XPath in Protractor

Xpath is nothing but an XML path; the developer used XPath to validate XML files. HTML also follows the same structures as XML so that we can apply XPath to HTML pages as well, along with protractor.

Hope reader is familiar with TryXpath and developer tools of browser which we use for inspecting elements and verify our xpaths

Xpath is nothing but sting expression which used to find the element(s) along with protractor, and other automation tools

We should give last priority to XPath among locators because Xpath is little slow compared with other locators, if we are not able to find the element with id, name, linktext, CSS then only we should go for XPath

protractor supports XPath 1.0 and XPath 2.0, 3.0 are not compatible with the protractor

In this tutorial, we are going to learn how to build xpaths and verify xpaths

Protractor Locators

    Syntax of XPath

    Xpath follows straightforward syntax; please find below image for the XPath syntax

    Xpath Syntax
    HTML code Syntax

    The HTML code can have n-number of attributes, Text and closing tag is not mandatory for a few elements

    There are two kinds of xpaths

    • Absolute XPath
    • Relative XPath

    Absolute Xpath
    absolute-xpath-selenium-selenide / - point to the first node on the HTML document, it is html tag
    Note: we are not going to focus on absolute XPath.

    Relative Xpath
    relative-xpath-selenium-webdriver-selenide // - points to any node in the webpage

    tagName - tag name is nothing but the name which is present after the < (angular bracket)

    attribute - whatever is present inside < and > bracket except tagname is an attribute, any number of attributes can present in the HTML code

    attribute's value - it is corresponding value to the attribute, sometimes for boolean attribute developers may not specify any value; in those cases, html takes 'true' as default value.

    Text - text is the value present inside > and <

    Now let form the XPath for the above HTML code.


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    Xpath with Tagname

    We can write Xpath based on Tagname, which is very simple.

    Syntax for Xpath with Tagname : //tagName
    		<div id="pancakes">
    			<button type="button">Blueberry</button><br><br>

    In the above code, there is a button present under div. we can write the XPath with tagname : //button

    Xpath with Index

    We may not see unique elements on the webpage other than on the login page.

    Please save the below HTML file as composite-xpath.html on your local machine

    		<div id="pancakes">
    			<button type="button">Blueberry</button><br><br>
    			<button type="button">Banana</button><br><br>
    			<button type="button">Strawberry</button><br><br>

    Open above HTML file in chrome, and press F12 or right-click on the element and choose Inspect Element or Press Ctrl+Shift+I

    It may look like the below image once you open the chrome developer tool


    Press Ctrl+F to verify Xpath, and write the XPath based on the XPath syntax.

    Xpath based on the Tagname : //button 3-matches-composite-xpath

    When you try the XPath with tagname, it shows three matches, so we cannot proceed as we want to find only one match. We must write an XPath expression which should have only one match.

    When we have a matching element only under one parent(this case), we should add an index to the XPath

    Syntax for Xpath with Index : //tagName[index]

    index must be covered with square('[',']') brackets. Index starts from 1 in xpath index-xpath-selenium

    Xpath for the elements :
      Bluberry button- //button[1]
      Banana button - //button[2]
      Strawberry button -//button[3]

    Multiple catch blocks with a try block

    Xpath with Attribute

    We can use index type XPath with protractor when we have more matches under one parent; the index might not work if there are more parent

    Store below HTML in the local system and open it with chrome

    		<div id="pancakes">
    			<button type="button">Blueberry</button><br><br>
    			<button type="button" name='banana' >Banana</button><br><br>
    			<button type="button">Strawberry</button><br><br>
    		<div id="pancakes">
    			<button type="button">Apple</button><br><br>
    			<button type="button">Orange</button><br><br>
    			<button type="button">Grape</button><br><br>

    Let's try to write XPath for Banana button, Xpath based on an index is //button[2] but it has two matches 1. Banana, 2.Orange.

    With an index, we may not be able to solve this issue.

    Let's consider other properties of the html element; banana has an attribute name, Now we have to form the XPath based on the attribute.

    Xpath with Attribute ://tagName[@attribute='attribute value']

    Xpath based on the Attribute is : //button[@name='banana'] , this XPath shows only one match which is Banana button

    You can add n number attributes in one XPath itself

    Xpath with multiple Attributes://tagName[@attrib='attrib value'][@attrib2='attrib2 value']...

