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Cross-Platform Acceptance Testing Best Practices

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last updated: 2016-12

This guide will discuss some of the best practices to maximize the sharing of Ruby code for cross-platform tests in Calabash.


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. You can clone the repo and follow along. 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, site) method that would abstract the details of entering username and password for a Wordpress site, 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 snippet of a Page Object class:

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 the 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.


Step 1 - Interface

For the Wordpress app, let's focus on the Login/Add-WordPress Blog screen. This interface has a two methods:

  • login(user) which takes three parameters – user, pass, and site ‐ which represent the credentials for a Wordpress blog:
  • assert_invalid_login_message which will check that the correct error message is displayed to the user who tries to log in with invalid credentials.
def login(user, pass, site)

def assert_invalid_login_message()

Step 2 - Step definitions

Take the following Cucumber scenario:

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


When /^I enter invalid credentials$/ do
  blog_page = welcome.wordpress_blog
  blog_page = blog_page.login(USERS[:invalid])

Then /^I am presented with an error message to correct credentials$/ do
  blog_page = welcome.wordpress_blog


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. If the page does not appear, then an exception will be thrown and the test will fail.

Notice how the steps only use page-object methods and that we obtain a reference to the page object in each step. 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 subclasses the 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*'}"


Calabash also provides an abstract Page Object Class for Android called Calabash::ABase. Below is the Android implementation of the WordPressComPage class:

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


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.

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