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Cypress – What Is It And What Should You Know About It?

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6 min read

August 1, 2022

In this article, you’ll learn what Cypress is and how you can use it for unit and E2E testing purposes.

What Is Cypress?

Cypress is a JavaScript-based End-to-End testing framework. It’s a free automation testing tool, based on the open-source formula. Initially, it was developed for unit testing, to be later extended for E2E automation testing as well. Cypress makes asynchronous testing simple and convenient. This tool allows you to automate user interface tests, automate integration tests, and also combine both of those approaches, e.g. by creating test data via API and checking whether the data displayed on the user’s interface is correct or not.

Cypress provides a visual interface to highlight which tests and commands are currently running, which have passed, and which have failed. This framework is very helpful for testing interactive applications as well. It allows document object model (DOM) manipulation, reading and writing data from and into the fields, as well as creating redirecting and submitting forms. Cypress uses no package manager (NPM) for JavaScript, making it very easy to use, even with just a basic knowledge of JavaScript.

What Exactly Is End-to-End Testing?

With the help of Cypress, End-to-End, integration and unit tests are really easy to write and debug. End-to-end testing (also called E2E) is a technique that scans the entire software, making sure that everything is working as expected. The goal of E2E testing is to check the software from the user's perspective to avoid malfunctions caused by a failure of any of the features in the system. End-to-End tests are usually conducted at the end of the development cycle, as they already cover the UI and analyze the users’ impressions about its looks and usage of the application.

Cypress versus Selenium

Cypress framework is not based on Selenium, and therefore, it can work directly inside the browser document object model (DOM) elements. If you compare those two tools, you will definitely notice some other differences. Firstly, Cypress is designed specifically for web application testing, whereas Selenium can be used to test a wider range of different applications. Secondly, Cypress has a much simpler and more intuitive interface than Selenium. This makes it much easier to learn and use even for novice testers. Thirdly, Cypress runs directly in the browser, making it run the tests much faster, while Selenium WebDriver uses a driver that communicates with the browser via HTTP. What’s more, Cypress uses JavaScript to write its tests and run them in the browsers. Selenium, on the other hand, uses its own language called Selenese. The alternative for it is using some other scripting languages, like JavaScipt, C#, Ruby, and Python.

The Advantages of Cypress

There are many benefits of using Cypress for web application testing needs. We have already mentioned some of them in this article, but let’s take a closer look.

Intuitive Interface

People enjoy working with Cypress because it provides a friendly and intuitive interface. This helps to execute tests quicker and more efficiently. What’s more, Cypress automatically waits for a command to complete before moving on to the next one, which eliminates the need for manual synchronization.

Built-in Support For Assertion Library

Cypress includes built-in support for assertion libraries and provides many different tools for debugging and troubleshooting tests. It’s an excellent choice for web application testing, providing great help and a variety of built-in solutions.

JavaScript Framework-friendly

Cypress is compatible with most of the popular JavaScript frameworks. Since all tests in Cypress are written in JavaScript, the time required to create your tests is usually much shorter when compared to Selenium, for example.

Natively Running In The Browser

Cypress can be run directly in the browser. There’s no need to open any additional program or tool outside of the browser you are usually using. It also makes it run your tests faster.

Debugging Live Inspect with Chrome Dev Tools

You can debug your web apps with Cypress quickly and easily. When tests fail, you immediately get suggestions for fixing the error. Then you can debug directly from Chrome DevTools. This way, you can interact directly with your browser’s console to see what’s going on with your application and what tests are currently running (if any).

Screenshots And Video Recording

Cypress comes with a build-in screenshot and video recorder to capture screenshots of test failures or record a video of the whole test while it’s running.

Cypress Dashboard

Another advantage of Cypress is its dashboard. It’s a framework’s paid service that provides a hosted dashboard service via which you can access all the recordings of the test you’ve run. Also, Cypress offers great documentation options.

Active Community

As previously mentioned, Cypress is free and open-source. Since it operates on a freemium model, you can use the free version or go further and purchase a paid version with more advanced features, such as a dashboard with artifacts like snapshots, which are helpful for debugging, as well as video storage. You can find active Cypress communities on platforms such as GitHub, Gitter, and StackOverflow.

Are There Any Disadvantages?

After reading an impressive list of pros concerning using Cypress you may be wondering if there are any disadvantages at all. So the answer is yes, Cypress obviously has its limitations. Fortunately, there are not many of them.

Browser Limitations

Cypress is currently only supported by some browsers. It’ll run smoothly on Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave, and Electron browsers. As a result, Cypress is a less-favored tool for cross-browser testing.

No Multi-tab Support

Because Cypress runs inside the browser, it doesn’t permit the support of multiple tabs when running tests.

Superdomain Limitations

Cypress doesn’t allow visiting two different superdomains in the same test. What do we mean as a superdomain is more like a domain name, like google.com or facebook.com. You can visit two different superdomains during two different tests, that’s not an issue, but unfortunately not in the same test.

Complex Syntax

There is a certain level of syntactic ambiguity in Cypress. For some people, especially not software developers, it makes it difficult to use Cypress and understand its logic. And that’s because of its sole reliance on JavaScript. So for those unfamiliar with JavaScript, the level of Cypress’s complexity (as compared with some other testing frameworks) will intensify.

Do We Recommend Cypress?

Cypress is an amazing tool for End-to-End testing, especially because of the ease of test writing, great execution time, and simplicity of the debugging process. This all makes it a great and resourceful tool for developers, no matter their experience.

However, it works best for those with at least intermediate JavaScript knowledge. Even taking in mind Cypress limitations, you can still find a way to solve some of them, or simply find a way around them. Therefore yes – we do recommend Cypress for at least some of your testing work. Hopefully, you will find out all the pros of this framework for yourself!

We hope that this portion of knowledge at least has sharpened your appetite for more. In case you want to learn more about Cypress or simply have some questions about it – please don’t hesitate to contact us by clicking the link below.

Created by

Dariusz Żelasko

CTO

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