How to Use CSS Selector for Identifying Web Elements for Selenium Scripts – Selenium Tutorial #6

In our previous Selenium tutorial we learned different types of locators. We also learned how to use: ID, ClassName, Name, Link Text, and Xpath locators for identifying web elements in a web page.

In continuation with that, today we will learn how to use CSS Selector as a Locator. This is our 6th tutorial in our free Selenium Training series.

Using CSS Selector as a Locator:

CSS Selector is combination of an element selector and a selector value which identifies the web element within a web page. The composite of element selector and selector value is known as Selector Pattern.

CSS Selector Selenium Locator

Selector Pattern is constructed using HTML tags, attributes and their values. The central theme behind the procedure to create CSS Selector and Xpath are very much similar underlying the only difference in their construction protocol.

Like Xpath, CSS selector can also locate web elements having no ID, class or Name.

So now gearing ahead, let us discuss the primitive types of CSS Selectors:

Using CSS Selector as a Locator

CSS Selector: ID

In this sample, we would access “Email” text box present in the login form at Gmail.com.

The Email textbox has an ID attribute whose value is defined as “Email”. Thus ID attribute and its value can be used to create CSS Selector to access the email textbox.

Creating CSS Selector for web element

Step 1: Locate / inspect the web element (“Email” textbox in our case) and notice that the html tag is “input” and value of ID attribute is “Email” and both of them collectively make a reference to the “Email Text box”. Hence the above data would be used to create CSS Selector.

Using CSS Selector as a Locator 2

Verify the locator value

Step 1: Type “css=input#Email” i.e. the locator value in the target box in the Selenium IDE and click on the Find button. Notice that the Email Text box would be highlighted.

Using CSS Selector as a Locator 3

Syntax

css=<HTML tag><#><Value of ID attribute>

  • HTML tag – It is tag which is used to denote the web element which we want to access.
  • # – The hash sign is used to symbolize ID attribute. It is mandatory to use hash sign if ID attribute is being used to create CSS Selector.
  • Value of ID attribute – It is the value of an ID attribute which is being accessed.
  • The value of ID is always preceded by a hash sign.

Note: Also applicable for other types of CSS Selectors

  • While specifying CSS Selector in the target text box of Selenium IDE, always remember to prefix it with “css=”.
  • The sequence of the above artifacts is inalterable.
  • If two or more web elements have the same HTML tag and attribute value, the first element marked in the page source will be identified.

CSS Selector: Class

In this sample, we would access “Stay signed in” check box present below the login form at gmail.com.

The “Stay signed in” check box has a Class attribute whose value is defined as “remember”. Thus Class attribute and its value can be used to create CSS Selector to access the designated web element.

Locating an element using Class as a CSS Selector is very much similar to using ID, the lone difference lies in their syntax formation.

Creating CSS Selector for web element

Step 1: Locate / inspect the web element (“Stay signed in” check box in our case) and notice that the html tag is “label” and value of ID attribute is “remember” and both of them collectively make a reference to the “Stay signed in check box”.

Verify the locator value

Step 1: Type “css=label.remember” i.e. the locator value in the target box in the Selenium IDE and click on the Find Button. Notice that the “Stay signed in” check box would be highlighted.

Using CSS Selector as a Locator 4

Syntax

css=<HTML tag><.><Value of Class attribute>

  • . – The dot sign is used to symbolize Class attribute. It is mandatory to use dot sign if Class attribute is being used to create CSS Selector.
  • The value of Class is always preceded by a dot sign.

CSS Selector: Attribute

In this sample, we would access “Sign in” button present below the login form at gmail.com.

The “Sign in” button has a type attribute whose value is defined as “submit”. Thus type attribute and its value can be used to create CSS Selector to access the designated web element.

Creating CSS Selector for web element

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Step 1: Locate / inspect the web element (“Sign in” button in our case) and notice that the html tag is “input”, attribute is type and value of type attribute is “submit” and all of them together make a reference to the “Sign in” button.

