HomeTechnologyMastering XPath: Strategies for Effective Element Identification

Mastering XPath: Strategies for Effective Element Identification

In the complex world of web automation delivering bug-free applications and offering seamless and exceptional user experiences, is often complex to achieve. This is because while navigating through Web UI test automation developers spend a lot of their test development time locating web elements on a page to accurately and efficiently interact with them

Anything present on the web page like buttons, text fields, web forms, headers, scroll

bar, drop-down fields, and many more are WebElements. Attributes like id, class name, name, or XPath can recognize these elements. WebElement represents HTML elements by the tag, attributes, and contents. Finding the right, useful, and accurate element on a web page can be challenging, for developers especially when they lack unique IDs or class names. Via Selenium test automation engineers can easily locate elements in web pages, and overcome this challenge.

SeleniumWebDriver uses various tools and locators to identify web elements efficiently, like, ID, name, XPath, CSS Selectors, link Text, etc., making it easier for users to interact with the web elements to perform tasks like button clicking or filling text boxes.

Today those working in automation testing are leveraging XPath, one of the most powerful and versatile locators in selenium, which plays a vital role in locating the dynamic element. Its greater flexibility and compatibility with old browsers make it one of the most useful locators among automation testers to locate and interact with web elements on a page.

Mastering XPath is essential for Selenium test automation professionals in locating dynamic web elements, elements without IDs or names, and elements with dynamic IDs and names. In this article, we will explore how to master XPath strategies for effective element identification. But before we move to that, let’s see what Xpath is, why it is needed, and use XPath in Selenium automation testing.

What is XPath?

XPath is a powerful tool that is used for web app automation testing. It offers a comprehensive range of capabilities for locating elements and navigating the DOM.

In Selenium it is a concise, simple, and powerful locator technique used to navigate through the HTML structure of a webpage and interact with elements. It represents and structures data in an understandable format, providing testers powerful ways to precisely locate elements on a web page based on their attributes, position, or relationships with other elements, such as id, class, name, etc.

XPath (XML Path Language) is a syntax or query language that makes finding elements on a webpage possible by selecting nodes from an XML document using XML and HTML structure. It provides support for many services like web development, web services, etc.

Benefits of using XPath

Every element or object, even a dot on the webpage has an XML path, which helps to interact with web objects to perform operations like click, setText, getText, drag & drop, etc. using automation script.

When working with complex or dynamic web pages where the elements’ attributes like IDs or classes might change frequently, Xpath is beneficial.

Understanding Xpath concepts is vital to excel in web app testing, and ensuring reliable and efficient test automation.

XPath in Selenium

In Selenium automation, often locating a particular web element cannot be found using general locators like ID, name, class, etc, because there might be elements with similar properties, like the same name or the same class name. This is the point where XPath is needed to find an element on the web page.

XPath in Selenium is a standard strategy for locating web elements in both HTML structure and XML documents, based on their position. It also provides XPath functions to write efficient XPaths to locate those elements on the webpage uniquely.

Why use XPath in Selenium

Using XPath in Selenium enables users to search for a page element dynamically. With this capability, testers get the flexibility to work with locators, making it more advantageous.

XPath in Selenium gives testers the option to search for a specific element within a web page dynamically, allowing for increased flexibility.

While there are other locator options in Selenium like tags or CSS class names, which are simple, may not be sufficient to select all DOM elements of an HTML document.  XPath in Selenium allows testers to select all DOM elements of an HTML document.

XPath syntax

The standard syntax for creating XPath is.


  • Double forward slash (//) – Denotes the current node.
  • Single forward slash (/)- Selects the root node.
  • Tagname- defines the tag name of the current node.
  • @- Select the attribute name.
  • Attribute- defines the attribute name of the node defined at the start of the XPath.
  • Value- Represents the value of the respective attribute defined.

Types of XPath in Selenium

There are two different types of XPath:

Absolute XPath

Absolute XPath refers to the direct way of finding an element. It begins with the root element of the HTML pages and includes the complete path to the desired element node.

While it provides an exact location, it is not advisable for most of the time in automation testing, because it has some drawbacks. They are not flexible; the whole XPath will fail to find an element if there is a single change in the web page structure.

Another major drawback with Absolute XPath is that they are not readable because of their lengthiness.

The Absolute XPath always begins with a single forward slash (/), which indicates that the element can be selected from the root node.

Relative XPath

Relative XPath provides the path that begins from the middle of the HTML DOM hierarchy to locate the desired elements without any need to write a long XPath t. As it doesn’t need to start from a root node, it is more flexible and resilient to changes in the page structure; hence there are fewer chances of a script being broken. It always starts with a double forward slash (//) which states that the element can be searched anywhere on the webpage.

