Headless browser for accelerating your Test Automation

Headless browserIn the latest trends in Automation, Headless browser play very important role in accelerating the execution of automation suite. It is also used by the Build and Operations teams to verify the build deployments over the website.  People who really don’t know about the headless browsers and want to know more about it please go through this post.

What is Headless Browser?

As the name suggest, “Headless” it means a browser who does not have the Graphical interface or UI. In other words we can say that it is an application or software which browse the webpage without showing them to the end user like on background it open the website and do certain operations. They’re actually used to provide the content of web pages to other programs.

What is the use of the headless browsers?

Headless browser is used to accelerate your automation execution speed; certainly it can do certain level of operations like form filling and etc.  For instance, a headless browser can be used to determine how wide that page (or any element on it) would appear to be by default for a user, or what color text in any element would be, the font family used or even what the x/y coordinates of an object is.

Where I can use the headless browsers in the automation?

Well, if you have managed the sessions in your automation framework then headless browser can do wonders. Most of the data validation and scenario can be easily automatable using it. But if you have not managed sessions handling in your automation framework, then you can use it for all public pages which really do not need any kind of session management.

There are several Headless browsers are available here is list of them.

Headless browsers

  • HtmlUnit – Java. Custom browser engine. JavaScript support/DOM emulated. Open source.
  • Ghost – Python only. WebKit-based. Full JavaScript support. Open source.
  • Twill – Python/command line. Custom browser engine. No JavaScript. Open source.
  • PhantomJS – Command line/all platforms. WebKit-based. Full JavaScript support. Open source.
  • Awesomium – C++/.Net/all platforms. Chromium-based. Full JavaScript support. Commercial/free.
  • SimpleBrowser – .Net 4/C#. Custom browser engine. No JavaScript support. Open source.
  • ZombieJS – Node.js. Custom browser engine. JavaScript support/emulated DOM. Open source.
  • EnvJS – JavaScript via Java/Rhino. Custom browser engine. JavaScript support/emulated DOM. Open source.
  • Watir-webdriver with headless gem – Ruby via WebDriver. Full JS Support via Browsers (Firefox/Chrome/Safari/IE).
  • Spynner – Python only. PyQT and WebKit.

Headless browsers that have JavaScript support via an emulated DOM generally have issues with some sites that use more advanced/obscure browser features, or have functionality that has visual dependencies (e.g. via CSS positions and so forth), so whilst the pure JavaScript support in these headless browser is generally complete, the actual supported browser functionality should be considered as partial only.

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