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If you consider Puppeteer cool, then playwright is awesomeness 😍

yashints profile image Yaser Adel Mehraban Originally published at yashints.dev ・4 min read

If you've ever used Puppeteer, you'd know it enables you to control a Chrome instance (or any other Chrome DevTools Protocol based browser) and execute common actions, much like in a real browser - programmatically, through a decent API. The same team has now build a new product called Playwright which apparently is their new favourite.

What is Playwright? 🤔

Playwright is a Node library which allows you to automate instances of all major browsers - Chrome, Firefox, WebKit, and the new Microsoft Edge - plus the ability to execute actions, run code, interact with page elements, and much more, similar to Puppeteer.

In their own words:

Playwright is focused on enabling cross-browser web automation platform that is ever-green, capable, reliable and fast. Our primary goal with Playwright is to improve automated UI testing by eliminating flakiness, improving the speed of execution and offering insights into the browser operation.

Imagine the possibility of running end to end tests on all major browsers before you ship your any product to your users.

Is is replacing Puppeteer?

Based on what I see and how they've answered, I'd say YES. But with a promise to contain all of the functionality of Puppeteer, and make it a cross platform, vendor-neutral, and a collaboration effort between all major parties.

The lessons learnt are incorporated into it, APIs are testing-friendly, and it will be a cloud native product. For example all the user agent/device emulation is setup consistently on an object called BrowserContext to enable multi-page scenarios, click waits for the element to be available and visible by default, there is a way to wait for network and other events, etc.

Getting started

You can install Playwright via npm:

npm i playwright
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This will install Playwright and its dependencies. Note that it will also download the browser binaries which are quite bulky (~50MB to ~150MB).

Launching a browser

Playwright module provides a method to launch a browser instance. The following is a typical example of using Playwright to drive automation. Below snippet shows opening a Chrome instance and browsing example.com page.

const playwright = require('playwright').chromium;  // Or 'firefox' or 'webkit'.

(async () => {
  const browser = await playwright.launch();
  const context = await browser.newContext();
  const page = await context.newPage('http://example.com');
  // other actions...
  await browser.close();
})();
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Taking a screenshot of the page

You can execute most of the actions available on DevTools. For example we can take a screenshot of the page like so:

const pw = require('playwright');

(async () => {
  const browser = await pw.webkit.launch(); // or 'chromium', 'firefox'
  const context = await browser.newContext();
  const page = await context.newPage();

  await page.goto('https://www.example.com/');
  await page.screenshot({ path: 'example.png' });

  await browser.close();
})();
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Emulate a device

const playwright = require('playwright').firefox;  
const iPhone = playwright.devices['iPhone 11 Pro'];

(async () => {
  const browser = await playwright.launch();
  const context = await browser.newContext({
    viewport: iPhone.viewport,
    userAgent: iPhone.userAgent
  });
  const page = await context.newPage('http://example.com');
  // other actions...
  await browser.close();
})();
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Going beyond simple

Playwright allows you to easily emulate geo-location data.

const pw = require('playwright');
const pixel2 = pw.devices['Pixel 2'];

(async () => {
  const browser = await pw.chromium.launch();
  const context = await browser.newContext({
    viewport: pixel2.viewport,
    userAgent: pixel2.userAgent,
    geolocation: { longitude: 12.492507, latitude: 41.889938 },
    permissions: { 'https://www.google.com': ['geolocation'] }
  });

  const page = await context.newPage('https://maps.google.com');
  await page.click('text="Your location"');
  await page.waitForRequest(/.*pwa\/net.js.*/);
  await page.screenshot({ path: 'colosseum-android.png' });
  await browser.close();
})();
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Note how we had to set the grant the necessary permission on the context, which means this is exactly what happens when a user browses the page.

Accessing elements on page

ElementHandle represents an in-page DOM element. ElementHandles can be created with the page.$ method, similar to what we've been using in DevTools.

const playwright = require('playwright').chromium;  // Or 'firefox' or 'webkit'.

(async () => {
  const browser = await playwright.launch();
  const context = await browser.newContext();
  const page = await context.newPage('https://example.com');
  const hrefElement = await page.$('a');
  await hrefElement.click();
  // ...
})();
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Typing in text boxes

You can emulate a user typing into text fields, for example performing a search action:

const elementHandle = await page.$('input');
await elementHandle.type('Hello'); // Types instantly
await elementHandle.type('World', {delay: 100}); // Types slower, like a user
await elementHandle.press('Enter');
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What else?

