Free Tools for Mobile App Performance Testing with Appium

October 1, 2021
 by 
Prathitha Iyengar

Hardly any modern-day organization would think of functioning without a mobile application. Over 60% of businesses have an app or are in the process of developing one. However, building an app isn’t enough. You must test it across various performance parameters to ensure that it fulfills performance expectations and provides the desired experience to users.

Appium is a mobile app testing automation tool that makes app testing easy. Let’s take a look at how performance testing with Appium works, and what are some free tools that one can also use - 

Benefits of Mobile App Performance Testing

Mobile app performance testing has many benefits. From enhancing the overall performance of an app, to making it more robust, and improving user experience. Mobile app performance testing allows to -

  • Detect functionality or concurrence issues
  • Determine how much load is supported
  • Gauge the actions to be performed to eliminate risks
  • Determine the application capacity and how much it can be increased

What is Appium?

Appium is a free and open-source tool that lets you automate native and hybrid mobile/web applications. It enables you to use the same API to write tests against multiple platforms, like iOS, Android, and Windows.

Automation with Appium works similarly to Selenium. Both Appium and Selenium are cross-platform test automation frameworks. The only difference is that Selenium supports major desktop browsers and operating systems, whereas Appium is more focused on mobile platforms.

Here are some reasons to use Appium for mobile testing automation.

  • Free and open-source
  • Enables testing of native and hybrid applications for desktop and mobile
  • Offers support for numerous programming languages, including Python, Java, Ruby, and more
  • Allows cross-platform testing on real devices, simulators, and emulators

Free Tools for App Testing with Appium

There are various free and open-source libraries and programs that you can use for performance testing with Appium. Here’s a look at some of the best programs -  

  1. Tcpdump

tcpdump is a network analyzer program and protocol analysis tool based on the libpcap interface. It runs under a command-line interface and allows you to display packets like TCP/IP over a computer system. tcpdump is a free software tool distributed under the BSD license.

  • This program is available under most Unix/Linux-based operating systems. It lets you save captured packets in pcap format for future analysis.
  • This packet analyzer helps you track and analyze the network traffic. Thus, it comes as a handy tool when resolving and troubleshooting network issues. 
  • A tcpdump is used in specific applications such as to intercept and display another computer’s or user’s communication. It is also helpful in viewing account credentials of users acting as routers through which unencrypted data like telnet or HTTP passes. 
  1. Wireshark

Wireshark is an open-source packet analyzer tool used for network analysis and troubleshooting and software and communications protocols development. It allows you to capture data on the local network and save it for offline analysis. 

Wireshark can gather network traffic from the following connections: Bluetooth, Wireless, Ethernet, Token Ring, and Frame Relay.

Wireshark, too, runs on the libpcap format, and hence, it can exchange network traces with tcpdump, CA NetMaster, and other applications using the same format.

Some salient features of Wireshark are:

  • Capture data from a live network connection
  • Read live data from multiple network types
  • Browse captured data using a GUI or terminal
  • Edit or capture converted files using command-line switches
  • Refine data display using a display filter
  • Create plug-ins for dissecting new protocols
  • Detect VoIP calls in the captured traffic
  • Capture raw USB traffic
  • Filter wireless connection
  • Assign settings, filters, and timers to filter the output

Wireshark allows mobile applications to learn about the network traffic layers used by applications if the application goes direct without honoring proxy settings. The http traffic can be observed to find and fix configuration issues by working at the network traffic level instead of the proxy. 


  1. Advanced Network Profiling

The Android Profiler by Google is a replacement for Android Monitor tools in Android Studio 3.0 and higher. It provides real-time insights into how an app uses memory, CPU, battery, and network. It is compatible with Android 5.0 and higher (API level 21).

Profiling is an essential aspect of testing a mobile app’s performance. An app is said to have poor performance if it consumes a lot of power, responds slowly, or crashes/freezes. App profiling helps you determine if your app is consuming excessive device resources.  

App profiling helps you track the following components of an app’s performance:

  • CPU usage
  • Memory consumption
  • Battery usage
  • Network usage
  1. Stetho

Stetho is a free and open-source debug library for Android apps. It enables you to use chrome debugging tools to troubleshoot network traffic, making the debugging process rich and interactive for developers. You can also use the dumpapp tool to add a powerful command-line to app internals.

Stetho offers a seamless setup and integration process. Critical features of Stetho are:

  • Chrome DevTools
  • Network Inspection
  • Database Inspection
  • View Hierarchy
  • Dumpapp
  • Javascript Console
  • Custom dumpapp plug-ins
  1. mitmproxy

mitmproxy is an open-source and interactive HTTPS proxy that enables seamless HTTP and HTTPS communication. 

Other tools available with mitmproxy are mitmweb and mitmdump. mitmweb is a web-based interface for mitmproxy, whereas mitmdump is mitmproxy’s command-line version. Think of it as tcpdump for HTTP.

Key features of mitmproxy are:

  • Intercept HTTPS and HTTP requests
  • Save HTTP conversations for later analysis
  • Replay client-side HTTP conversations of previous HTTP responses
  • Forward traffic to browsers with reverse proxy mode
  • Transparent proxy mode for Linux and macOS
  • SSL/TLS certifications
  • Make changes to HTTP traffic using Python

Conclusion

Various tools for mobile app testing are available, with Appium being one of the most popular. Mobile app performance testing with Appium lets you automate testing across mobile platforms. 

You can use libraries and programs for Appium to further enhance your testing efforts. To learn more, click here.