Playwright vs Selenium: key differences

5 min read
February 16, 2024

Choosing the right web automation tool is crucial for improving your product’s quality and development process.

It can also reduce cost, ensure robustness, and support agile workflow.

Here we’ll take a closer look at two powerful options: Playwright and Selenium. 

If you’re a developer or tester, this comparison can help you make a better choice for your project.

We’ll discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Playwright and Selenium, helping you understand when to use each tool. 

Whether you’re focused on execution speed, ease of integration, or language compatibility, we’ve got you covered. 

By the end of this blog, you’ll have the knowledge to choose the right tool for your project needs. So let’s get to it!

What is Playwright?

Playwright is an open-source automation framework by Microsoft that supports testing across all major browsers with a single API.

It’s designed for testing from a browser’s perspective, offering features like auto-wait, network interception, and emulation capabilities for mobile browsers.  

Playwright integrates WebSocket technology, which is essential for real-time web communication between clients and servers.

This enables tests to mimic and verify complex, interactive web applications efficiently. 

This capability is important for apps relying on instant data exchange, enhancing the framework’s utility in creating robust, reliable test scripts for a wide range of web applications.

Playwright architecture

source: Testomat

Let’s take a look at the basic task of automating a form submission with Playwright in Python:

from playwright.sync_api import sync_playwright
def run(playwright):
    browser = playwright.chromium.launch()
    page = browser.new_page()
    page.fill('#name', 'John Doe')'#submit-button')
with sync_playwright() as playwright:

This snippet demonstrates launching a browser, navigating to a URL, filling out a form, and clicking a submit button.

Playwright’s Python API mirrors its Node.js counterpart, offering an intuitive and powerful way to interact with web pages programmatically.

Playwright pros and cons


  • Cross-browser support with a single API
  • Supports headless mode for faster execution
  • Automatic waiting eliminates timing issues
  • Offers mobile emulation and geo-location testing capabilities.


  • Requires familiarity with asynchronous programming
  • Less developed community than Selenium

What is Selenium?

Selenium is a well-known framework in the world of web testing, offering tools for browser automation. 

It allows testers to write scripts in various programming languages and run tests on multiple browsers and platforms.

Selenium architecture

source: BrowserStack

Known for its WebDriver API, Selenium provides a way to automate web browser actions, making it easier to test web applications by simulating how a user would interact with them.

It’s not just about testing functionality; Selenium also supports a range of testing needs, from simple unit tests to complex functional testing scenarios. 

The framework integrates well with other tools, enabling continuous integration and testing workflows. 

Its extensive community support and documentation make it a go-to choice for testers looking for a reliable and versatile testing solution.

Here’s how you might automate the same form submission task using Selenium with Python:

from selenium import webdriver
from selenium.webdriver.common.keys import Keys
from import By
driver = webdriver.Chrome('/path/to/chromedriver')
element = driver.find_element(By.ID, "name")
element.send_keys("John Doe")
driver.find_element(By.ID, "submit-button").click()

This code snippet highlights Selenium’s approach to browser automation, where you manually navigate to pages, find elements, and interact with them.

It showcases Selenium’s flexibility and control over browser interactions.

Selenium pros and cons 


  • Wide language support
  • Extensive browser compatibility
  • Large and active community


  • Can be verbose for simple tasks
  • Requires managing browser drivers

Playwright vs Selenium: comparison 

When deciding between Playwright and Selenium, your choice should align with your specific project requirements.

Here’s a breakdown of their features:




Cross-browser support

Built-in for Chrome, Firefox, WebKit

Requires driver installations

Language support

JavaScript, Python, Java, C#/.NET

Java, Python, C#, Ruby, and more


High due to efficient architecture

Can be slower, prone to flakiness

Debugging capabilities

Advanced with screenshots, videos

Requires plugins for advanced debugging

CI/CD integration

Built-in support

Extensive integration capabilities

Community and support

Growing, with strong backing

Large, well-established

When you should use Selenium or Playwright? 

When to use Playwright:

  • For modern web apps using AJAX and SPA (Single Page Application) technologies.
  • When rapid test execution and development cycles are prioritized.
  • When testing across multiple browsers, using a unified API is crucial.
  • Ideal for projects requiring device emulation, network conditions simulation, and advanced features like auto-wait.
  • Suitable for teams looking for minimal setup and maintenance overhead.

When to use Selenium:

  • For projects needing support across a wide range of browsers, including older versions.
  • When the project demands testing in multiple programming languages.
  • Ideal if your team values a wide-ranging support network, including plugins and integrations with other testing tools.
  • Suitable for environments with established Selenium infrastructure and expertise.
  • When comprehensive testing strategies involving complex setups or large-scale CI/CD pipelines are in place.


Both Playwright and Selenium offer powerful solutions for web app testing, each with its unique strengths and considerations.

Playwright is a newer, more advanced tool designed for the needs of modern web applications, providing ease of use and efficiency. 

Selenium, on the other hand, provides flexibility and a wide-ranging support network, making it a reliable choice for a wide range of testing scenarios.

Choosing between Playwright and Selenium depends on specific project needs, team skills, and the types of applications under test. 

For further reading and exploration, you can look into external resources such as the official documentation for Playwright and Selenium

Additionally, you may find our other blogs on web automation and testing tools valuable in expanding your knowledge and optimizing your web automation endeavors.

Written by

Marko Brajer

QA Engineer

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