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Native Mobile Apps Test Automation with NativeDriver

by Abel Avram on Jun 23, 2011 |

NativeDriver offers test automation for Android and iOS native applications. It implements the WebDriver API.

Google has created NativeDriver, an implementation of the WebDriver API, a test automation framework that uses the native UI instead of a browser UI, as Selenium does, to run functional tests on an application. Google has decided to reuse the WebDriver API for native applications instead of creating a new one due to many similarities between them - they both control the same UI operations such as click, type, read text, switch window-, and users familiar with WebDriver do not need to learn another API and can start using NativeDriver immediately.

NativeDriver can be used to perform automated UI commands in a native application in order to test how the application behaves under various conditions. On Android, NativeDriver uses Instrumentation, a mechanism for programmatically controlling various OS components outside of their natural functioning cycle inside of an application. An example of a simple NativeDriver test looks like this:

AndroidNativeDriver driver = new AndroidNativeDriverBuilder().withDefaultServer().build();
driver.startActivity("com.google.android.maps.MapsActivity");
// Open the Places activity by clicking the places button (to the right of the search box)
AndroidNativeDriver btn= driver.findElement(By.id("btn_header_places"));
btn.click();
// Dismiss the Places window. Equivalent to pressing the Android Back button
driver.navigate().back();
// Rotate the device to show the UI in landscape mode
driver.rotate(ScreenOrientation.LANDSCAPE);

Currently only the Android version is available, but Google promises to release an iOS version soon. Also, a Windows version is in a prototype phase.

Beside this test framework for mobile OSes, Google made available the WebDriver for mobile browsers, which offers testing support for web applications running in a browser on Android, iOS, and there is project started for Blackberry.

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