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Appium vs. Selenium: Key Differences

Gourav Bais
Gourav Bais
Appium vs. Selenium: Key Differences
October 25, 2022
min read

Technology today is evolving at a rapid pace, and all organizations have to keep up with it in all ways possible to increase their productivity and efficiency. It's because of these that more and more organizations are adopting automated test cycles for their products.

Testing teams have swiftly started using various kinds of test automation frameworks to release features for various applications and web applications.

Automation frameworks are an assembly of numerous processes and tools that work together to help in the automated testing of any application, be it on iOS, Android, or Windows. The software project life cycle uses these automated testing frameworks during the validation phase.

Selenium and Appium are two of the most popular testing frameworks that make applications easier to write and run tests in parallel.

Brief Overview of Appium and Selenium

Appium is a freely distributed automation tool that's used for testing across multiple platforms. Dan Cueller developed it in 2011, and it was made open source in 2012 with an Apache 2 license.

It's a commonly used process to write test scripts in different code languages such as C#, Ruby, Java, JavaScript, Python, and PHP.

Appium is an HTTP server written on a Node.js platform that runs in the background of applications and provides detailed logs and reports to the QA. It's compatible across multiple platforms and enables the same tests to run on all of them.

Just like Appium, Selenium is also a widely used open-source automation tool that helps in automating web browsers. Following its development in 2004 by Jason Huggins, it has become one of the most popular tools for QA. It supports a wide range of languages like Java, Python, C#, Perl, etc.

Selenium is mostly integrated with automation test tools such as Maven, Jenkins, and Docker to achieve continuous testing during the validation phase of the software project.

The most important feature of Selenium is its web driver specification. It allows test automation of web applications across multiple browsers and operating systems.

The most important feature of Selenium is its web driver specification. It allows test automation of web applications across multiple browsers and operating systems.

Real-Time Applications of Appium

Appium was developed using the C# language. It's a tool for cross-platform automation testing frameworks because it enables us to reuse the same code for an application across various platforms.

Appium is equipped with functionalities to focus on the automation of web applications. It helps to create a collection of consistent test scripts that are aimed at examining web apps as well as mobile applications. It wraps up a vendor-specific API into Webdriver API (Selenium API) to automate all types of mobile browsers.

Appium allows the use of JSON wire protocol, and that, in turn, makes it more robust. It also doesn't require any recompiling to reflect changes in the applications running on mobile browsers.

Use Case

Let’s assume that a basic mobile application has been developed by an app developer. The app is downloaded on an Android or iOS device, and a quick manual test is run to check the functionalities of the app. The reports are fine, and it's running smoothly. The probable next step for the developer is to add a new feature to the app.

Every new feature that's developed and added to the application needs to be tested in parallel to ensure everything works well. Thorough testing is a must for each of the new features added to the application.

However, manually testing the app on both iOS and Android devices is extremely inefficient. When such a scenario arises, Appium can be used by the QA teams to automate tests for mobile apps on both iOS and Android platforms. It's an extremely efficient and fast way to test the features parallelly across both platforms.

The Appium server differentiates the tests based on the platform and uses the same code to test across both iOS and Android.

Real-Time Applications of Selenium

Selenium is used for the test automation of web applications. It's portable and supports multiple browser settings and operating systems. It's a kind of automation framework that allows integration with third-party plugins for testing purposes.

Selenium automates web application testing. It's a suite of tools, including three components: Selenium WebDriver, Selenium IDE, and Selenium Grid. The Selenium WebDriver directly communicates with the browsers, thus accelerating the test execution cycle. Selenium also allows for parallel test execution features. This feature helps in reducing the test execution time.

Use Case

Let's take a situation where the QA needs to verify a functional test scenario of an e-commerce website, which involves the following process:

  • Click on the search bar.
  • Search for a specific product.
  • Add the product to the cart.
  • Click on "Proceed to checkout."

In such a case, manually testing the above user scenario on multiple browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Safari is a hefty and time-consuming task. Instead of manually testing on each platform, teams can make use of Selenium Grid, which is a tool from the Selenium tool suite, to run concurrent cross-browser tests on multiple machines (desktops, mobiles) and operating systems.

Appium vs. Selenium

Although Selenium and Appium both are very popular choices for testing, there are some major differences between both frameworks.

APPIUMSELENIUM Appium is a framework that's designed to automate testing for any kind of mobile application. Selenium is a framework that's designed to automate testing on any kind of website or web application.

Appium doesn't support the IDE-type feature for the setting up of automated testing environments.

It always uses WebDriver for designing and setting up.

Selenium supports both the IDE and WebDriver feature for designing and setting up automated testing environments. Appium is designed as an HTTP server based on NodeJS, so the user needs to have NodeJS in their system for using the Appium tool. Selenium is designed with the main purpose of maintaining automation logic on different types of web applications and websites specifically. Appium can be used to automate desktop applications as well. Selenium cannot automate desktop applications. Appium doesn't need integration with other automation test tools. Selenium mostly integrates with automation test tools such as Maven, Jenkins, and Docker to achieve continuous testing. Appium works using client-server architecture, which includes Appium Client, Appium Server, and End Device, which is a mobile device or an emulator that performs automated test scripts. Selenium is a set of tools that includes three components: Selenium WebDriver, Selenium IDE, and Selenium Grid.

Which Tool Is Best for You?

To sum it up, Appium and Selenium both are widely used test automation tools. However, they differ from each other in terms of functionality, usage, and compatibility.

Selenium has numerous features that simplify the development of various web-based applications. At the same time, Appium can accelerate the testing of native, hybrid, and mobile web apps by using Selenium WebDriver. So, keeping the precise project needs in mind, we need to use them.

The most important advantage of using both Appium and Selenium is that they offer very good language support, stability, and a comprehensive platform for generating automation scripts.

During the development of a software project, addressing one challenge often may introduce another one. One tool is not necessarily better than the other. So, you should choose automation testing tools carefully depending on the needs of your project. If necessary to address some special challenges, you can combine two or more of them.

In conclusion, Selenium will always be the primary choice for web-based applications, and Appium should be the main option for all kinds of mobile web apps.

The most important advantage of using both Appium and Selenium is that they offer very good language support, stability, and a comprehensive platform for generating automation scripts.


After reading this post, you're now aware of Appium and Selenium use cases. You also know why developers majorly prefer Selenium for web applications and the other wide variety of applications of Selenium.

On the other hand, we've seen Appium as a preference for mobile application developers and its different use-case scenarios.

I hope that after reading this post, you now know about both of these tools and, according to the problem statement you are dealing with, can pick up a tool that moreover dominates the use case.

Coding skill is a must for using both of these tools. Even though you have a lot of options for language, you need to code to work on them.

Suppose you aren't a developer but belong to an engineering team. You wouldn't be able to use these tools. In this case, do you have any other tools that can help you? Yes, there is, and it's Waldo.

The first no-code testing platform in the world, Waldo enables anyone to develop trustworthy, automated mobile tests without the burden of scripting. It provides features like CI integration, multi-language support, finding bugs, testing flows with deep links, etc., so you can develop your mobile applications with as little effort as possible.

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