aste123 aste123 - 5 months ago 31
Ajax Question

How can I catch and process the data from the XHR responses using casperjs?

The data on the webpage is displayed dynamically and it seems that checking for every change in the html and extracting the data is a very daunting task and also needs me to use very unreliable XPaths. So I would want to be able to extract the data from the

XHR
packets.

I hope to be able to extract information from
XHR
packets as well as generate 'XHR' packets to be sent to the server.
The extracting information part is more important for me because the sending of information can be handled easily by automatically triggering html elements using casperjs.

I'm attaching a screenshot of what I mean.enter image description here

The text in the response tab is the data I need to process afterwards. (This XHR response has been received from the server.)

Answer

This is not easily possible, because the resource.received event handler only provides meta data like url, headers or status, but not the actual data. The underlying phantomjs event handler acts the same way.


Stateless AJAX Request

If the ajax call is stateless, you may repeat the request

casper.on("resource.received", function(resource){
    // somehow identify this request, here: if it contains ".json"
    // it also also only does something when the stage is "end" otherwise this would be executed two times
    if (resource.url.indexOf(".json") != -1 && resource.stage == "end") {
        var data = casper.evaluate(function(url){
            // synchronous GET request
            return __utils__.sendAJAX(url, "GET");
        }, resource.url);
        // do something with data, you might need to JSON.parse(data)
    }
});
casper.start(url); // your script

You may want to add the event listener to resource.requested. That way you don't need to way for the call to complete.

You can also do this right inside of the control flow like this (source: A: CasperJS waitForResource: how to get the resource i've waited for):

casper.start(url);

var res, resData;
casper.waitForResource(function check(resource){
    res = resource;
    return resource.url.indexOf(".json") != -1;
}, function then(){
    resData = casper.evaluate(function(url){
        // synchronous GET request
        return __utils__.sendAJAX(url, "GET");
    }, res.url);
    // do something with the data here or in a later step
});

casper.run();

Stateful AJAX Request

If it is not stateless, you would need to replace the implementation of XMLHttpRequest. You will need to inject your own implementation of the onreadystatechange handler, collect the information in the page window object and later collect it in another evaluate call.

You may want to look at the XHR faker in sinon.js or use the following complete proxy for XMLHttpRequest (I modeled it after method 3 from How can I create a XMLHttpRequest wrapper/proxy?):

function replaceXHR(){
    (function(window, debug){
        function args(a){
            var s = "";
            for(var i = 0; i < a.length; i++) {
                s += "\t\n[" + i + "] => " + a[i];
            }
            return s;
        }
        var _XMLHttpRequest = window.XMLHttpRequest;

        window.XMLHttpRequest = function() {
            this.xhr = new _XMLHttpRequest();
        }

        // proxy ALL methods/properties
        var methods = [ 
            "open", 
            "abort", 
            "setRequestHeader", 
            "send", 
            "addEventListener", 
            "removeEventListener", 
            "getResponseHeader", 
            "getAllResponseHeaders", 
            "dispatchEvent", 
            "overrideMimeType"
        ];
        methods.forEach(function(method){
            window.XMLHttpRequest.prototype[method] = function() {
                if (debug) console.log("ARGUMENTS", method, args(arguments));
                if (method == "open") {
                    this._url = arguments[1];
                }
                return this.xhr[method].apply(this.xhr, arguments);
            }
        });

        // proxy change event handler
        Object.defineProperty(window.XMLHttpRequest.prototype, "onreadystatechange", {
            get: function(){
                // this will probably never called
                return this.xhr.onreadystatechange;
            },
            set: function(onreadystatechange){
                var that = this.xhr;
                var realThis = this;
                that.onreadystatechange = function(){
                    // request is fully loaded
                    if (that.readyState == 4) {
                        if (debug) console.log("RESPONSE RECEIVED:", typeof that.responseText == "string" ? that.responseText.length : "none");
                        // there is a response and filter execution based on url
                        if (that.responseText && realThis._url.indexOf("whatever") != -1) {
                            window.myAwesomeResponse = that.responseText;
                        }
                    }
                    onreadystatechange.call(that);
                };
            }
        });

        var otherscalars = [
            "onabort",
            "onerror",
            "onload",
            "onloadstart",
            "onloadend",
            "onprogress",
            "readyState",
            "responseText",
            "responseType",
            "responseXML",
            "status",
            "statusText",
            "upload",
            "withCredentials",
            "DONE",
            "UNSENT",
            "HEADERS_RECEIVED",
            "LOADING",
            "OPENED"
        ];
        otherscalars.forEach(function(scalar){
            Object.defineProperty(window.XMLHttpRequest.prototype, scalar, {
                get: function(){
                    return this.xhr[scalar];
                },
                set: function(obj){
                    this.xhr[scalar] = obj;
                }
            });
        });
    })(window, false);
}

If you want to capture the AJAX calls from the very beginning, you need to add this to one of the first event handlers

casper.on("page.initialized", function(resource){
    this.evaluate(replaceXHR);
});

or evaluate(replaceXHR) when you need it.

The control flow would look like this:

function replaceXHR(){ /* from above*/ }

casper.start(yourUrl, function(){
    this.evaluate(replaceXHR);
});

function getAwesomeResponse(){
    return this.evaluate(function(){
        return window.myAwesomeResponse;
    });
}

// stops waiting if window.myAwesomeResponse is something that evaluates to true
casper.waitFor(getAwesomeResponse, function then(){
    var data = JSON.parse(getAwesomeResponse());
    // Do something with data
});

casper.run();

As described above, I create a proxy for XMLHttpRequest so that every time it is used on the page, I can do something with it. The page that you scrape uses the xhr.onreadystatechange callback to receive data. The proxying is done by defining a specific setter function which writes the received data to window.myAwesomeResponse in the page context. The only thing you need to do is retrieving this text.


JSONP Request

Writing a proxy for JSONP is even easier, if you know the prefix (the function to call with the loaded JSON e.g. insert({"data":["Some", "JSON", "here"],"id":"asdasda")). You can overwrite insert in the page context

  1. after the page is loaded

    casper.start(url).then(function(){
        this.evaluate(function(){
            var oldInsert = insert;
            insert = function(json){
                window.myAwesomeResponse = json;
                oldInsert.apply(window, arguments);
            };
        });
    }).waitFor(getAwesomeResponse, function then(){
        var data = JSON.parse(getAwesomeResponse());
        // Do something with data
    }).run();
    
  2. or before the request is received (if the function is registered just before the request is invoked)

    casper.on("resource.requested", function(resource){
        // filter on the correct call
        if (resource.url.indexOf(".jsonp") != -1) {
            this.evaluate(function(){
                var oldInsert = insert;
                insert = function(json){
                    window.myAwesomeResponse = json;
                    oldInsert.apply(window, arguments);
                };
            });
        }
    }).run();
    
    casper.start(url).waitFor(getAwesomeResponse, function then(){
        var data = JSON.parse(getAwesomeResponse());
        // Do something with data
    }).run();