Browser automation abstraction layer for .NET (MVP experimental port of Ruby's Capybara)
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Image of a Mara


Mara aims to simplify the process of integration testing .NET web applications, such as ASP.NET, ASP.NET MVC, or WCF. Mara simulates how a real user would interact with a web application. It is agnostic about the driver running your tests and currently comes bundled with Selenium and System.Net.WebClient support built in. It is also agnostic about servers that can automatically server your application and currently comes bundles with Cassini and XSP support built in.

Mara is inspired by Capybara, a similar tool written in Ruby.


Mara is insanely ALPHA right now. I recommend you give me a few weeks to polish it before you start using it or contributing. The API may go through some major changes so ... just be patient. If you're a hacker and you want to check out the code and try to get it working, be my guest!


We will make Mara available as a NuGet package. For now, you can clone the solution and build it yourself if you really want to try it out.

Mara currently works in Mono (2.8 required for HtmlUnit with WebDriver) and MS .NET 3.5. Keeping Mara working in Mono is and will always be a high priority!


The default driver uses System.Net.WebClient to send requests and HtmlAgilityPack to run XPath queries against the resulting HTML. It does NOT support JavaScript. Because it doesn't execute JavaScript or automate a browser, it is quite fast.

Very shortly, Mara will make it easy to switch between drivers in your tests so you can use WebClient for some of your tests that don't require JavaScript but use WebDriver (or WatiN) for tests that do require JavaScript.

Selenium 2.0 (WebDriver)

Selenium WebDriver is currently the only built in driver that supports JavaScript. We plan on adding WatiN support in the near future.

I'll add more documentation on how to configure webdriver later ... for now, the most important thing to know is that there are some very useful environment variables that can be used, mainly BROWSER

Let's say that you create an NUnit test (as demonstrated below).

# this will run your tests in WebDriver.DefaultBrowser (Firefox)
nunit-console MyTests.dll

# this will run your tests in Internet Explorer
BROWSER=IE        nunit-console MyTests.dll      # BASH
SET BROWSER=IE && nunit-console MyTests.dll      # BATCH

BROWSER can currently be set to Firefox, Chrome, IE, or HtmlUnit. If HtmlUnit is selected, you should put a copy of selenium-server-standalone.jar (which can be found in the download section of the Selenium site) in the current directory. It will automatically be launched.

NOTE: HtmlUnit is a Java library so you'll need to have Java installed on your machine if you want to use it. Java is not required to test in the other browsers, just HtmlUnit.

Let's say you have a server that you want to use to run your tests on. Maybe it has Java installed so you want to run your HtmlUnit tests on the remote server and just test with IE locally.

# this will connect to a remote server running selenium-server-standalone and run your tests on that server 
# using HtmlUnit
REMOTE=http://remote-server:4444/wd/hub BROWSER=HtmlUnit nunit-console MyTests.dll

NOTE: the remote stuff isn't fully fleshed out in Mara. It works great with Selenium, in general, but we'll be sure to make it really easy for you to do stuff like this ... just give us some time :)

Hello World (the easy way)

If you're using NUnit, we have a Mara.NUnit assembly that will help you get up and running quickly.

using Mara;

namespace MyIntegrationTests {

    // This will instantiate a driver/server for you when your test suite starts and will stop them when it stops
    [SetUpFixture] public class MaraSetup : MaraSetUpFixture {}

    // If your test inherits from MaraTest, you get direct access to all of the driver's methods
    // without having to call them on an object.  eg. You can call Visit() instead of Driver.Visit()
    public class TestMyWebSite : MaraTest {

        public void CanRegister() {
            FillInFields(new {
                Username             = "bobsmith",
                Email                = "",
                Password             = "secret",
                PasswordConfirmation = "secret"
            ClickButton("Sign up!");

            Assert.That(Find("id('Message')").Text, Is.EqualTo("Successfully Registered")); // XPath is accepted by Find() and All()

That should run!

