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Cross browser web scraping with AutoHotkey and Selenium

AutoHotkey Merchandise-White Stress ball

While AutoHotkey is an amazing tool for Web Scraping, many people complain about being limited to connecting with COM to IE.   In the below videos I AutoHotkey and Seleniumwalk through how you can use AutoHotkey and Selenium to automate web scraping in virtually any browser you wish.  🙂

Update: 5/19/2020–  While to the best of my knowledge Selenium still works, when automating Chrome, I recommend using GeekDude’s Chrome class.  I have some examples of working with an older version of his Chrome class here.

Installing Selenium

In order to control Selenium with AutoHotkey you need to install the SeleniumBasic.  The current version is 2.09.0 and can be downloaded here.  Selenium is now on version 3 and there is a new SeleniumBasic version promised to be released soon which will connect to version 3 of Selenium.  Make sure you download the WebDrivers of choice for your browsers.

If all of this sounds confusing, don’t feel bad.  It is ridculous!  I found this post which documents/clarifies much of the confusion (although Selenium 3 is now out)

Please note several people reported when installing Selenium Basic it did not install in the program files location (i.e. here: C:\Program Files\SeleniumBasic or C:\Program Files (x86)\SeleniumBasic).  They also had problems getting Selenium to launch.   I recommend you make sure Selenium installs into one of the Program Files location and also make sure you get the Selenium drivers installed.  After install I had the following files on my computer:

  • C:\Program Files\SeleniumBasic\operadriver.exe
  • C:\Program Files\SeleniumBasic\chromedriver.exe
  • C:\Program Files\SeleniumBasic\edgedriver.exe
  • C:\Program Files\SeleniumBasic\iedriver.exe

After installing the Selenium Basic- Make sure you get the latest Chrome driver here and extract the “chromedriver.exe” into the folder where SeleniumBasic is installed. Also keeping your Chrome version up to date.  Currently I’m running 64.0.3282.39 64-bit version of Chrome and am using a 32-bit version of Selenium Webdriver (as there is no 64 bit version of Selenium webdriver).

Here are some links you might want to review (but you’ll need to adapt them for your purposes)

Using AutoHotkey and Selenium across various browsers

This video I show two ways I’ve learned how to start-up the Selenium Webdriver with AutoHotkey.

driver:= ComObjCreate("Selenium.WebDriver") ;Web driver
driver.Start("firefox","http://duckduckgo.com/") ;chrome, firefox, ie, phantomjs, edge

driver:= ComObjCreate("Selenium.CHROMEDriver") ;Chrome driver
;~  driver:= ComObjCreate("Selenium.IEDriver") ;Chrome driver
;~  driver:= ComObjCreate("Selenium.FireFoxDriver") ;Chrome driver

Tutorial showing how to start up and navigate with AutoHotkey and Selenium


Getting information from a page with Selenium and AutoHotkey

While there are a lot of similarities to data extraction in Selenium, there are quite a few differences as well. The below code is what I use in the following video.  It demonstrates some ways that you can extract data from a web page via Selenium and AutoHotkey.

driver:= ComObjCreate("Selenium.CHROMEDriver") ;Chrome driver

;!!!!DO NOT USE!!!  driver.findElement(By.id("search_form_input_homepage")).SendKeys("hello") ; Java bindings of Selenium. !!!!DO NOT USE!!!

MsgBox % driver.findElementByID("site-description").Attribute("innerText") ;note case sensitive
MsgBox % driver.executeScript("return document.getElementById('site-description').innerText")
MsgBox % driver.executeScript("return document.getElementById('site-description').outerHTML")

MsgBox % driver.findElementByID("cat").Attribute("value") ;lowercase value
MsgBox % driver.findElementsByName("cat").item[1].Attribute("outerHTML")
MsgBox % driver.findElementsByName("cat").item[1].Attribute("textContent")
MsgBox % driver.findElementsByName("cat").item[1].Attribute("innerText")
MsgBox % driver.findElementsByName("cat").item[1].Attribute("option value")
MsgBox % driver.findElementByName("s").Attribute("innerTEXT")


Setting information on a page

Selenium and AutoHotkey are pretty different in how you set information.  Selenium has a “sendkeys” method which seems to be pretty reliable at triggering events on a page.