Relative Xpath is preferred over absolute because of its better maintainability, and its relative path that directly navigates to the desired element without having the entire path.

Types of XPath Functions in Selenium

Several times while locating a particular web element using general attributes, there may be elements with similar properties, like with the same name or same class name. This is where the simple XPath strategies will not be efficient and the need for XPath Functions arises.

XPath in Selenium provides various functions to write efficient XPaths and discover elements uniquely. Commonly Used XPath functions in Selenium are-

Contains() function

This Function is used to create an XPath expression. It is used when part of the value of any attribute changes dynamically like login information. It can identify a web element with the partial text available.


This function is used to identify the element on a web page using the web element’s text whose value of an attribute changes on every page load or any other dynamic operation on the web page. The text() method is matched with the starting text of the attribute to locate a particular element whose attribute has changed dynamically but the remaining text remains the same. This function plays a major role while working with dynamic web pages.

Text() function

This expression is used with the text function to locate an element with the exact text of the web element. This function is useful when the element contains the text, like labels, which always contain static text.

What to consider when using XPath in Selenium

Considering the following while choosing an XPath from available options is important.

  • When locating a single element, XPath having only one candidate element is considered good and unique.
  • Choose descriptive and short elements, it will be easier to identify and considered good for maintainability.
  • Flexible XPath is considered good; hence it should be selected in a way that even after changes in DOM it remains valid.
  • Multiple XPath options are available, but a shorter XPath is considered good because it helps avoid brittle tests and makes the script more readable.
  • Use relative XPath expressions whenever possible because it makes the test more robust.

Utilizing LambdaTest for using XPath in Selenium

Handling dynamic elements can be challenging for testers because identifying locators of elements with frequently changing attributes especially when testing various browsers.

Using XPath in Selenium is an ideal option for testing teams looking for a dynamic solution as it allows testers to easily and efficiently locate a web element. XPath in Selenium is a building block for creating a Selenium automation framework. But for effective test automation strategy traditional automation approaches are difficult to maintain stability and reliability. Hence in this situation, leveraging a cloud-based test automation platform like LambdaTest proves to be beneficial.

LambdaTest is an AI-powered test orchestration and execution platform that lets testers perform both manual and automated testing of web and mobile applications at scale. For improving testing efficiency and shipping faster to the market LambdaTest provides seamless integration with various testing frameworks including Selenium.

To scale Selenium test automation this platform allows developers and testers to write Selenium scripts and execute them on a cloud Selenium grid of more than 3000 real mobile devices, browsers, and operating system combinations for a comprehensive testing coverage.

Selenium integration is just one of many features that LambdaTest provides. It offers various other features for handling dynamic web elements. They include

  • Cross-platform test execution.
  • Parallel testing to cut down test execution time by running test scripts across different browsers and operating system configurations simultaneously. This helps accelerate the development process and validate dynamic elements across configurations.
  • Real device testing, a comprehensive testing environment, allows running Selenium tests on real, physical devices, providing more accurate results than on emulators or simulators. This helps identify and observe real-world issues and dynamic element behavior under real user conditions.
  • AI-driven analytics and instant infrastructure scalability into one secure cloud platform, meeting the demands of handling dynamic web elements without needing to manage physical device infrastructure.
  • Allow easy debugging using video recordings, and automated screenshots of errors, and advanced and accurate detailed test reporting via text logs, console logs, network logs, and performance metrics to identify, understand, and fix bugs quickly.



Selenium is an open-source test automation framework that enables teams to build comprehensive web tests to navigate a wide range of web elements. However, implementing a framework with Selenium requires choosing the right web element locator for an effective test automation strategy. XPath is one of the most powerful tools in Selenium for locating elements on a web page.

Understanding the basics of XPath expressions and utilizing its capabilities, such as axes, functions, expressions, and best practices, can greatly improve the reliability, maintainability, and efficiency of Selenium automation tests.

Moreover, by utilizing platforms like LambdaTest testers can enhance their testing capabilities by leveraging its AI-powered technology and unique features aligned with Selenium standards. With the evolving world of web development, it becomes essential to master XPath strategies for effective element identification and to ensure high-quality, reliable web applications.

Fruity is a seasoned SEO expert and passionate blogger, serving as the admin of the vibrant platform fruitynews.co.uk. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for captivating content, Fruity brings a fresh perspective to the world of digital marketing and storytelling. Through insightful articles and expert analysis, Fruity aims to empower readers with valuable insights and actionable strategies for success in the ever-evolving online landscape. Follow Fruity's journey on fruitynews.co.uk and stay ahead of the curve in the dynamic realm of SEO and blogging.


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