    Can I use index along with attribute: yes, you can use, but the index will be useful only when matches are under a single parent.

    Xpath with Attribute and Index://tagName[@attribute='attribute value'][index]

    Mouse / Browser Actions

    Xpath With Parent Reference

    We cannot expect an HTML element to have different or unique properties all the time; sometimes there is a chance that every element may have the same kind of attributes, In those cases, we cannot use Xpath with Attribute in protractor

    To handle such kind of cases we may need to take help of the parent element to find our actual element

    Store the below code in HTML file and open it in chrome

    		<div id="berry">
    			<button type="button">Blueberry</button><br><br>
    			<button type="button">Banana</button><br><br>
    			<button type="button">Strawberry</button><br><br>
    		<div id="fruit">
    			<button type="button">Apple</button><br><br>
    			<button type="button">Orange</button><br><br>
    			<button type="button">Grape</button><br><br>

    Let's write XPath for Orange, using parent and child concept

    The Syntax for Xpath with parent and child

    For Orange element we have to refer it parent div which has id attribute as fruit Xpath for the Orange: //div[@id='fruit']/button[2] parent-child-xpath-selenium

    We have only one match for the XPath we have written.

    Explanation for Xpath : //div[@id='fruit']/button[2]
    // - look for any node which has 'div' as tagname and id as fruit, look for immediate child(/) node which has tagname as a button and at the index of 2.

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    Xpath with Group Index

    Sometimes we may have to handle the elements with the XPath index, but the index may give more than one match, which are under different parents; in these situations, the index might not help you. We may have to use Group index in these kinds of scenarios

    Group index puts all matches into a list and gives indexes them. So here we will not have any duplicates matches

    Syntax : (//tagName)[index]

    We have to use parenthesis to make an XPath into group XPath after it indexes the XPath

    Store below HTML code into HTML file :

    		<div id="fruit"><br><br><br>
    			<button type="button">Blueberry</button><br><br>
    			<button type="button"  >Banana</button><br><br>
    			<button type="button">Strawberry</button><br><br>
    		<div id="fruit">
    			<button type="button">Apple</button><br><br>
    			<button type="button" >Orange</button><br><br>
    			<button type="button">Grape</button><br><br>

    Let's write XPath for Orange : (//button)[5]


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    text() function in Xpath

    There will be situations, where you may not be able to use any HTML property rather than text present in the element

    text() function helps us to find the element based on the text present in the element, text() function is case sensitive

    <button type="button">Blueberry</button><br><br>

    In the above code, the text is Blueberry, and we can write XPath using text() like below

    xpath with text : //button[text()='Bluberry']

    Note: we use @ sign for attributes, functions do not need @ sign

    We can also match element(s) which have text in them with below XPath

    xpath with text ://button[text()]

    Calendar / Datepicker

    Wild card Character with Xpath in protractor

    * -is the one of most used wild card character with XPath in protractor, we can use it instead of the tag name and attribute

    //* - matches all the elements present in the HTML (including html)

    //div/* - matches all the immediate element(s) inside the div tag

    //input[@*] - matches all the element(s) with input tag and have at least one attribute, the attribute value may or may not present

    //*[@*] - matches all the element(s) which have at least one attribute.

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    Dependent and Independent Xpath

    We may face scenarios where the given element may change it's position every time, so handle such kind of scenarios we have to go for dependent and independent xpaths

    For example : Take any e-commerce website, search for a specific product and write XPath for that particular product, take rest for few days and then go and search for the same product, there could be a change in position of the product, to handle this we should use the dependent and independent concept

    Scenario : Select the checkbox which is present in the same row as Protractor

    Select Tool Language
    Selenium Java
    Protractor Typescript
    Selenium Bindings Python
    QTP VB

    Steps to solve the scenario:

    • Do not write the XPath for the checkbox, because checkboxes might change its position.
    • Based on the text present in the Protractor field, we have to write the XPath
    • We have to find the common parent for Protractor and Checkbox
    • Xpath to find the protractor : //td[text()='Protractor']
    • Now we should find the parent of Protractor element
    • We can find the parent of an element using /.. like in UNIX
    • Xpath for the parent of Protractor : //td[text()='Protractor']/..
    • Check Protractor's parent is a common parent for Protractor and checkbox.
    • Yes, Protractor parent is a common parent for Protractor and checkbox
    • Now try to navigate to checkbox using checkbox properties
    • The checkbox has tagname as input : //td[text()='Protractor']/..//input
    • Try the above XPath it will highlight the checkbox related to Protractor field

