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Guide to Select Class in Selenium

Imagine being able to precisely locate web items on a website and interact with them without difficulty, even when the HTML code is chaotic. Developers and testers are given this same capability by Selenium, the top automation framework. Selenium's class selection process can present difficulties, particularly when class names are dynamic and constantly changing. But do not worry!

In this guide, we will unveil the secrets to masterfully selecting classes in Selenium, equipping you with the skills to tackle even the trickiest web elements.

Prepare to embark on a journey filled with techniques and strategies that will enable you to bypass the hurdles of dynamic classes and ensure robust and reliable automation. So, let’s delve into the art of selecting classes in Selenium and unlock the full potential of web automation!

Check out this Selenium Tutorial for the beginners to learn Selenium concepts in depth:

Understanding Selenium and its Importance in Automation Testing

Selenium is a well-known open-source framework for automating web browsers. It provides tools and libraries that allow testers and developers to automate web application testing efficiently. Selenium allows you to simulate user interactions, explore online pages, fill out forms, and evaluate web element behavior.

Automation testing plays a crucial role in software development, as it helps ensure the quality and reliability of web applications. Manual testing can be time-consuming, error-prone, and repetitive, especially when dealing with large and complex web applications. Selenium offers a solution by allowing testers to write scripts that perform repetitive tasks automatically, freeing up time for more critical and complex testing scenarios.

Also, check out the blog on Action Class in Selenium.

Basics of HTML and CSS

To effectively select elements in Selenium, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of HTML and CSS. HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the standard markup language used for creating the structure and content of web pages. CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is a style sheet language used for describing the presentation and layout of web pages.

Each element in HTML is specified by tags such as div>, p>, input>, and so on. Attributes that provide more information about the element can be added to these tags. The class attribute, which lets you put a specific class name on an element, is one of the most widely used attributes.

CSS is used to style HTML elements based on their class names or other attributes. By applying CSS rules to class names, you can control the appearance and layout of elements on a web page.

Different Ways to Select Elements in Selenium

Selenium provides various methods to select elements on a web page depending on their attributes, such as ID, class, name, tag name, etc. Here are some commonly used methods for element selection in Selenium:

  • By ID: You can select an element by its unique ID attribute using the find_element_by_id method. For example:
element = driver.find_element_by_id("element-id")
  • By Class Name: To select elements based on their class names, you can use the find_element_by_class_name or find_elements_by_class_name methods. For example:
element = driver.find_element_by_class_name("element-class") elements = driver.find_elements_by_class_name("element-class")
  • By Name: If an element has a name attribute, you can select it using the find_element_by_name method. For example:
element = driver.find_element_by_name("element-name")
  • By Tag Name: You can select elements by their tag names using the find_element_by_tag_name or find_elements_by_tag_name methods. For example:
element = driver.find_element_by_tag_name("div")
elements = driver.find_elements_by_tag_name("p")
  • By XPath: XPath is a powerful language for navigating XML documents, including HTML. Selenium supports XPath selectors for element selection. You can use the find_element_by_xpath or find_elements_by_xpath methods. For example:
element = driver.find_element_by_xpath("//div[@class='element-class']")
elements = driver.find_elements_by_xpath("//p[contains(text(),'some text')]")

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What are Class Selectors and Their Significance?

In HTML and CSS, class selectors are used to select elements based on their class names. Class names are defined using the class attribute in HTML tags. Multiple elements can share the same class name, allowing you to apply the same styles or interact with them collectively.

Class selectors in Selenium are particularly useful when you want to select a specific group of elements that share a common class. By selecting elements based on their class names, you can perform actions or assertions on them collectively, making your test scripts more efficient.

For example, let’s say you have several buttons on a web page, each with a different class name but sharing a common attribute, such as being part of a navigation menu. You can select all these buttons by their class name and then perform actions like clicking or verifying their text.

buttons = driver.find_elements_by_class_name("button-class")
for button in buttons:

By using class selectors, you can easily target and interact with specific groups of elements, making your test scripts more maintainable and flexible.

Selecting Elements by Class Name

Selecting Elements by Class Name

Introduction to Class Names and their Syntax
Class names are an essential attribute used in HTML elements to define their styling and behavior. They provide a way to group elements that share similar characteristics. When it comes to automating web interactions using Selenium, selecting elements by class name is a common and powerful technique. This allows us to identify and interact with specific elements on a web page.

