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Selenium is an open-source tool that automates web browsers. It provides a single interface that lets testers automate user actions using multiple programming languages such as Ruby, Java, NodeJS, PHP, Perl, Python, and C#. But what if we try to automate some tasks that we can do only by using Web GUI interfaces/Dashboard? Let’s check it out.

Some of the described examples were born from customers’ requests when we found out that related features in the chosen license type are unavailable. We identified issues that we can’t solve using API or CLI. For example, if we have a particular graphical web interface and related items that users can configure, we can automate this process by using a tool like Selenium that automates web browsers.

In the sample, you can see how we automatically add (from the list) VPN exclusion rules after running the script.

Using the methods below, the Web browser can find the first element on an HTML page with related parameters. Elements were chosen from different Cisco Web interfaces.

Find one element with examples.

Method with parameter

This can find the element

find_element_by_id(“__dnaPlatformHeaderLeft”) <div id=”__dnaPlatformHeaderLeft”></div>
find_element_by_name(“leaf_name”) <input name=”leaf_name” type=”text” />
find_element_by_xpath(“//input[@placeholder=’192.168.0.0/24′]”) <input class=”flex-item cidr_input” type=”text” placeholder=”192.168.0.0/24″>
find_element_by_link_text(“Topology”) <a href=”/topology”>Topology</a>
find_element_by_partial_link_text(“event”) <a href=”/manage/dashboard/event_log?c=00%3A0x%3A23%3A36%3A01%3Ad9″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>event log</a>
find_element_by_tag_name(“h1”) <h1>DHCP</h1>
find_element_by_class_name(“dst_port”) <input class=”dst_port” placeholder=”Any” size=”4″>
find_element_by_css_selector(“button.LabeledToggle__button”) <button type=”button” class=”LabeledToggle__button”>VLANs</button>

 

If you need to find a few elements – use the method find_elements.

If on the target page your target element doesn’t have a unique CSS class or id – you can use find_element_by_xpath.

If you want to find an element by specific tag and parameter driver – use find_element_by_xpath(“//input[@class=’dst_port’]”)

Potential threats for automation scripts (using Selenium or similar tools)

  • Changes in the source web page, for example, in a new release or with a redesign
  • Not available interface elements
  • Extra unplanned exception during execution automation script

The reasons mentioned above can lead to incorrect execution of the automated script.

If changes affect HTML parameters like id, class (your script can’t find related elements).
Here are some potential errors you might get:

  • TimeoutException
  • ElementNotInteractableException,
  • ElementClickInterceptedException (element is not clickable at point (X,Y) because another element obscures it

Tips and fast tracks to write stable script/app:

  • After each search element or a click, a drag and a drop, make highlight errors if you don’t find an expected element.
  • Choose the programming language on which you already have some working script/app. Selenium has good docs for a bunch of languages like Java, Python, C#, Ruby, JavaScript, Kotlin.

Tasks and scenarios for which you can use Selenium or similar tools

  • For Cisco UC devices, when you need to switch on/switch off specific macros, it depends on some triggers
  • Configure Cisco AppDynamics web interface
  • All settings in the Cisco Meraki dashboard
  • Configuration for your account in DNA Spaces

Summary

You can use Selenium for the configuration or management of your devices and solutions with a GUI interface. To be honest, it’s an experimental approach. Firstly, you need to recognize whether you can solve your problem by using API/CLI, in case not, you can use this using a browser, then Selenium is a solution just for you. If you have a repeatable task that is connected with your web interface, and you usually solve it by using a browser, Selenium is a reasonable means for you.

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