  • Make sure you review this:  Send keys to value:  ;Note: you need to add “driver” e.g. .SendKeys(driver.Keys.ENTER)
driver:= ComObjCreate("Selenium.CHROMEDriver") ;Chrome driver

;~  !!!!DO NOT USE!!!  driver.findElement(By.id("search_form_input_homepage")).SendKeys("hello") ; Java bindings of Selenium. !!!!DO NOT USE!!!

driver.findElementsByName("s").item[2].SendKeys("hello world")
driver.findElementsByName("s").item[2].SendKeys(driver.Keys.ENTER) ;http://seleniumhome.blogspot.com/2013/07/how-to-press-keyboard-in-selenium.html
MsgBox pause
driver.executeScript("arguments[0].setAttribute('value', 'hello world')", driver.findElementsByName("s")) ;sets value
driver.findElementsByName("cat").item[2].SendKeys("hello world")

driver.findElementsByName("cat").item[1].click() ;1 based, not zero

Setting text & clicking items on a page with Selenium and AutoHotkey


AutoHotkey Merchandise-White Stress ballUsing your Chrome Profile (Avoiding the need to re-login to a site)

In this video I demonstrate how you can leverage your Chrome profile so you do not need to keep logging into a website with Chrome

driver:= ComObjCreate("Selenium.CHROMEDriver") ;Chrome driver
; put this "chrome://version/"  in the url in chrome to find path to profile
driver.SetProfile("H:\Temp\Chrome\Cache\cache\Default") ; 'Full path of the profile directory



Iterating over Objects with Selenium and AutoHotkey

In the below video I demonstrate some of the important differences when iterating over objects with Selenium and AutoHotkey.    A COM based object does not have an enumerator thus you cannot simply use a for-loop to iterate over them.   Selenium does does have an enumerator however the objects are held in the Keys (not the values).

pwb := WBGet()
obj:=pwb.document.GetElementsByName("s") ;.length
for k, v in obj
    MsgBox % v.outerHTML

loop, % obj.length
    COM_Data.= a_index a_tab obj[a_index-1].outerhtml "`n" ;zero based

SciTE_Output(COM_Data) ;Text,Clear=1,LineBreak=1,Exit=0  ;https://the-automator.com/scite-output-pane/
MsgBox pause

driver:= ComObjCreate("Selenium.IEDriver") ;Chrome driver

;~  MsgBox % driver.FindElementsByName("s").Length ; does not work
MsgBox % driver.FindElementsByName("s").Count ;need to use count

for k,v in obj {
  ;~  MsgBox % IsObject(v) a_tab v
     Selenium_Data.= a_index a_tab k a_tab   k.Attribute("outerHTML") "`n"
SciTE_Output(Selenium_Data,1) ;Text,Clear=1,LineBreak=1,Exit=0


Demo video showing how to iterate over objects in Selenium


Various Selenium methods for getting & setting data on a page

In this tutorial I walk through various ways to get/set data on a page. With Selenium you can use both CSS and Xpath which are like QuerySelector.

I also shared these two resources from Michael Sorens which present the same data

driver:= ComObjCreate("Selenium.CHROMEDriver") ;Chrome driver

MsgBox,,ByTag name-Just first,% driver.findElementByTag("P").Attribute("outerHTML") ;ByTag (name)-(just first)
MsgBox,,ByTag name-First in Array,% driver.findElementsByTag("P").item[1].Attribute("outerHTML") ;ByTag (name)-Array
MsgBox,,ByID      ,% driver.findElementByID("site-description").Attribute("outerHTML") ;ByID
MsgBox,,ByName-Just First   ,% driver.findElementByName("s").Attribute("outerHTML") ;ByName (Just first)
MsgBox,,ByName (array),% driver.findElementsByName("s").item[2].Attribute("outerHTML") ;ByName- array- 2nd
MsgBox,,ByClass-First,% driver.findElementByClass("entry-title").Attribute("outerHTML") ;ByClass - (Just first)
MsgBox,,ByClass-Array,% driver.findElementsByClass("entry-title").item[2].Attribute("outerHTML") ;ByClass - Array
MsgBox,,Partial Match on Link text,% driver.findElementByPartialLinkText("a time").Attribute("outerHTML") ;partial match text
MsgBox,,Full Match on Link text,% driver.findElementByLinkText("Automating my world; 1 script @ a time!").Attribute("innerText") ;Full match of link text

MsgBox,,CSS-Tag &Input,% driver.findElementsByCss("input[name='s']").item[1].Attribute("outerHTML") ;ByCss: tag of Input and name of S
MsgBox,,CSS-Just anme,% driver.findElementsByCss("[name='s']").item[1].Attribute("outerHTML") ;ByCss: Just use name
MsgBox,,CSS-JustID,% obj:=driver.findElementsByCss("[id='site-description']").item[1].Attribute("outerHTML") ;ByCss: just by id
MsgBox,,CSS-Class,% obj:=driver.findElementsByCss("[class='entry-title']").item[1].Attribute("outerHTML") ;ByCss: Class
MsgBox,,CSS-Atag element and url,% obj:=driver.findElementsByCss("a[href='https://www.linkedin.com/in/joeglines']").item[1].Attribute("outerHTML") ;ByCss: A tag & href=URL

