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Appium Tutorial for Beginners

Are you ready to revolutionize your mobile automation and testing strategies with Appium? In a world where mobile applications dominate the digital landscape, this Appium tutorial will help you stay ahead of the competition

In this tutorial, we will dive into the depths of Appium to uncover its hidden potential and explore how it can elevate your testing processes to new heights. Get ready to embark on a journey where seamless cross-platform testing, enhanced user experiences, and accelerated development cycles await. It’s time to unlock the power of Appium and pave the way for mobile excellence.

Table of Contents:

Before reading ahead, we suggest you go through the Selenium Java Tutorial For Beginners video so that you get familiar with the topics to be discussed ahead.

Understanding Mobile Automation and Appium

Mobile automation refers to automating the testing and deployment of mobile applications using tools and frameworks such as Appium. Mobile automation relies on this approach for simulating user interactions and verifying behavior across devices and platforms, such as iOS, Android, and Windows. Appium provides an open-source framework that automates testing across these three platforms while offering a unified API to interact with native, hybrid, and mobile web apps, making it a popular choice among developers and testers alike.

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Appium Architecture

The architecture of Appium is listed below:

  • Appium is an HTTP server written using node.js.
  • Client and server communication occurs within a session where key aspects of communication processes are sent using JSON objects. Communication is handled using mobile JSON Wire Protocol.
  • The server can distinguish between iOS and Android requests by using desiredCapabilites arguments to distinguish.
  • Appium then processes this request by sending out requests to their respective UI Automators.
  • The UI Automator then processes your request and executes your command on either a simulator/emulator/real device.
  • Results of each test session are then relayed back to the client system as logs via JSON Wire Protocol mobile.

How Appium Works?

Appium interacts with an application by exploiting its behavior of buttons, text boxes and links present within its UI. It can then be reused to write and execute tests against this specific app over multiple sessions.

Appium on an Android Device
Appium utilizes the UIAutomator framework (or Selendroid), designed for automating user interface testing of applications on Android device testing, to automate their testing. Bootstrapper.jar acts as a TCP server that sends test command on behalf of UIAutomator/Selendroid framework for execution on the target device.

Appium on iOS Device
Similar to its usage for Android devices, Appium uses JSON wire protocol on iOS devices as well. Here too it utilizes Apple’s UIAutomation API framework in order to interact with user interface elements for automated iOS device testing. Bootstrap.js acts as a TCP server which sends out test command through Apple UIAutomation API framework and works as TCP server that sends test command on an iOS device with Apple’s UIAutomation API framework.

Features of Appium

Some of the renowned features of Appim are:

  • Appium does not require access to source code or libraries for applications that it wants to run on.
  • Appium supports various languages including C#, Python, Java, Ruby, PHP and node.js, as well as those using Selenium client libraries like Selenium.
  • Appium offers an active and vibrant community.
  • Appium provides parallel execution of test scripts. Any small changes do not necessitate reinstalling of an entire application.
  • Appium supports multiplatform environments, enabling it to execute the same test cases across platforms.

Setting Up Appium Environment

Setting Up Appium Environment

Before automating mobile applications with Appium, we must first prepare the environment. In this Appium tutorial, we will discuss the steps for installing all the necessary components.

Installing JDK: A Java Development Kit (JDK) is required to run Appium and write test scripts in Java. Downloading the JDK from Oracle’s official website and following their installation instructions for your operating system should prove easy and straightforward.

Installing Android SDK: To automate Android applications, we require installing the Android Software Development Kit (SDK). The Android SDK contains tools and libraries required for developing and testing Android applications. Download it from the official developer website for Android and follow the installation instructions.

Installing Node.js and NPM: Appium is built on Node.js, so to access its capabilities, we must install Node.js and its package manager, Node Package Manager (NPM). Node.js allows us to run JavaScript outside a browser environment; download its installer from the official website and follow its installation instructions accordingly.

Installing Appium Server: The Appium server is at the core of everything we do in mobile testing automation (MTA). We can use NPM to quickly deploy Appium. Open any terminal/command prompt and run the command given below:

npm install -g appium

This command will download and install the latest version of the Appium server globally on your system.

Setting Up Emulators and Devices: To run automated tests on mobile apps, we need emulators or physical devices to test against. For Android, you can set up emulators using the Android Virtual Device (AVD) manager, which is included in the Android SDK. You can create virtual devices with different configurations to test your app on various Android versions and screen sizes.

For Appium iOS, you’ll need access to physical iOS devices or simulators, which are provided by Apple’s integrated development environment called Xcode. Simulators allow you to test your iOS apps on different versions of iOS and various iPhone and iPad models.

