Web Automation with Selenium: Building a Bot to Book COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments

Objective: The objective of this project is to leverage the power of Selenium, a popular web automation tool, to create a bot that can navigate through web pages, fill out forms, and interact with elements. In this project, we will specifically focus on building a Selenium bot to automate the process of booking COVID-19 vaccine appointments. By the end of this project, you will have gained hands-on experience in using Selenium, handling web elements, and creating robust automation scripts.

Learning Outcomes: Upon completion of this project, you will:

  • Have a strong understanding of web automation principles and techniques.
  • Be proficient in using Selenium to automate web interactions.
  • Understand how to handle different types of web elements, such as text fields, buttons, and dropdown menus.
  • Learn strategies for dealing with dynamic web content and handling common automation challenges.
  • Acquire practical experience in creating a complex web automation script from scratch.

Steps and Tasks: Step 1: Set Up Selenium and Web Driver

  • Install Selenium using pip: pip install selenium
  • Download and install the appropriate web driver for your browser (e.g., ChromeDriver for Google Chrome, GeckoDriver for Firefox).
  • Import the necessary modules in your Python script: from selenium import webdriver

Step 2: Launch the Web Browser and Navigate to the Target Website

  • Initialize a new instance of the web driver: driver = webdriver.Chrome()
  • Use the driver to open a website: driver.get("https://www.example.com")

Step 3: Inspect the Web Page and Identify the Elements to Interact With

  • Right-click on a web element and select “Inspect” to view its HTML code.
  • Identify the appropriate selector for each element (e.g., ID, class name, XPath).

Step 4: Interact with Form Elements and Submit the Form

  • Use the find_element_by_* method of the driver to locate a form element (e.g., text field, dropdown menu, checkbox).
  • Interact with the element (e.g., enter text, select an option) using the appropriate method (e.g., send_keys(), click()).
  • Submit the form by locating the submit button and calling the click() method.

Step 5: Handle Captchas and Other Security Measures

  • Implement manual intervention or use third-party libraries to solve captchas automatically (e.g., pytesseract, 2Captcha).

Step 6: Add Robustness to Your Script

  • Implement error handling and retry mechanisms to deal with common issues (e.g., element not found, network errors).
  • Use implicit or explicit waits to ensure that your script waits for elements to load before interacting with them.

Step 7: Automate the Process of Finding and Booking Vaccine Appointments

  • Use the techniques learned in previous steps to automate the process of navigating to the vaccine appointment booking page, selecting the desired options (e.g., location, date), and submitting the form.
  • Implement logic to handle different scenarios (e.g., no available appointments, fully booked) and take appropriate actions (e.g., try a different location, check for appointments at a later date).

Evaluation: To evaluate your project, you can record a screencast demonstrating your Selenium bot in action. The screencast should showcase the entire process of the bot navigating to the vaccine appointment booking page, interacting with the form elements, and handling different scenarios. Additionally, you can share your code on a platform like GitHub and provide a link for others to review and provide feedback.

Resources and Learning Materials:

Need a little extra help?

Let’s break down the process of building a Selenium bot to book COVID-19 vaccine appointments into smaller steps and provide some code snippets along the way.

Step 1: Set Up Selenium and Web Driver

  • Install Selenium using pip: pip install selenium
  • Download and install the appropriate web driver for your browser (e.g., ChromeDriver for Google Chrome, GeckoDriver for Firefox).
  • Import the necessary modules in your Python script: from selenium import webdriver

Step 2: Launch the Web Browser and Navigate to the Target Website

  • Initialize a new instance of the web driver: driver = webdriver.Chrome()
  • Use the driver to open a website: driver.get("https://www.example.com")

Step 3: Inspect the Web Page and Identify the Elements to Interact With

  • Right-click on a web element and select “Inspect” to view its HTML code.
  • Identify the appropriate selector for each element (e.g., ID, class name, XPath).

Step 4: Interact with Form Elements and Submit the Form

  • Use the find_element_by_* method of the driver to locate a form element (e.g., text field, dropdown menu, checkbox).
  • Interact with the element (e.g., enter text, select an option) using the appropriate method (e.g., send_keys(), click()).
  • Submit the form by locating the submit button and calling the click() method.

Here’s an example that demonstrates steps 2 to 4 by navigating to the Google homepage, entering a search query, and submitting the form:

from selenium import webdriver

# Launch the Chrome browser
driver = webdriver.Chrome()

# Navigate to Google
driver.get("https://www.google.com")

# Find the search box element
search_box = driver.find_element_by_name("q")

# Enter a search query
search_box.send_keys("Hello, world!")

# Submit the form (in this case, the form is the search box)
search_box.submit()

# Close the browser
driver.quit()

Step 5: Handle Captchas and Other Security Measures

  • Implement manual intervention or use third-party libraries to solve captchas automatically (e.g., pytesseract, 2Captcha).

Step 6: Add Robustness to Your Script

  • Implement error handling and retry mechanisms to deal with common issues (e.g., element not found, network errors).
  • Use implicit or explicit waits to ensure that your script waits for elements to load before interacting with them.

Here’s an example that adds an explicit wait to the previous script, causing it to wait for the search box to become visible before interacting with it:

from selenium import webdriver
from selenium.webdriver.common.by import By
from selenium.webdriver.support.ui import WebDriverWait
from selenium.webdriver.support import expected_conditions as EC

# Launch the Chrome browser
driver = webdriver.Chrome()

# Wait up to 10 seconds for the search box to become visible
wait = WebDriverWait(driver, 10)
search_box = wait.until(EC.visibility_of_element_located((By.NAME, "q")))

# Enter a search query
search_box.send_keys("Hello, world!")

# Submit the form (in this case, the form is the search box)
search_box.submit()

# Close the browser
driver.quit()

Step 7: Automate the Process of Finding and Booking Vaccine Appointments

  • Use the techniques learned in previous steps to automate the process of navigating to the vaccine appointment booking page, selecting the desired options (e.g., location, date), and submitting the form.
  • Implement logic to handle different scenarios (e.g., no available appointments, fully booked) and take appropriate actions (e.g., try a different location, check for appointments at a later date).

Remember, when building web automation scripts, it’s important to be mindful of the website’s terms of service and to use your new skills responsibly.

Access the Code-Along for this Skill-Builder Project to join discussions, utilize the t3 AI Mentor, and more.