MsgBox,,XPATH-ID & Tag,% driver.findelementbyxpath(".//*[@id='site-title']/span/a").Attribute("outerHTML") ;XPath: ID=site-title & span tag
MsgBox,,XPATH-ID and Input Hierarchy,% driver.findelementbyxpath(".//*[@id='prime_nav']/li[8]/form/label/input").Attribute("outerHTML") ;XPath: ID=prime_Nave & tag heirarchy


Various methods from Selenium & by using JavaScript Execution

I went through and documented some of the additinol methods I used from Selenium & by injecting JavaScript. Check them out below as well as the video walking through the usage.

driver:= ComObjCreate("Selenium.CHROMEDriver") ;Chrome driver
;~  driver.SetProfile("H:\Temp\Chrome\Cache\cache\Default") ; 'Full path of the profile directory

MsgBox,,Title via JavaScript, % driver.executeScript("return document.title") ;gets title
MsgBox,,Title, % Driver.Title ;Displays gets tab title
MsgBox pause
driver.executeScript("window.location = 'https://www.youtube.com/user/JoeGlines'") ;navigate using javascript
MsgBox % driver.executeScript("return document.location.pathname") ;get path of url
MsgBox pause
MsgBox,,Title, % Driver.Title ;Displays gets tab title
driver.executeScript("history.go(-1)") ;Go back one page
MsgBox pause
MsgBox,,Title, % Driver.Title ;Displays gets tab title
driver.executeScript("history.go(0)") ;refresh page
MsgBox pause
driver.executeScript("history.go(1)") ;Go forward one page
driver.executeScript("window.scrollBy(0,550)") ;scroll down page
MsgBox pause
driver.executeScript("window.scrollBy(0,950)") ;scroll down page
MsgBox % driver.executeScript("return document.domain") ;get domain of current page

MsgBox,,URL, % driver.url() ;gets current URL
MsgBox,,Href, % driver.executeScript("return document.location.href") ;get full url
MsgBox,,Protocol, % driver.executeScript("return document.location.protocol") ;get protocol
MsgBox,,Search, % driver.executeScript("return document.location.search") ;get everything from ? on

driver.executeScript("window.open('https://www.youtube.com/user/JoeGlines','_target','resizable=yes')") ;open new tab with new destiation
MsgBox pause
driver.executeScript("window.open('','_blank','resizable=yes')") ;open new blank tab

Maneuvering Frames in Selenium with AutoHotkey

The below code provides some insights on how to navigate frames with AutoHotkey

driver:= ComObjCreate("Selenium.CHROMEDriver") ;Chrome driver
  ;switch to a child frame
  MsgBox % "count before change = " driver.FindElementsByTag("frame").count
  MsgBox % "count after change = " driver.FindElementsByTag("frame").count
MsgBox % driver.FindElementById("content").Text

Downloading files with Selenium and AutoHotkey

In this tutorial I demonstrate how I used AutoHotkey and Selenium to download a PDF file. The same process will work for other files that are not, automatically, opened by Chrome.

driver:= ComObjCreate("Selenium.CHROMEDriver") ;Chrome driver
;~  driver.SetProfile("H:\Temp\Chrome\Cache\cache\Default") ; 'Full path of the profile directory
driver.SetPreference("download.default_directory","c:\temp") ;set path to where you want the file saved
driver.findElementByID("pdf-section").click() ;disable open pdf

Connecting to a current instance of ChromeAutoHotkey Merchandise-White Stress ball

Thankfully tmplinshi has come up with a solution on how to connect to an already launched version of Chrome.  Granted, you’ll need to launch Chrome with some command line parameters but this is an easy tweak to do by just adding them to your main shortcut to Chrome you’ll be able to connect to a current running Chrome window!

Here’s what you need to do for prep-work:

  1. Make sure all current versions of Chrome are closed
  2. Create a shortcut to chrome with this path: chrome.exe –remote-debugging-port=9222
  3. Launch Chrome from your new shortcut

Then you can use the below code to connect with it!  Check out the below video demonstrating how it works.

;********************Connect to Chrome and show title***********************************
driver := ChromeGet()
MsgBox, % driver.Window.Title "`n" driver.Url

ChromeGet(IP_Port := "") {
	driver := ComObjCreate("Selenium.ChromeDriver")
	driver.SetCapability("debuggerAddress", IP_Port)
	return driver

;********************Create new Chrome window***********************************
driver:= ComObjCreate("Selenium.CHROMEDriver") ;Chrome driver
MsgBox, % driver.Window.Title "`n" driver.Url

;********************Launch Chrome with parameters***********************************
^+r::run chrome.exe "--remote-debugging-port=9222" ;Run in debugging mode


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