Web Testing Overview

Web Testing Overview

Headless vs Non-headless

First of all, there are two modes for testing web applications on desktop browsers: Headless and non-headless.

Headless Mode:

Definition: In headless mode, the browser runs without its GUI, meaning tests are executed in the background without displaying any visual interface. Headless testing is especially popular in continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) environments. In laymen’s terms, headless means windowless or that there is no browser window. In test automation, this is possible because automation software can interact directly with HTML and do not need the visible UI as humans do.

  1. Speed: Typically, headless tests cut down time because there’s no GUI to render.
  2. Resource Efficiency: Uses fewer system resources, making it suitable for environments with limited computational power or for running many tests simultaneously.
  3. Flexibility: Can be run on servers or environments that don’t have display capabilities.
  4. Integration with CI/CD: Owing to its speed and lack of GUI dependency, it’s ideal for CI/CD pipelines where quick feedback is essential.
  1. Lack of Visual Feedback: Since there’s no GUI, you cannot watch the UI behavior or capture video of test executions, which can make debugging more challenging.
  2. Potential Discrepancies: There might be slight behavioral differences between headless and non-headless modes. For instance, a test might pass in headless mode but fail in a real-world GUI scenario due to visual elements or interactions or vice-versa.

Non-Headless Mode:

Definition: In non-headless mode, the browser testing occurs with a visible graphical user interface (GUI). This means that when automated tests are executed in this mode, testers can see the actions being performed in real-time on the browser window, just like a user would interact with it.

  1. Visual Feedback: Testers can see the tests as they run, making it easier to identify visual issues, such as layout problems or design discrepancies.
  2. Debugging: With the visual representation available, it can be easier to debug and understand failures when they occur.
  1. Speed: Running tests in non-headless mode can be slower than in headless because it requires rendering the GUI.
  2. Resource Intensive: Requires more system resources to run the GUI, which can be a constraint for private infrastructures, especially if multiple tests are run in parallel.

Next, let’s explore the differences between desktop web and mobile web testing.

The terms “desktop web” and “mobile web” refer to web applications or websites when accessed from a desktop browser or a browser on a mobile device, respectively. Let’s delve into the primary differences between the two:

Device Screen Size:
  • Desktop Web: Accessed on computers with larger screen sizes, ranging from small laptops to widescreen monitors.
  • Mobile Web: Accessed on devices with smaller screen sizes, such as smartphones or tablets.
User Interaction:
  • Desktop Web: Interaction is typically through a mouse and keyboard.
  • Mobile Web: Interaction is primarily touch-based, with gestures like swipe, pinch, tap, and long-press.
Layout and Design:
  • Desktop Web: Offers a broader viewport, which can accommodate more content and design elements. Websites can have multiple columns, sidebars, and detailed navigation menus.
  • Mobile Web: Due to limited screen size, designs are often more minimalistic, relying on collapsible menus (like hamburger menus) and a more linear, single-column layout.
Performance and Load Times:
  • Desktop Web: Generally, desktop devices have a more stable and faster internet connection.
  • Mobile Web: Mobile devices might rely on cellular networks, leading to potential performance and connectivity issues. Mobile-optimized sites often serve lighter content to speed up load times.
Browser Differences:
  • Desktop Web: Popular browsers include Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge.
  • Mobile Web: While the same browsers exist on mobile, they may behave differently. Additionally, there are mobile-specific browsers like Samsung Internet.
Operating System Variability:
  • Desktop Web: Primarily Windows, macOS, and Linux.
  • Mobile Web: Primarily iOS and Android, each with multiple versions and manufacturer-specific customizations.
Development and Debugging Tools:
  • Desktop Web: Tools like Chrome DevTools or Firefox Developer Tools are mature and robust.
  • Mobile Web: While many of the same tools can be used, they might need to be adapted for mobile or used in conjunction with mobile emulators/simulators.
Features and Sensors:
  • Desktop Web: Desktops have limited sensors.
  • Mobile Web: Mobile devices come equipped with a variety of sensors like GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, camera, and more. Websites can sometimes leverage these sensors, leading to additional testing scenarios.

While there is overlap in testing strategies for both environments, each presents unique challenges that testers need to consider.

Below are the desktop browsers that testRigor supports natively:

Mac OS:
  • Safari
  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Edge
  • Internet Explorer
  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Chrome
  • Firefox
Other browsers are supported through an integration with 3rd party infrastructure providers like LambdaTest or BrowserStack. Learn more about cross-browser testing here.

Test your knowledge

Video recordings have higher quality
It’s closer to the human interaction, making it harder for anti-bot software to detect
Faster execution speed due to no GUI rendering
Debugging becomes easier with visual cues
It always requires more system resources than non-headless mode
Tests in headless mode can never be integrated with CI/CD pipelines
The absence of visual feedback makes debugging more challenging
Headless mode does not support mobile web testing
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