Proxyrack - August 1, 2023

Playwright vs Puppeteer: Which to Choose?

Tutorials

Playwright and Puppeteer are two popular open-source Node.js libraries used for automating browser interactions and web testing. The Chrome team at Google developed Puppeteer in 2017, and Microsoft developed Playwright in 2020. 

While they share similarities, there are notable differences, and this article compares the two in detail. This post'll cover their features and similarities and help you determine which library is best for different use cases.

Puppeteer 

Puppeteer is a Node.js library that you can use to control Chrome or Chromium-based browsers. You can do this by downloading Chrome and then using Puppeteer-core to drive the browser. It has advantages over other browser automation tools because it's supported by the same company, Google, which makes it the most widely used browser in the world. It's therefore more stable and reliable than other tools.

The Chrome team created Puppeteer as an alternative to Selenium, addressing the latter's limitations and challenges. One of these limitations is the complex installation process, which can be time-consuming and difficult for some users. Puppeteer also addresses Selenium's speed limitations, allowing for faster and more efficient automation. 

You can use Puppeteer to automate various tasks that can also be performed manually in the browser, such as the following:

  • Generating screenshots and PDFs of web pages

  • Crawling single-page applications (SPAs) and generating prerendered content through server-side rendering (SSR)

  • Automating form submission, UI testing, and keyboard input

Playwright Library

Microsoft built Playwright on top of Puppeteer to extend its capabilities by supporting multiple browser engines, Firefox, and Safari. 

You can use Playwright to test web applications on Windows, Linux, and macOS, locally or on a continuous integration (CI) server. You can use it to run tests in headless mode, which means that the browser window will not be displayed, or in headful mode, which means that it will be. Playwright also supports native mobile emulation, which means that you can test your web applications on mobile devices even if you don't have a physical device. 

Playwright aims to provide a consistent API across different browsers, allowing developers to write browser automation code that works seamlessly across different browser environments.

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Similarities

Playwright and Puppeteer are both browser automation libraries with several similarities. 

  • Playwright and Puppeteer are both maintained and supported by two notable organizations, meaning these tools will receive constant maintenance, bug fixes, and new features to improve their overall quality.

  • Both are open source, meaning they're free to use and users can contribute to improving these tools.

  • Both Playwright and Puppeteer have active communities of users and developers, which means there's plenty of support available.

  • Playwright and Puppeteer are cross-platform browser automation libraries, meaning you can use them to automate web browsers on a variety of operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and macOS.

  • Some of the top contributors to the Puppeteer Library also contribute to Playwright, so they're naturally similar to each other.  

Features

While the two libraries are similar, there are notable differences that can determine which will work best for you. 

Browser Support

Playwright stands out for its robust cross-browser support, including Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. This flexibility allows you to write automation scripts that can seamlessly work across different browser engines.

Puppeteer, on the other hand, focuses primarily on Chrome and Chromium browsers. It offers extensive control and integration with the Chrome DevTools Protocol, making it an excellent choice for Chrome-specific automation tasks.

Native Mobile Emulation

Playwright provides native support for mobile browser emulation, offering emulated instances of Google Chrome for Android and Mobile Safari. This enables developers to run automated tests directly on mobile platforms, enhancing mobile development workflows.

Puppeteer lacks native mobile emulation support, instead focusing mainly on desktop browser automation. However, you can still use it in conjunction with other tools or frameworks for mobile testing scenarios.

Performance and Efficiency

Playwright was designed with performance in mind, utilizing modern techniques such as event-based execution and asynchronous APIs. These optimizations contribute to faster and more efficient browser automation.

Puppeteer also offers solid performance, leveraging its integration with Chrome and Chromium browsers. Its direct control over the Chrome DevTools Protocol allows for precise manipulation and debugging, ensuring reliable automation.

Community and Ecosystem

Playwright has gained significant traction, and its community continues to grow. It benefits from active development, frequent updates, and a supportive community, resulting in a promising ecosystem with evolving capabilities.

Puppeteer has a mature ecosystem with a large community, providing a wealth of resources, third-party libraries, and community support. Its extensive adoption and longevity make it a reliable choice with a broad range of available tools and integrations.

Language Support

Playwright provides comprehensive language support for JavaScript, TypeScript, Python, NET, and Java. This wide range of language options allows developers to choose their preferred language for browser automation.

Puppeteer has strong language support for JavaScript and TypeScript. Additionally, there’s an unofficial Python port of Puppeteer JavaScript (headless) chrome/chromium-browser automation library called Pyppeteer.

Additional features

Playwright includes additional features like auto-waiting, CodeGen, and built-in error handling. Auto-waiting ensures reliable interaction with web pages, CodeGen simplifies script creation, and built-in error handling helps you catch and manage common automation errors. These features improve the developer experience and make Playwright a compelling choice for advanced browser automation needs.

Which Is Better, Playwright or Puppeteer?

Determining which library will work better for you, depends entirely on your requirements.

Playwright is a top choice for automating web applications across multiple browsers and mobile devices. It provides comprehensive cross-browser support for Chrome, Firefox, and WebKit as well as native mobile emulation for Chrome for Android and Mobile Safari. Playwright has multiple programming languages, making it a flexible choice for teams with different expertise and project requirements.

If your main focus is automating tasks specific to Chrome or Chromium browsers, Puppeteer is an excellent choice due to its strong integration with the Chrome DevTools Protocol and the availability of extensive community support. Puppeteer's longevity and larger user base make it a more established library with a mature ecosystem and abundant resources, making stability and maturity key considerations. For those prioritizing simplicity and ease of use, Puppeteer's straightforward API is advantageous, especially if you don't require cross-browser support or native mobile emulation.

Wrapping Up

In order to choose between Playwright and Puppeteer, you need to match their strengths to your project.

Playwright is excellent for projects requiring multi-browser automation. It has a variety of language possibilities thanks to its extensive cross-browser compatibility, native mobile emulation capabilities, and language versatility. It keeps getting better because of its rising popularity and vibrant community.

In contrast, Puppeteer's key advantages stem from its seamless integration with Chrome and Chromium browsers, positioning it as the preferred choice for Chrome-specific automation needs. Its stability, maturity, and strong community backing establish a dependable base for projects focused on Chrome automation.

Ultimately, both Playwright and Puppeteer are powerful and efficient browser automation libraries. Whichever library you choose, you can be sure that you'll be able to streamline your automation processes and improve your web projects.

To learn more about the differences between Playwright and Puppeteer and choose the best library for your needs, you can read their respective documentation pages.

These pages provide detailed information about the features, capabilities, and use cases of both libraries. They will help you to select the library that best meets your requirements.

This post was written by Damilola Ezekiel. Damilola is a Software Engineer and a Technical Writer who enjoys learning and sharing new things through writing. She is also an avid open-source contributor.

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