Testing iOS Applications Using Appium, Cucumber, And Serenity - A Recipe For Quality

iOS devices still claim a significant part of the mobile market, taking up to 22 percent of the sales globally. As many devoted clients come back for new Apple products, there is also a great demand for iOS applications. In this article, we are going to look at ensuring the quality of iOS apps striving for the usage of best practices using Appium, Cucumber and Serenity tools.

Structure

The Page Object Model is one of the best approaches to testing that QA engineers can apply to a test automation project. It is such a way of structuring the code in an automation project that improves code quality and readability, test maintenance and on top of that, it is a great way of avoiding chaos. The basic idea behind it comes to keeping all references to mobile elements and methods performing operations on them in one class file for each page or screen of the app (or web page for non-native web applications).

What are the benefits of this approach, you may ask? Firstly, it makes automation really straightforward. Basically, it means finding elements in our iOS app via inspector and then performing operations on them. Another main advantage is the coherent structure of the project that allows anyone to navigate through it quickly.

Let's take an example of an app that contains recipes. It shows the default cookbook with basic recipes on startup, which will be our first page. From there, a user can navigate to any available recipe, thus marking a second page. On top of that, the app also allows to browse other cookbooks or purchase premium ones, making it the third page and consequently - a page object file.

Similarly, we should create corresponding step definition files. This is not an obligatory practice, but keeping all step definitions in one place causes unnecessary chaos.

Sample project structure

While creating your pages and step definition class files it is advised to choose names that are related to the page (app screen) which contents you are going to work on. Naming these files after a feature or scenario can seem right at first glance, but as the project expands, you will notice more and more clutter in its structure. Adopting the page naming convention ensures that anyone involved in the project can get familiar with it straight away and start collaboration on it in no time. Such practice also contributes to reusability of code - either step definitions or methods/functions.

Contrary to the mentioned step and step definition files, the Cucumber feature files should be named after a feature they verify. Clever, isn’t it? And again, structuring them into directories named in relation to a particular field of the application under test will make the structure more meaningful.

Serenity’s basic concept is to be a 'living documentation'. Therefore, giving test scenarios and feature files appropriate names helps the team and stakeholders understand reports and the entire project better.

Another ingredient expanding the benefits of the Page Object Model in the test automation project is PageFactory. It is a tool that helps you reduce the coding work and easily put MobileElements locators in code, using @FindBy notation. From there, finding elements for Appium to interact with them in tests is much simpler.

PageFactory in use

Assertion

Running tests via Appium can be very resource-consuming. To make things easier for your MacOS machine running tests on your iOS device, make sure you are not constantly asserting the visibility of all objects on a page. This practice significantly increases the test execution time, which usually is not the most desirable thing.

What is more, when you do have to check if an element is visible, enabled, clickable, or anything in between - try to avoid locating mobile elements using Xpath. The Appium inspector tip has a valid point! You should do what you can to convince the development team to make an extra effort and assign unique IDs and names to the elements in the app. This will not only make automation testing easier and quicker, consequently making your work as a tester more effective, ultimately resulting in increasing the overall quality of the product. And that is why we are here. Not to mention that the maintenance of the tests (e.g. switching to different locators when necessary) will become much more enjoyable.

Understanding the steps

Another aspect of setting up this kind of project comes down to taking advantage of Cucumber and using Gherkin language.

Gherkin implements a straightforward approach with Given, When, Then notation with the help of the additional And and But which seems fairly easy to use. You could write pretty much anything you want in the test steps of your feature files. Ultimately, the called methods are going to perform actions.

But the reason for using the Behavior Driven Development approach and Cucumber itself is enabling the non-tech people involved in the project to understand what is going on in the tests field. Not only that, writing test scenarios in Given/When/Then manner can also act in your advantage. Such high-level test descriptions delivered by the client or business analyst will get you coding in no time, provided that they are written properly. Here are some helpful tips:

Test scenarios written in Gherkin should focus on the behavior of the app (hence Behavior Driven Development).
Here's an example of how NOT to write test scenarios in Gherkin, further exploring the theme of cookbook application:

BDD scenario which doesn’t focus on behavior

Above example illustrates two bad practices we should avoid: It focuses on the implementation instead of behavior and it uses hard-coded values rather than writing test steps in such a way to enable reusability by changing values within a step.

Therefore, a proper scenario concerning purchasing a cookbook in our example app should look like:

Another example:

Adopting this approach means less work creating and coding the test steps whenever the implementation of a particular feature changes.

Apart from the main notation of Given/When/Then, Cucumber supports usage of conjunction steps. Using And and But step notations will make the test steps more general and reusable, which results in writing less code and maintaining order within the project. Here is a basic example:

Doing so, if you code the above 'Given' step to locate our recipe element by searching its name, you can reuse it many times just changing the string value in the step (provided that you code the step definition properly later on). On top of that, The 'And' step can be a part of any test scenario that involves such action.

Putting it all together

After setting up a project utilizing the practices described above, the most visible parts of using Serenity are the generated test reports. After adopting the @RunWith(CucumberWithSerenity.class) tag in your TestRunner class file, running the test suite will result in Serenity generating an aggregated test results report, which can be useful in evaluating the quality of the app under test and presenting the status of the product to the stakeholders or the development team.

Sample Serenity report

Summary

As you can see, the concept of best practices in automation testing can be summarized in three words: reusability, readability, and performance. Reusability means fewer coding, consequently diminishing the time needed to finish the job. Readability improves understanding, which is crucial to ensure that the product does what it needs to do. Finally, performance saves execution time and improves stability. All three contributing not only to the quality of the test automation project but have a significant role in enhancing the overall quality of the delivered app.

Sources:

  • https://gs.statcounter.com/os-market-share/mobile/worldwide
  • https://cucumber.io/docs/guide
  • https://serenity-bdd.github.io/theserenitybook/latest/
  • https://github.com/SeleniumHQ/selenium/wiki/PageFactory
  • https://www.guru99.com/page-object-model-pom-page-factory-in-selenium-ultimate-guide.html
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