An HTML document is built from a tree of nested HTML elements. Some elements are interactive (<input>), while others are stylistic (<em>), and yet others are neutral and open to various uses (<div>). HTML elements may be modified with inline attributes (<input type="number">), CSS styles (input {color: red}), or even JavaScript ($input.on('click', openAlert)).

Understanding the behavior and semantic meaning of HTML elements is critical for designing browser automations. Whether your goal is to test the functionality of a webpage, scrape data from across the web, or generate dynamic images from HTML templates, you’ll benefit from understanding how each element is used.

For example, perhaps you need to write a web crawler that extracts the contents of a blog. You may start from an initial blog post, saving the contents of the <article> tag to a database. Then to continue the search, you may loop through any link elements you find on the page (<a href="*">), looking for href attributes that match /post/*. From here, your scraper would load those pages and repeat the process.

How can BrowserCat help with targeting HTML elements?

Unlike “static” web scrapers, BrowserCat gives you full programmatic access to a live browser. Anything that a human user could do with a mouse and keyboard, you can do with code. Armed with BrowserCat, you can interact with websites, scrape data, and navigate in long-running websocket sessions.

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