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Invalid Selector Exception: Understanding and Handling the Exception in Selenium

InvalidSectorException in Selenium


Selenium WebDriver is a widely used tool for browser automation across various programming languages, including Java. One common exception developers may encounter when working with Selenium is InvalidSelectorException. This article provides a comprehensive understanding of this common exception, its causes, and how to handle it effectively. Additionally, it includes a Java code example to demonstrate handling the exception.

What is InvalidSectorException?

InvalidSelectorException is an exception thrown by Selenium WebDriver when the provided selector used to locate an element is either syntactically incorrect or not supported by the current browser. This exception indicates that the element locator strategy you are trying to use is incorrect, and you should revise it to locate the desired element properly.

Primary Causes of Invalid Selector Exception

The most frequent reasons for encountering this exception include:
  1. Incorrect syntax: The selector provided is not following the appropriate syntax for the chosen locator strategy (e.g., CSS, XPath).
  2. Unsupported locator: The locator strategy used may not be supported by the browser or the WebDriver version being used.

Addressing InvalidSectorException

To troubleshoot InvalidSelectorException effectively, follow these steps:
  1. Review the selector: Inspect the selector syntax and ensure that it follows the appropriate syntax for the chosen locator strategy.
  2. Verify browser compatibility: Ensure that the locator strategy being used is compatible with the current browser and WebDriver version.

Code example:

import org.openqa.selenium.By;
import org.openqa.selenium.InvalidSelectorException;
import org.openqa.selenium.WebDriver;
import org.openqa.selenium.WebElement;
import org.openqa.selenium.chrome.ChromeDriver;

public class InvalidSelectorExceptionExample {
  public static void main(String[] args) {
    System.setProperty("webdriver.chrome.driver", "path/to/chromedriver");
    WebDriver driver = new ChromeDriver();

    try {

      // Ensure that the selector syntax is correct
      WebElement element = driver.findElement(By.cssSelector("validCssSelector"));

      // Perform actions on the element
    } catch (InvalidSelectorException e) {
      System.out.println("Invalid selector: " + e.getMessage());
    } finally {

Here, the code sample demonstrates handling InvalidSelectorException in a Selenium Java test. It imports required classes, initializes WebDriver, and uses a try-catch block to navigate to a webpage, locate an element using a valid CSS selector, and perform actions on the element. If InvalidSelectorException is thrown, the error message is printed, and the browser and WebDriver session are terminated in the finally block. This example showcases handling InvalidSelectorException and using valid selectors in a Selenium test. By following the recommended practices and using the provided code example as a guide, you can significantly reduce the occurrence of InvalidSelectorException and improve the stability of your automated tests.

Why InvalidSectorException is so common

You can read why Selenium is not an adequate solution for modern websites here. Smart tools such as testRigor don't depend on any locators, and as a QA professional, you can forget about the underlying infrastructure - and focus on your test having the best assertions and testing for the right things. You can simply switch to testRigor to forever escape element exception issues like the one described in this article.

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