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Headless web browsers

Here are a list of headless browsers that I know about:

  • HtmlUnit - Java. Custom browser engine. JavaScript support/DOM emulated. Open source.
  • Ghost - Python only. WebKit-based. Full JavaScript support. Open source.
  • Twill - Python/command line. Custom browser engine. No JavaScript. Open source.
  • PhantomJS - Command line/all platforms. WebKit-based. Full JavaScript support. Open source.
  • Awesomium - C++/.Net/all platforms. Chromium-based. Full JavaScript support. Commercial/free.
  • SimpleBrowser - .Net 4/C#. Custom browser engine. No JavaScript support. Open source.
  • ZombieJS - Node.js. Custom browser engine. JavaScript support/emulated DOM. Open source.
  • EnvJS - JavaScript via Java/Rhino. Custom browser engine. JavaScript support/emulated DOM. Open source.
  • Watir-webdriver with headless gem - Ruby via WebDriver. Full JS Support via Browsers (Firefox/Chrome/Safari/IE).
  • Spynner - Python only. PyQT and WebKit.

Headless browsers that have JavaScript support via an emulated DOM generally have issues with some sites that use more advanced/obscure browser features, or have functionality that has visual dependencies (e.g. via CSS positions and so forth), so whilst the pure JavaScript support in these browsers is generally complete, the actual supported browser functionality should be considered as partial only.

(note: original version of this post only mentioned HtmlUnit, hence the comments. If you know of other headless browser implementations and have edit rights, feel free to edit this post and add them.)

Here's another one for the list: "A headless Internet Explorer browser with a Javascript API. PhantomJS for the Trident engine." https://github.com/sdesalas/trifleJS

Stumbled upon Crowbar (mozilla-based): http://simile.mit.edu/wiki/Crowbar

sonnyp commented Mar 24, 2014

http://casperjs.org/ PhantomJS API-compatible, rely on Gecko (Firefox engine)

http://slimerjs.org/ Like phantom.js except uses the firefox engine.

BrowserKit, the Symfony2 component. PHP, no javascript support

bass14 commented Feb 13, 2015

I tried htmlunit, jaunt, webview head less browser in java. but those browser are Rendering Css/js web page source code.

Also check out https://github.com/MachinePublishers/jBrowserDriver which is Selenium-compatible and WebKit-based. Pure Java.

Check out https://github.com/segmentio/nightmare which is a chromium-based.Node.js/Javascript.

JABirchall commented Feb 21, 2017 edited

Laravel just released their browser emulator written in PHP Laravel/Dusk

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