a nutshell, Selenium IDE drives rapid automated UI testing with minimal effort. Its point-and-click approach helps new testers quickly ramp up on creating web test automation scripts.

Getting Started with Selenium IDE

  • Installation

Install Selenium IDE from either the Chrome or Firefox web store.

  • Launch the IDE

Once installed, launch it by clicking its icon from the menu bar in your browser.


Don’t see the icon for Selenium IDE in your menu-bar?

Option 1

Make sure the IDE is enabled in your browser’s extension settings.

You can get there quickly by typing the following into your address bar and hitting `Enter`.

*   Chrome: `chrome://extensions`

*   Firefox: `about:addons`

Option 2

The extension might be enabled but the icon is hidden. Try resizing the menu bar to give it more space.

In Chrome, you can do this by clicking to the right of the address bar, holding the click, and dragging it left or right.

In Firefox you need to right-click, click `Customize`, make adjustments to the menu bar, and click `Done`.

  • Welcome Screen

Upon launching the IDE you will be presented with a welcome dialog.

This will give you quick access to:

  • Record a new test in a new project
  • Open an existing project
  • Create a new project
  • Close the IDE

If this is your first time, select the first option. 

  • Recording your first test
  • After creating a new project you will name it and provide a base URL. The base URL is the application you are testing.
  • After completing these settings, a new browser window will open, load the base URL, and start recording. Interact with the page and each action will be recorded in the IDE.
  • To stop recording, switch to the IDE window and click the recording icon.


Organizing Your Test


You can add a new test by clicking the + symbol in the left sidebar menu, naming it, and clicking `ADD`.

Once added you can manually input commands or click the record icon to capture interactions.


Tests can be grouped into suites. On project creation, a `Default Suite` gets created and your first test automatically gets added.

To manage suites, go to the `Test Suites` panel by clicking the dropdown at the top of the left sidebar and selecting `Test Suites`.

Add a Suite  

To add a suite, click the + symbol to the right of the `Test Suites` heading, provide a name, and click `ADD`. 

Add/Remove Tests 

To add tests, hover over a suite, click the icon to the right, click `Add tests`, select desired tests, and click `Select`. 

To remove, hover over a test and click the X icon to the right of its name.

Rename/Delete Suites

To delete a suite, hover over the suite name, click the icon to the right, click `Delete`, and confirm deletion. 

To rename, perform the same steps but select `Rename` instead and update the name.

Save Projects

Click the save icon in the top-right corner to save everything into a `.side` project file.

Playback Tests

Click the play button above the test editor to playback tests in the browser window. A new window will open if one isn’t already available from recording.

Best Practices For Creating Effective Selenium Test Cases

  1. Keep tests short and focused on one specific feature or user flow. Long, complex tests are harder to maintain. Break them out into multiple smaller tests targeting specific functions.
  1. Use descriptive test and test case names like “Login_ValidCredentials” or “Checkout_InvalidCouponCode”. This helps identify and organize tests.
  1. Build modular, reusable test steps and utilities. Create custom commands, store common elements in variables, extract repeat test logic into user-defined functions to call. Don’t repeat code.
  1. Implement assertions and verifications. Assert text, titles, URLs, element values and attributes after critical actions to test expected vs actual results.
  1. Use different locators – ID, name, link text, CSS – when possible so tests work if DOM changes. Don’t rely only on fragile locators like XPath.
  1. Take screenshots and add comments on failures to aid test debugging. Document steps taken and expected vs actual behavior.
  1. Use test setup/teardown methods to navigate to base URLs and perform prerequisite steps needed across tests.
  1. Parameterize tests with variables for dynamic, data-driven testing. Alter inputs/environments for more robust testing.
  1. Practice good code quality – formatting, proper language and naming conventions, consistency.
  1. Store and integrate tests with CI/CD pipelines, issue trackers. Facilitate collaboration and visibility. Track test metrics over time.

Running and Debugging Test Cases with Selenium IDE

Debugging is an important part of test script development. Finding and fixing errors in tests can be simplified using the “Power Debugger” plugin for Selenium IDE. 

To install Power Debugger:

Step 1:

Navigate to and click “Add to Firefox”. This will install the Power Debugger plugin.

Step 2:

Launch Selenium IDE. You will notice a new “Pause on Fail” icon in the recording toolbar. Click this button to turn on this debugging feature. Clicking again will turn it off.

Step 3:

The “Pause on Fail” feature can be enabled or disabled at any time, even while a test case is running.

Step 4:

When a test step fails and “Pause on Fail” is on, execution will pause. You can use the resume and step buttons to continue test execution one step at a time. Execution will not pause if the failure occurs on the last step.

In addition to Pause on Fail, you can pause execution at specific breakpoints: 

Step 5:

To set a breakpoint, right click on a test step and select “Toggle Breakpoint”. A pause icon will indicate a breakpoint on that line.

Step 6:

When the test reaches a step with a breakpoint, it will pause prior to executing that step.

Step 7:

Pausing at breakpoints assists with evaluating element presence and value while the test runs.

The Power Debugger toolset streamlines validating and troubleshooting Selenium IDE test cases through features like Pause on Fail and breakpoints.

Install this plugin as part of your test debugging BEST PRACTICES.

Some Advanced Features of Selenium IDE

Selenium IDE provides several advanced features to create more robust and dynamic test cases beyond basic recording and playback:

Using Variables and Loops

  • Store frequently used values in variables for easy re-use in multiple test steps. For example, store a login username in a variable rather than hardcoding.
  • Implement for and while loops to repeat test actions thereby reducing duplicate test code. Loops allow parameterizing tests with different values.

Creating Conditional Statements

  • Use if/else blocks, switch case etc to define conditional test logic and branching. Conditionally run steps based on test data values.