In HTML, class names are assigned using the “class” attribute. Multiple elements can have the same class name, allowing for efficient grouping and styling. For example, suppose we have a set of buttons with the class name “btn”. Each button will have the same styling and behavior, but they can be individually identified using this class name.

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  • Using Selenium’s findElement Method for Class Selection

WebElement usernameISelenium offers extensive methods for locating components on a web page. “findElement” is one of the most widely used methods. It finds a single element that matches the given requirement.

The “By.className” method can select components by class name. Consider the following scenario: we wish to choose an input field with the class name “username”:

input = driver.findElement(By.className("username"));

In this code snippet, we use the “findElement” method along with the “By.className” Selenium locator strategy to locate the input field with the class name “username”. Once the element is found, we can interact with it as needed, such as by entering text or retrieving its value.

  • Handling Multiple Elements with the Same Class Name

As previously stated, numerous items on a web page may share the same class name. In such circumstances, we must use the “findElements” method rather than “findElement” if we wish to interact with all of the elements. The “findElements” method returns a list of all elements that match.

Assume we have a set of buttons with the class “btn”. We may use the following code snippet to interact with each button individually:

List<WebElement> buttons = driver.findElements(By.className("btn"));
for (WebElement button : buttons) {
    // Perform actions on each button

In this example, we use the “findElements” method to locate all the buttons with the class name “btn”. We then iterate through the list of buttons using a for-each loop and perform actions on each button, such as clicking it.

Check out the list of Selenium Interview Questions to prepare for your next interview.

Selecting Elements by CSS Class Selectors

By leveraging the power of CSS class selectors, we can precisely target and interact with specific elements on a web page. This is even when they have multiple class names or are part of complex structures.

Apart from using the class name directly, Selenium also supports selecting elements using CSS class selectors. CSS class selectors offer more flexibility and allow complex element selections based on multiple class names or other criteria.

  • Understanding CSS Class Selectors
    CSS class selectors are denoted by a dot (“.”) followed by the class name. For example, if we have a class name “btn-primary”, the corresponding CSS class selector would be “.btn-primary”. CSS class selectors can be combined with other selectors to narrow down the element selection.
  • Utilizing CSS Class Selectors with Selenium
    To select elements using CSS class selectors in Selenium, we can use the “By.cssSelector” method. Let’s consider an example where we want to select a button with the class name “btn-primary”:
WebElement primaryButton = driver.findElement(By.cssSelector(".btn-primary"));

In this code snippet, we use the “By.cssSelector” method along with the CSS class selector “.btn-primary” to locate the button. Selenium will find the element with the specified class name and return it as a WebElement.

  • Combining CSS Class Selectors for Complex Selections
    CSS class selectors can be combined to create complex element selections. For instance, suppose we have a div element with multiple class names: “container” and “highlighted”. To select this element, we can use the following CSS class selector:
WebElement highlightedContainer = driver.findElement(By.cssSelector(".container.highlighted"));

In this example, we combine the CSS class selectors “.container” and “.highlighted” using the dot (“.”) notation. This will select the div element that has both class names applied to it.

Also, read more through Selenium Tutorial.

Selecting Elements by XPath and Class Attributes

  • XPath and its Relationship with Class Attributes
    XPath is a powerful query language used to navigate XML and HTML documents. When it comes to web scraping or automated testing with tools like Selenium, XPath plays a vital role in selecting specific elements from the HTML structure. Class attributes, on the other hand, provide a way to assign one or more classes to an HTML element. This makes it easier to style and identify elements.
  • Using XPath and Class Attributes in Selenium
    Selenium is a popular automation framework that allows developers to interact with web browsers programmatically. By using XPath and class attributes, you can locate and interact with specific elements on a web page using Selenium.

    To select elements by XPath and class attributes in Selenium, you can use the find_element_by_xpath or find_elements_by_xpath methods provided by the Selenium library. These methods take an XPath expression as a parameter to locate the desired element(s).
  • XPath Axes for Advanced Class Selections
    You can use XPath axes to travel through the HTML structure and choose elements based on their relationships with other components. This is very beneficial when working with complex web pages with nested elements.

    One commonly used axis is the // (double forward slash), which selects elements anywhere in the document. For example, //div will select all <div> elements on the page.

    To select elements based on their class attributes, you can use the contains function in XPath. For instance, the XPath expression //div[contains(@class, ‘example’)] will select all <div> elements that have the word ‘example’ in their class attribute.

Want to learn about Selenium with Python? Check out our blog on Selenium Python Tutorial for beginners.

