Automated Testing with BrowserStack & Selenium

Ensuring high quality software requires a lot of testing. Whether it’s code peer-review, unit testing, integration testing, system testing or exploratory user testing – it all has to be done! Therefore we look to automate our testing where possible. This blog post explores the automation of browser compatibility testing in BrowserStack using Selenium WebDriver.

BrowserStack is a cloud-based platform for testing applications in various Operating Systems and browsers. It is used for both Continuous Integration (CI) and cross-browser testing. Selenium WebDriver is a tool for driving browsers to replicate and automate user journeys and assert presence and functionality of page elements.

bstackWe aim to integrate automated testing into our Continuous Integration pipeline, however a number of our more established products are not yet part of this pipeline. One such product is Location Centre which is used by many local authorities where the end-user often has limited control over the choice of OS and browser. This often restricts the development to suit the majority of browsers used and their degree of modernity. Despite not being part of our CI pipeline testing our software to ensure high quality is just as important. Therefore I’ll now provide an example of how simple and straightforward it is to automate tests for Location Centre using BrowserStack.

BrowserStack offers a 100 minute trial so I recommend you also try it out! The site provides a range of multi-system environments for manual and automated testing as shown in the image below. bw_mobile_devices

BrowserStack runs the tests using Selenium WebDriver and these code examples serve as a great starting point. The tests can be scripted manually or by using Selenium IDE plugin for Firefox – the extension allows you to record the user steps with minimum coding, thus minimising hand-written code and saving you time. It provides hundreds of commands for element assertion, mouse position and many more. The tool decides by itself how to locate the element. The plugin is user-friendly and well-supported and the process of recording is quick and intuitive.

I have recorded the simple process of logging in to Location Centre, selecting the ‘Mapping’ tab and then zooming and panning the map.


Once created test cases can be exported in your language of choice – in our case it’s Python.

(File> Export Test As> Python 2  / unittest / WebDriver)

We can add the exported test case to our IDE. All we need to do now is modify the setup function to add the BrowserStack keypass and specify the browser and OS requirements.

We find it’s always worth starting the tests with the high risk browsers which is traditionally Internet Explorer which is used by the majority of Location Centre customers. Gov.UK recommends testing from IE8 and up, so we will run the test in IE8.

IE8 runs on Windows 7 and Windows XP, making it difficult to test locally. You could get IE8 from Microsoft virtual machine but BrowserStack makes it much easier. Using the BrowserStack tool we can get the capabilities and add them to the setUp function:


System capabilities and the authorisation information can be input into the setup:

class WebDriver(unittest.TestCase):
    def setUp(self):
       <strong> self.verificationErrors = []
        url = ''
        self.driver = webdriver.Remote(command_executor=url, desired_capabilities= {'browser': 'IE', 'browser_version': '8.0', 'os': 'Windows', 'os_version': '7', 'resolution': '1024x768'})</strong>

    def test_leics_l_c(self):
        driver = self.driver

    def is_element_present(self, how, what):
            self.driver.find_element(by=how, value=what)
        except NoSuchElementException as e:
            return False
        return True

    def is_alert_present(self):
        except NoAlertPresentException as e:
            return False
        return True

    def close_alert_and_get_its_text(self):
            alert = self.driver.switch_to_alert()
            alert_text = alert.text
            if self.accept_next_alert:
            return alert_text
            self.accept_next_alert = True

    def tearDown(self):
        self.assertEqual([], self.verificationErrors)

    if __name__ == "__main__":

You can now run the automated test with BrowserStack as shown in the GIF below.


The test can be played back and each step can be reviewed in turn. BrowserStack will provide you with a screenshot for any failed step (I have broken the one below on purpose!).


This service offers many useful features including localhost testing, ability to upload files and many more. There is no or very little coding required – although you may want to change an elements location or add some custom assertions, cursor movements or text inputs etc. Furthermore, there are no (or not as many) compatibility issues between the Selenium methods and the webdrivers which one experiences when testing locally.

You can utilise the vast Selenium library for replicating user journeys in the required system at the desired speed. BrowserStack also has integrated Cucumber and Behave used in Behaviour Driven Development (BDD) and testing. However, at the time of the writing this post, there were issues running those on Windows platforms. Overall, it is a great framework for compatibility testing.

Alongside the automation, exploratory tests still need to be in place to avoid kaleidoscopic bugs like this one found in our product mapTrunk…good job we caught this before Go-Live!