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Writing Your First Appium Test

Now that our Appium environment is up and running, let’s write our first Appium test! This section will guide you through creating a basic test script using Appium Java

Selecting Desired Capabilities

Desired capabilities refer to a set of key-value pairs that define the behavior between the Appium server and mobile devices or emulators, such as Android devices or emulators. It entails specifying details such as platform name, device name, app package, and activity name. By setting the desired capabilities on an Android device, we inform Appium about the device or emulator that is to be used and the apps that are to be launched. Shown below is an example of setting the desired capabilities on an Android device:

DesiredCapabilities caps = new DesiredCapabilities();
caps.setCapability("platformName", "Android");
caps.setCapability("deviceName", "emulator-5554");
caps.setCapability("appPackage", "com.example.myapp");
caps.setCapability("appActivity", ".MainActivity");

Locating Elements on Mobile Apps

To interact with elements on a mobile app, we need to locate them using various locators. Appium supports several locator strategies, including ID, class name, XPath, accessibility ID, and more. These locators help us identify elements such as buttons, text fields, and labels on the app. Here’s an example of locating an element by ID:

MobileElement element = driver.findElement(By.id("com.example.myapp:id/buttonLogin"));

Performing Actions on Mobile Elements

Once we have located an element, we can perform various actions on it, such as clicking a button, entering text in a text field, or swiping on a screen. Appium provides methods to perform these actions programmatically. Here’s an example of clicking a button

element.click();

Asserting and Verifying Mobile App Behavior

After performing actions on elements, we need to verify the expected behavior of the app. We can use assertions to check if certain conditions are met. Assertions help us validate whether the app behaves correctly during automation. Here’s an example of asserting the text of a label.

String labelText = element.getText();
Assert.assertEquals(labelText, "Welcome!");

Also, check out the blog on automation testing vs. manual testing.

Advanced Appium Techniques

Dealing with WebViews: Many mobile applications incorporate WebViews to display web content. Appium allows you to interact with and automate actions within these WebViews. We’ll guide you through identifying and switching to WebViews, performing actions like clicking links and filling out forms. We’ll also handle common challenges encountered while automating WebViews.

Managing Gestures and Touch Actions: Mobile apps often rely on gestures and touch actions for user interactions. Appium enables you to simulate these gestures programmatically in your automation scripts. We’ll cover gestures such as swiping, pinching, zooming, and dragging and provide examples and code snippets to help you implement these actions effectively.

Working with Scrollable Lists: Scrollable lists, such as those used in menus, grids, or search results, require special handling in automation scripts. We’ll demonstrate how to locate elements within scrollable lists, perform scrolling actions, and validate the presence of desired elements. Additionally, we’ll explore techniques for handling infinite scroll and dynamically loaded content.

Check out the Selenium Tutorial to learn the complete concepts of Selenium.

Appium Frameworks and Tools

Appium Frameworks and Tools

Appium offers several frameworks and tools that can streamline your automation efforts. Some of the most commonly used frameworks and tools include the following:

Using TestNG with Appium

Using TestNG with Appium provides a structured approach to test automation. This allows you to write organized and maintainable tests while leveraging the powerful features of both frameworks.

TestNG is a popular testing framework for Java-based applications, including mobile testing with Appium. It provides a rich set of features such as test configuration, parallel test execution, and reporting capabilities.

To use TestNG with Appium, we need to set up the necessary dependencies and configure our test suite. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • Install TestNG: Start by installing TestNG with Maven or Gradle as the build management tool and adding its dependency to your project’s configuration file.
  • Set Up Appium: Install both the Appium server and the required dependencies. Make sure that you have the necessary drivers for the targeted mobile platforms (Android or iOS).
  • Create Test Classes: Write your test classes using TestNG annotations such as @Test, @BeforeSuite, @AfterMethod, etc. These annotations define the test methods, setup, and teardown methods.
  • Configure TestNG XML: A TestNG XML file must be created, defining your test suite, classes, and methods, as well as any parameters or groups you wish. Moreover, in the XML file, you can configure properties like parameters, groups, etc.
  • Run Tests: Use TestNG to execute your Appium tests. You can run tests from the command line, through an IDE plugin, or by integrating TestNG with your build tool.

Implementing Page Object Model (POM):

The Page Object Model (POM) is a design pattern commonly used in test automation to enhance code reusability, readability, and maintainability. It promotes the concept of creating separate classes for each page or component in your application. This is to encapsulate the elements and actions related to that specific page.

Using POM with Appium enhances test stability, readability, and maintainability. It enables better collaboration between developers and testers and makes it easier to adapt to application changes.

