Why I Created a Selenium Recorder But Rarely Use it myself?

Zhimin Zhan
2 min readFeb 16, 2021

I am against using recorders for test automation, except for two situations:

  1. Training

“Selenium IDE is the place to start with Selenium, but it is Selenium on training wheels” — Jason Huggins, the creator of Selenium v1 at AAFTT Workshop 2009

However, with the advancement of Browser (Chrome) and testing tools (such as TestWise I created. By the way, iTest2, TestWise’s former name, was demonstrated at this AAFTT Workshop 2009), I found using recorders was no longer necessary. Attendants of my training verified that.

2. Writing tests with many similar steps

This is very rare. I only remembered one case. It was testing a set of law document pages (generated from a software) containing many “Yes or No” radio buttons. Recorder helped me with that.

As I stated in my book ‘ Practical Web Test Automation’ 10 years ago: “test script recording is only useful if the steps are refactored to maintainable form immediately”. If you do a google search of ‘record/playback’ review, it is almost all negative. Yet still, there are no short of ‘new test automation record/playback tools’.

Record/Playback scripts are notoriously costly from a maintenance perspective. — ‘Agile Testing’ book, p315.

I created TestWise Recorder for Firefox back in 2009, with the purpose of training professionals who are new to test automation. Since 2015, I stopped using recorders in my training, as the Snippet feature in TestWise and easy-to-use Chrome Inspect made it no longer needed.

With Firefox changing its extension architecture, almost all extensions stopped working on Firefox 57+, including the official Selenium IDE (which is a bad name, IMO, it is a record/playback tool really). I received the requests for an updated version.

At that time Selenium IDE for chrome was not available yet, so I created one Chrome extension (direct link on Chrome web store).

Some may say: “If there is an official Selenium IDE, why bother another recorder?” Here are my reasons:

  • It is a lot simpler and easier
  • It records, but NO playback. Playback, in my opinion, is very bad. It…
Zhimin Zhan

Test automation & CT coach, author, speaker and award-winning software developer. Help teams succeed with Agile/DevOps by implementing real Continuous Testing.