Debug protractor script in Visual Studio Code

Selenium is a popular open source project to support web end-to-end automation, especially it supports multiple programming languages, such as C#, Java and Python etc. Protractor is based on selenium webdriverjs and provides progamming support from JavaScript approach. Protractor has handy element location support for angularjs, this has made it very popular.

As protractor is based on Node.js and VS Code has built-in debugging support for Node.js runtime, it is easy to develop and debug protractor script in visual studio code. This article will introduce how to debug the script in vs code.


Suppose you installed Node.js and configured protractor by "npm install protractor --save-dev". For more script development and basic selenium knowledge, please check with

Protractor Configuration

The easiest way to begin with protractor configuration is copy node_modules\protractor\example\conf.js to your source repository. Suppose you have it named to protractor.conf.js and support the following two suites:

smoke: 'spec/smoketests/*.js',
full: 'spec/full/*.js'

Create launch.json

Click on the Debugging icon in the View Bar on the side of VS Code. Click on the Configure gear icon on the Debug view top bar, choose Node.js as the debug environment and VS Code will generate a launch.json file under your workspace's .vscode folder.


Configure protractor in launch.json

Locate the "Launch" entry in launch.json, change program and args in the following

"name": "Launch",
"type": "node",
"request": "launch",
"program": "${workspaceRoot}/node_modules/protractor/bin/protractor",
"stopOnEntry": false,
"args": ["${workspaceRoot}/protractor.conf.js"],


Now, you can click F9 to set breakpoint, F5 to debug the script. Watch and Call stack panels are handy to inspect the running status.


Support Suite in Configuration

Suppose you just want to debug smoke test suite while don't want to change the Launch entry in the launch.json, you can simply copy and paste the Launch entry and rename it to SmokeTest shown below. Furthermore, add "--suite" and "smoke" to the args array entry.

"name": "SmokeTest",
"type": "node",
"request": "launch",
"program": "${workspaceRoot}/node_modules/protractor/bin/protractor",
"stopOnEntry": false,
"args": ["${workspaceRoot}/protractor.conf.js", "--suite", "smoke"],
"cwd": "${workspaceRoot}",
"preLaunchTask": null,


Make sure you have chosen SmokeTest in the debug view and it will only run against smoke suite in the next debug session then.

For more information regarding to debug in visual studio code, there is a good introduction in

Comments (16)
  1. pradeep says:

    Hi Wu Shuai ,

    I followed all the step you mention above to debug but the problem i am facing is i am not able to see immediate response in the browser , if you can please give me some more information or can you share some sample code to my email id

  2. Wu Shuai says:

    Hi Pradeep,

    If there is no immediate response in the browser, it doesn’t look like an issue in visual studio code itself. Does the test work if running protractor directly from cmd console? Or,probably have a try on other kinds of browser.

  3. kishore says:

    Hi Wu Shuai,
    Thanks for really good article .I am having similar issue as pradeep. I able to run the test form the command prompt . But when i try to debug the test from VS code, nothing happens in browser.

  4. Wu Shuai says:

    Based on latest Win10 + Node + Visual Studio code, I can reproduce the issue. Looks like the command “node –debug-brk=34433 –nolazy node_modules\protractor\bin\protractor local.conf.js” doesn’t work, will check it.

    Hi kishore, have you used the maxInstances capability shown below? If yes, that could be the problem.


  5. Pavel says:

    It doesn’t help for me. With parameter shardTestFiles:true chrome doesn’t starts, without it it still nothing happens.

  6. Wu Shuai says:

    @Pavel, check the output panel in vs code, if it is hanging similar to “node –debug-brk=34433 –nolazy node_modules\protractor\bin\protractor local.conf.js”, I suppose you can reproduce it by running the command directly in cmd without vs code. Anyway, try the following steps and see whether helps:
    1, Make sure the local web driver has been updated, you can run “node .\node_modules\protractor\node_modules\webdriver-manager update” to achieve this.
    2, Check whether there are multiple web driver instances launched, if yes, modify the karma config to limit the number to 1

    Hope that helps.

  7. Pavel says:

    Resolving of the problem is very simple. Node 6.x needed (was 4.x).

  8. vdaudz says:

    Thanks Pavel, Node update to v6.9.4 solved it for me (was v5.3 before).

  9. vdaudz says:

    * Note that the same problem was present if trying to run protractor in debug mode directly via console (no VS).

  10. chandra says:

    i have created angular 2 js project from angular cli and added above launch configuration for my angular. when i try to run e2e tests in angular cli, i am getting error message below and can one of you please help me?
    node –debug-brk=3299 –nolazy protractor projectpath/protractor.conf.js
    Debugger listening on [::]:3299
    TypeError: The specified path does not exist: e2e

  11. Hirudinee says:

    This blog was a great help when i started protractor on VS code. thank you!

  12. Wu Shuai says:

    Thanks, glad to know it is helpful

  13. Robouste says:

    When I launch the debug session, testing are running but breaking points are not hit. What am I missing ? I’m using Angular CLI

  14. Ragan m says:

    Protractor version is 3.10.10,
    I wanted to know, if this debugging works in the above mentioined version.

  15. Wu Shuai says:

    I have not tried in latest vs code and protractor, minor modification might be needed.

  16. vsgopi says:

    HI Wu Shuai,
    I am currently facing the same problem where the protractor tests got debugged in VS Code and then the actual execution begins.
    Kindly let me know what’s the root cause and how to resolve this issue.

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