The internet is never standing still. It’s constantly evolving, changing, and expanding. The web used to be a chaotic network of outdated and barely functional websites. Nowadays, we have a highly advanced web with high-end websites built with user-friendly UI.
That is where headless browsers come into play. They are highly beneficial for web browser testing. Let’s see what headless testing is and how headless browsers can help with test automation.
Headless testing explained
Headless testing refers to the process of UI-based browser testing without displaying a graphical user interface (GUI). Testers run a script or a test against a browser but without using the browser UI. While headless browsers may not be particularly helpful in browsing the web, they are excellent tools for automating tasks and tests.
Headless testing allows software testers and developers to test a browser in a browser simulation environment that doesn’t have a user interface. That simulation environment runs like any regular browser with one difference – it doesn’t display any GUI.
Some of the most commonly used headless browsers are:
- Headless Chrome
- HTMLUnit driver
Headless browser testing is an essential part of software QA, and it helps automate tests and run them in any browser without the need for user interaction.
Since the digital business landscape moves towards a seamless software development lifecycle, developers need to give timely feedback to make the necessary changes. Automation testing by leveraging headless browsers speeds up the entire process.
Why it’s important
Headless testing matters simply because it’s automated, lightweight, and incredibly faster. It provides great speed, flexibility, scalability, and efficiency for automation testing.
It helps improve performance and speed as testers don’t have to run a browser to test it. Because of that, the system saves the processing power to execute tests faster and more reliably.
Headless testing also allows testing browser-less setups. Those setups are helpful when installing a browser isn’t an option, such as servers. In such situations, headless testing helps run automation tests.
Finally, headless testing helps developers and testers multitask, saving them time and effort. They can run tests in the background and use their devices and browsers to do something else.
Benefits of headless browsers
Let’s take a closer look at some of the advantages of headless browsers.
Website performance testing is one of the most critical tests, and headless browsers help speed up the process. Since they load websites much faster, they allow testers to use the command line to test various performance tasks without loading GUI.
Web scraping and data extraction
Headless browsers are excellent web scraping and data extraction tools because they eliminate opening a website. Instead, you can quickly and automatically gather public data by scraping the HTML. Since you don’t need to render a full browser, you can scrape websites much faster.
Headless browsers are much faster than regular browsers, and they don’t have to load all the web elements and content that websites usually load for the best user experience. Due to their impressive speed, developers and testers commonly use them for various automation tasks, such as automation website testing.
They help automate a range of tasks on a website, such as its layout, page elements, and performance. Their speed also makes them perfect for web scraping and data harvesting.
Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome are probably the most popular headless browsers. Although they have certain limitations, their advantages triumph over the disadvantages.