5 Best Ways to Find an Element Containing Specific Text in Selenium WebDriver with Python

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πŸ’‘ Problem Formulation: When automating web browsers using Selenium WebDriver with Python, testers often need to locate elements by their text content. This common task could involve finding a label, button, link, or any element that displays certain text to the user. For instance, given the text “Welcome, User!”, you would need to identify the HTML element that contains this exact phrase to interact with it.

Method 1: Using XPath to Find Text

XPath is a powerful language for selecting nodes in an XML document, which can be utilized in Selenium to locate elements that contain a specific text. XPath expressions allow you to navigate through elements and attributes in an HTML document.

Here’s an example:

from selenium import webdriver

driver = webdriver.Chrome()
driver.get('http://example.com')
element = driver.find_element_by_xpath("//tagname[contains(text(), 'specific text')]")

Output: WebElement corresponding to the found element.

In this code snippet, we’re first importing the necessary classes from Selenium. Then, we instantiate the WebDriver for Chrome and navigate to ‘http://example.com’. The find_element_by_xpath method is used with an XPath expression that searches for any element with the tag ‘tagname’ containing the ‘specific text’.

Method 2: Using Partial Link Text

This method is specifically useful when you are looking for anchor tags (<a>) that partially match a given text. Selenium provides a method find_element_by_partial_link_text which is perfect for this scenario.

Here’s an example:

from selenium import webdriver

driver = webdriver.Chrome()
driver.get('http://example.com')
element = driver.find_element_by_partial_link_text('part of link text')

Output: WebElement corresponding to the anchor tag with partial matching text.

Using the find_element_by_partial_link_text method, we can locate an element (<a> tag) that contains the partial text ‘part of link text’. This method is convenient when you have a long link text and only part of it is necessary to find your element.

Method 3: Using CSS Selectors

CSS selectors allow you to select elements based on various criteria, such as ID, class, attributes, etc. Although CSS selectors cannot directly search for text, they can be used in combination with other attributes to pinpoint the element containing specific text.

Here’s an example:

from selenium import webdriver

driver = webdriver.Chrome()
driver.get('http://example.com')
element = driver.find_element_by_css_selector('tagname[attribute*="partial value"]')

Output: WebElement corresponding to the found element.

In the example above, the find_element_by_css_selector method is used to locate an element by its tag name and an attribute that contains partial value. While it does not directly search text, clever use of CSS selectors can be a powerful tool in your Selenium arsenal.

Method 4: Custom Function to Check Element Text

If the built-in methods of Selenium WebDriver do not satisfy the requirements, a custom function can be defined to iterate over elements and check for specific text content.

Here’s an example:

from selenium import webdriver

def find_element_by_text(driver, text):
    elements = driver.find_elements_by_xpath('//*[text()="{}"]'.format(text))
    return next((el for el in elements if el.text == text), None)

driver = webdriver.Chrome()
driver.get('http://example.com')
element = find_element_by_text(driver, 'specific text')

Output: The first WebElement that exactly matches the specified text or None if not found.

This custom function, find_element_by_text, uses an XPath expression to fetch all elements containing the exact text. It then returns the first match or None if no element is found. This function offers flexibility and control over how elements are selected.

Bonus One-Liner Method 5: Using List Comprehensions and ‘get_attribute’

For a concise approach, Python’s list comprehensions can be combined with Selenium’s get_attribute method to filter out elements based on their text content.

Here’s an example:

from selenium import webdriver

driver = webdriver.Chrome()
driver.get('http://example.com')
elements_with_text = [
    el for el in driver.find_elements_by_xpath('//tagname')
    if 'specific text' in el.get_attribute('textContent')
]

Output: A list of WebElements that contain ‘specific text’.

By using a list comprehension, we collect all elements with the tag ‘tagname’, and then filter them using the get_attribute('textContent') method to only include those that contain ‘specific text’. This approach is concise and very Pythonic.

Summary/Discussion

  • Method 1: Using XPath provides a precise way to locate elements by text directly in the HTML. However, it can be complex and prone to errors if not used correctly.
  • Method 2: Using Partial Link Text is an excellent choice when dealing with anchor tags. Its simplicity can be a great asset, though it’s limited to text within <a> elements.
  • Method 3: Using CSS Selectors offers a clean way to find elements but cannot directly search by text content, somewhat limiting its utility for text searches.
  • Method 4: Custom Function to check element text offers the most flexibility and is robust against changes in page structure, but requires additional coding and maintenance effort.
  • Bonus Method 5: Using List Comprehensions and ‘get_attribute’ is succinct and elegant and integrates well with Python’s capabilities, although it may be less intuitive for beginners.