To implement the POM with Appium, follow these steps:

  • Identify Pages: Identify the different pages or components in your mobile application that you want to automate. Create a separate and unique class for every page.
  • Define Elements and Actions: Within each page class, define the elements, e.g., buttons and input fields, as variables using locator strategies like IDs, XPaths, or accessibility IDs. Also, define methods to perform actions on these elements, e.g., click and enter text.
  • Encapsulate Logic: Encapsulate the logic and interactions specific to each page within its corresponding class. This helps organize the code and makes it easier to maintain and update.
  • Reuse and Extend: As you create page classes, you can reuse them in multiple test cases. Additionally, you can extend the base page class to include common elements and actions shared across multiple pages.

Integrating Appium with Continuous Integration (CI) Systems:

Integrating Appium with Continuous Integration (CI) systems allows for seamless test automation as part of the development and release processes. CI systems automate the build, test, and deployment workflows to ensure the consistent and efficient testing of your mobile applications.

Integrating Appium with CI systems ensures that your tests are executed automatically and consistently to provide continuous feedback on the quality of your mobile applications. It streamlines the testing process and allows for faster feedback loops, which contribute to improved overall development efficiency.

Here’s how to integrate Appium with CI systems:

  • Select a CI System: When opting for a CI system, find one that best meets your requirements, such as Jenkins, Travis CI, or CircleCI.
  • Configure the Build Environment: Create the build environment for your CI system so it includes all the required dependencies, tools, and frameworks needed for running Appium tests successfully.
  • Define Build Steps: Configure the build steps or pipeline in your CI system to execute the Appium tests. This typically involves installing dependencies, starting the Appium server, running tests, and generating reports.
  • Set Up Trigger Mechanism: Configure the trigger mechanism for your CI system, such as scheduling builds at specific intervals, triggering builds on code changes, or integrating with version control systems.
  • Monitor and Analyze Test Results: Monitor the test execution and analyze the test results generated by the CI system. Use the provided reports and logs to identify and debug any failures or issues.

Best Practices for Appium Automation

Efficient Element Locators: Efficient element locators are essential for successful and reliable Appium automation. When selecting element locators, it is crucial to choose unique and stable identifiers to ensure accurate and consistent test execution. Avoid relying solely on XPath locators, as they can be slow and prone to breaking with UI changes. Instead, prioritize using accessibility IDs, resource IDs, or class names whenever possible. Additionally, leverage the page object model design pattern to encapsulate element locators and improve code maintainability.

Example:

// Using accessibility ID for element locator
MobileElement loginButton = driver.findElementByAccessibilityId("loginBtn");
// Using resource ID for element locator
MobileElement usernameField = driver.findElementById("usernameField");

Synchronization and Waits: Appium automation requires synchronization and waits to handle dynamic elements and ensure proper timing of interactions. Utilize implicit and explicit waits to allow the application under test to load fully before interacting with elements. Explicit waits can be used to wait for specific conditions, such as element visibility or clickability. Additionally, implement proper synchronization techniques, like sleep commands or custom wait functions, to handle the delays caused by network requests or asynchronous operations.

Example:

// Implicit wait to set a global timeout for element lookups
driver.manage().timeouts().implicitlyWait(10, TimeUnit.SECONDS);
// Explicit wait for element visibility
WebDriverWait wait = new WebDriverWait(driver, 10);
WebElement element = wait.until(ExpectedConditions.visibilityOfElementLocated(By.id("elementId")));

Error Handling and Reporting: Implement robust error handling and reporting mechanisms to identify and address issues during Appium automation. Proper logging and reporting help in identifying test failures and understanding the root causes. Capture and log relevant error messages, stack traces, and screenshots to facilitate debugging. Additionally, consider integrating with test reporting frameworks, such as Allure or Extent Report, to generate comprehensive and visually appealing reports.

Example:

try {
// Perform test actions
} catch (Exception e) {
// Log error message
System.out.println("Error: " + e.getMessage());
// Capture screenshot
File screenshot = ((TakesScreenshot) driver).getScreenshotAs(OutputType.FILE);
// Save screenshot for reporting
FileUtils.copyFile(screenshot, new File("path/to/screenshot.png"));
}

Test Data Management: Efficient test data management is crucial for creating reusable and maintainable Appium automation scripts. Separate the test data from the test logic by utilizing data-driven frameworks or external data sources. Consider using CSV, Excel, or JSON files to store test data and retrieve it during test execution. This approach simplifies data maintenance and allows for easy scalability when dealing with a large number of test cases.

Example:

// Read test data from a CSV file
CSVReader reader = new CSVReader(new FileReader("testdata.csv")); String[] testData = reader.readNext(); // Use test data in automation script driver.findElementById("usernameField").sendKeys(testData[0]);

Debugging and Troubleshooting in Appium

Analyzing Appium Logs

Appium provides detailed logs that can be invaluable for debugging and troubleshooting automation issues. Analyzing these logs helps identify potential problems, such as element locating failures, network issues, or driver configuration errors. Pay attention to the Appium server logs, including the Appium console output, to gain insights into the test execution flow. This will enable you to pinpoint any errors or warnings.

