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June 26, 2024

Debugging Puppeteer: Setup, Tips & Examples

Puppeteer offers a range of methods to debug your Puppeteer scripts.

In this article, we’ll be discussing the various ways of debugging in Puppeteer along with the tools and techniques associated with it.

How to set up debugging in Puppeteer?

Assuming that you already have Puppeteer installed, let’s get started with a basic script to debug.

Step 1: Prepare a basic Puppeteer Script

By creating a simple script as shown below you would have a foundation to test the Puppeteer debug methods. Create a test file named example.js and add the following code.

const puppeteer = require('puppeteer');

(async () => {
    //with const browser await puppeteer,launch browser and import the 	puppeteer library 
    const browser = await puppeteer.launch();
    const page = await browser.newPage();
    await page.goto('');
    await page.screenshot({ path: 'example.png' });
    await browser.close();

This should launch a headless test browser, navigate to the specified URL ‘’, take a screenshot to store it in the same folder as your script, and close the newly opened test browser.

Step 2: Enable Debugging

To enable debugging in Puppeteer, you can use the --inspect flag when running your Node.js script. This flag allows you to debug puppeteer scripts using Chrome DevTools. Run the following command in your terminal by using an IDE like Visual Studio Code.

node --inspect-brk example.js

The --inspect-brk flag starts the script in debug mode and pauses the execution at the very beginning of the script, allowing you to set additional breakpoints if needed. 

Step 4: Open Chrome DevTools

After running the above command, you will see an output similar to this.

Debugger listening on ws://
For help see

Open Chrome and navigate to chrome://inspect. Click on the "Open dedicated DevTools for Node" link. This will open Chrome DevTools, where you can see your code, set breakpoints, and inspect variables.

Step 5: Set Breakpoints

In the Chrome DevTools window, navigate to the Sources tab. You will see your script (example.js) in the file explorer on the left. Click on the file to open it, and set breakpoints by clicking on the line numbers. If you don’t see your file there, you can add it by clicking on the ‘+’ symbol.

Step 6: Debug Your Script

With breakpoints set, you can now efficiently debug puppeteer scripts. Use the play, step over, step into, and step out buttons to control the execution flow. Inspect variables in the Scope panel and evaluate expressions in the Console output.

Example Setup of a Puppeteer Debugger

To provide a more comprehensive example, let’s expand our script and debug a more complex scenario.

Complex Puppeteer Script

Create a new file named complexExample.js and add the following test code.

const puppeteer = require('puppeteer');

(async () => {
//with const browser await puppeteer,launch browser and import the puppeteer library 
    const browser = await puppeteer.launch({ headless: false });
    const page = await browser.newPage();
    page.on('console', msg => console.log('PAGE LOG:', msg.text()));
    await page.goto('');
    // Simulate user interactions
    await page.waitForSelector('h1');
    const title = await page.title();
    console.log(`Title: ${title}`);
    await browser.close();

Debugging Complex Script

Run the script with debugging enabled by entering this in the command terminal.

node --inspect-brk complexExample.js

Open Chrome DevTools as described earlier. You can use the following tips for a more granular level of debugging.

Using debugger Statements

You can add debugger statements directly in your code to pause execution at specific points.

const title = await page.title();
console.log(`Title: ${title}`);

For instance, adding the above code will pause execution at the ‘debugger’ statement, allowing you to inspect variables and the current state of the script in Chrome DevTools.

Evaluating Expressions

In the Console tab of Chrome DevTools, you can analyze the console output and evaluate expressions within the context of your script. This is useful for inspecting variables or trying out code snippets, and once you're done, you can resume test execution.

Monitoring Network Requests

Puppeteer also allows you to intercept and monitor network requests. To do so you can add this code to your script.

page.on('request', request => {
    console.log('Request:', request.url());

This will allow your terminal to log each network request URL made by the page.

Best practices to debug puppeteer scripts

There is a collection of best practices that you can follow to make sure that your script is debugged effectively.

Set headless mode to false

Instead of launching a headless Chromium window, this toggles the headless mode setting to false, allowing you to use Chrome DevTools directly for inspecting elements, monitoring network activity, and debugging JavaScript.

//with const browser await puppeteer,launch browser and import the puppeteer library 
const browser = await puppeteer.launch({headless: false});

Use Slow Motion

Using slow motion allows you to slow down Puppeteer’s actions, loading the page step by step, which makes it easier to observe what’s happening. This comes in handy when identifying timing issues or understanding element interactions.

const browser = await puppeteer.launch({headless: false, slowMo: 250});

Using an enhanced debugger

If you have complex debugging scenarios you would need to use a more enhanced debugger like ndb which was made specifically for Nodejs applications. You can install it using the following command.

npm install -g ndb

When you use ndb before a command (like ndb jest), it launches a special debugging environment where you can execute and debug your script. This environment offers more sophisticated debugging features, such as better handling of asynchronous operations, a more user-friendly interface for navigating code, and enhanced visualization of the application's execution.

Capture screenshots

By using page.screenshot() you can capture screenshots of the web page when your script encounters errors. This allows you to analyze it and take preventative countermeasures.

await page.goto('');
await page.screenshot({ path: 'screenshot.png' });


Implementing the try-catch method involves wrapping code blocks that are prone to errors and catching any errors that might occur, preventing your node script from crashing.

This is an example of how you could use it.

try {
} catch (error) {
  console.error("Error clicking button:", error);


Overall, while Puppeteer is a library with high functionality, it isn’t immune to errors like page crashes, selector problems, timeout issues, and so on. The causes of these errors and bugs can be detected by following the debugging methods and applying them to your script. However, debugging alone is not enough. It should be complemented with thorough testing, proper error handling, and continuous monitoring to ensure the reliability and robustness of your Puppeteer scripts.

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