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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Top 5 Tips for Effective Element Identification in Playwright


In the dynamic realm of web development and testing, tools for automation testing like Microsoft’s Playwright have emerged as essential resources for developers and QA engineers. A key part of any web automation or testing procedure is identifying and interacting with the different elements on a web page, such as buttons, text fields, drop-downs, and others. Today, we will delve into the realm of effective element identification in Playwright, a critical component that significantly impacts the effectiveness of your automation scripts.

Element identification in Playwright goes beyond mere pinpointing; it’s about choosing the right approach and using the right functions to interact with those elements. Using the correct strategy can help create robust scripts, optimize code, and reduce the chances of test failures. In this blog, we will walk you through five key tips to boost your efficiency in element identification with Playwright, ranging from using the correct selector strategy to leveraging the power of Playwright’s auto-waiting mechanism, and much more.

Understanding Playwright and Element Identification

Playwright is an open-source Node.js library developed by Microsoft that enables developers to automate browser tasks across various browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. With Playwright, you can generate screenshots and PDFs, crawl Single Page Applications (SPAs), test your mobile site with device emulation, and more.

One of the critical aspects of automation using Playwright is element identification. Element identification refers to the process of finding and selecting specific elements within a web page to perform actions on them. For example, finding a specific button to click on or a specific text field to type into.

The importance of effective element identification cannot be overstated. Element identification forms the basis of any interaction that the automation script has with the web page. An incorrect or inefficient identification could result in inaccurate test results or script failures. Moreover, in dynamic web applications, the same element can change its properties, making it challenging to identify consistently. Efficient strategies for element identification in Playwright can thus lead to more robust, reliable, and faster test scripts.

Tip #1: Use the correct selector strategy

Selecting the right strategy to identify elements is crucial in Playwright. A selector strategy refers to the method used to locate and select specific elements on a web page. Playwright supports a range of selector strategies, including CSS selector, XPath, text selectors, and more.

Understanding and choosing the correct selector strategy can greatly enhance the effectiveness of your automation script. Eavery methods have their strengths and weaknesses and is better suited for separate scenarios. For instance, CSS selectors are often the go-to choice due to their performance and readability. However, in scenarios where elements dynamically change their properties, XPath can provide a more robust way of locating elements.

Consider a scenario where you need to locate a specific element with a changing class attribute. A CSS selector targeting the class attribute would fail if the class changes. An XPath expression that targets another stable attribute or relative position within the DOM would be more effective in this scenario.

For instance, instead of:

const elementHandle = await page.$(‘.dynamic-class’);

An XPath expression might be more effective:

const elementHandle = await page.$x(“//div[contains(text(),’Stable Text’)]”);

As such, understanding the various selector strategies and their use-cases can significantly improve your ability to effectively identify elements in Playwright.

Tip #2: Leverage Playwright’s auto-waiting mechanism

One of Playwright’s robust features is its auto-waiting mechanism, a clever feature that automatically waits for certain events or actions to complete before moving on to the next step in your script. This auto-waiting mechanism can be exceptionally beneficial for element identification, particularly in cases where elements might not immediately be available due to latency or other reasons.

The auto-waiting mechanism works by waiting for an element to be available in the DOM and ready to receive actions. So, when you’re trying to click an element, fill a form, or perform any interaction, Playwright automatically waits for the element to be ready before executing the action.

await page.click(‘#submit-button’);

In the example above, Playwright automatically waits for the element with the id ‘submit-button’ to appear in the DOM and be clickable before executing the click action. The auto-waiting mechanism in Playwright minimizes the requirement for explicit wait statements, resulting in more streamlined and robust scripts. In the absence of this feature, your scripts might become bloated with numerous wait statements, leading to cluttered code and maintenance challenges. Hence, harnessing the potential of Playwright’s auto-waiting mechanism can profoundly enhance your testing process, making it significantly more seamless and efficient.

Tip #3: Use the evaluation functions for dynamic content

Playwright provides several evaluation functions, such as $eval(), $$eval(), and evaluate(), which are particularly useful when dealing with dynamic content that changes during the lifetime of the page.

These functions allow you to run JavaScript in the context of the page or specific elements. For instance, you can use $eval() to retrieve an attribute or property of an element, $$eval() to apply JavaScript to multiple elements simultaneously, and evaluate() to execute arbitrary JavaScript in the page context.

const elementClass = await page.$eval(‘.my-element’, element => element.className);

In the example above, the $eval() function is used to retrieve the className property of the element with the class ‘my-element’. This can be useful in situations where the element’s properties change dynamically, and you need to identify the element based on its current state.

By effectively using these evaluation functions, you can handle dynamic content more effectively and write more robust and reliable element identification code in Playwright.

Tip #4: Utilize helper functions for complicated elements

Playwright provides various helper functions that simplify dealing with complex elements and scenarios. These include functions for dealing with frames, shadow DOM elements, and more.

