Ways to deal with #document under iframe

For the portal I am testing now, I came with the problem that I could not create any xpath locators, after some time I figured out that it was because of an '#document', this cuts the path and makes the simple "copy xpath" to direct the path to a completely different element.

<iframe id="FRAMENAME" src="/webclient/workspace/launch-task/REMbl?ds=BP" width="100%" height="100%" frameborder="0" data-navitemname="navitemname" style="" xpath="1">

I found the solution for this is it is simply add a switchTo like this:


This works and makes the rest of the code to work properly but, takes some extra time processing this command till the code moves to the next line.

So I would like to ask, is there is a better solution for this? something smarter/faster?

I am concerned that when the point where I have lots of scripts comes, the execution time will take too long.

I don't use id locators for example because they are all dynamic so sometimes a xpath is required.

Thank you!

inline frames

As per the documentation in Using inline frames, an inline frame is a construct which embeds a document into an HTML document so that embedded data is displayed inside a subwindow of the browser's window. This does not mean full inclusion and the two documents are independent, and both them are treated as complete documents, instead of treating one as part of the other.

iframe structure and details

  • Generally, an iframe element is in the form of:

    <iframe src="URL" more attributes>
    alternative content for browsers which do not
    support iframe
  • Browsers which support iframe display the document referred to by the URL in a subwindow, typically with vertical and/or horizontal scroll bars. Such browsers ignore the content of the iframe element (i.e. everything between the start tag <iframe...> and the end tag </iframe>). Browsers which do not support iframe (or have such support disabled) does the opposite, i.e. process the content as if the <iframe...> and </iframe> tags were not there. Thus, the content matters, despite being ignored by some browsers.

  • So to summarize, inline frames do not mean an include feature, although it might sometimes serve similar purposes.

  • Note that, when inline frames are used, the browser (if it supports them) sends a request to the server referred to by the URL in the iframe element, and after getting the requested document displays it inside an inline frame. In this sense inline frames are a joint browser-server issue, but only the browser needs to be specifically iframe-aware; from the server's point of view, there's just a normal HTTP request for a document, and it sends the document without having (or needing) any idea on what the browser is going to do with it.

Something Smarter

As per the best practices while switching to an iframe you need to induce WebDriverWait as follows:

  • Switch through Frame Name (Java Sample Code):

    new WebDriverWait(driver, 20).until(ExpectedConditions.frameToBeAvailableAndSwitchToIt(By.name("frame_name")));
  • Switch through iframe XPath (Python Sample Code):

    WebDriverWait(driver, 10).until(EC.frame_to_be_available_and_switch_to_it((By.XPATH,"//iframe[@id='ptifrmtgtframe' and @name='TargetContent']")))
  • Switch through iframe CssSelector (C# Sample Code):

    new WebDriverWait(driver, TimeSpan.FromSeconds(20)).Until(ExpectedConditions.FrameToBeAvailableAndSwitchToIt(By.CssSelector("iframe#twitter-widget-0")));


You can find a couple of relevant discussions in:

tl; dr

Inline frames vs. normal frames

To work with elements inside iframe you must switch to this specific iframe.

Your solution .switchTo().frame("FRAMENAME"); is correct. Selenium does not have any other ways to work with iframe wrappers.