Testing a multilanguage website with Selenium

I believe the technique to test a multilanguage website is still a quite open discussion and it depends what are the objectives. Normally you would say “I want to check all the labels that are on the website are on the right place” which means you have to extract them from somewhere, store them and compare them with those on the website.

When you extract them from a database you might probably already have a form that allows to create them and a page to list all of them. Somebody would say that it is convenient to retrieve them directly from the database doing in practice data driven testing/database validation.

If you are writing test cases directly with a programming language like Java (just for example) you have already the methods to contact the database and retrieve the labels but if you are writing your test cases in Javascript either you need a webservice to contact an application to retrieve the database data or you have to create a command to go to the page of your application that list all the labels. For sure you have to synchronize your test cases with the stored labels and not updating the test cases manually.

I am still not convinced how far a tester can go (and learn) when testing. At the beginning I was thinking that a tester could learn just selenium commands and a developer will extend some of them for her/him. In reality it depends on the skills of your tester. In my opinion javascript is a language easy to learn (together with xpath or css selector) it can parse easily DOM objects and Selenium can reach this level of granularity. So a tester needs to know the structure of a DOM object and from here s/he can learn xpath/css selector and javascript.

This long introduction will help to understand what I am going to explain.

Usually with Selenium you can store xpath or css selector in a variable with a simple command (like storeText) which stores this variable in a local javascript array (storedVars) invisible to a simpler tester. A contributed user extension can store a text in a global array that can be reused among all the test case. This global array (globalStoredVars) can be indeed used to store the labels of your website.

Now supposing that you have a website in 3 languages (en, fr, de), the approach that I would do is to store the labels with a language suffix (for example label_login_en, label_login_fr, label_login_de) and store in the original variable (label_login) one of 3 variables every time I change language, using a javascript function to update the original variable.

String.prototype.endsWith = function(suffix) {
    return this.indexOf(suffix, this.length - suffix.length) !== -1;

Selenium.prototype.doSetLanguage = function(language) {
  var languages=new Array("en","de","fr");
  if((languages.indexOf(language) == -1) || (language=="random") )
    language = languages[Math.round(Math.random() * new Date().getMilliseconds())%(languages.length)];
  var suffix="_"+language;
  for (var i in globalStoredVars){
      LOG.info("found variable "+i);
      var new_var=i.substring(0,(i.length-suffix.length));
      LOG.info("new_var: "+new_var);

The example above shows a Selenium command setLanguage which takes as input a language (or gives the possibility to choose a random language if not inserted or if “random” is used), it takes all the labels stored in globlalStoredVars with the suffix for the language chosen and it to replace them with the original variable without suffix.

The inconvenient is that if you have for example an xpath that it turns contain one of the original labels (see the last row in the code where xpath_cell depends on the label_login variable), you have to update it as well every time  (which means moving the storing of the xpath from the selenium command into a javascript command directly, which means the tester needs to know javascript).

Putting a part the usage of an xpath containing a label (that can be arguable), the question would be if it is correct changing a language (and what are the implications) at the beginning of the test suite or at the beginning of each test case.

It is obvious that in terms of performance it is better to choose it once at the beginning of the test suite but in some cases (a user chooses the own language in the profile or the website chooses a language for a particular user) it is not possible so you need to update each testcase.


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