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PhantomJS vs Puppeteer: What are the differences?

Introduction

In this article, we will compare PhantomJS and Puppeteer, two popular tools for automating web browser interactions. We will highlight the key differences between these two tools and examine their unique features and strengths.

  1. Execution environment: PhantomJS is a headless browser that uses the WebKit rendering engine, while Puppeteer is a library developed by Google that controls headless Chrome or Chrome in a full browser mode. This difference in execution environment affects the way scripts are run and the compatibility with different browser features.

  2. Maintenance and support: PhantomJS is no longer actively maintained since it entered an "un-maintained" status in March 2018. Puppeteer, on the other hand, is actively maintained by the Chrome team and continuously developed with new features and updates. This ensures that Puppeteer users can benefit from ongoing improvements and bug fixes.

  3. API and functionality: PhantomJS provides a simple and straightforward API for automating browser interactions, but its functionality is limited compared to Puppeteer. Puppeteer offers a more extensive and powerful API, allowing users to do more advanced tasks such as handling Chrome DevTools Protocol, accessing network activity, and fine-grained control over the browser.

  4. Debugging capabilities: Puppeteer provides better debugging capabilities compared to PhantomJS. With Puppeteer, you can easily debug your code using the Chrome DevTools interface, inspect DOM elements, set breakpoints, and analyze network traffic. Such debugging features are not available or more limited in PhantomJS.

  5. Community and resources: Puppeteer has a larger user community and more available online resources compared to PhantomJS. This means there are more tutorials, sample codes, and support forums available for Puppeteer users, making it easier to find help and solve issues when using Puppeteer.

  6. Integration with other tools and frameworks: Puppeteer has better integration with other tools and frameworks, especially in the Node.js ecosystem. It can be easily combined with testing frameworks like Jest or Mocha, headless testing libraries like Playwright, and various other JavaScript libraries. PhantomJS, being an older tool, may have limitations or compatibility issues with newer frameworks and libraries.

Summary

In summary, the key differences between PhantomJS and Puppeteer lie in their execution environment, maintenance and support, API and functionality, debugging capabilities, community and resources, and integration with other tools and frameworks. Puppeteer offers a more modern and feature-rich experience with better support and extensive functionality, making it a preferred choice for automating web browser interactions.

Advice on PhantomJS and Puppeteer
Ankur Loriya
Needs advice
on
PhantomJSPhantomJS
and
PuppeteerPuppeteer

I am using Node 12 for server scripting and have a function to generate PDF and send it to a browser. Currently, we are using PhantomJS to generate a PDF. Some web post shows that we can achieve PDF generation using Puppeteer. I was a bit confused. Should we move to puppeteerJS? Which one is better with NodeJS for generating PDF?

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Replies (2)
Recommends
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PuppeteerPuppeteer

You better go with puppeteer. It is basically chrome automation tool, written in nodejs. So what you get is PDF, generated by chrome itself. I guess there is hardly better PDF generation tool for the web. Phantomjs is already more or less outdated as technology. It uses some old webkit port that's quite behind in terms of standards and features. It can be replaced with puppeteer for every single task.

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Recommends
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PuppeteerPuppeteer

I suggest puppeteer to go for. It is simple and easy to set up. Only limitaiton is it can be used only for chrome browser and currently they are looking into expanding into FF. The next thing is Playwright which is just a scale up of Puppeteer. It supports cross browsers.

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Pros of PhantomJS
Pros of Puppeteer
  • 13
    Scriptable web browser
  • 3
    Depends on QT
  • 2
    No ECMAScript 6
  • 10
    Very well documented
  • 10
    Scriptable web browser
  • 6
    Promise based

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Cons of PhantomJS
Cons of Puppeteer
    Be the first to leave a con
    • 10
      Chrome only

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    - No public GitHub repository available -

    What is PhantomJS?

    PhantomJS is a headless WebKit scriptable with JavaScript. It is used by hundreds of developers and dozens of organizations for web-related development workflow.

    What is Puppeteer?

    Puppeteer is a Node library which provides a high-level API to control headless Chrome over the DevTools Protocol. It can also be configured to use full (non-headless) Chrome.

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    What are some alternatives to PhantomJS and Puppeteer?
    Selenium
    Selenium automates browsers. That's it! What you do with that power is entirely up to you. Primarily, it is for automating web applications for testing purposes, but is certainly not limited to just that. Boring web-based administration tasks can (and should!) also be automated as well.
    Electron
    With Electron, creating a desktop application for your company or idea is easy. Initially developed for GitHub's Atom editor, Electron has since been used to create applications by companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Slack, and Docker. The Electron framework lets you write cross-platform desktop applications using JavaScript, HTML and CSS. It is based on io.js and Chromium and is used in the Atom editor.
    Protractor
    Protractor is an end-to-end test framework for Angular and AngularJS applications. Protractor runs tests against your application running in a real browser, interacting with it as a user would.
    wkhtmltopdf
    wkhtmltopdf and wkhtmltoimage are command line tools to render HTML into PDF and various image formats using the QT Webkit rendering engine. These run entirely "headless" and do not require a display or display service.
    SlimerJS
    It allows you to manipulate a web page with an external Javascript script: opening a webpage, clicking on links, modifying the content... It is useful to do functional tests, page automation, network monitoring, screen capture etc.
    See all alternatives