Appium is an open-source automation framework that facilitates communication between the user’s test script, the Appium Server, and the emulator or real device being tested. It is a widely used framework for testing mobile, web, and hybrid applications. It is cross-platform, allowing users to write test scripts that can be executed on Android, iOS, and Windows.
To fully leverage the capabilities of Appium, it is essential to understand the common challenges that users face when getting started with the framework, as well as its inherent features. This guide presents several best practices that can help Quality Assurance (QA) teams optimize and enhance their Appium tests.
What is Appium?
Appium is a free and open-source framework designed for UI testing of mobile applications. It supports the testing of various types of applications, including native, hybrid, and web applications, and it allows for automation testing on both physical devices and emulators and simulators. Appium is also known for its cross-platform application testing capabilities, which means that a single API can be utilized for developing test scripts that can be run on both Android and iOS platforms.
Ways to Enhance Appium automation testing efficiency
Test automation aims to speed up the testing process, reduce errors, and minimize manual effort. However, running test scripts on one device at a time can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. Therefore, when implementing test automation, the goal should always be to run test scripts on as many devices as possible. This approach allows you to identify compatibility issues quickly, get immediate results, and rapidly iterate on any issues found.
Multithreading is a crucial concept in writing efficient programs with fast execution times. It enables the programmer to assign tasks to different threads, executing tasks concurrently, and significantly reducing the program’s runtime.
Parallel testing is one of the most effective techniques for accelerating the automated testing process. Parallelization is similar in concept to multithreading and refers to the simultaneous execution of multiple automated test scripts against various device and environment configurations, either locally or as part of a developer’s CI/CD pipeline.
Parallelization is a popular approach in automation testing because it makes testing and development more agile, resulting in robust and high-quality test scripts. Furthermore, by not running tests sequentially, it saves a significant amount of time without compromising the quality of the tests in any way.
LambdaTest is a cloud-based digital experience testing platform that provides a range of testing solutions, including automated testing with Appium. One of the key features of LambdaTest is the ability to perform Appium parallelization, which is the process of running multiple automated tests simultaneously across different devices and browsers. With LambdaTest, users can run their Appium test scripts on a real device cloud.
- Using the correct locators
In order to ensure the effectiveness of automated testing, QAs must possess proficiency in various Appium locator strategies to successfully test all components of an application. Failure to locate the required elements would render the automation process ineffective.
It’s worth noting that the overutilization of XPath locators is a common mistake made while writing automation test scripts. There are two ways to use XPath when writing a script: Absolute XPath and Relative XPath. While Absolute XPath is specific to an element and specifies its path from the root, any changes made to the application can cause the element’s XPath to change.
As a result, updating the test script becomes impractical and tedious. Relative XPath, on the other hand, starts with the desired element and doesn’t begin from the root. Therefore, the element can still be located if any changes are made to the application.
However, it’s not recommended to use XPath in test scripts due to its slow performance in locating elements at execution, particularly on Internet Explorer, where it’s the slowest.
Accessibility IDs serve as a more efficient alternative to XPath selectors, being much faster and easier to use. These locators are widely used in test scripts for Android and iOS applications.
- Run tests on real devices
The issue of device fragmentation, caused by the constant release of new devices, is a major challenge for testing teams conducting application testing. To ensure that the application functions properly and is reliable on various device/OS/browser combinations, it is essential to test it on multiple devices.
There are two options for carrying out tests on different devices:
- Using Emulators and Simulators: Emulators and simulators are easier to set up and are generally considered more cost-effective, but they are not the best option for confirming the functionality of an application. Since they do not always operate in the same way as real devices, running test scripts on them does not guarantee functionality on the actual device in question.
- Using Real Devices or Real Device Cloud: While conducting tests on actual devices may be time-consuming due to device configuration and software setup, it is a superior choice. Utilizing a cloud-based platform is an effective solution. To execute Appium tests on a real device cloud, LambdaTest App Automate is recommended, as it offers over 3000 actual device-browser combinations. This allows QA to comprehensively test the mobile application and ensure its functionality on thousands of real devices.
4. Using wait commands
The accuracy and effectiveness of a test script largely depend on its ability to precisely identify the application’s elements and carry out test cases in line with the software development team’s specifications. When the correct elements cannot be located, false negatives may result in addition to using incorrect locators.
Not using wait commands is a very common reason for tests to fail to locate an element accurately. If the application has not loaded completely or there is a delay between pages, the script will not be able to locate the element using the locator. To avoid this, wait commands should be incorporated.
Two primary types of wait commands can be employed:
Explicit wait: This command instructs the Appium driver to wait until the element is detected before moving on to the next line of code.
Implicit wait: This command instructs the Appium driver to wait for a specified amount of time while continually searching for the element in question until either the element is found or the allotted time runs out. If a list of multiple elements is given to the command, it will search the page until at least one element is found or the designated time period ends.
5. Use of Page Object Model
The Page Object Model (POM) is a design pattern used in software testing to create more maintainable and scalable test scripts. It addresses the issue of extensive updates and changes made to an application over time, which can cause the locators corresponding to specific elements in previously written test scripts to become obsolete.
With the POM approach, the test scripts interact with the page’s UI through methods in a page object class, which represents a page or a section of a page in the application. This page object class contains all the methods and properties needed to interact with the UI elements on the page. This means that the test script does not contain any hard-coded locators, making it more flexible and less prone to breaking when changes are made to the application.
The main advantage of using the POM design pattern is that changes to the UI can be easily accommodated by modifying only the code within the page object class, without needing to modify the actual tests. This approach ensures that modifications to support the new UI are centralized in one location, making it easier to maintain and update the test scripts. By separating the locators used in the test script from the test script itself, the POM design pattern promotes a more modular and maintainable approach to software testing.
6. Use of Appium Logs
To optimize the usage of Appium for mobile automation testing, it’s essential to leverage the rich information log and reporting structure of the Appium Server. While some might find Appium logs confusing and intimidating, it’s good practice to familiarize oneself with them.
The logs provide valuable information, such as stack traces of errors that occurred during test execution and the desired and default capabilities specified in the test, which can be used to modify the Appium server’s behavior. To identify slowness or potential bugs, the Appium log can be started with a timestamp using the command-line argument –log-timestamp, making it easier to pinpoint lines with longer execution times.
Using these best practices, such as reading and utilizing Appium logs, implementing the Page Object Model, using API calls to avoid unnecessary UI actions, and employing wait commands, can significantly increase the effectiveness and reliability of mobile automation testing.
Parallel execution helps in achieving faster execution times. By running multiple tests simultaneously, they are able to reduce the overall execution time significantly.
These techniques include optimizing test scripts for better readability and maintenance, using efficient selectors, implementing wait strategies, and reducing the number of unnecessary steps.
This article provides valuable insights into the benefits of optimizing the automation codebase for mobile apps and the techniques that can be used to achieve faster execution times. By following these tips and suggestions, organizations can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their mobile app automation testing processes.