Playwright tips and tricks #1

Playwright tips and tricks #1
Photo by Dan Cristian Pădureț / Unsplash

As you work with a framework you start to encounter various situations from which you can learn. Things that you find out are really important and are not that easy to discover just by reading the docs or following tutorials. Things that come with experience. I would like to share some of the things that I have recently learned about Playwright.

I will be referring in the following statements when talking about locator methods in Playwright with page.locator() but this does not mean that I suggest to use only locator() . Its just a placeholder. On this topic I actually recommend to use the built-in locator methods created by Playwright, mostly getByTestId() and if you tried all and it just doesn't work for you, then use .locator()

1. How to find a child element if only its parents have unique ids

For example if you have uniqueIDParent > div1 > div2 > span (where span has the "text you want") , but there are multiple children (spans) with different text, if you give to playwright its parent or grandparent or greatgreat, it will traverse all of its children and extract all text. expect(uniqueID).toHaveText("text you want") will work. In the same time page.getByTestId(uniqueIDParent).filter({ hasText: "text you want" }) will work just fine if you target only the child that has the text you want. Filtering works miracles.

2. Why do I get sometimes in Playwright the error browser has been closed

One reason may be, because you probably forgot an await somewhere. Playwright works in asynchronous way, meaning that its all promises, but you need your test steps to run sequentially, top to bottom and to perform the actions on that exact order. This is achieved by using the await key that will resolve the promise and this is how Playwright will keep your steps in order, to avoid issues about race conditions. Sometimes VS Code will suggest to you that you don't need some awaits, disregard that, you do need them.

3. Auto-waits

Here are some typical examples of assertions from Selenium that you do not need to perform anymore:

  • You don't have to assert element is visible before interacting with it. Playwright will do the following before an interaction:
- it will check if the element is visible
- if its attached to DOM
- and if its stable, animation is completed
  • When you open a page or when you click a link to redirect to a page, you don't have to assert the page is loaded before interacting with elements, playwright will wait for the page to fully load first
  • You don't have to write explicit waits for an element when you are waiting for it to appear or waiting for it to disappear. Playwright has built-in timeouts (these explicit waits you know from Selenium) that will wait for an element and try to find it for a set interval of time (eg: by default is 5 seconds for an expect(locator).toBeVisible())

4. There are very particular situations sometimes where the timeouts are not working for you

Or you just can't figure it out what to do about it, you still have a last option to simply wait a set number of seconds using the waitForTimeout() . This is discouraged in general, but sometimes you just have no other option.

5. How do I assert an array of strings in Playwright ?

expect(locator).toHaveText(array) - this can actually take an array and it will, under the hood, iterate over it to assert the items exist

6. How to handle multiple elements in Playwright ?

Playwright locators will find both one element or multiple elements with the same method, depends on what you give it. If you want to deal with multiple elements (in Selenium you would do findElements and it will return an array of elements) , in Playwright if you do page.locator(multipleElements) this will return multiple elements but JUST for playwright under the hood, not for you (at least not as simple array of objects). All you get is one single locator (object). Why this happens? Because you may want to find one single element and try maybe to click it, so when you perform the action, in case the attribute belongs to multiple elements it will not let you click on multiple elements and it will throw an error, suggesting you how to fix your test. But if you really want to deal with all the elements, how do I do that ? You have to add .all() at the end. Example: page.locator(multipleElements).all()

7. How to handle bigger chunks of text ?

Sometimes you can have multiple items that have text, if you give to playwright the parent of all the items, then playwright can extract those texts as an array. You can achieve that with page.locator(parentOfElementsWithText).allTextContents() or with .allInnerTexts() . The downside of this is that it is not recommended to assert exact match of text, mainly because sometimes it will fetch new lines (/n) or commas or extra spaces, but it can be useful to use this with an expect(locator).toContain()

8. How do I assert the absence of an element in Playwright ?

You can find this little hack on stackoverflow expect(locator).toHaveCount(0). This is similar to Selenium findElements, and if element not found, it just returns an empty array. This is good because it will not fail the test. However I do recommend the Playwright builtin NOT operator , which is what you should actually use. Example locator(element).not.toBeVisible(). As a general practice all assert methods can be used with NOT.

9. How do I deal with the situation where simple use of just getByTestId() is not enough ?

There are various scenarios where you have maybe tables, where you need to combine parents and children web elements to reach your desired data. So, before going to locator() to build your super complex css selectors or xpath, think about using the and operator , for example page.getByText(elem).and(page.getByText(elem) or you can do page.getByTestId(elem).getByTestId(elem) . Another option would be to use filtering locators. Filters also can be used with the mix of NOT operator

10. Using one parent element to do multiple actions

You can store the element in a const element = page.locator() . Notice that this scenario is one of the few times when you don't need the await in front of page.locator(). You can look at it as a placeholder. Later in your code you can do or search thru its children element.getByTestId(child) . The cool feature about this is that every time you call the element it will re-query the DOM.

11. Do not use $(locator) or $$(multiple)

Use of $ or $$ in Playwright is element handle and its highly discouraged by playwright. The main idea about this is that you can encounter situations where using $ will just reference an element from a previous version of the DOM. You may end up seeing the well known Selenium error StaleElementReferenceException

12. What if you have to wait for the app response and it takes longer than the usual 5 seconds ?

You may encounter this, for example when you perform an action, a click, a submit, and it takes a longer time to get an answer, either you will have the 'spinning loader' or similar. If you know this happens you can increase the timeout to wait for a response on just one particular action, for example expect(locator).toBeVisible({ timeout: 20000 }) . By passing the timeout inside the method this will override the default playwright configs only for that single line of code (hopefully you will no longer see the error error: timed out 5000ms waiting for expect(locator).tobevisible() and your test will pass)

13. Why sometimes expect does not have the usual toHaveText() method ?

But if I try toBe() then it works. Because it depends what you are giving to expect() as an object. If you give it a standard locator it will have all the web first assertions but if you give it a modified object, something similar to page.locator(elementWithText).innerText() , because of the innerText() method this is no longer a standard playwright object, and with the rest of the objects it uses the jest expect methods. The playwright expect object will detect what type of object you give it and will work with either the jest expect like toBe() or the playwright methods like toHaveText(). Just remember that the playwright methods have auto-wait retry and the jest one does not.

14. Multiple data test ID attributes on web elements

We can configure in our playwright to use a custom test id attribute. When using the method getByTestId() Playwright will default to data-testid="selector" , so in case you have a different kind of default id locator set in your web app, you have to set up your testIdAttribute first. This includes if your website has unique ids under the format id="selector" . But can you config to use multiple test id attributes? Answer is NO. However, there is a small hack. You can use a different testIdAttribute in your general config and have a different one in your projects. Or you can have different projects with different IDs. This is used when you have two teams or group of teams that developed one app using one type of unique ID and another with a different one. It may be a situation of migrating away from a legacy app. Here is below an example

  projects: [
      name: "new-mega-awesome-app",
      testDir: "./tests",
      use: {
        ...devices["Desktop Chrome"],
        testIdAttribute: "id",
        baseURL: "",
      name: "legacy-app",
      testDir: "./tests-for-legacy-app",
      use: {
        ...devices["Desktop Chrome"],
        testIdAttribute: "data-testid",
        baseURL: "",

Hit the clap button if you found this useful. Or even buy me a coffee if you want to motivate me even more.

Feel free to checkout other nice tips on my blog. I highly recommend this post about publishing your playwright reports directly on github pages, giving you easy access to your run results. Or maybe you would like to try my method in learning new automation frameworks.

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