Setup Types

WebdriverIO can be used for various purposes. It implements the WebDriver protocol API and can run a browser in an automated way. The framework is designed to work in any arbitrary environment and for any kind of task. It is independent from any 3rd party frameworks and only requires Node.js to run.

Protocol Bindings#

For basic interactions with the WebDriver and other automation protocols WebdriverIO uses its own protocol bindings based on the webdriver NPM package:

const WebDriver = require('webdriver');
(async () => {
const client = await WebDriver.newSession({
capabilities: { browserName: 'firefox' }
await client.navigateTo('')
const searchInput = await client.findElement('css selector', '#lst-ib')
await client.elementSendKeys(searchInput['element-6066-11e4-a52e-4f735466cecf'], 'WebDriver')
const searchBtn = await client.findElement('css selector', 'input[value="Google Search"]')
await client.elementClick(searchBtn['element-6066-11e4-a52e-4f735466cecf'])
console.log(await client.getTitle()) // outputs "WebDriver - Google Search"
await client.deleteSession()

All protocol commands return the raw response from the automation driver. The package is very lightweight and there is no smart logic like auto-waits to simplify the interaction with the protocol usage. You can run the same set of commands using the Chrome DevTools protocol when importing the devtools NPM package.

Standalone Mode#

To simplify the interaction with the WebDriver protocol the webdriverio package implements a variety of commands on top of the protocol (e.g. the dragAndDrop command) and core concepts such as smart selectors or auto-waits. The example from above can be simplified like this:

const { remote } = require('webdriverio');
(async () => {
const browser = await remote({
logLevel: 'trace',
capabilities: {
browserName: 'chrome'
await browser.url('')
const inputElem = await browser.$('#search_form_input_homepage')
await inputElem.setValue('WebdriverIO')
const submitBtn = await browser.$('#search_button_homepage')
console.log(await browser.getTitle()) // outputs: "Title is: WebdriverIO (Software) at DuckDuckGo"
await browser.deleteSession()
})().catch((e) => console.error(e))

Using WebdriverIO in standalone mode still gives you access to all protocol commands but provides a super set of additional commands that provide a higher level interaction with the browser. It allows you to integrate this automation tool in your own (test) project to create a new automation library. Popular examples include Spectron or CodeceptJS. You can also write plain Node scripts to scrape the web for content (or anything else that requires a running browser).

If no specific options are set WebdriverIO will try to find a browser driver on http://localhost:4444/ and automatically switches to the Chrome DevTools protocol and Puppeteer as automation engine if such a driver can't be found. If you like to run based on WebDriver you need to either start that driver manually or through a script or NPM package.

You can use the @wdio/sync package to transform all commands so they run synchronously. This especially simplifies your test as you don't have to deal with async/await anymore. Here is an example how you can run synchronous commands with WebdriverIO in a standalone script:

// standalone.js
const { remote } = require('webdriverio')
const sync = require('@wdio/sync').default
runner: 'local',
outputDir: __dirname,
capabilities: {
browserName: 'chrome'
}).then((browser) => sync(() => {

If you now run the file, it will return the title:

$ node standalone.js
WebdriverIO · Next-gen browser and mobile automation test framework for Node.js

The WDIO Testrunner#

The main purpose of WebdriverIO, though, is end-to-end testing on a big scale. We therefore implemented a test runner that helps you to build a reliable test suite that is easy to read and maintain.

The test runner takes care of many problems that are common when working with plain automation libraries. For one, it organizes your test runs and splits up test specs so your tests can be executed with maximum concurrency. It also handles session management and provides lots of features to help you to debug problems and find errors in your tests.

Here is the same example from above, written as a test spec and executed by WDIO:

describe('DuckDuckGo search', () => {
it('searches for WebdriverIO', () => {
const title = browser.getTitle()
console.log('Title is: ' + title)
// outputs: "Title is: WebdriverIO (Software) at DuckDuckGo"

The test runner is an abstraction of popular test frameworks like Mocha, Jasmine, or Cucumber. A key difference when compared with standalone mode is that all commands that executed by the WDIO test runner are synchronous. That means that you don't need promises anymore to handle async code.

To run your tests using the WDIO test runner, check out the Getting Started section for more information.