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A Deep Dive into Selenium 4’s Relative Locators

Quizzically Business Man Happy Staring At Screen Of Code

In the fast-changing world of automating tasks on the web, keeping up means getting really good at using tools that can easily handle the always-changing problems. Selenium 4 has a new feature called Relative Locators. It’s a big deal because it makes it easier to deal with complex connections between different parts of a website’s interface. This blog will explore the benefits of Relative Locators, giving examples from the real world and showing code to help automation experts learn how to use this powerful tool.

Understanding Relative Locators

While traditional locators like IDs or XPath are invaluable, they can become unwieldy when confronting dynamic UIs or intricate layouts. Relative Locators usher in a fresh perspective by allowing us to identify elements in relation to nearby elements, such as above, below, to the left, to the right, or even in proximity.

Advantages of Relative Locators

  1. Robust Element Identification:

It makes test scripts stronger by adjusting to changes in the way a website looks. This helps the scripts stay reliable even if the structure of the site changes.

  1. Improved Readability:

It makes the code easier to understand because it shows how different parts of the website are connected, making the automation scripts clearer and easier to read

  1. Dynamic Element Handling:

Works really well in situations where elements on a website are created or placed in different ways, giving the ability to be flexible and adjust easily.

  1. Reduced Maintenance Overhead:

Reduces the work needed to maintain scripts by providing a strong method to find elements, which means you won’t have to make changes to the code as often.

Real-Time Scenarios

Scenario 1: Button Next to Another Element

Traditional Approach:

// Traditional XPath

String buttonXPath = “//input[@id=’submitButton’]”;

Relative Locator Approach:

// Using Relative Locator

WebElement button = driver.findElement(withTagName(“input”)


Scenario 2: Dynamic Positioning of Elements

Traditional Approach:

// Traditional CSS Selector

String submitButtonSelector = “button.dynamic-submit”;

Relative Locator Approach:

// Using Relative Locator for Dynamic Positioning

WebElement submitButton = driver.findElement(withTagName(“button”)


Scenario 3: Handling Elements Above or Below

Traditional Approach:

// Traditional XPath for Element Above

String aboveElementXPath = “//div[@id=’footer’]/preceding-sibling::div[1]”;

Relative Locator Approach:

// Using Relative Locator for Element Above

WebElement aboveElement = driver.findElement(withTagName(“div”)


Comprehensive Test Scenario

In a more complex scenario where elements are positioned dynamically and relationships matter:

// Using Multiple Relative Locators

WebElement targetElement = driver.findElement(withTagName(“button”)




Additional Examples and Insights

Scenario 4: Element to the Right and Below Another Element

// Using Relative Locator for Element to the Right and Below

WebElement rightBelowElement = driver.findElement(withTagName(“span”)



Scenario 5: Element Between Two Other Elements

// Using Relative Locator for Element Between Two Elements

WebElement betweenElement = driver.findElement(withTagName(“p”)


Browser Compatibility Challenges

Identifying Known Issues:

Before focusing on using Relative Locators across different browsers, it’s important to know about any existing problems with them. Each browser might understand these locators a bit differently, which could cause unexpected issues.

Version-Specific Adjustments:

Keep an eye on updates for browsers and how they affect Relative Locators. Sometimes, a locator that used to work well in an older version might need changes to work properly in a newer version.

Custom Waits and Timeouts:

Different browsers might load elements at different speeds. To handle this, adjust how long your script waits for elements to appear. This ensures your scripts won’t fail because an element takes longer to show up in some browsers.

Tips for Optimal Cross-Browser Compatibility

Regular Testing Across Browsers:

Testing regularly on popular browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge is very important. Your automated tests should cover different scenarios on each browser to find any problems with how they work together as early as possible.

Version-Specific Adjustments:

Keep up-to-date with browser updates and how they might affect Relative Locators. Sometimes, a locator that used to work perfectly in an older version might need changes to work properly in a newer version.

Custom Waits and Timeouts:

Because different browsers may load elements at different speeds, you should adjust how long your script waits for elements to show up. This makes sure your scripts won’t fail because an element takes longer to appear in some browsers.

How Performance is affected

Execution Speed Variability:

Relative Locators, although powerful, might cause differences in how fast your code runs. Things like which browser you’re using, the strength of your internet connection, and how complex the elements are can affect how quickly the code finds elements.

Overcoming Latency Challenges:

When dealing with slow connections that cause delays, like a sluggish internet connection, think about adjusting timeouts carefully. Create strategies to handle delays without making the overall testing time too long.

Best Practices for Optimal Performance

Targeted Test Scoping:

Try to narrow down your tests to specific functions. This helps your tests concentrate on particular areas and reduces the number of elements that need to be found, which can make your tests faster.

Parallel Execution:

Run your tests simultaneously on different parts of your system. This can speed up how long it takes for your entire set of tests to run.

Structuring Code for Readability


Divide your automation code into smaller, understandable parts. This doesn’t just make the code easier to read but also makes it simpler to update and maintain.

Meaningful Naming Conventions:

Use names for elements and functions that clearly explain what they do. Well-named parts of your code instantly show what they’re meant for, avoiding confusion.

Organizing Code for Maintainability

Page Object Model (POM):

Integrate Relative Locators seamlessly into the Page Object Model (POM). This architectural pattern enhances code organization, making it easy to manage and scale your automation suite.

Version Control and Documentation:

Utilize version control systems to track changes systematically. Additionally, maintain comprehensive documentation explaining the purpose and usage of each Relative Locator.


Selenium 4’s Relative Locators are a formidable addition to an automation engineer’s toolkit, empowering them to navigate the intricate dance of UI element identification. By embracing strategies based on proximity, scripts become more adaptable, readable, and robust.



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Jeet Palan

Jeet Palan is an Technical Consultant at Perficient. He has experience in Manual and Automation testing. In addition to this, he is willing to learn different types of testing and likes to know and learn about new trending technologies.

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