Selecting Elements by Other Class-Related Strategies

Selecting Elements by Other Class-Related Strategies

In addition to using XPath and class attributes, there are other strategies you can employ to select elements based on their class-related properties:

  • Selecting Elements by Partial Class Name
    Sometimes, you may need to select elements whose class attributes contain a specific substring. This can be achieved using the starts-with or ends-with functions in XPath. For example, the expression //div[starts-with(@class, ‘partial-class’)] will select all <div> elements whose class attribute starts with ‘partial-class’.
  • Selecting Elements by Tag Name and Class Combination
    To narrow down your selection, you can combine the tag name and class attributes in your XPath expression. For instance, //div[@class=’example’] will select all <div> elements with the exact class attribute ‘example’.
  • Dynamic Class Selection Techniques
    In some cases, the class attribute of an element may change dynamically, making it challenging to select elements reliably. However, XPath provides functions and techniques to handle such scenarios.

    You can use the contains function with dynamic values to select elements. For example, if the class attribute contains a changing value like a timestamp, you can use an expression like //div[contains(@class, ‘dynamic-value’)] to select all <div> elements with the changing class attribute.

    Another technique is to use the following-sibling axis to select elements based on their relationships with other elements. This allows you to locate elements that come after a known element, even if their class attributes change.


Let’s say we have the following HTML structure:

<div class="container">
  <div class="item">Item 1</div>
  <div class="item">Item 2</div>
  <div class="item">Item 3</div>

To select the second <div> element with the class attribute “item”, the XPath expression would be: //div[@class=’item’][2].

Handling Dynamic and Changing Classes in Selenium

When automating web applications using Selenium, one common challenge is dealing with dynamic and changing classes. Web developers often use dynamically generated class names or modify class names frequently to enhance the user experience or accommodate design changes. However, this can pose a problem when writing automated tests, as they need to locate and interact with elements based on their classes.

Fortunately, Selenium provides several techniques and strategies to handle dynamic and changing classes effectively. Let’s explore some of these approaches in detail:

  • Using Partial Match: One way to handle dynamic classes is by using partial matching. Instead of specifying the complete class name, we can select elements based on a partial match using CSS selectors or XPath expressions. For example, if the class name contains a unique identifier or a common pattern, we can target the element using a wildcard character (*) to match the dynamic portion. Here’s an example using the CSS selector:

In this example, the ^= operator indicates that we want to match the class attribute that starts with the given value. By using this approach, we can locate elements even when their classes change dynamically.

  • Using CSS Attribute Contains Selector: Another technique is to leverage CSS attribute contains selector. This approach allows us to locate elements based on the presence of a specific value within the class attribute. Here’s an example:

In this example, the *= operator denotes that we want to match the class attribute containing the specified value. By using this technique, we can locate elements even when the class name contains dynamic or changing parts.

  • Dynamic XPath Expressions: XPath expressions provide powerful capabilities for locating elements in Selenium. To handle dynamic classes, we can construct dynamic XPath expressions that adapt to changing class names.

    For instance, if the class name changes dynamically but retains a common pattern, we can use the XPath contains() function. Here’s an example:
driver.findElement(By.xpath("//*[contains(@class, 'dynamic-class')]"));

This XPath expression locates any element that contains the specified value in its class attribute. By using this approach, we can effectively locate elements with dynamic class names.

  • Modifying the Class Attribute: In some cases, it might be possible to modify the class attribute of an element during test execution to make it more predictable. This can be done using JavaScript execution in Selenium. For example, if a dynamically changing class causes issues, we can remove or update the class attribute to simplify element identification. Here’s an example:
WebElement element = driver.findElement(By.id("element-id"));
JavascriptExecutor jsExecutor = (JavascriptExecutor) driver;
jsExecutor.executeScript("arguments[0].setAttribute('class', 'new-class')", element);

By modifying the class attribute, we can ensure consistent identification of elements even in the presence of dynamic classes.

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Navigating and interacting with web elements is a fundamental aspect of Selenium automation. The selection of classes plays a crucial role in identifying and manipulating elements on a web page. Throughout this guide, we have explored various methods and techniques to select classes effectively in Selenium without facing the challenges of dynamic and changing class names.

By utilizing partial matching with CSS selectors or XPath expressions, we can target elements based on a partial match of their class names. This approach allows us to overcome the hurdle of dynamically generated or modified classes. Additionally, leveraging the CSS attribute contains selector provides an alternative solution for locating elements by searching for specific values within the class attribute.

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