So ... how does it find your web application? When your tests run, if you haven't explicitly told it where your web application is, it looks in parent directories for a directory containing a Web.config. To manually tell Mara where your ASP.NET application is:

Mara.App = @"C:\Users\me\MyAspNetApp";

It also automatically boots up your application via Cassini (or XSP if running via Mono).

Mara.RunServer = false; // tell Mara not to run your application

Mara.DefaultServerName = "Mara.Servers.Cassini"; // FullName of the class that will be used as a default server

Mara.Server = new MyServer(); // tell Mara to use your server.  It needs to use the *very simply* IServer interface 

Mara.Port = 1234; // set the port that servers use by default

There's a lot more ... the API for some of this stuff will VERY likely change though! You've been warned!

Hello World (doing it all yourself)

So, you're not using NUnit. Or you don't like the magic. No problem!

using Mara;

namespace MyIntegrationTests {

    public class MyFixture {

    static IDriver maraDriver;

        public void Setup() {
            // do some configuration (optional)
            Mara.App = @"C:\Path\To\My\App\Folder";

            // Tell the default Mara.Server to boot up your application (or you could do this manually).
            // If you manually start your own server, be sure to set Mara.AppHost to the URL to the root 
            // of your application, so it can be found by drivers, eg. "http://localhost:1234"

            // Instantiate a driver.  Again, you can do this manually.  We'll use the default driver
            maraDriver = Mara.Driver; // this instantiates a default driver for you

        public void Teardown() {
        // Stop the server

            // Close the driver


    public class TestMyWebSite {

    // do something to make the driver available to your tests
        IPage Page { get { return MyFixture.maraPage; }}

        public void CanRegister() {
            Page.FillInFields(new {
                Username             = "bobsmith",
                Email                = "",
                Password             = "secret",
                PasswordConfirmation = "secret"
            Page.ClickButton("Sign up!");

            Assert.That(Page.Find("id('Message')").Text, Is.EqualTo("Successfully Registered")); // XPath is accepted by Find() and All()

Assuming I typed that all out correctly, that should get you up and running doing it all yourself.



You can use the Visit method to navigate to other pages:


The visit method only takes a single parameter, the request method is always GET.

You can get the current path and url of the browsing session for test assertions:

Assert.True(CurrentPath == "/About.aspx");
Assert.True(CurrentUrl  == "http://localhost:8080/About.aspx");

Clicking links and buttons

You can interact with the webapp by following links and buttons. Mara automatically follows any redirects, and submits forms associated with buttons.

ClickLink("text of link");
ClickButton("value of submit button");

Click("FAQ"); // If there's a Link with the text "FAQ", that is clicked, otherwise tries to ClickButton("FAQ");

Interacting with forms

Forms are everywhere in webapps, there are a number of tools for interacting with the various form elements:

FillIn("ID or Name of field", "Value");

// Calls FillIn() for each of the key/value pairs passed in
FillInFields(new { Username = "bobsmith", Password = "secret" });

NOTE: A number of other form helper methods will be implemented shortly ... there are NOT implemented yet:

Choose("A Radio Button");
Check("A Checkbox");
Uncheck("A Checkbox");
Select("Option", "ID or Name of <select>")
AttachFile("ID or Name of field", "/path/to/image.jpg");


Mara has some very simple querying helpers:



We don't yet support things like querying within scopes, etc, etc. Eventually!


You can find elements in order to manipulate them.

var nameField = Find("//input[@name='DogName']");
nameField.Value = "Set the value of this field";
Console.WriteLine("The alt attribute is {0}", nameField["alt"]);


// Or, to find many elements:
foreach (var link in All("//a"))
    Console.WriteLine("Link with text {0} goes to {1}", link.Text, link["href"]);


In drivers which support it, you can easily execute JavaScript:


For simple expressions, you can return the result of the script. Note that this may break with more complicated expressions:

var result = EvaluateScript("4 + 4");


It can be useful to take a snapshot of the page as it currently is and take a look at it:



There is much, much more ... some of it developed, some not yet.

More documentation and features coming soon!


Mara is released under the MIT license.