    Here Protractor is independent, and the checkbox is dependent
    Independent : It does not depend on any other element
    Dependent : We have to find this based on the other element(Independent)

    selectByIndex in Dropdowns

    contains() function in Xpath

    contains() function helps the user to find the element with partial values, or dynamically changing values, contains verifies matches with a portion of the value

    contains function ://xpath[contains(@attribute, 'attribute value')]
    						//xpath[contains(@text(), 'attribute value')]

    Example of below HTML:

    	<div id="fruit"><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>
    		<button type="button">Blue berry1234</button><br><br>
    		<button type="button" >Banana</button><br><br>
    		<button type="button">Straw</button><br><br>
    		<button type="button">berry</button><br><br>
    		<button type="button">Straw berry</button><br><br>

    Xpath for the Blueberry : //button[contains(text(),'Blue')]
    Xpath for the Banana : //button[contains(text(),'Ban')]

    More Complex items:
    In the same way, if you try to find XPath for Straw berry with //button[contains(text(),'Straw')] it finds the element with text Straw as well.

    If you try with berry, you may get 'berry' element. So how to find the Straw berry button.

    We can combine more than one contains functions like : //xpath[contains(text(), 'text1')][contains(text(), 'text2')]
    Xpath for Strawberry is : //button[contains(text(),'Straw')][contains(text(), 'berry')]

    Not only for the text you can apply contains function for other properties as well Eg : //button[contains(@type,'but')]

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    Normalize Space in Xpath

    Normalize space matches the element ignoring starting and ending spaces

    syntax ://xpath[normalize-space(property)='value']
    <button type="button">   Strawberry   </button><br><br>

    Xpath for the Strawberry element : //button[normalize-space(text())= 'Strawberry']

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    starts-with function XPath

    Starts-with function matches the elements which property starting value

    syntax ://xpath[starts-with(@attribute,'starting value')]
    <button type="button">Straw berry</button><br><br>

    Xpath for the Strawberry element : //button[starts-with(text(), 'Straw')]

    ends-with func XPath

    Ends-with function matches the properties of the elements ending value

    syntax ://xpath[ends-with(@attribute,'ending value')]
    <button type="button">Straw berry</button><br><br>

    Xpath for the Strawberry element : //button[ends-with(text(), 'berry')]

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    Last() function in Xpath

    By default, automation tools take the first instance of the match; also, if we want to achieve the first element, we can use index [1]. But in some pages, we may not be able to see how many matches are present when the page is loading or on a dynamic page.

    last() function in Xpath helps the user to find the last match of the element.

    last function : //xpath[last()]

    take the example of below HTML code

    		<div id="fruit"><br><br><br>
    			<button type="button">Blueberry</button><br><br>
    			<button type="button"  >Banana</button><br><br>
    			<button type="button">Strawberry</button><br><br>

    In the above, if we want to write XPath for the last element, it is easy we can say use index [3], but if the application is very large or dynamic, we cannot say how many elements are going to present.

    So let's use the last function in XPath : //button[last()] - points to the Strawberry button.


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    Position function in Xpath

    Position function helps the user to get the match at a particular index; using the position, we can get elements that are less than the position or greater than the position as well.

    position function ://xpath[position()=2]
    						 ://xpath[position()=<2]]  ...

    Example : //button[position()=2]position-xpath-selenium

    CaSe in-sensitive Xpath in protractor

    Sometimes we may have a situation where we have to find the element based on the attribute. We can use @ method for the attribute, but if the attribute values change every time lower to upper case or mix case value when page refreshes, in this @ method may not help us.

    During such kind of situations, we must ignore the case(UPPER/lower). Below is the syntax to match the elements by ignoring the case; translate method helps us to perform this.

