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Cross-platform Acceptance Testing Best Practices

Test automation is programming - hence, well-established practices of programming apply to test automation. Ruby is object-oriented, and most Calabash tests should also follow good object-oriented design (e.g., principles of abstraction, separation of concerns, modularity, reuse...).

A well-established pattern in test engineering is the Page-Object Pattern (POP). While originating in web testing, the ideas of POP apply equally well to native mobile. In this short article, we'll illustrate how to use the page object pattern to better architect test code and obtain better cross-platform code reuse.

We've created a sample project: X-Platform-Example using the open source WordPress app. If you want to follow along and try things out, go to the project page and follow install and run instructions. You can also choose to just read about the principles in this article and try to implement them in you own app.

Page Objects

A page object is an object that represents a single screen (page) in your application. For mobile, "screen object" would possibly be a better word, but Page Object is an established term that we'll stick with.

A page object should abstract a single screen in your application. It should expose methods to query the state and data of the screen as well as methods to take actions on the screen.

As a trivial example, a "login screen" consisting of username and password text fields and a "Login" button could expose a method login(user,pass) method that would abstract the details of entering username, password, touching the "Login" button, as well as 'transitioning' to another page (after login). A screen with a list of talks for a conference could expose a talks() method to return the visible talks and perhaps a details(talk) method to navigate to details for a particular talk.

The most obvious benefit of this is abstraction and reuse. If you have several steps needing to navigate to details, the code for details(talk) is reused. Also, callers of this method need not worry about the details (e.g. query and touch) or navigating to this screen.

Cross-platform Core Idea

Let's go into more detail with this last example. Consider the following sketch of a class (don't do it exactly like this - read on a bit):

    class TalksScreen
       def talks
       # query all talks...
       def details(talk)
       #touch talk…

Suppose you're building the same app for iPhone and Android phones. Most likely the interface of the TalksScreen class makes complete sense on both platforms. This means that the calling code, which is usually in a step definition, is independent of platform - hence it can be reused across platforms.

Working this way gets you complete reuse of Cucumber features as well as step definitions: the details of interacting with the screen is pushed to page object implementations.

The idea is that you provide an implementation of page objects for each platform you need to support (e.g. iPhone, iPad, Android phone, Android tablet, mobile web, desktop web,…).

Cross-platform in practice

So… The idea and design looks good. The question now is how to implement this is practice. Here we describe the mechanics and below you'll find an example extracted from X-Platform-Example.

There are a couple of ingredients we need.

  1. For each screen you want to automate, decide on an interface for a page object class (e.g. like TalksScreen above).
  2. Use only custom steps, and in each step definition only use page objects and their methods (no direct calls to Calabash iOS or Calabash Android APIs).
  3. For each supported platform, define a class with implementations of the page-object methods.
  4. Create a Cucumber profile (config/cucumber.yml). Define a profile for each platform (e.g. android and ios), and ensure that the profile only loads the page object classes for the platform.
  5. Rejoice and profit!

Let's see what these steps look like in a concrete example on the X-Platform-Example.


Running the samples

Make sure you have Ruby 1.9 or above installed (Ruby 2.0+ recommended).

On OS X Mavericks and above Ruby is already installed.

If you've never used ruby before and just want to get started quickly you can run this script on OS X:


This will install Calabash and gems in a ~/.calabash directory.

On Windows we recommend: and latest Ruby. Then follow the instructions below.

Or do-it-yourself

Or if you're already a Ruby user, make sure you have bundler installed:

gem install bundler

Install gems in the Gemfile:

bundle install


You need OS X with Xcode (6.1 recommended) installed with command-line tools.

To run the iOS tests run

./run.rb ios


bundle exec cucumber -p ios

Calabash console

./console.rb ios

Run start_test_server_in_background.


To run the Android tests, ensure a recent Android SDK is installed, and that

  • environment variable ANDROID_HOME is set to point to the sdk folder, for example /Users/krukow/android/adt/sdk


./run.rb android


bundle exec calabash-android run prebuilt/Android-debug.apk -p android

Calabash console

./console.rb android

Run start_test_server_in_background.

Step 1 - Interface

For the wordpress app, let's focus on the Login/Add-WordPress Blog screen. This method has a single method: login(user) which takes a hash {:email => 'username', :password => 'somepass'} representing a user:

    def login(user)
    def assert_invalid_login_message()

For this simple screen the interface consists of just these two methods.