Verify the locator value

Step 1: Type “css=input[type=’submit’]” i.e. the locator value in the target box in the Selenium IDE and click on the Find Button. Notice that the “Sign in” button would be highlighted.

Using CSS Selector as a Locator 5

Syntax

css=<HTML tag><[attribute=Value of attribute]>

  • Attribute – It is the attribute we want to use to create CSS Selector. It can value, type, name etc. It is recommended to choose an attribute whose value uniquely identifies the web element.
  • Value of attribute – It is the value of an attribute which is being accessed.

CSS Selector: ID/Class and attribute

In this sample, we would access “Password” text box present in the login form at gmail.com.

The “Password” text box has an ID attribute whose value is defined as “Passwd”, type attribute whose value is defined as “password”. Thus ID attribute, type attribute and their values can be used to create CSS Selector to access the designated web element.

Creating CSS Selector for web element

Step 1: Locate / inspect the web element (“Password” text box in our case) and notice that the html tag is “input”, attributes are ID and type and their corresponding values are ”Passwd” and “password” and all of them together make a reference to the “Password” textbox.

Verify the locator value

Step 1: Type “css=input#Passwd[name=’Passwd’]” i.e. the locator value in the target box in the Selenium IDE and click on the Find Button. Notice that the “Password” text box would be highlighted.

Using CSS Selector as a Locator 5

Syntax

css=<HTML tag><. Or #><value of Class or ID attribute><[attribute=Value of attribute]>

Two or more attributes can also be furnished in the syntax. For example, “css=input#Passwd[type=’password’][name=’Passwd’]”.

CSS Selector: Sub-string

CSS in Selenium allows matching a partial string and thus deriving a very interesting feature to create CSS Selectors using sub strings. There are three ways in which CSS Selectors can be created based on mechanism used to match the sub string.

Types of mechanisms

All the underneath mechanisms have symbolic significance.

  • Match a prefix
  • Match a suffix
  • Match a sub string

Let us discuss them in detail.

Match a prefix

It is used to correspond to the string with the help of a matching prefix.

Syntax

css=<HTML tag><[attribute^=prefix of the string]>                

  • ^ – Symbolic notation to match a string using prefix.
  • Prefix – It is the string based on which match operation is performed. The likely string is expected to start with the specified string.

For Example: Let us consider “Password textbox”, so the corresponding CSS Selector would be:

css=input#Passwd[name^=’Pass’]

Match a suffix

It is used to correspond to the string with the help of a matching suffix.

Syntax

css=<HTML tag><[attribute$=suffix of the string]>                

  • # – Symbolic notation to match a string using suffix.
  • Suffix – It is the string based on which match operation is performed. The likely string is expected to ends with the specified string.

For Example: Lets again consider “Password textbox”, so the corresponding CSS Selector would be:

css=input#Passwd[name$=’wd’]

Match a sub string

It is used to correspond to the string with the help of a matching sub string.

Syntax

css=<HTML tag><[attribute*=sub string]>                

  • * – Symbolic notation to match a string using sub string.
  • Sub string – It is the string based on which match operation is performed. The likely string is expected to have the specified string pattern.

For Example: Lets again consider “Password textbox”, so the corresponding CSS Selector would be:

css=input#Passwd[name$=’wd’]

CSS Selector: Inner text

Inner text helps us identify and create CSS Selector using a string pattern that the HTML Tag manifests on the web page.

Consider, “Need help?” hyperlink present below the login form at gmail.com.

The anchor tag representing the hyperlink has a text enclosed within. Thus this text can be used to create CSS Selector to access the designated web element.

Syntax

css=<HTML tag><:><contains><(text)>

  • : – The dot sign is used to symbolize contains method
  • Contains – It is the value of a Class attribute which is being accessed.
  • Text – The text that is displayed anywhere on the web page irrespective of its location.

This is one of the most frequently used strategies to locate web element because of its simplified syntax.

Owing to the fact that creating CSS Selector and Xpath requires a lot of efforts and practice, thus the process is only exercised by more sophisticated and trained users.

