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Mobile Testing with Appium Flutter Driver

How to Automate Flutter App Testing Using Appium?

January 25, 2024
Turbo LiTurbo Li
Turbo Li


Mobile applications play a pivotal role in ensuring the success of any enterprise. With nearly all advanced products offering web and mobile support, efficient mobile app automation testing is now a vital aspect of the Quality Assurance (QA) life cycle. In this context, test automation engineers are responsible for crafting comprehensive End-to-End (E2E) automation suites for mobile app automation testing.

In this blog, we'll delve into the practical aspects of leveraging Appium for automating tests on mobile applications developed using Flutter. By the end, you'll gain insights into how test automation engineers can seamlessly integrate Appium into their toolkit for efficient and reliable mobile application testing.

Unveiling Appium: A Comprehensive Overview

Appium is a versatile open-source framework designed for streamlined, automated app testing across various Android, iOS, and Windows platforms. Its automation capabilities extend to three key categories:

  1. Native Mobile Applications: Those crafted using iOS, Android, or Windows SDKs.
  2. Mobile Web Applications: Accessible through mobile browsers like Safari, Chrome, or built-in native browser applications for Android devices.
  3. Hybrid Mobile Applications: Featuring a native wrapper around the web view.

Appium's cross-platform flexibility sets it apart, allowing test scripts to be written for iOS, Windows, and Android using a uniform API, traditionally, developing complete end-to-end (E2E) tests or integration tests for Flutter apps required proficiency in Dart and flutter_driver. However, a recent breakthrough has made it possible to script E2E tests for Flutter apps in languages beyond Dart, thanks to the innovative appium-flutter-driver package.

Read: Know all about End to End testing

Why Opt for Appium Flutter Driver?

While Flutter offers excellent integration test support through Flutter Driver, there are specific scenarios where it may not align seamlessly. These include:

  • Writing tests in languages other than Dart.
  • Executing integration tests for Flutter apps featuring embedded web views or native views or existing native apps with embedded Flutter views.
  • Simultaneously running tests on multiple devices.
  • Conducting integration tests on device farms such as Sauce Labs, AWS, and Firebase.

Also Read: A Step-by-Step Guide to Test Automation with Appium

Exploring Flutter and Flutter Driver

Introduction to Flutter

Crafted by Google, Flutter is a versatile and free open-source mobile UI framework, allowing developers to create visually appealing mobile applications swiftly. Utilizing the Dart programming language and Flutter framework, developers can create natively compiled applications for both Android and iOS, all from a unified codebase. Flutter's compatibility with multiple platforms ensures the creation of high-fidelity applications without compromising speed or performance.

Understanding Flutter Driver

When testing Flutter apps, Flutter Driver is the go-to solution. This powerful package facilitates performance testing on real devices or emulators through a command-line test application. Whether utilizing an Android emulator or iOS simulator, Flutter Driver efficiently tests Flutter apps. Its seamless integration with the Dart programming language, the primary language for Flutter app development, enhances the testing experience.

Flutter Appium Testing

Navigating the complexities of unit testing, widget testing, and integration testing can be simplified with Flutter Appium. This evolving tool empowers developers to write robust application tests, enabling the automation of Flutter apps on real devices, simulators, and emulators. By encapsulating the functionalities of Flutter Finder and Desired Capabilities, Flutter Appium testing proves to be a potent asset for Flutter app developers.

Check out: Flutter Testing Guide - Everything You Need to Know

How Test Automation Operates with Flutter Apps

Flutter relies on FlutterDriver for integration test support, offering capabilities to interact with the app through finders and enabling actions such as taking screenshots, scrolling, and various waits. However, certain use cases remain unaddressed:

  • Writing tests in a language other than Dart.
  • Executing parallel tests on multiple devices.
  • Utilizing the cloud for mobile device tests.
  • Conducting integration tests for Flutter apps with embedded WebView or native view or existing native apps with embedded Flutter view.

Appium comes into play to overcome these limitations. This open-source test automation framework allows you to automate Flutter apps, but default automation strategies might hinder access to elements within Flutter widgets.

Enter the Appium Flutter Driver – a community-built tool that addresses these challenges by enabling the automation of Flutter apps across multiple platforms and operating systems. It allows writing tests in a standard manner using the client library (appium-flutter-driver-client-library), with differences in implementation.

Also check: A Comprehensive Guide on Automated Testing

For example, in finding elements:

● Standard webdriver/Appium code:

WebElement incrementBtn = driver.findElement(MobileBy.AccessibilityId("Increment"));

● Appium Flutter Driver code:

FlutterFinder find = new FlutterFinder(driver);
WebElement incrementBtn = find.byTooltip("Increment");

Enhancing Appium Flutter Driver, the Quality Automation Framework (QAF) supplements seamless test support, particularly for Flutter. Under an MIT license, QAF provides locator strategies specific to Flutter and a standard test automation approach via qaf-support-flutter.