Step 2 - Step definitions

We have a feature alà

Scenario: Invalid login to blog
  Given I am about to login
  When I enter invalid credentials
  Then I am presented with an error message to correct credentials

Below are step definitions that only use the page objects and no Calabash methods like touch, query…

For the following, assume we have also a Page Object class WelcomePage with a method wordpress_blog that transitions to the AddWordPressBlog screen:

    ## Invalid login ##
    Given /^I am about to login$/ do

      welcome = page(WelcomePage).await    
      @page = welcome.wordpress_blog

    When /^I enter invalid credentials$/ do
      @page = @page.login(USERS[:invalid])

    Then /^I am presented with an error message to correct credentials$/ do

The page method is a helper method in Calabash which initializes a page object from a class. The await method just returns the page object after waiting for the page to be loaded.

We store the page object in an instance variable in the cucumber world (@page) and use it in the subsequent steps.

Notice how the steps only use page-object methods. This feature, as well as the step definitions, can be 100% reused across platforms. Great!

Step 3 - Platform implementations

Now we need to give an implementation of the WordPressComPage on iOS and Android (and all other supported platforms). We put those implementations in separte directories features/ios/pages and features/android/pages and name them word_press_com_page_ios.rb and word_press_com_android.rb.

Here is the implementation for iOS. It uses an abstract Page Object Class defined in Calabash iOS (Calabash::IBase).

require 'calabash-cucumber/ibase'

class WordPressComPage < Calabash::IBase

  def title
    "Sign In"

  def login(user)
     touch("view marked:'Username'")

     keyboard_enter_text user[:email]

     touch("view marked:'Password'")

     keyboard_enter_text user[:password]

     wait_for_elements_do_not_exist(["tableViewCell activityIndicatorView"],
                                    :timeout => 120)

     if element_exists(invalid_login_query)

  def assert_invalid_login_message

  def invalid_login_query
    "label {text LIKE '*Sign in failed*'}"


And for Android:

class WordPressComPage < Calabash::ABase

  def trait
    "* id:'username'"

  def await(opts={})

  def login(user)
    query("* id:'username'",{:setText => user[:email]})
    query("* id:'password'",{:setText => user[:password]})



    sleep(1)#Chance to show Dialog

    wait_for(:timeout => 60, :timeout_message => "Timed out logging in") do
      current_dialogs = query("DialogTitle",:text)

      empty_dialog = current_dialogs.empty?
      error_dialog = current_dialogs.include?("Error")
      no_network_dialog = current_dialogs.include?("No network available")

      empty_dialog or error_dialog or no_network_dialog

    main_page = page(MainPage)

    if main_page.current_page?

  def invalid_login_query

  def login_button_query
    "android.widget.Button marked:'Log In'"

  def assert_invalid_login_message


Step 4 - Conditional loading

The final missing part is conditionally loading page-object implementations based on which platform we're running. This is done using Cucumber profiles. We create a file config/cucumber.yml

android: RESET_BETWEEN_SCENARIOS=1 PLATFORM=android -r features/support -r features/android/support -r features/android/helpers -r features/step_definitions -r features/android/pages/

ios: APP_BUNDLE_PATH=ios-source/3.3.1/build/Applications/ RESET_BETWEEN_SCENARIOS=1 PLATFORM=ios -r features/support -r features/ios/support -r features/ios/helpers -r features/step_definitions -r features/ios/pages

We're using Cucumbers -r option to only load a subset of Ruby files. We can then execute the tests as specified here.


cucumber -p ios features/login.feature


calabash-android run path_to.apk -p android features/login.feature

Running on Cloud

App Center

App Center account needed. Xamarin supports the x-platform framework so we can directly run the whole tests by supplying the profile as android or ios. Create an accoun on App Center. Go to Test > Test runs and create a test run. It will gives a link to run on bash. See the run command:

install test-cloud gem:

npm install -g appcenter-cli
gem install xamarin-test-cloud

Run the appcenter command: Calabash tests on App Center require json 1.8.x and cucumber 2.x.

appcenter test run calabash --app "gunesmes/testhive-android" --devices 74456dc6 --app-path ./prebuilt/app-staging-debug_express.apk --test-series "master" --locale "en_US" --project-dir . --config-path <path/to/project>/config/cucumber.yml --profile android

Amazon Device Farm

Amazon device farm account needed. Amazon Device farm supports only basic Calabash-android or Calabash-ios project. Therefore we need to convert to x-platform project to simple Calabash project. There is in the path for conversion. It will create and files in the calabash-generic folder in the same path.

To run converter:

cd <path/to/project>

To submit the project to the Device Farm, go to the link and select the application and zip file.

See notes.txt for some useful commands and links.


We've described how to improve the architecture of your test code base: using page objects you get better abstraction, reuse and cross-platform comes more easily. We've created an open source sample project that you can use for inspiration: X-Platform-Example.

Comments and improvements welcome!

Links to more information

General information - Evolve - Xamarin Developer Conference

More information about the Page object model

Github projects (also getting started for new projects):


Example of cross-platform BDD with Cucumber and Calabash



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