For instance, to deal with elements inside an iframe, you can use the frame() function to get a handle to the specific frame and then interact with the elements inside it.

const frame = await page.frame({ url: ‘https://example.com’ });

await frame.click(‘text=”Submit”‘);

In the example above, the frame() function is used to get a handle to a frame with a specific URL, and then the click() function is used to click a button inside that frame.

Similarly, to interact with elements inside the shadow DOM, you can use the shadow$ selector.

const shadowButton = await page.shadow$(‘my-component::shadow#button’);

await shadowButton.click();

In this example, the shadow$ selector is used to select a button inside the shadow DOM of a custom element.

By effectively using these helper functions, you can deal with complex elements and scenarios more easily and improve your ability to identify and interact with elements in Playwright.

Tip #5: Effective use of timeouts and retry-ability

In the realm of browser automation and testing, it’s crucial to deal with unpredictable conditions such as network delays, slow-loading elements, or temporary unavailability of services. To handle these situations effectively, Playwright provides robust timeout and retry-ability mechanisms.

Timeouts in Playwright are used to prevent a script from waiting indefinitely for an operation to complete. Playwright provides several options to set timeouts at different levels, such as global timeouts, navigation timeouts, and action-specific timeouts. You can set a global timeout for all actions and navigations with the setDefaultTimeout() function:

await page.setDefaultTimeout(5000); // sets the default timeout to 5000ms

For navigation timeouts, which are particularly useful for handling page load delays, you can use the setDefaultNavigationTimeout() function:

await page.setDefaultNavigationTimeout(10000); // sets the default navigation timeout to 10000ms

In addition to timeouts, retry-ability is another powerful feature in Playwright. It allows the script to automatically retry actions that fail due to temporary issues, improving the robustness and reliability of your scripts. Playwright’s API actions like click(), fill(), check(), uncheck(), etc., have auto-retry built in.

await page.click(‘#my-button’); // retries if the click fails

In the example above, if the click action fails due to the button not being clickable, Playwright automatically retries the action until it’s successful or the timeout expires.

Effectively managing timeouts and leveraging retry-ability can significantly improve your script’s reliability and robustness in the face of unpredictable web conditions.

Bonus Tip: Leverage LambdaTest for Automated Testing 

Cross-browser testing is a crucial part of any web development process. It ensures that your website or web application functions as intended across different browsers, devices, and operating systems. However, maintaining an in-house device lab can be costly and time-consuming. Here’s where services like LambdaTest come in, offering a cloud-based digital experience platform where you can conduct real-time, automated testing on a vast range of real devices and browsers.

Integrating LambdaTest with your Playwright scripts can help you perform comprehensive Playwright testing. LambdaTest supports Playwright, meaning you can run your Playwright scripts on multiple browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge, across various versions and platforms, all within the LambdaTest infrastructure.

To use LambdaTest with Playwright, you need to configure your script to use LambdaTest’s Playwright tunnel. This tunnel connects your local machine with LambdaTest’s servers, enabling the execution of your scripts on their platform. Here’s a basic example:

const { chromium } = require(‘playwright’);

(async () => {

  const browser = await chromium.connect({

    wsEndpoint: `wss://cdp.LambdaTest.com/playwright?browser_version=latest&os=Windows&os_version=10&browser=chrome`,


  const context = await browser.newContext();

  const page = await context.newPage();

  await page.goto(‘https://www.mywebsite.com’);

  await browser.close();


In this example, we use the connect method provided by Playwright to establish a connection to the LambdaTest server using a WebSocket endpoint. This endpoint specifies the browser, browser version, and operating system to use for the testing session.

By leveraging LambdaTest in your testing workflow, you can easily perform comprehensive cross-browser and cross-platform testing, ensuring your website or web application performs flawlessly for all users, regardless of their choice of browser, operating system, or device. This is an essential practice in delivering a consistent user experience across all platforms.

VIII. Conclusion

In the ever-evolving landscape of web automation and testing, the ability to accurately and effectively identify elements is a fundamental skill. Through this blog, we have journeyed through six essential tips to enhance your element identification prowess in Playwright. We started with understanding the importance of choosing the correct selector strategy, before delving into the power of Playwright’s auto-waiting mechanism and the utility of evaluation functions in dealing with dynamic content.

We also explored the convenience of helper functions in handling complex elements and the importance of managing timeouts and using retry-ability to deal with unpredictability. Each of these tips forms a piece of the puzzle, coming together to enhance your efficiency and accuracy in element identification with Playwright. And ofcoure we also learn to harness the power of cloud based platform LambdaTest.

However, the world of Playwright offers much more. It is an ever-evolving tool with new features and improvements being added regularly. Therefore, continuous learning and experimentation are key to staying ahead. It’s encouraged to experiment with these tips, tweak them to fit your unique needs, and explore further to discover more strategies that can enhance your experience with Playwright.

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