● Example with QAF:

// Using locator repository
WebElement incrementBtn = driver.findElement(new ByFlutter.TooltipMessage("Increment"));
// Page class
WebElement incrementBtn;
// Using locator repository
WebElement incrementBtn;
// Locator repository
btn.increment.loc = {"locator":"flutter-tooltip=Increment", "desc":"Increment Button"}

While integrating various testing tools may seem counter-intuitive, QAF support for Flutter brings notable benefits:

  • Custom locator strategies specific to flutter-driver.
  • Automatic scroll into view.
  • Support for finding child elements.
  • Standard API for a unified experience.
  • No appium-flutter-finder or Kotlin programming language dependencies.
Read: A Comprehensive Guide to Measuring Success with Test Automation KPIs

The Path Ahead for Appium Flutter Driver

Charting the Course for Testing Advancements

Automation stands as the future, and the Appium Flutter Driver plays a pivotal role in steering this evolution within the realm of Flutter app development. As we cast our gaze into the future, several key trends come to the forefront:

  1. Continual Evolution: Appium Flutter Driver is set to undergo continuous evolution, elevating the automation testing experience using Appium for Flutter apps with enhanced intuitiveness, ease, and reliability.
  1. Flutter's Growing Popularity: With Flutter's escalating popularity, the Appium Flutter Driver is well-supported by enriched resources and a robust community, ensuring a promising trajectory.
  1. Expanded Third-Party Integrations: Expect an influx of third-party integrations that will broaden the capabilities and functionalities of the Appium Flutter Driver.
  2. Integration in CI/CD Pipelines: A rising trend foresees the integration of Appium Flutter Driver into CI/CD pipelines, facilitating faster and more reliable releases.
Read: Exploring the top CI/CD tools for DevOps

Addressing Appium Flutter Driver Constraints

While Flutter is an excellent UI toolkit for app development, achieving seamless automated test integration requires careful consideration of its limitations. Appium Flutter Driver, in particular, presents several key challenges that developers should be mindful of:

  1. Limited Element Listing Support: FlutterDriver (and consequently, Appium Flutter Driver) needs more support to find listings efficiently.
  1. Compilation and Debugging Requirements: The Appium Flutter Driver necessitates the Application Under Test (AUT) to be compiled in debug or profile mode, with the Flutter Driver VM service extension enabled for effective interaction.
  1. Constraints in Element Inspection: Element inspection using the Appium desktop app is not supported; it can only be inspected as a standard application using automationName = Appium.
  1. FindElement Command Behavior: The FindElement command does not invoke the actual element method and may result in test flakiness. QAF, however, ensures element presence or timeout exception.
  1. Limitations with appium-flutter-driver Client Library: The use of the appium-flutter-driver client library restricts the use of @FindBy annotation. This constraint is mitigated by employing QAF for integration, enabling the required annotation.
  1. Divergence in Client Library Implementation: Implementation with the appium-flutter-driver client library differs from a standard Appium client. QAF implementation aligns precisely with standard practices.
Also read: Exploring Top Performance Testing Tools in Software Industry

Integration of Flutter with HeadSpin Platform

The HeadSpin Platform seamlessly integrates with Flutter, providing a comprehensive mobile development and testing solution. Here's how you can leverage HeadSpin's capabilities for Flutter:

  1. Testing on Real Devices: Test your Flutter app on real devices through the HeadSpin platform.
  1. Performance Monitoring: Monitor your app's performance on the HeadSpin dashboard, tracking metrics such as average response time, CPU usage, and memory usage.
  1. Crash Reports Analysis: Analyze and save crash reports directly on the HeadSpin dashboard, with stack traces and crash details.
  1. Test Automation with HS Connect: Use HS Connect to integrate with Flutter apps and write tests seamlessly. Develop tests in Dart.
  1. Results and Logs Viewing: View comprehensive test results, logs, and detailed reports on the HeadSpin dashboard after test completion.
  1. Save and Download Results: Save test results in JSON format on the HeadSpin dashboard, providing a downloadable record for future reference.

HeadSpin Appium Capabilities

The Appium capabilities on the HeadSpin platform enhance your testing experience with additional features and insights. Notable capabilities include:

HeadSpin Appium Inspector Integration: 

Identify UI elements while developing Appium automation scripts directly in the HeadSpin Device Remote Control UI. This streamlines the development environment, eliminating the need for separate simulators/emulators and app downloads.

Read more: A complete guide to user interface testing

Bottom Line

Testing is an essential stage in the application development life cycle, and the Appium Flutter Driver is a valuable ally in this crucial process. Automating testing boosts efficiency and minimizes human error, ensuring a seamless user experience.

From delving into the fundamentals of Appium and Flutter to exploring their cohesive integration through the Appium Flutter Driver, we've navigated an enlightening journey. This tool is a cornerstone for automated testing in Flutter apps, offering a secure, swift, and reliable avenue for releasing top-tier applications.

As businesses increasingly adopt Flutter for mobile app development, the significance of a dependable testing tool like Appium Flutter Driver becomes paramount.

HeadSpin, supporting tests on the open-source Appium version, ensures compatibility and avoids vendor lock-in. The HeadSpin Platform accelerates test cycles by 30%, capturing performance data for actionable insights. With support for parallel test execution on iOS and Android devices, HeadSpin allows seamless running of existing test scripts without modifications. These advancements enhance the efficiency of mobile no-code testing, empowering teams to deliver high-quality apps confidently.

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Q1. What platforms does Flutter support?

Ans: Flutter is crafted to run mobile apps on Android and iOS seamlessly. Additionally, it empowers the development of interactive web pages and desktop applications. It excels in delivering highly branded designs for diverse applications.

 Q2. What programming language does Flutter employ?

Ans: Flutter utilizes Dart, an open-source programming language developed by Google. Optimized for building UIs, Dart leverages its strengths within Flutter, including features like sound null safety.

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How to Automate Flutter App Testing Using Appium?

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