Comparing Selenium to AI driven testing is not exactly the right way to think about it. But an interesting proposition and question.
Selenium and Cypress and CodedUI and others are simply ways to automate browser tests at the UI level. We all know these are brittle and challenged with modern UI libraries. But they are mature (Selenium is 15 years old now) and function as a language to automate UI actions. When Selenium was introduced it was a godsend. But that was 2004.
I read a study recently that on average 7 selenium scripts can be fully written and debugged per man-day. Of course some take all day to just get one to work...others are faster. But the 1 script an hour rule isn't a bad way to think about any of these languages.
AI test generation was first introduced in 2017. The technology has rapidly progressed to where AIQ can generate 600 scripts per minute unaided by humans. Thats wicked fast. We cannot compare 7 scripts a day to 6000 in 10 minutes.
But how good are these? Are they valid and valuable user flows?
To date we have found that a mix of maybe 10-20 QA designed scripts alongside 5000 or so AI generated scripts provides the right balance of coverage and assurance of very specific user flows. In the end the QA team must report back up the chain that certain items completely work in the current build. Whether or not AI thought it was a valuable exercise to test that flow. So we have found this combination is critical for assurance.
For the dozens of clients using AI test generation daily from us, they indeed have dropped all use of Selenium. That was their own choice over some months. They found that specific cases can be generated faster in AIQ Test Designer (recorder) and self-healed. And the rest of the coverage generated by AI. So that left no place for Selenium.
Since Selenium is so pervasive, someone will still be using it a decade from now. But as AI test generation and advanced new recorders become more commonplace and more reliable, it does seem to squeeze out the need for true manual selenium coding as we have done for the past 15 years.
Of course, Selenium is free. AI isn't. For small dev teams free is a pretty great choice. but for large enterprises with budget, AI driven testing can have a meaningful ROI despite the cost of the technology.
disclaimer - I work for appvance.ai and I am sharing my own experience helping teams roll out AI driven testing.