Home Guide How to use CSS Selector to locate web elements in Selenium scripts

How to use CSS Selector to locate web elements in Selenium scripts

Shreya Bose, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack -

This article will discuss and describe, with examples, how one can use CSS selectors in order to identify web elements in Selenium tests.

What is a CSS Selector?

Essentially, the CSS Selector combines an element selector and a selector value that can identify particular elements on a web page. Like XPath, CSS selector can be used to locate web elements without ID, class or Name.

Types of CSS Selectors (with examples)

There are 5 types of CSS Selectors in Selenium tests-

  1. ID
  2. Class
  3. Attribute
  4. Sub-String
  5. Inner String

#1 – ID

In this example, the script will access the Email text box on the login form at Gmail.com

The text box carries an ID attribute with the value “Email”. In this case, the ID attribute and its value are utilized to create a CSS selector that allows access to the text box.

How to create the CSS Selector for the web element?

Locate the web element – Email textbox. The HTML tag here is “input” and the value of the ID attribute is “Email”. Combined, they refer to the Email textbox. This is the data required to create the CSS selector.

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Verify locator value

Type “css=input#Email”(locator value) in Selenium IDE. Click on the Find button. The Email text box is highlighted, verifying the locator value.

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Syntax

css=<HTML tag><#><Value of ID attribute>
  • HTML tag: used to denote the web element to be accessed
  • #: used to symbolize the ID attribute. Note that the hash is mandatory in cases where ID attribute is used to create a CSS Selector.
  • Value of ID attribute: the value of the ID attribute being accessed. This value is always preceded by the hash.

When specifying CSS Selector in the target text box of Selenium IDE, ensure that it is preceded by “css=”.

Note: If multiple web elements have the same HTML tag and attribute value, it is the first element marked in the page source that will be identified.

#2 – Class

In this example, the script will access the “Stay signed in” checkbox that appears below the login form at Gmail.com.

The checkbox carries a Class attribute with the value “remember”. This Class attribute and value can be utilized to create a CSS selector that accesses the selected web element.

Here’s how to create a CSS Selector for the web element

Locate the web element – “Stay signed in” checkbox. The HTML tag, in this case, is “label” and the value of the ID attribute is “remember”. Combined, they refer to the “Stay signed in” checkbox.

Verify locator value

Type “css=label.remember”(locator value) in Selenium IDE. Click on the Find Button. The “Stay signed in” checkbox is highlighted, verifying the locator value.

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Syntax

css=<HTML tag><.><Value of Class attribute>
  • . : The dot is used to symbolize the Class attribute. Note that the dot is mandatory in cases where a Class attribute is used to create a CSS Selector. The value of the Class is always preceded by a dot.

#3 – Attribute

In this example, the script will access the “Sign in” button located beneath the login form at Gmail.com.

The “Sign in” button carries a type attribute with the value “submit”. This type attribute and its value can be utilized to create a CSS Selector that will access the preferred web element.

Here’s how to create a CSS Selector for the web element

Locate the web element – “Sign in” button. The HTML tag, in this case, is “input”, the attribute is type and value of the attribute is “submit”. Combined, they refer to the “Sign in” button.

Verify locator value

Type “css=input[type=’submit’]” (locator value) in Selenium IDE. Click on the Find Button. The “Sign in” button will be highlighted, verifying the locator value.

Image source

Syntax

css=<HTML tag><[attribute=Value of attribute]>
  • Attribute: Used to create the CSS Selector. It can be a value, type, name, etc. It is best to select an attribute with a value that uniquely identifies the web element being accessed.
  • Value of attribute: the value of the attribute that is being accessed.

#4 – Sub-string

In Selenium, CSS allows the matching of a partial string which, offers a way to create CSS selectors utilizing sub-strings. This can be done in three ways.

Types of mechanisms use to match sub-strings

  • Matching a prefix
  • Matching a suffix
  • Matching a substring

Match a prefix

The purpose of this is to correspond to the string by using a matching prefix.

Syntax

css=<HTML tag><[attribute^=prefix of the string]>
  • ^ : the symbol used to match a string using a prefix
  • Prefix: the string on the basis of which the match operation is performed.

If one intends to identify the “Password textbox”, the CSS Selector, in this case, would be:

css=input#Passwd[name^='Pass']

Match a suffix

The purpose of this is to correspond to the string by using a matching suffix.

Syntax

css=<HTML tag><[attribute$=suffix of the string]>
  • #: the symbol used to match a string using a suffix.
  • Suffix: the string on the basis of which the match operation is performed.

Again, if one intends to identify the “Password textbox”, the CSS Selector, in this case would be:

css=input#Passwd[name$='wd']

Match a substring

The purpose of this is to correspond to the string by using a matching substring.

Syntax

css=<HTML tag><[attribute*=sub string]>
  • *: the symbol to match a string using sub-string
  • Sub string: the string on the basis of which the match operation is performed.

Again, if one intends to identify the “Password textbox”, the corresponding CSS Selector would be:

css=input#Passwd[name$='wd']

#5 – Inner text

Using inner text helps identify and create CSS Selectors by utilizing a string pattern that the HTML Tag manifests on the web page. This mechanism is used most frequently to locate web elements on account of its simplified syntax.

In this example, focus on the “Forgot email?” hyperlink present beneath the login form at Gmail.com.

The anchor tag that represents this hyperlink has some text within it. This text can be used to create a CSS Selector that locates the required web element.

Syntax

css=<HTML tag><:><contains><(text)>
  • : – the colon is used to symbolize the contains method
  • contains – the value of the Class attribute that is being accessed
  • text – the text displayed anywhere on the web page, irrespective of its location

Using CSS selectors to locate web elements is a useful skill, especially because it is used by advanced developers and testers. By mastering it, one is able to use Selenium to its full potential, thus optimizing its abilities for automated Selenium testing.

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