    Syntax :// tagname[text(), 'sourceCaseContent', 'targetCaseContent'), 'value']

    tagname - is the HTML tag used for the element like the label, a, span, div..

    text() - text() value present in the element.

    sourceCaseContent - We have to pass the Letter(s) which all we want to convert 'ABCD' so on, we can also give only a few letters like 'agk' (sourceCaseContent could be UPPER/lower case)

    targetCaseContent - We have to pass the Letter(s) to which we want to convert the SourceCaseContent, it could be in any case

    value - the target value which we want to compare it could be any value, but it should be in target case (if the target case is UPPER then the value also should be in upper

    Html code : <label id="aBcK" name='p'>SEleNiuM</label>
    Xpath ://label[contains(translate(text(),'CDEILMNSU','cdeilmnsu'),'selenium')]

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    Attribute value's Length XPath in protractor

    We can find the element based on the attribute value/text length in protractor; string-length() method helps us to form the XPath based on the element's attribute length.

    Syntax :// tagname[string-length(@attibute's name/text)= expectedLength]

    tagname - is the HTML tag used for the element like the label, a, span, div..

    @attibute's name - any attribute present in the element like id, name, src, href... text() - text() value present in the element.

    expectedLength - numeric expected length of the attribute value or text value

    Html code : <label id="twinkie" name='p'>selenium</label>
    Xpath ://label[string-length(@id) = 7]
    Xpath ://label[string-length(text()) = 8]
    twinkie - 7 letters
    selenium - 8 letters

    Relational value Xpath in protractor

    We can form XPath based on the numeric attribute value/text present in the element with relational operators. For example, we can find the elements which have numeric text greater than 40 or less than 70 like so

    Syntax :// tagname[@atrribute/function > expectedValue]

    @atrribute/function - should result in numeric value

    expectedValue - Must be a numeric value

    Html code : <label id="50" name='p'>30</label>
    Xpath 1 ://label[text()>20]
    Xpath 2 ://label[@id()<70]
    Xpath 3 ://label[@id()<70][text()>20]

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    Axes in Xpath in protractor

    XPath axes are used to identify elements that periodically change or refreshes it attributes by their relationship like parent, child, sibling, based on the independent element, whose properties do not change.

    Axes refer to the node on which elements are lying relative to an independent element. We could traverse in both forward and reverse directions.

    Forward Axis :

    • self
    • attribute
    • child
    • descendant
    • descendant-or-self
    • following-sibling
    • following

    Reverse Axis :

    • parent
    • ancestor
    • preceding-sibling
    • preceding
    • ancestor-or-self

    Save below code as HTML file

    		<div name='username'>
    			<label id="user">Username</label>
    			<input id="username" type="text">
    		<div name='password'>
    			<label id="pass">Password</label>
    			<input id="username" type="password">

    Forward Axes in XPath

    Forward axis in XPath helps to find the element/node after the current or reference element (helps to find an element in the code which is below the current element in the HTML file).

    We can narrow down the matches by adding more details about the HTML element like tagnames, attributes


    self : It specifies the current element


    attribute : It specifies the attributes of the current element.


    Now let's narrow down to the element(s), which have attribute id.

    child : It specifies all child elements of the current element.


    We can match the element with particular a tag or ids, below one matches the child element(s) which have input as tag

    descendant : It specifies all the children and grandchildren elements


    Narrow down to the descendant which has input as tag

    descendant-or-self : It specifies current or all the children and grandchildren elements


    Narrow down to the child who has input as a tag; if the current element has an input tag, then this XPath matches that as well.

    following-sibling : It specifies the following siblings of the current element. Siblings are at the same level as the current element and share its parent.


    following : It specifies all elements that come after the current element, which includes elements of other div's as well.


    Put method in the request.

    Reverse Axes in XPath

    Reverse axis in XPath helps to find the element/node before the current or reference element (helps to find an element in the code which is above the current element in the HTML file)

    We can narrow down the matches by adding more details about the HTML element like tagnames, attributes

    parent : It specifies the parent of the current element.


    ancestor : It specifies the ancestors of the current element/nodes, which include the parents up to the root HTML.


    Narrow the matches to the element(s) which has div as HTML tag by navigating to ancestors div-ancestor-axes-xpath-selenium-webdriver

    ancestor-or-self : It specifies the current element or all elements that come before the current element


    Let's narrow down our search to the element which has tag as a body from the current element by navigating reverse axis; if the current element is body, then it matches with the current element itself.

    preceding-sibling : It specifies an element that comes before the current element


    preceding : It specifies all elements that come before the current element (i.e., before it's opening tag).


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