Selenium remains the predominant framework in web automation testing, maintaining its position at the top despite competition from emerging frameworks like Cypress, Puppeteer, Playwright, and others. Based on my experience, any QA professional intending to work with Selenium WebDriver should possess a strong grasp of locators within Selenium WebDriver.
What do locators entail in Selenium WebDriver?
To begin, Selenium operates as a test automation framework designed for automating interactions with WebElements within the Document Object Model (DOM). Interactions include actions like clicking, typing, double-clicking, and more. For instance, the Selenium Action class offers suitable methods to execute keyboard and mouse actions on elements within the DOM.
However, the initial step involves identifying those specific WebElements within the document or page under examination. This necessity brings into play the importance of locators within Selenium WebDriver.
Selenium WebDriver locators serve as mechanisms to pinpoint HTML elements on a webpage. Selenium offers various web locators, and the selection depends on fulfilling the specific requirements of your test.
Traditional Locators in Selenium WebDriver
WebDriver in Selenium supports a set of eight traditional location strategies, allowing element identification using distinct methods:
- Class Name: identifies elements containing a class name matching the search value. Compound class names are not supported.
- CSS Selector: Matches elements based on CSS selector patterns.
- ID: Locates elements by matching their ID attribute with the search value.
- Name: Identifies elements by matching their NAME attribute with the provided search value.
- Link Text: Locates anchor elements where the visible text matches the specified value.
- Partial Link Text: Identifies anchor elements with visible text containing the provided search value. If multiple elements match, only the first one is selected.
- Tag Name: Matches elements by their tag name.
- XPath: Locates elements based on matching XPath expressions.
- Locating Elements with Selenium WebDriver
Identifying elements on a webpage is essential when using Selenium WebDriver for automation. Let’s explore various methods to locate elements using Selenium WebDriver:
- ID locators
Utilizing the CSS ID is a straightforward way to find an element. Each HTML DOM element has a unique ID, and using this identifier, you can locate an element easily. The .find_element_by_id() function of the webdriver class is used to employ this method.
The ID locator in Selenium stands out as the quickest and preferred method to find specific WebElements within a page’s Document Object Model (DOM). Each element in the DOM possesses a unique ID, making this locator method efficient and reliable for element identification.
Due to the uniqueness of IDs for individual elements, this method is considered the fastest and most secure approach for locating elements. However, adherence to this rule by developers isn’t always guaranteed, as browsers might sometimes bypass these guidelines.
Instances such as tables or lists may generate IDs dynamically or incrementally based on the data presented. Consequently, testers resort to alternative Selenium WebDriver locators to pinpoint the required element in such scenarios.
An esteemed practice in Selenium is to capitalize on the functionality provided by the ID locator due to its exceptional speed and efficiency, among other locator options. Opting for the ID locator over alternative locators in Selenium WebDriver significantly accelerates the execution of Selenium test cases, contributing to enhanced efficiency.
- Locating Elements by CSS Class
Another approach is to locate elements by their class name. The class attribute applies to a group of DOM elements, and .find_element_by_class_name() returns the first matched element.
- Locating Elements by Name
The .find_element_by_name() method locates elements by their name attribute. It returns the first matched element if multiple elements share the same name.
- Locating Elements by XPath
When other methods fail, locating elements via XPath comes in handy. Using .find_element_by_xpath() allows you to specify the element’s path within the document.
- Locating Elements by Tag Name, Link Text, and Partial Link Text
Selenium WebDriver offers methods like .find_element_by_tag_name(), .find_element_by_link_text(), and .find_element_by_partial_link_text() to locate elements based on their HTML tag name or the text within a link.
- Locating Multiple Elements
While most methods locate single elements, .find_elements() can find multiple elements based on different attributes using By class attributes like By.ID, By.LINK_TEXT, By.PARTIAL_LINK_TEXT, By.NAME, and By.TAG_NAME.
These approaches help locate elements effectively in Selenium WebDriver for automation tasks.
Best Practices for Utilizing Locators in Selenium WebDriver
Mastering the art of effectively locating elements is a key challenge in scripting for automation. Adopting best practices ensures a strategic approach to identifying elements for use in automation scripts.
Here are some best practices for leveraging locators effectively:
- Utilize Unique IDs for Element Identification
Employing unique IDs simplifies the identification of specific elements. When elements share the same ID, discerning the intended element for use becomes complicated. This might result in selecting an incorrect or non-existent element. To mitigate this, assign distinct IDs to each element in your web application.
- Avoid IDs That Change Locations
Selenium WebDriver locators rely on static IDs assigned by browsers, serving as identifiers for HTML tags on the page. However, IDs may change positions when the browser is closed and reopened, identifying different objects on the page. Avoid using locators that rely on auto-generated values to prevent frequent breakage, especially with complex locators.
- Keep Locators Concise
Ensure that your locators precisely identify the intended target element without inadvertently capturing other elements on the same page. This minimizes the risk of script failure due to changes in the number or arrangement of elements. Shorter locators also facilitate easier inspection to confirm they refer to a single element.
- Steer Clear of Auto-Generated Values Dependency
Avoid reliance on auto-generated values, particularly when using IDs, CSS, and XPath locators. These locators might not behave as expected since IDs are susceptible to auto-generation, potentially leading to unpredicted behavior. As a best practice, prioritize CSS and XPath locators known for their stability and consistency, periodically monitoring their values for changes.
- Avoid Reliance on Dev Tool-Provided XPath or CSS Selectors
While browsing tips may suggest using XPath or CSS selectors provided by browser dev tools, relying solely on these selectors poses a risk. If the source code changes, tests might fail. Instead, opt for locators independent of HTML structure for stable tests.
By adhering to these best practices, one can effectively use locators in Selenium WebDriver, ensuring robust and reliable automation scripts.
Selenium locators serve as a valuable asset during Selenium automation testing endeavors. Platforms like LambdaTest provide extensive cloud-based testing capabilities for Selenium automation. With a single Selenium Grid node, access to 3000+ browsers and operating systems is granted for comprehensive cross-browser testing and beyond. LambdaTest is an AI-powered test orchestration and execution platform that offers both manual and automated testing across various browsers.
Now equipped with the knowledge of utilizing locators and relative locators in Selenium WebDriver, you should feel confident in effectively working with these locators.