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Selenium vs RPA: What is the Difference?

Last updated on Jan 10,2024 29.4K Views

16 / 16 Blog from Selenium IDE Fundamentals

Technology, in recent days, has reached the peaks and the growth of automation has added more wings to this transformation. From automating a simple unit test to automating the whole business process, technology has augmented its way to the digital era. In this Selenium vs RPA blog, I will give you a lucid idea of how these automation tools differ from one another. You can refer to the Selenium Training for further details.

Following are a few stats that reflect the growth in the demand of automation quite accurately:

  • According to house of bots, the market of RPA is estimated to reach $2.46 billion by 2024, at a CAGR of 30.14% between 2017 and 2024. This is directly proportional to the people trying to build a career in RPA.
  • According to prnewswire, the global automation testing market size is expected to grow from USD 8.52 billion in 2018 to USD 19.27 billion by 2024, at a CAGR of 17.7% during the forecast period. Selenium is one of the most used automation testing tools.

So, in this Selenium vs RPA blog, I will be comparing the two automation giants. Let’s take a look at what we will be discussing in this Selenium vs RPA blog:

Before comparing Selenium & RPA, let us know each one of them in detail. 

Selenium vs RPA: What is Selenium? What are its features? 

Selenium Logo - selenium vs RPA - EdurekaSelenium is an open source portable framework for automating web applications testing across different browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari) and not just the traditional browsers.

  • Selenium supports cross-browser testing which makes the implementation of the test-cases easy across various browsers multiple times.
  • Test cases can be written in several programming languages such as Java, Python, C#, Ruby, etc. Among these, Java is the most commonly used language to write test scripts.
  • Selenium is highly flexible when it comes to functional and regression testing. Functional testing helps to test the software against the business requirement and ensures there are no defects. Regression testing helps in re-executing the tests against the modified application to checks whether the modified code runs accordingly.     
  • A set of Selenium commands that run tests are called Selenese, and test script refers to the sequence of these commands.
  • Tests cannot be performed on mobile or desktop applications; it is solely prone to web application testing.

To learn more about Selenium, you can go through this What is Selenium blog.

Let us talk about one of the scenarios where Selenium is the best fit. Suppose you want to find a particular element from the current page of an e-commerce website. Let’s say the element is an image or cost of a product. Using Selenium it can be done very easily. In fact, it lets you inspect the page, get the relevant code of the element based on the element locater techniques and tests the web page without much of an effort.

You can go through this video where our Selenium Certification expert is explaining each & every nuance of the technology & demonstrating how to run a test case using Selenium.

How to Write & Run a Test Case in Selenium? | Edureka

This video will help you Write & Run your first Test Case in Selenium.

Now let us try to understand what is a Robotic Process Automation and why is it of high importance.

Selenium vs RPA: What is RPA and what are its features?

RPA- selenium vs RPA - EdurekaRobotic Process Automation (RPA) is a business automation technology that helps in automating the humdrum repetitive tasks (data entry, banking) without human intervention.

  • RPA was coined with the vision of empowering business users to create software bots (robots) that could interact with the system just like humans.
  • It evolved from the three key predecessors: Screen scraping, workflow automation, and artificial intelligence.
  • RPA bots are powerful to mimic several human actions such as log into applications, copy and paste data, move files and folders, fill in forms, scrape browsers and extract structured & semi-structured data from documents.
  • It is highly dependent on Screen scraping & Workflow automation that manages workflows using drag & drop features in a visual way, which is entirely independent of coding knowledge.
  • RPA is basically a combination of Artificial Intelligence and automation.
  • RPA is platform independent.

To get an overview of RPA you can go through this What is RPA blog & for in-depth knowledge refer to this Robotic Process Automation guide.

Coming to the predecessors of RPA, I would say, they are just embedded into the RPA keywordAs the other tools of the RPA are licensed, we are confined to UiPath for all the demonstrations and implementation.

