Python simulate browser activity


C

choi2k

Hi, everyone

I am trying to write a small application using python but I am not
sure whether it is possible to do so..
The application aims to simulate user activity including visit a
website and perform some interactive actions (click on the menu,
submit a form, redirect to another pages...etc)
I have found some libraries / plugins which aims to simulate browser
activity but ... none of them support AJAX request and/or running
javascript.

Here is one of the simple tasks which I would like to do using the
application:
1. simulate the user activity, visit the website ("https://
www.abc.com")
2. find out the target element by id ("submitBtn") and simulate mouse
click on the item.
3. perform some javascript functions which invoked by click event from
step 2. ( the function is bind to the item by jquery)
4. post ajax request using javascript and if the page has been
redirected, load the new page content

Is it possible to do so?

Thank you in advance.
 
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C

Chris Rebert

Hi, everyone

I am trying to write a small application using python but I am not
sure whether it is possible to do so..
The application aims to simulate user activity including visit a
website and perform some interactive actions (click on the menu,
submit a form, redirect to another pages...etc)
I have found some libraries / plugins which aims to simulate browser
activity but ... none of them support AJAX request and/or running
javascript.

Did you look at Selenium?
http://seleniumhq.org/

Cheers,
Chris
 
R

Roy Smith

choi2k said:
Hi, everyone

I am trying to write a small application using python but I am not
sure whether it is possible to do so..
The application aims to simulate user activity including visit a
website and perform some interactive actions (click on the menu,
submit a form, redirect to another pages...etc)
I have found some libraries / plugins which aims to simulate browser
activity but ... none of them support AJAX request and/or running
javascript.

Here is one of the simple tasks which I would like to do using the
application:
1. simulate the user activity, visit the website ("https://
www.abc.com")
2. find out the target element by id ("submitBtn") and simulate mouse
click on the item.
3. perform some javascript functions which invoked by click event from
step 2. ( the function is bind to the item by jquery)
4. post ajax request using javascript and if the page has been
redirected, load the new page content

Is it possible to do so?

Thank you in advance.

Depending on exactly what you're trying to test, this may or may not be
possible.

#1 is easy. Just get the URL with urllib (or, even better, Kenneth
Reitz's very cool requests library (http://docs.python-requests.org/).

#2 gets a little more interesting, but still not that big a deal. Parse
the HTML you get back with something like lxml (http://lxml.de/).
Navigate the DOM with a CSSSelector to find the element you're looking
for. Use urllib/requests again to get the href.

#3 is where things get fun. What, exactly, are you trying to test? Are
you trying to test that the js works, or are you really trying to test
your server and you're just using the embedded js as a means to generate
the next HTTP request?

If the former, then you really want to be exploring something like
selenium (http://seleniumhq.org/). If the latter, then skip all the js
crap and just go a GET or POST (back to urllib/requests) on the
appropriate url.

#4 falls into the same bucket as #3.

Once you have figured all this out, you will get a greater appreciation
for the need to cleanly separate your presentation (HTML, CSS,
Javascript) from your business logic and data layers. If there is a
clean interface between them, it becomes easy to test one in isolation
from the other. If not, then you end up playing games with screen
scraping via lxml and selenium just to test your database queries.
Which will quickly lead to you running screaming into the night.
 
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C

Chris Angelico

The application aims to simulate user activity including visit a
website and perform some interactive actions (click on the menu,
submit a form, redirect to another pages...etc)
I have found some libraries / plugins which aims to simulate browser
activity but ... none of them support AJAX request and/or running
javascript.

Here is one of the simple tasks which I would like to do using the
application:
4. post ajax request using javascript and if the page has been
redirected, load the new page content

To the web server, everything is a request. Don't think in terms of
Javascript; there is no Javascript, there is no AJAX, there is not
even a web browser. There's just a TCP socket connection and an HTTP
request. That's all you have.

On that basis, your Python script most definitely can simulate the
request. It needs simply to make the same HTTP query that the
Javascript would have made. The only tricky part is figuring out what
that request would be. If you can use a non-SSL connection, that'll
make your job easier - just get a proxy or packet sniffer to monitor
an actual web browser, then save the request headers and body. You can
then replay that using Python; it's not difficult to handle cookies
and such, too.

Hope that helps!

ChrisA
 

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