Selenium in a hurry

I love tools that save me time. Then I start using them. Then using them turns into a chore. A tool I love is a tool I haven’t used enough yet.

I started using Selenium for end to end testing my web apps, and Selenium went from awesome to  chore quite quickly. My gripe was verbosity:

browser.find_element_by_id('user-' + str(user_id)).click()
(browser.find_element_by_class_name('user-info-' + str(user_id)

Writing it took longer than I wanted, and it will take longer than it should to read, and future-me will be negatively affected when maintaining it. Over-verbosity is not my friend – I think a developer is not here to write code: I think I’m here to create features and I prefer doing it with less code where appropriate. Maybe jQuery has fooled me into thinking clicking on a DOM element can be as simple as:


Sure, I appreciate the Selenium project attempts to maintain similar syntax across it’s many implementations. Pick up a Java, C, or Python implementation and if you can write in one implementation then you can read it in another. jQuery doesn’t have that issue as its only implemented in javascript. However, I’m not in the business of reading Selenium scripts across multiple languages.

I work with Python in a high pressure agile environment where I’m happy to make my Selenium scripts more Pythonic in order improve my workflow. I dont stand alone in this opinion: the official ElasticSearch library has been implemented across many different languages – and each one focuses on aligning with the language it was implemented on rather than attempting to maintain a similar syntax across several languages. I prefer this approach.

My wrapper makes selenium what I consider more developer-friendly, to give me sugar that allows:

browser.find('#user-', user_id).click()
browser.find('#user-info-', user_id).find('.edit').click()

Compared to the vanilla Selenium its 40% less code and I think 40% more awesome. With that defense laid down, below we go through how it was implemented.

from selenium.webdriver.remote.webelement import WebElement
from selenium.webdriver.firefox.webdriver import WebDriver as Firefox
from selenium.webdriver.firefox.firefox_profile import FirefoxProfile

class CustomFirefoxDriver(Firefox):
    web driver that returns CustomWebElement
    when get_element_by_*, etc are called.


    def __init__(self)
        super(CustomFirefoxDriver, self).__init__()
        self.find = ElementFinder(self)

    def create_web_element(self, element_id):
        return CustomWebElement(self, element_id)

class CustomWebElement(WebElement):
    """Attach ElementFinder instance to web elements."""

    def __init__(self, *args, **kwargs):
        self.find = ElementFinder(self)
        super(CustomWebElement, self).__init__(*args, **kwargs)

class ElementFinder(object):
    non-verbosely find elements. routes to find_element_by_id,
    find_element_by_class_name, etc.


    def __init__(self, element):
        self.element = element

    def __call__(self, many=False, *args, **kwargs):
        if many is True then find_elements_by_*, else find_element_by_*

        note args will be concatenated to create the selector


        selector = ''.join(map(str, args))
        prepend = 'find_element{0}_by_'.format('s' if many else '')
        # rough approximate check if selector is complex css selector, if not then
        # select element by id, class, or tag, and fall back to css_selector
        punctuation = """!"#$%&'()*+,./:;<=>?@[\]^`{|}~"""
        if sum(map(selector.count, punctuation)):
            append = 'css_selector'
        elif selector[0] == '#':
            append = 'id'
            selector = selector[1:]
        elif selector[0] == '.':
            append = 'class_name'
            selector = selector[1:]
            append = 'tag_name'
            selector = selector

        # now we know the method name to call, lets do it
        return getattr(self.element, prepend + append)(selector)


2 thoughts on “Selenium in a hurry

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