September 23, 2009

Selenium RC with Python in 30 Seconds

Selenium is a suite of tools to automate web app testing across many platforms. It has various pieces (Core, RC, IDE, etc), and I struggled trying to figure out how everything fits together and works. At the end of the day, all I wanted to do was use Selenium from my Python code to drive a browser session.

Selenium ships with full tests and some good sample code, but the driver examples all contain test frameworks/runners (JUnit, unittest, etc). All I wanted was a simple way to integrate with Python. To do this, the piece I need is Selenium RC (which includes Selenium Core).

So here is the beginners' 30-second guide to getting the Python client driver working with Selenium-RC:

  1. Install Python (and add it to your path)
  2. Install Java (and add it to your path)
  3. Download Selenium RC
  4. Unzip Selenium RC and search for 'selenium-server.jar' and ''
  5. Copy them to a directory and run 'java -jar selenium-server.jar' to start the server
  6. Start writing your Python driver code! (import selenium)

So what's actually going on when you run a driver script?

Selenium-server is the core program, which also contains an integrated web server. You send HTTP requests to the server to instruct it how to drive your browser. The '' module is just a wrapper around 'httplib' that provides a Python API for interacting with the Selenium-server. You need to import the '' module from your script and then you are ready to go.

now let's test it out and see if it works. Try the following Python script. It should open Firefox and navigate to

#!/usr/bin/env python

from selenium import selenium

sel = selenium('localhost', 4444, '*firefox', '')
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