Capabilities

WebDriver capabilities are used to communicate the features supported by a session. A client may also use capabilities to define which features it requires the driver to satisfy when creating a new session.

When a WebDriver session is created it returns a set of capabilities describing the negotiated, effective capabilities of the session. Some of the capabilities included in this set are standard and shared between all browsers, but the set may also contain browser-specific capabilities and these are always prefixed.

Capabilities negotiation

Capabilities can be used to require a driver that supports a certain subset of features. This can be used to require certain browser features, such as the ability to resize the window dimensions, but is also used in distributed environments to select a particular browser configuration from a matrix of choices.

Selecting a particular web browser or platform only makes sense when you use a remote WebDriver. In this case the client makes contact with WebDriver through one or more intermediary nodes which negotiates which driver to return to you based on the capabilities it receives.

The capabilities object is a selection mechanism that limits which driver configurations the server will return. If you request a Firefox instance using browserName and Firefox is not installed on the remote, or macOS from a remote that only supports Linux, you may be out of luck. But occasionally you may not care which specific operating system or web browser your session has: you just want a session that has some capability.

The selection process, or the capabilities negotiation, is done through alwaysMatch and firstMatch.

alwaysMatch

As the name suggests, capabilities described inside the alwaysMatch capabilities object are features you require the session to have. If the server can not provide what features you require, it will fail.

If for example you ask for Firefox version 62 on a system that only has 60 installed, the session creation will fail:

{
  "capabilities": {
    "alwaysMatch": {
      "browserName": "firefox",
      "browserVersion": "60"
    }
  }
}

firstMatch

The firstMatch field accepts an array of capabilities objects which will be matched in turn until one matches what the server can provide, or it will fail.

This can be useful when you want a driver that runs on macOS or Linux, but not Windows:

{
  "capabilities": {
    "firstMatch": [
      {"platformName": "macos"},
      {"platformName": "linux"}
    ]
  }
}

Combining alwaysMatch and firstMatch

firstMatch can of course be combined with alwaysMatch to narrow down the selection. If for example you a driver that runs on macOS or Linux but it has to be Firefox:

{
  "capabilities": {
    "alwaysMatch": {
      "browserName": "firefox"
    },
    "firstMatch": [
      {"platformName": "macos"},
      {"platformName": "linux"}
    ]
  }
}

The previous example is exactly equivalent to putting the Firefox requirement in each firstMatch arm:

{
  "capabilities":{
    "firstMatch":[
      {"browserName": "firefox", "platformName":"macos"},
      {"browserName": "firefox", "platformName":"linux"}
    ]
  }
}

Which you choose of the two preceeding examples is not important, but it can matter when pass along browser configuration. To avoid unnecessarily repeating data, such as profiles, it is advisable to make use of alwaysMatch so that this data is only transmitted across the wire once:

{
  "capabilities": {
    "alwaysMatch": {
      "browserName": "firefox",
      "moz:firefoxOptions": {
        "profile": "<base64 encoded profile>",
        "args": ["-headless"],
        "prefs": {"dom.ipc.processCount": 8},
        "log":{"level": "trace"}
      }
    },
    "firstMatch": [
      {"platformName": "macos"},
      {"platformName": "linux"}
    ]
  }
}

List of capabilities

browserName
 
browserVersion
 
platformName
 
acceptInsecureCerts
The acceptInsecureCerts capability communicates whether expired or invalid TLS certificates are checked when navigating. If the capability is false, an insecure certificate error will be returned as navigation encounters domains with certificate problems. Otherwise, self-signed or otherwise invalid certificates will be implicitly trusted by the browser on navigation. The capability has effect for the lifetime of the session.
pageLoadStrategy
 
proxy
 
setWindowRect
 
timeouts
 
unhandledPromptBehavior

Vendor-specific capabilities

In addition to the standard capabilities WebDriver allows third-parties to extend the set of capabilities to match their needs. Browser vendors and suppliers of drivers typically use extension capabilities to provide configuration to the browser, but they can also be used by intermediaries for arbitrary blobs of information.

Legacy capabilities

The majority of Selenium clients use desiredCapabilities and requiredCapabilities to configure the new session. These are very similar to firstMatch and alwaysMatch described above. Some drivers support these legacy capabilities, but they are deprecated and should be avoided.

Converting a legacy capabilities object into the new style is easy. The first thing you need to know is that alwaysMatch/firstMatch is always wrapped inside a capabilities JSON Object, whereas desiredCapabilities/requiredCapabilities exists at the top level. Generally speaking, anything that has previously gone in desiredCapabilities should go in a firstMatch branch arm to achieve the same effect.

Take this deprecated capabilities object:

{"desiredCapabilities": {"browserName": "firefox"}}

This would be functionally equivalent in the new style:

{"capabilities": {"firstMatch": [{"browserName": "firefox"}]}}

But because there is only one firstMatch arm, and we know that session creation will fail if the server doesn’t have a Firefox installed, it is also equivalent to this:

{"capabilities": {"alwaysMatch": {"browserName": "firefox"}}}

Example

asd

See also

Document Tags and Contributors

Contributors to this page: ato, fscholz
Last updated by: ato,