Browser automation

Kibitzr uses Firefox browser and Selenium Python library for browser automation.

Installing Firefox can be cumbersome, please refer to FireFox installation guide.

Simple HTML forms can be filled using form key, but complex scenarios require full power of Python (Selenium) scripting.

Filling simple forms

Imagine, for example, that you need to authorize on a site before fetching content. For common case the check will look like:

checks:
  - name: Bank account balance
    url: https://bank.com
    form:
      - id: login
        creds: bank.login
      - id: password
        creds: bank.password
    ... (transform and notify) ...

Key id: login means that HTML element fill be found using ID selector login. Key creds: bank.login means that input’s value will be taken from creds dictionary using bank.login as a hierarchy path. Check assumes that kibitzr-creds.yml contains:

bank:
  login: mr.robot
  password: 123&dSLHj*sdfa

Available Form Selectors

Field can be selected using one of the three selectors: id, css, xpath. (Make sure to use lowercase).

Available Field Value Generators

As in example above, field can be filled from creds dictionary. Another option is to provide Jinja2 template in key value. Template will have access to conf and creds. However any plain text value can be passed as well. For example, the same value, as in creds example can be rendered by:

checks:
  - name: Bank account balance
    url: https://bank.com
    form:
      - id: login
        value: "{{ creds['bank']['login'] }}"
      - id: password
        value: "{{ creds['bank']['password'] }}"
    ... (transform and notify) ...

Note: don’t forget to wrap Jinja2 template in quotes, since curly bracket is a valid YAML markup for dictionary. Please refer to Jinja2 template documentation for details.

Python scenarios with Selenium

For complex cases Kibitzr provides access to Selenium driver. Here is an example of filling current date into form field:

checks:
  - name: Daily updates
    url: https://daily.com
    scenario: |
      import datetime
      today = datetime.date.today()
      element = driver.find_element_by_id('datefield-1')
      element.send_keys(today.strftime('%m/%d/%Y')
      run = driver.find_element_by_id('run-button')
      run.click()
    ... transforms and notify ...

Wait for Javascript to render contents

Sometimes web page uses some complex Javascript to render a page after it is loaded. These pages don’t require form filling, or complex scenarios, simple delay will do. To define delay add delay key with number of seconds to wait:

checks:
  - url: https://www.producthunt.com/posts/kibitzr
    delay: 1
    ... transforms and notify ...

Working around two-factor authentication

Some sites require entering code sent in a SMS for logging from the new device. 2-FA can’t be automated without weakening security. But Kibitzr can use persistent Firefox profile. Start persistent Firefox session with

$ kibitzr firefox

Than authenticate on all sites, that require first-login 2-FA. Once browser is closed, new profile will be saved in ./firefox_profile directory. If this directory exists, kibitzr will load it for every Firefox check.

Note: if running kibitzr remotely through SSH, use X11 forwarding.

Debugging/Troubleshooting

Writing robust Selenium scenarios is no easy task, and most likely it won’t work from the first time. Kibitzr has a few options to help with debugging.

  1. See what happens in Firefox by running in foreground mode. Just add

    checks:
      - url: ...
        scenario:
          ...
        headless: false
    

    to check dictionary.

  2. Launch Pdb within scenario and explore step-by-step.

    checks:
      - url: https://javascript-labyrinth.io
        scenario:
          import pdb; pdb.set_trace()
          ...
    
  3. Experiment inside Jupyter notebook. See notebook example.