Screen scraping tools play a major role in data migration and integration. The first technology that created a bridge between the current system and the legacy systems. It is a component used for collecting screen display data from one application, and translating it so that another application can display it. It offers functionalities to retrieve the data by scraping the user interface of other applications. 

Workflow Automation - Selenium vs RPA - EdurekaWorkflow Automation refers to the automation and execution of a business process where tasks are performed based on a set of procedural rules. This helps in designing low code workflows, executing them with less effort, managing everything and optimizing the workflow for a better outcome.


Artificial Intelligence - Selenium vs RPA - EdurekaArtificial Intelligence is a completely different concept. It mainly deals with the simulation of human intelligence by machines. It lets your system do all the assigned tasks that the user was supposed to do.  AI has the ability to transform the industry and help in business development. Machine learning and Deep learning are a few ways to implement AI. 

The following features help in better understanding of RPA:

  • Software bots have emerged as a potential way for organizations to achieve clear cost savings.
  • For the tasks that require repetitive execution of programs, RPA would be the best option.
  • It helps in the business processes like operational activities, calculations and data extraction in various organizations
  • You can get a more accurate result in less time because it is easy to learn and implement.
  • The number of errors is reduced. 
  • RPA can be used as a link to external systems that cannot be connected via other IT options.
  • Security comes into action when you talk about business process automation. The data that the user will be working on will be highly protected and the risk factor reduces.

RPA Features - Selenium vs RPA - Edureka

RPA is not just limited to these features. Take a look at this video to learn more about What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA) from our experts.

What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA) | Edureka

This tutorial will give you an introduction to RPA talk about the leading RPA tools such as UiPath, BluePrism and Automation Anywhere.

Now let’s compare these two tools to get a clear-cut idea on how these tools differ from one another even though their primary goal is automation.

Selenium vs RPA: Comparison of Selenium and RPA

I will consider the following factors to compare Selenium vs RPA.

What do these tools automate?

Selenium automates testing of web applications.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) automates business processes such as maintenance of records, queries, transaction processing, calculation and so on.

Where does the automation take place?

Selenium can automate only the current web page.

RPA automates all the backend processes that are time-consuming.

Are these tools open-source or paid?Money - Selenium vs RPA - Edureka

  • Selenium is an open-source testing tool whereas RPA tools are UiPath, Automation Anywhere, BluePrism and others.
  • Among these tools, UiPath offers a platform to learn, where the community edition is free for individual use and the business edition is licensed. The other tools are for business use and are licensed.

Which major component is used by Selenium and RPA?

  • Webdriver plays a very important role in automating the test cases because it overcomes all the disadvantages of Selenium RC and makes the testing process simple and clear.
  • RPA makes use of bots that help in rendering possible outcome by imitating human activities.

What is the level of automation in these tools?

RPA helps in maintaining huge records of data and simplify the process and it is flexible in dealing with the clerical processes. 

Selenium does not support the clerical processes taking place because it works on the front end of the web application.

The complexity of their life cycle

More simple their life cycle is, more efficient they are when it comes to the end results. Selenium has a complicated life cycle compared to RPA. 

Robotic Process Automation Life Cycle

  • Analysis
  • Bot Development
  • Testing, and
  • Support & Maintenance.

RPA Lifecycle - Selenium vs RPA - Edureka

Step 1: Analysis 

The life cycle in RPA begins with Analysis.

  • The business team works together to identify the process of RPA development.
  • It helps to identify processes that are feasible for automation.
  • Planning the development process with the help of resources. Then the process is formulated with an RPA lead.
  • A documental approach is approved by the stakeholders after it is completed.
Step 2: Bot Development
  • The bot development process takes place in a separate environment.
  • Limited coding is required because it is a Wizard-driven process.
Step 3: Testing

Testing is carried out in two ways:

  • RPA development testing
  • Separate testing tool

Among these, RPA development testing is preferred because script correctness is verified and reviewed. Whereas, by using a separate tool, testing can be performed on a dedicated QA environment.

Step 4: Support and Maintenance

After the development and testing, it enters the Maintenance phase. Every change is updated at regular intervals. If there is an error, the process is tested and repeated continuously for a better outcome.

