Webscraping: Puppeteer Vs Selenium

Web scraping is the process of extracting data from websites. You can scrape manually using web browsers or automate it with libraries like Selenium and Puppeteer.

Selenium is an open-source tool that allows you to automate web applications and test your website’s functionality without having to write any code in your browser. It also works with other programming languages such as Java, Python, C#, etc.

Puppeteer is a JavaScript library for automating Chrome browser tests on headless Linux systems. Puppeteer supports Chrome and has been tested on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, 18.04 LTS, and Debian 9 Stretch/Buster/Siduction (64-bit). 

In this article, we learn how to use Selenium WebDriver in NodeJS with Puppeteer to automate applications using the Chrome browser.

What is Puppeteer?

Puppeteer is a JavaScript library that allows you to control the browser using puppeteer.js. The library provides an API for creating, managing, and interacting with web pages without relying on any 3rd parties. It also supports capturing mouse events and keyboard input so you can interact with the page.

How does Puppeteer work?

Puppeteer is a node library for controlling Chrome. It allows you to control the browser with JavaScript and interact with it in ways that are impossible using only HTML, CSS, and JS.

You can use it to simulate mouse/keyboard events, capture screenshots, manipulate DOM elements, send HTTP requests, etc. Puppeteer also has an API that allows you to write your puppeteering scripts without using any of its APIs directly. You can read more about the API here: https://github.com/puppeteerjs/puppeteer-api.

Puppeteer solves the following problem: How can I control a browser without being able to run JavaScript? Puppeteer enables you to simulate mouse/keyboard events, capture screenshots, manipulate DOM elements, send HTTP requests, and much more. It’s also possible to write your puppeteering scripts without using any of its APIs directly. This is useful if you want to build your own Chrome Extension that interacts with the browser unexpectedly.

The complexity and automation context are changing with each passing day, so one tool might not be the solution for all. Puppeteer has some limitations. It supports only the Chrome browser. Puppeteer for Firefox is a work in progress.

What are the advantages of using Puppeteer? 

Puppeteer provides an easy way to run scripts in your browser without having to write them yourself. It’s straightforward, lightweight, and extensible. You can use it with any programming language or framework (NodeJS, Python, Java). It has its own API, so you don’t have to learn another API just for web scraping purposes.

You don’t need to know how Selenium works to use Puppeteer, but you still get all its benefits: automation, testability, and portability!

What are the disadvantages of using Puppeteer?

Puppeteer is a very young framework. It’s still in beta and doesn’t support all browsers (it only supports Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari). However, with time Puppeteer will be able to support more browsers. The API is also not as mature as Selenium, so you might have some trouble initially, but it will get better over time. You can find many examples of how to use Puppeteer on its official website: puppeteerjs.com/docs/getting-started/. 

How do I install Puppeteer? 

You can install Puppeteer either by downloading a package from the website or manually installing it. Go to the Puppeteer repository page and download the latest version for your operating system. To run it, you need NodeJS installed on your computer. If you don’t know where to start, go here: nodejs.org/en/download. Run npm install -g puppet. This will download all required dependencies for running puppetserver. Now open a terminal window in your home directory and type puppetserver. 

You should see something like this if everything goes fine: 

$ node server Starting server… done! http://localhost:4200 Connecting…done! http://localhost:4200 Disconnected / Connected http://localhost:4200 <– Start scraping now! 

To stop, press Ctrl+C, then type exit. 

What is Selenium?

Selenium is a potent tool that you can use to automate web-based applications. It is also commonly referred to as the Webdriver. Selenium has been around for quite some time, and it has become one of the most popular tools in the IT industry. 

What does Selenium do?

Selenium allows you to automate your websites by executing different actions such as clicking buttons, filling out forms, or even navigating through pages. The main goal of this software is to make automated testing easy and efficient without having to write any code yourself. You can use this software from your browser (Chrome/Firefox) or within a programming language like Java, C# or Python, etc. Once installed on your computer, you must download the selenium server, which runs on port 4444 (default). Then open up Chrome/Firefox and type in chrome://extensions into the address bar where you will see a list of available extensions; select Manage Extensions, then click the Load Unpacked Extension button.

You can use Selenium to test websites, mobile applications, and desktop applications. It is straightforward to use and allows you to automate web-based applications without any programming knowledge. You can also create your own tests using the Selenium IDE, which has a visual interface for developing tests in a user-friendly way.

Advantages of Selenium

  • It works on all web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, IE) and mobile devices (Android). Selenium is cross-platform. All you need to do is install an IDE for your platform of choice and start using the API. You don’t have to learn new APIs or different languages for each platform – just use one language that runs on all platforms. 
  • Selenium supports most programming languages out there, including Java, C#, Python, and many others. If you want to automate something in JavaScript, you can use NodeJS with selenium-nodejs. 
  • Selenium supports several frameworks like Protractor, WebDriver, etc. The best thing about these frameworks is that they provide a nice abstraction layer which makes things easier than having pure browser automation code written directly into the browser itself. For example, if we want our tests to run against multiple browsers simultaneously, then we can do this with selenium-web driver and selenium-webdriver2. This means that we won’t have any problems when testing across multiple browsers at once because everything will be handled by the framework itself instead of manually writing custom code in every browser (which would make our test suite look much more complex). 
  • Many plugins are available for Selenium, such as Google Chrome extensions, Firefox addons, and so on. What else? Lots of examples! And not only from open source projects but also from commercial ones like Appium, Sauce Labs, or Watir. So if you’re looking for something quick and easy, try them out! They’re great tools! They support asynchronous testing, too, which means that even though your test may take longer than expected, it won’t affect other tests running concurrently in parallel without blocking each other’s execution flow (asynchronous mode). This way, we can write fast UI tests without worrying about slowing down our application. 

The market trends of Selenium & Puppeteer show that there has been a significant rise in usage over the past few years, especially since Selenium 2 was released in 2014. The popularity of Selenium has continued to grow even further since then, which means that it will likely continue growing at this rate for the foreseeable future. 

What Is the Future of Web Testing? 

The open-source community continues to develop new technologies and improve existing ones without any sign of slowing down anytime soon. As long as we continue innovating and creating new tools, we can expect more web testing technology improvements.

Web Automation Tools: Why You Should Use Them? 

When it comes time for your team members to work on their projects or when they need help testing their codebase with automated tests, having access to an automation tool like WebDriver will make things much easier for them than trying out manual solutions by hand every time they want something tested manually. 

When you have a web automation tool like WebDriver, you can use it to automate your tests and write them in different languages. You can also use it to interact with the browser and test specific features of the application that are difficult or impossible to do manually. The possibilities are endless!

Using an automation tool will make your life much easier by allowing you to write automated tests for your codebase without having to worry about how things work under the hood. 

Selenium or Puppeteer: Which is best for webscraping?

The main difference between the two is that Puppeteer runs in Node.js, and Selenium runs in the browser.

You can use Puppeteer for web scraping and API testing, but it’s not as widely supported as Selenium. It also doesn’t have a built-in UI test runner, so you’ll need to write your own if you want to use it with a headless browser like PhantomJS or NightwatchJS.

Selenium has more support from browsers than Puppeteer, and its UI test runner works out of the box with most popular browsers (including Chrome). However, some features are still missing from Selenium compared to Puppeteer. Notably, WebDriver APIs for interacting with elements on a page – which means it’s harder to automate complex interactions across multiple pages/domains/apps (e.g., clicking links) using this library alone. 

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