Selenium reached its tenth birthday a weeks or so ago. ThoughtWorks threw a party to celebrate at our Chicago head office. We made it an RSVP event on, and there was quite a crowd. Jason Huggins and I kinda hosted1. Jason had not been to the Aon-center office in many years. First we regaled the assembled group with stories from the first days around Selenium’s development, and the growing realization within ThoughtWorks that the tool could be significant. We then ran through the series of events as it slowly grew to become what we thought it could be, and the very timely arrival of non-ThoughtWorkers who needed to be something different that it was already, before admitting that Simon Stewart really saved the project from a painful death. Selenium 1.x was in wide use by the time the deal was done for WebDriver to be Selenium 2.x (a full reverse take over2), but it was increasingly hard to get it to improve into areas that desperately needed it.

We had a glitch with a video segment (my bad - though I had a license for ScreenFlow, and a “Demo” watermark was appearing in the rendered product), and Jason filled in while if fixed that to appeal to the assembled group to make something in the automation space that pushes ahead somehow. Not just for science, but for society and humanity. Jason had bought a hardware automation gadget (robot really) he’d made with him, and it was very much the implied “like this” for the audience. I hope someone was there that changes society based on that that impassioned appeal.

Before the cupcakes overwhelmed us, we departed to the pub taking as many as we could with us. The famous Joe Walnes turned up to the event, and came on to the pub too.

The video from a few people that couldn’t make it to the event.

Selenium's 10th Birthday Party: video played after speeches from Paul Hammant on Vimeo.

Simon Stewart (at 8:30mins in) provided many takes on his segment, and we’ve included them all - very funny stuff :)

At 11:40mins in, Andriy Prystupa and colleagues at GlobalLogic also show off a being-developed WebDriver capability that allows the testing of Qt / QML applications. That is quite far from HTML. This, perhaps, hints at what is to come in the next ten years for Selenium branded automation.

ThoughtWorks marking the event in print

That is here. Actually that was penned by me too, though it’d required many fixes as other contributed corrections. Jason says more are needed as “it’s very much your handwriting”. Anyway, I think it’s the fullest history of at least the early years of Selenium with an attempt to give credit to where it is due. Some of the history after Simon took over is a little lacking it has to be said.

Do we stop there?

No, ThoughtWorks is fairly rabid about test automation. To my mind the next huge open-source piece from ThoughtWorks is Brandon Byers’ Mountebank and it faces the same funding challenges Selenium did way back then. It is also a game changer, and every IT organization should be using it if they have any passion for reduce build times in order to boost throughput. To be fair now, we’ve released half a dozen open source testing-related pieces in the intervening years. Moco (won an award), White, Frank and other are ones that come to mind as I draft this article.


  1. Event hosting hard work was actually ThoughtWorks colleagues Prasanna Pendse, Scarlett Reynolds, Charlie McCoy, Rainey McGinnis, Stephanie Wallace, Rachel Lehman, Patrick McFadden and Miguel Equina. TW site and Twitter stuff was by Laura Nash, Heather Malec and Adam Monago. Thanks gang! 

  2. Critical to Selenium 2.x’s success was the backwards emulation of Selenium 1.x. You see this one move prevented the community from forking around established APIs. It meant that the companies using Selenium 1.x could take their sweet time migrating to Selenium 2.x and indeed have a mix of both for many years as they focused QA automation dollars on areas that had recognized business benefit. 


November 4th, 2014