Handling Common Issues and Exceptions

During Appium automation, it is common to encounter various issues and exceptions that may impact the test execution. Some common issues include element not found, element not interactable, or stale element reference. To handle these issues, use appropriate error-handling techniques, such as try-catch blocks, to gracefully handle exceptions. Analyze the error messages and stack traces to understand the cause and implement appropriate solutions, like waiting for element visibility or updating element locators.

Example:

try {
// Perform test actions
} catch (NoSuchElementException e) {
// Handle element not found exception
// Retry or log error message
} catch (StaleElementReferenceException e) {
// Handle stale element reference exception
// Refresh the element or log error message
}

Benefits of Cloud Testing

Cloud testing has revolutionized the way mobile applications are tested by providing a scalable, flexible, and cost-effective solution. Let’s explore the key benefits of leveraging cloud testing platforms for Appium integration:

  • Device Diversity: Cloud testing platforms offer a vast array of real devices and emulators with different operating systems, versions, and screen sizes. This allows developers to ensure that their mobile applications are compatible and that they deliver a seamless user experience across a wide range of devices.
  • Scalability: Cloud testing platforms provide on-demand access to a large pool of devices to enable parallel execution of tests. This significantly reduces the test execution time and increases efficiency, especially when running tests across multiple devices simultaneously.
  • Cost Optimization: With cloud testing, there is no need to invest in physical devices or maintain an extensive device lab. Instead, you pay for the testing infrastructure on a usage basis to save costs on device procurement, maintenance, and storage.
  • Collaboration and Accessibility: Cloud testing platforms facilitate collaboration among team members regardless of their geographical locations. Test reports, logs, and screenshots are easily accessible, which allows teams to identify and resolve issues efficiently.

Integrating Appium with Cloud Providers

To take full advantage of cloud testing, integrating Appium with cloud providers is essential. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to integrate Appium with popular cloud testing platforms:

Select a Cloud Provider: Choose a cloud testing platform that suits your project requirements. Some popular options include Sauce Labs, BrowserStack, and Firebase Test Lab.

Obtain API Credentials: Sign up for an account with your chosen cloud provider and obtain the API credentials required for Appium integration. These credentials will be used to connect your Appium tests to the cloud infrastructure.

Configure Desired Capabilities: Set the desired capabilities in your Appium tests to specify the device, operating system, browser, and any other relevant parameters that make up the desired test environment and ensure that tests run on the desired devices in the cloud. These configuration options define test environments and ensure that the tests run successfully on them.

Set Up Test Execution: Set up the test execution by providing the cloud provider’s endpoint URL and the desired capabilities in your Appium test script. This establishes the connection between your Appium tests and the cloud testing platform.

Execute and Monitor Tests: Run your Appium tests and monitor the execution progress through the cloud testing platform’s dashboard. Access test reports, logs, and screenshots to analyze test results and identify any issues that need attention.

Mobile automation, including Appium integration with cloud testing platforms, is continuously evolving to meet the demands of the ever-changing mobile landscape. Mentioned below are some future trends to be aware of:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies will play a significant role in enhancing mobile automation. They can be used for intelligent test script generation, anomaly detection, and self-healing test automation which reduces the effort required for test maintenance.
  • Test Optimization for Emerging Technologies: As new technologies such as 5G, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) gain traction, mobile automation frameworks will need to adapt to ensure the seamless testing of applications built on these platforms.
  • IoT and Wearable Device Testing: With the rise of IoT and wearable devices, mobile automation will extend its capabilities to cover testing scenarios that involve interconnected devices and sensors to ensure the quality and interoperability of these emerging technologies.
  • Continuous Testing and DevOps Integration: The integration of mobile automation with continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines will become more streamlined, which will enable faster feedback loops and quicker releases while maintaining high-quality standards.
  • Test Automation in Low-Code and No-Code Environments: With the increasing popularity of low-code and no-code development platforms, mobile automation frameworks will need to adapt to provide testing solutions for applications built using these platforms.

Conclusion

Appium promises exciting prospects for mobile automation and testing in the coming years, particularly around cross-platform support. Appium’s continued advancement will allow developers to write tests that seamlessly execute across various platforms such as Android, iOS, and Windows. This will streamline testing procedures and increase team efficiency by improving overall efficiency across varying environments. Appium’s commitment to cross-platform compatibility gives rise to immense possibilities for creating effective testing solutions in the future.

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