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Helium cheatsheet

This page very quickly teaches you the most important parts of Helium's API.

Importing

All of Helium's public functions lie directly in the module helium. You can for instance import them as follows:

from helium import *

Starting a browser

Helium currently supports Chrome and Firefox. You can start them with the following functions:

start_chrome()
start_firefox()

You can optionally pass a URL to open (eg. start_chrome('google.com'))

Headless browser

When you type the above commands, you will actually see a browser window open. This is useful for developing your scripts. However, once you run them, you may not want this window to appear. You can achieve this by adding headless=True:

start_chrome(headless=True)
start_chrome('google.com', headless=True)

(Similarly for start_firefox(...) of course.)

Interacting with a web site

The following example shows the most typical statements in a Helium script:

from helium import *
start_chrome('google.com')
write('helium selenium github')
press(ENTER)
click('mherrmann/helium')
go_to('github.com/login')
write('username', into='Username')
write('password', into='Password')
click('Sign in')
kill_browser()

Most of your own code will (hopefully) be as simple as the above.

Element types

The above example used pure strings such as Sign in to identify elements on the web page. But Helium also lets you target elements more specifically. For instance:

You can pass them into other functions such as click(Link('Sign in')). But you can also use them to read data from the web site. For instance:

print(TextField('First name').value)

A common use case is to use .exists() to check for the existence of an element. For example:

if Text('Accept cookies?').exists():
    click('I accept')

I also often find Text(...).value useful for reading out data:

name = Text(to_right_of='Name:', below=Image(alt='Profile picture')).value

For a full list of element types and their properties, please see the source code.

Finding elements relative to others

You already saw in the previous section how above=... and to_right_of=... let you find elements relative to other elements. You can similarly use below=... and to_left_of. Here are some more examples.

Text(above='Balance', below='Transactions').value
Link(to_right_of='Invoice:')
Image(to_right_of=Link('Sign in', below=Text('Navigation')))

Waiting for elements to appear (or other conditions)

Use wait_until(...) to wait for a condition to become true. For example:

wait_until(Button('Download').exists)

But you can also use this to wait for an arbitrary condition:

wait_until(lambda: TextField('Balance').value == '$2M')

jQuery-style selectors

Sometimes, you do need to fall back to using HTML IDs, CSS Selectors or XPaths to identify an element on the web page. Helium's S(...) predicate lets you do this. The parameter you pass to it is interpreted as follows:

  • If it starts with an @, then it identifies elements by HTML name. Eg. S("@btnName") identifies an element with name="btnName".
  • If it starts with //, then Helium interprets it as an XPath.
  • Otherwise, Helium interprets it as a CSS selector. This in particular lets you write S("#myId") to identify an element with id="myId", or S(".myClass") to identify elements with class="myClass".

As before, you can combine S(...) with other functions such as click(S(...)), or use it to extract data. For an example of this, see below.

Combining Helium and Selenium's APIs

All Helium does is translate your high-level commands into low-level Selenium function calls. Because of this, you can freely mix Selenium and Helium. For example:

# A Helium function:
driver = start_chrome()
# A Selenium API:
driver.execute_script("alert('Hi!');")

You can also get / set the Selenium WebDriver which Helium uses via get_driver() and set_driver(...).

With the WebDriver instance, you can execute any Selenium commands you want.

To use Helium's API's to obtain Selenium WebElements, use the .web_element property of Helium's various GUI elements. For instance:

# Get the CSS class of the "Helium" link:
Link('Helium').web_element.get_attribute('class')

Here, .get_attribute(...) is a Selenium API.

Finding all elements

The .web_element property and the S(...) predicate are particularly useful for extracting multiple pieces of data from a web page. To do this, you can use Helium's find_all(...) function. As its name implies, it lets you find all occurrences of an element on a page. For example:

email_cells = find_all(S("table > tr > td", below="Email"))
emails = [cell.web_element.text for cell in email_cells]

Implicit waits

When you issue a command such as click('Download'), Helium by default waits up to 10 seconds for the respective element to appear. This feature is called "implicit waiting". You can change the 10 second default to a different value via the Config class:

Config.implicit_wait_secs = 30

However, before you do this, it may be better to add explicit waits to your code, such as wait_until(Button('Download').exists).

Alerts

The Alert class lets you interface with JavaScript popup boxes. Use Alert().accept(), Alert().dismiss() to click "Ok" or "Cancel", Alert().text to read the message shown, or write(..., into=Alert()) to enter a value.

File uploads, drag and drop, combo boxes, popups

Use attach_file(...), drag_file(...), drag(...), select(...), switch_to(...).

Clicking at x, y coordinates

Sometimes, you may want to click at a specific (x, y) coordinate, or at an offset of an element. See the Point class for how.

Taking a screenshot

Use Selenium's API:

get_driver().save_screenshot(r'C:\screenshot.png')

Note the leading r. This is required because the string contains a backslash \.