Robust web element identification for evolving applications by considering visual overlaps

by   Michel Nass, et al.

Fragile (i.e., non-robust) test execution is a common challenge for automated GUI-based testing of web applications as they evolve. Despite recent progress, there is still room for improvement since test execution failures caused by technical limitations result in unnecessary maintenance costs that limit its effectiveness and efficiency. One of the most reported technical challenges for web-based tests concerns how to reliably locate a web element used by a test script. This paper proposes the novel concept of Visually Overlapping Nodes (VON) that reduces fragility by utilizing the phenomenon that visual web elements (observed by the user) are constructed from multiple web-elements in the Document Object Model (DOM) that overlaps visually. We demonstrate the approach in a tool, VON Similo, which extends the state-of-the-art multi-locator approach (Similo) that is also used as the baseline for an experiment. In the experiment, a ground truth set of 1163 manually collected web element pairs, from different releases of the 40 most popular websites on the internet, are used to compare the approaches' precision, recall, and accuracy. Our results show that VON Similo provides 94.7 identifying a web element in a new release of the same SUT. In comparison, Similo provides 83.8 the visually overlapping nodes concept/tool for web element localization in evolving web applications and contribute a novel way of thinking about web element localization in future research on GUI-based testing.


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