Tutorial - Part III: Driving the Web Browser
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Selenium WebDriver API

Caius provides a comprehensive API for conducting tests on Web-based applications through the Selenium WebDriver interface.

Pre-requisites and General Setup

In order to automate browser sessions with Caius, you need a copy of Selenium Server. You can download the latest version from here. Selenium Server is a Java Application, thus you will also need a Java Runtime Environment.

Selenium Server does not need to be running on the same computer as your scripts. Caius communicates with the server over a TCP connection via the WebDriver Wire Protocol. The server in turn is responsible for launching a browser instance using the appropriate driver engine and passing on the commands it receives.

If you intend to only use Firefox during testing, then you don't need to install any additional drivers. If you want to control other browsers, then you need to install the respective drivers, which you can also find on Selenium's download page.

Launch Selenium Server like this:

java -jar selenium-server-standalone-2.38.0.jar

Opening a new Session

In order to start a new browser session, you first have to create a WebDriver::Capabilities object which, as the name suggests, holds information about the browser you intend to drive and the capabilities you need to be available. Using the capabilities object, you initiate a session as shown in the following fragment:

set caps [namespace which [WebDriver::Capabilities #auto -browser_name firefox]]
set session [WebDriver::Session #auto $caps]

The Session constructor takes as arguments

  • the URL on which Selenium Server is listening for requests,
  • a mandatory references to a Capabilities object and
  • an optional reference to a RequiredCapabilities object.

The first Capabilities object describes the desired capabilities. Desired means, that you would like these capabilities to be available, but that they are not critical. The RequiredCapabilities object is optional and denotes capabilities which must be available. If the server cannot satisfy the requested required capabilities, an error will be thrown.

The table below shows the capabilities that can be specified and their default values upon creation of a Capabilities object. These default values do not represent the defaults offered by any given browser. Adjust them to your needs.

Capability Default value Description
browser_name htmlunit the browser to use (htmlunit|chrome|firefox|ie|...)
javascript_enabled true enable JavaScript (true|false)
takes_screenshot true enable taking screenshots (true|false)
handles_alerts true enable alert handling (true|false)
database_enabled true enable using browser database storage (true|false)
location_context_enabled true allow accessing the browser's location context (true|false)
application_cache_enabled true allow session to interact with application cache (true|false)
browser_connection_enabled true allow querying and modifying browser connectivity (true|false)
css_selectors_enabled true enable use of CSS selectors (true|false)
web_storage_enabled true enable interaction with storage objects (true|false)
rotatable true enable rotation on mobile platforms (true|false)
accept_ssl_certs true accept all SSL certificates by default (true|false)
native_events false whether session can generate native input events (true|false)
proxy Direct Connection a WebDriver::Proxy object (fully qualified object reference)

You can preset capabilties during the creation of the Capabilities object as indicated in the previous example. Or you can modify them later like this:

$caps set_native_events true

and query them like this

set native_events_enabled [$caps native_events]

In order to end an on-going session, call the close method or delete it directly:

itcl::delete object $session

Turning on Logging

In order to make the WebDriver module log informational messages to standard output, enable logging on the session object:

$session set_logging_enabled true

Resizing and Moving the Window

You can control size and position of the browser window on the screen as shown in this example:

set caps [namespace which [WebDriver::Capabilities #auto]]
set session [WebDriver::Session #auto $caps]
set window [$session active_window]

$window maximize

# position should now be (0, 0)
lassign [$window position] x y

# set size width x height
$window set_size 1000 800

# size should now be 1000 x 800
lassign [$window size] w h

# set position (x, y)
$window set_position 10 10

Loading URLs and Navigating the History

Load a URL using the Window object's set_url method:

set caps [namespace which [WebDriver::Capabilities #auto]]
set session [WebDriver::Session #auto $caps]
$window set_url http://www.example.com

You can navigate back and forth in the the history:

$window back

# check current URL
set url [$window url]

$window forward

Retrieving and Setting Cookies

Cookies are represented by WebDriver::Cookie objects. You can add a Cookie for the currently active domain using the window object's set_cookie method:

$window set_cookie -expiry "[expr [clock seconds] + duration]" \
    cookie_name cookie_value

You may set the following attributes on the Cookie object:

Parameter Default Description
-path / the path for which the Cookie is valid
-domain active domain the Cookie domain
-secure not set whether the Cookie is secure
-expiry not set cookie expiration date in seconds since midnight Jan 1, 1970 UTC

You can obtain a list of cookies set for the currently active domain, by calling the cookies method on the window object:

set cookie_list [$window cookies]

foreach {c_obj} $cookie_list {
    puts "[$c_obj name]: [$c_obj value]"

The result is a list of WebDriver::Cookie objects, whose name, value and additional attributes you may query. The cookie object references are maintained internally by the window, you must not delete them.

Working with Page Elements

In order to test anything about your Web application, you need to be able to access page elements and query and manipulate their states.

Finding an Element

For looking up page elements, Selenium supports a number of so-called locator strategies, listed in the table below.

Strategy Description
by_class_nameClass name
by_css_selectorA CSS selector
by_idThe unique ID of an element
by_nameThe name of an element
by_link_textThe text of a hyperlink
by_partial_link_textPartial text of a hyperlink
by_tag_nameThe name of the HTML element
by_xpathAn XPATH expression

In order to get a reference to an input field with the id username, you would call the element method on the window object like this:

set username_field [$window element by_id username]

A call to element will only ever return a single object reference (the first one that matches), even if multiple objects match the locator. To get a list of all objects matching the locator, simply call elements instead.

Once you are done with an object reference, you have to manually delete it by calling itcl::delete object on it.

Checking if the Element is Being Displayed

Once you have obtained an element reference, you may want to check if the element is actually displayed within the visibile canvas:

set username_field [$window element by_id username]
set is_displayed [$username_field displayed]
::itcl::delete object $username_field

Note how we explicitely delete the reference object, once we have obtained the information that we needed.

Reading Element Attributes and CSS Properties

You can read the value of an element's attribute by calling

$element attribute <attribute_name>

In order to read the value of a CSS property instead use

$element css_property <prop_name>

Clicking an Element

Clicking an element is as simple as

$element click

Depending on your application and the dimensions of its layout, you may want to ensure that the element is actually on the visible canvas, for example by issuing a move_to or by checking the return value of displayed.

Getting the Text of an Element

The text of an element can be retrieved with a simple call:

puts [$element text]

Sending Text to an Input Field

In order to send input to an element, make sure it is focused then use the send_keys method:

set element [$window element by_id username]
$element click
$element clear
$element send_keys "jonathan"
itcl::delete object $element

Determining the State of a Choice Field

In order to check the state of an input field of type checkbox or of a combobox, call

$element selected

Testing two Page Elements for Equality

Using the element or elements methods on the window object, you can retrieve multiple references representing the same element.

In order to find out, if any given two references are for the same element, call the equals method:

if {[$element1 equals $element2]} {
    puts "same element"
} else {
    puts "different elements"

Be aware that $element2 must be a fully qualified object reference obtained by a call to namespace which.

Taking Screenshots

You may take a screenshot of the active page at any time by calling

set screenshot [$window screenshot -decode]

set fp [open "test.png" "w+b"]
puts $fp $screenshot
close $fp

Without the -decode parameter, the screenshot method returns the image Base64 encoded.