Next Tutorial #7: Proceeding ahead with our next tutorial, we would take the opportunity to introduce you with an extension of locating strategies. Thus, in the next tutorial, we would study the mechanism to locate web elements on Google Chrome and Internet Explorer.

We are covering Selenium Locators in more details as it is important part of Selenium Script creation.

Let us know your queries/comments below.




23 comments ↓

#1 Zoltan

Good one. it will be nice to provide tips on moving xpath locators to css as well.

#2 Shilpa Kamble

when should we use CSS selector method? any guidelines for using locators?

#3 Shruti Shrivastava

@Zoltan

Thank you for your kind words.
You can find the information related to Xpaths in the previous tutorial.

#4 Shruti Shrivastava

@Shilpa

Thats a nice question.
There is obviously a preference order in which we tempt to use these elements

– IDs are considered to be the most reliable locator type as they are unique but they doesn’t work well if the ids are dynamic.
– Links are also reliable but can only be used with anchor tags.
– Xpaths are reliable and can easily locate elements but they tend to be slower than other locator types.
– CSS Selectors are faster than Xpaths but are complex to create.

Thus, people widely uses Xpaths and cssSelector because of their flexibility..

#5 Subrata Paul

Hi Shruti,

Great job!!! I am enjoying it a lot. Would you go into the complex concepts of Selenium so that we can become proficient in working with selenium at workplaces?
Syntax before ‘CSS Selector: Inner text’ needs to be corrected. It is the same as ‘Match the suffix’.

Thank you once again for all these nice tutorials.

#6 priya

Thanks a lot !

#7 Sangeetha

Awesome!! Thanks for the detailed information. Its very helpful!!

#8 Samira

Please provide the example of CSS Selector: Inner text

#9 Ashwini

Hi,
the section : Syntax

css=

# – Symbolic notation to match a string using suffix ”
has to be corrected.

Confused with $ and # for match a suffix notation.
Thanks in advance

Regards,
Ashwini

#10 Yulin

Syntax for matching inner text should be :

css=:contains(text)

#11 Swetha

Hi,
The content :Example for match sub string
In the syntax “* ” used but when come to example it is explained with “#”.

#12 writer

The Google sign in GUI has changed so much this tutorial was written. The URLs for the Password page is very long and when I copy/paste it into Selenium IDE Base URL textbox and try to find the css=input#Passwd[name=’Passwd’] element, I get the following error in the log:

[error] locator not found: css=input#Passwd[name=’Passwd’]

Anyone else experiencing this?

#13 Gaurav Khurana

Best thing about your tutorial is you are covering end to end every topic. like you told all options inside Selenium IDE. Now shared details on all types of CSS locators

#14 Gaurav Khurana

Yes, you are right ‘Writer’. Google page is changed, I have used yahoo for testing this tutorial tips.

Logic remains the same however

#15 nilesh

Thank you

#16 prakash

Thanks shruti,

Is there anyway through which we can handle any kind of locator through a single statement or can some kind of mapping so that whenever i pass any locator it will automatically recognize whether it is an id /classname/xpath.

Thanks

#17 Ebi

can someone explain “contains” with an example code in selenium??

#18 Pratap Chandel

Is there any .jar file for 64-bit operating system, for launching Chrome browser in selenium ?
or Same file which is used in 32-bit operating system can used ?

#19 krutika ramani

I want to test our website with 20-30 email ids.How do I do the same on selenium IDE(in firefox). those this IDE gives facilities.to extract “username” and password from “excel sheet”
please help me.

#20 Technosnoop

Why to use css selector method over xpath? any advantages which one is better?

#21 PAVAN

HOW TO GET THE CSS COMPONENT FOR SHARE BUTTON ON FACEBOOK

#22 rahul shinde

how to select id,css,link for any submenu

#23 Mayuri Mittal

Hi,

I have added a target with a value with CSS locator for site youtube.com but when i am trying to play whole test case suite it is throwing an error in logs.

Target
css=input#masthead-search-term
Value
Mache Mayuri

It is throwing an error [error] Unknown command: ”

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