Adding Comments and Annotations

  • Insert comments to document test cases steps, explain expected outcomes etc.
  • Annotations add metadata like test case status, browser or operating system.

Integrating with Other Selenium Tools

  • Export recorded Selenium IDE tests as reusable code in languages like Java, Python, C# etc.
  • Import Selenium IDE tests into Selenium Grid for cross-browser and remote execution.
  • Integrate tests with CI/CD tools like Jenkins to run automatically.

Focusing test automation efforts on these advanced features leads to the development of more sophisticated, parameterizable and integratable test cases. Selenium IDE supports much more than just basic record and playback!

Tips and Tricks for Using Selenium IDE

Customizing Settings

  • Adjust settings like default speed for test runs, automatic base URL insertion etc. to align with specific testing needs.
  • Set TestCase Failed onPlaying back option to auto-flag failed test cases without manual intervention.

Using Plugins and Extensions

  • Incorporate plugins like Selenium IDE Variable and Function plugin to reduce coding effort through reusable variable and function libraries.
  • Browser extensions like Katalon Recorder integrate with Selenium IDE to enhance test capabilities.

Best Practices for Efficiency

  • Maintain consistency in locator identification methods, naming conventions, folder structures etc. across tests.
  • Reuse fixed navigation steps in multiple tests through a dedicated test case marked as a Template that other tests call using the playTest command.
  • Parameterize tests to easily run them across different test data sets for more robust testing.

Developing familiarity with available customization options, keyboard shortcuts, compatible plugins and overall smart test design approaches as highlighted above will go a long way in enabling testers to leverage Selenium IDE more efficiently.

Common Challenges and Solutions with Selenium IDE

Getting started with test automation using Selenium IDE is easy but you may encounter certain challenges as you build out a mature test suite. Here are some common pitfalls testers face with solutions to address them:

Brittle Locator Identification

If your test locators frequently break after application changes, it makes test maintenance very difficult over time.

Try combining locators like ID attributes with linked text or partial link texts to make accessors more robust.

Supplement extreme locators like XPath with capabilities like auto-complete and playbacks to generate relatively stable locators.

Dealing with Dynamically Changing Elements

Applications today employ lots of dynamic AJAX so page elements can change without a full refresh.

This breaks scripted tests reliant on static timing and synchronization points. Use waits after navigation to allow for elements to load fully before acting on them.

Alternatively, inject JavaScript methods to explicitly wait for elements to achieve defined states.

Lack of Reporting, Metrics and Monitoring

While Selenium IDE itself does not support extensive reports, integrating it with a CI/CD pipeline like Jenkins and dashboard tools provides packaged reports on test statuses, execution trends, flakes over builds etc.

This allows for monitoring automation health.

Managing Test Data

Instead of hard-coding input data, use Excel files and data pools matched to test cases via data-driven testing.

This externalizes test data from scripts, offers easy editing and more importantly, expands test coverage across multiple data sets.

Limitations in Advanced Functions

Selenium IDE’s support for intermediate coding features may prove restrictive over time.

Export your test cases as executable code in languages like Java integrated with frameworks like TestNG or JUnit to build in capabilities like parameterized test runs, complex assertions, method/module re-use etc.

Getting creative with combining Selenium IDE’s strengths with other available tools and engineering tests keeping long-term usage and maintenance in mind helps test teams build reliable test automation.

Tips for Maintaining and Updating Selenium Test Cases

As test suites grow, maintaining reliable test cases that stand the test of time despite application changes becomes critical and challenging.

Use these 8 best practices for sustainable test asset management with Selenium IDE: 

Standardize Naming Conventions

Standardize locator naming, test case prefixes based on module or type of testing, variable names etc. For example, use the PageName_ElementName convention for all locator variables. This simplifies understanding big test suites for new members.

Comment Effectively

Document every test case and test step with comments clearly covering the purpose of tests, key actions, expected outcomes and maintenance history.

Embed screenshots illustrating failures.

Add annotations for metadata like tester name, test status or defect identifiers.

Store Locators in Variables

Reference element locators are stored in appropriately named variables instead of absolute XPath/CSS paths scattered throughout.

This offers easy bulk updates to locators through search-replace across variables rather than each individual usage.

Develop Modular Functions

Break complex or repeatable test logic into reusable functions that can just be invoked with parameters rather than having multiple lengthy copies of the same code.

Any fixes need updating at only the function level.

Strategize Locator Identification

Blindly generating endless XPath locators leads to flaky tests.

Analyze page structures and leverage unique IDs, link texts, partial class names, etc. before considering absolute paths.

Take guidance from generated locator suggestions during recording. 

Handle Dynamic Web Pages

Introduce waits, sleeps and synchronization points after events that reload content to avoid unintended races between test execution and page loading.

Discover optimal timing by experimenting with increasing wait times.

Remove Obsolete Tests

Review test cases against current product specifications and eliminate outdated, redundant or unimportant scripts to avoid suite bloat and false failures.

Align tests to requirements.

Integrate with Source Control

Link tests to CI/CD pipelines and version control systems like Git to systematically backup test code and changes.

Easily track test case history and roll back badly updated scripts to any previous version.

Diligently following these best practices will lead to robust, maintainable test code that seamlessly adapts to application evolution over long durations.

Conclusion and Final thoughts and recommendations

This comprehensive Selenium tutorial for beginners covers what you need to ramp up on Selenium IDE for simplified test automation. From installing the browser add-on to recording basic tests to utilizing advanced coding features – key concepts are explained through easy-to-follow instructions.

Common test automation pitfalls and solutions provide a realistic perspective for practitioners. While tips to efficiently leverage Selenium IDE and sustain test assets emphasize industry best practices and Important Selenium Interview Questions and Answers

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