You can even play with mouse (pun intended):

// Using ‘page.mouse’ to trace a 100x100 square.
await page.mouse.move(0, 0);
await page.mouse.down();
await page.mouse.move(0, 100);
await page.mouse.move(100, 100);
await page.mouse.move(100, 0);
await page.mouse.move(0, 0);
await page.mouse.up();
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What next?

The list of the available actions and what is available on the API documentation page. The list is almost overwhelming, in a good way 😁.

What browsers are supported?

  • Chromium: Playwright uses upstream versions of Chromium.
  • WebKit: Playwright makes a number of modifications to WebCore and WebKit2 in order to extend WebKit's remote debugging capabilities and support the full set of Playwright APIs.
  • Firefox: Playwright makes a number of modifications to Firefox as well. Those are adding support for content script debugging, workers, CSP, emulation, network interception, etc. etc.
  • MS Edge: Since it's based on Chromium, it's supported as well.

What is the update cadence?

The team follow semver, and the team are trying to keep in sync with Chromium update cycle, possibly once a month.

But

Playwright is in a stage where there might be breaking changes coming up as it progresses through full support for those browsers. You can find more information around this on their Is Playwright Ready? page.

So go have fun and enjoy this awesome emerging web technology 👍🏼. I will be exploring this on a couple of my side projects too, so stay tuned for more posts.

Discussion

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fredericbonnet profile image
Frédéric Bonnet

Awesome work! I'm already in love with Playwright. What I really appreciate as a developer is the seamless integration with Firefox and WebKit and not just Chromium, with no extra step to integrate or configure anything. WebDriver can be tedious on these points.

I have a pet project of mine called Instakittens that serves as a playground for testing frameworks (think TodoMVC, but for tests). I already have several test suites that use Puppeteer for browser automation, with Jest, Mocha and Cucumber as test runners. When I saw the announcement for Playwright on Twitter I had the urge to give it a try. Incredibly enough, it took me only a few hours to port the Puppeteer-based suites to Playwright with almost zero compatibility issue: apart from the initialization, I only had to replace {visible: true} / {hidden: true} to {visibility: 'visible'|'hidden'} in selectors.

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yashints profile image
Yaser Adel Mehraban Author

Awesome work, I’ll check out your repo for sure, will save me a few hours at least 🙂

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evanplaice profile image
Evan Plaice

Does playwrite download its own version of the browser like Puppeteer, or can it use an existing install?

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arjunattam profile image
Arjun Attam

You can use it with an existing install, and avoid the binaries from getting downloaded. Check out the playwright-core NPM package, which does not install the binaries. We want to ensure your tests run fast and if your setup does not need the browser to be downloaded, you shouldn't have to wait.

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evanplaice profile image
Evan Plaice

Awesome! Thank you 🙏

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yashints profile image
Yaser Adel Mehraban Author

It downloads the binaries from official channels, not sure you can use an existing or not, will look it up

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evanplaice profile image
Evan Plaice

Thanks. That's my biggest issue with E2E testing FWs.

I'd like to be able to npx playwright and have the tests run instantly. Rather than wait 5 min for a download.

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yashints profile image
Yaser Adel Mehraban Author

Might happen, it’s open source, check the issues and see if something exists. Up vote or create one 🙂. Even better create a PR if that’s your thing

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skhmt profile image
Mike S

Can you use Playwright to create an Electron-like system, but with Firefox instead of Chromium?

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yashints profile image
Yaser Adel Mehraban Author

It’s a bit early to be sure, but I see the potential

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julienverkest profile image
Julien Verkest

Great tool!

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gabbersepp profile image
Josef Biehler

How does Playwright communicate with the browsers?

Chromium is accessed via CDP as far as I know. But for the rest I found nothing.

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yashints profile image
Yaser Adel Mehraban Author

Have a look at connect method on this file for example

github.com/microsoft/playwright/bl...

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nicoandmee profile image
Nico Kokonas

Yes I am extremely excited to start using this library

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mikeborozdin profile image
Mike Borozdin

How does it address flakiness in E2E tests though? If it's true than it could be as good as Cypress (little flakiness) and Selenium (multiple browser support) combined.

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yashints profile image
Yaser Adel Mehraban Author

I’ll be exploring this further as I mentioned, if you have a codebase with e2e tests, do try it out and give feedback as well

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endtest_io profile image
endtest

We built a cloud platform where anyone can create, manage and execute automated tests for Web and Mobile Applications.

We would love to get some unbiased feedback from your side.

endtest.io