Selenium Life Cycle

  • Test plan
  • Generating basic tests
  • Enhancing tests
  • Running and Debugging tests
  • Analyzing test results and Reporting defects

Selenium Lifecycle - Selenium vs RPA - Edureka

Step 1: Test Plan
  • Get the application environment specifications from the development team.
  • Then, identify the objects in the AUT(Application Under Test).
  • Further, create the test cases.
  • At last, select the appropriate framework based on the requirements.
Step 2: Generate Basic Tests
  • Selenium IDE: Element locator & selenese commands.
  • Selenium WebDriver: Element locator techniques & WebDriver methods are used.
Step 3: Enhancing Testing 
  • Insert a validation point using Assert/Verify commands.
  • Synchronization with the application being tested.
  • Handling expected & unexpected errors.
Step 4: Running and Debugging Tests
  • Executing a test case is an important phase in the Selenium life cycle.
  • Debugging is required only if there is an error in the test case.
Step 5: Analyse Results and Report Defects
  • Selenium helps in giving the overview of the records and does not provide detailed reports.
  • TestNG and JUnit is used to generate detailed records.

Is it platform dependent or independent?

Selenium is an open source tool which is platform independent, and can be used on any browsing platform. 

In RPA, the user can use processes that can run on any of the web, desktop, and mobile applications. It is platform independent.

Coding - Selenium vs RPA - EdurekaKnowledge of coding is required? 

  • If you are working with Selenium, basic knowledge of Java is required.
  • RPA requires minimum coding knowledge.

Consider a scenario where you order something on any of the e-commerce websites.

  • RPA helps in capturing the order details.
  • Streamlines the process by simplifying the order entry.
  • Integrates the details with the data entered. This reduces the discrepancies & simplifies the view of order status.

Using Selenium,

  • One can create a Webdriver instance.
  • Navigate to the corresponding webpage, and find a particular element on the current web page.
  • Perform actions like login, sign up and so on.
  • Initiate a browser response, run the tests and record the test results using a test framework.

Selenium vs RPA: Similarities between these tools.

  • Both Selenium and RPA are automation tools that reduce manual intervention and enhance quality.
  • Both of them follow the Rule-based process.

Now, you might ask, What if I try to use RPA as a testing tool? I would say, both Selenium and RPA help in delivering automation solutions. Talking about using it as a testing tool, it can be used to test the web application, but it is not recommended. Let me talk about the practical aspect that resists RPA from being a test machine. RPA is not directly applied to the product, but it is applied to the processes associated with the business environment. Selenium completely depends on the product for testing a case.

Selenium vs RPA: Conclusion

Talking about the factors on which they differ, I would suggest you take a look at the table:

Selenium vs RPA

AutomationAutomates Browser ApplicationsAutomates Business Processes
AvailabilityOpen Source
  • UiPath: Community version available
  • Automation Anywhere: Community version available
  • BluePrism: Licensed
Where is the Task Performed?On the Current Browser PageAt the Backend of the Process
Major Component UsedSelenium Web DriversRPA Bots
Level of AutomationNo Clerical ProcessLow-value Clerical Process
Life CycleRelatively DifficultSimple and Easy
Platform DependencyBrowser Platform DependentPlatform Independent
Programming KnowledgeRequiredNot Required
Skills RequiredSelenium IDE (Creating a Test Suite )SQL Database, Analytical Skills, Problem-Solving Ability, Managing Data, Knowledge Of The RPA Tools.

In this Selenium vs. RPA blog, I have pointed out the major differences and similarities between the two booming automation software in the industry. Both Selenium and RPA have their own pros and cons when it comes to Automation. So, one needs to be specific about the requirements and how well these tools are aligned with the same. 

Now that you have gone through our Selenium vs RPA blog, you can check out Edureka’s Automation Testing Certification Courses & RPA Certification TrainingGot a question for us? Please mention it in the comments section and we will get back to you.

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Selenium vs RPA: What is the Difference?