A Quick Guide to Mobile App Testing Using XCUITest

A Quick Guide to Mobile App Testing Using XCUITest

During the early 2000s, the desktop platform was the only way to use applications and access the Internet. However, as time began to progress, people became busier and busier in their lives and could not be contained in a specific location. Therefore, there was a sudden urge to access all the daily applications on the go. It was during this time in 2010 that smartphones began to arise in the industry. The capabilities and portability of a handheld device made people realize that they can perform all the desktop functions from a device in their pocket. 

Therefore, the application development industries began to realize the potential in the mobile app development market. Many mobile app testing frameworks like XCUITest began to set foot in the industry. In this article, we're going to discuss everything that you need to know for testing an application with XCUITest.

The History of Mobile App Development and its Challenges

After the popularity of smartphones, developers started to explore the mobile app development market. One thing that they immediately realized was that the smartphone industry was much more diverse compared to the desktop market. For reference, almost 1000 new Android devices are released every year. It is needless to mention that there are other popular smartphones operating platforms like iOS and windows. 

So, companies started to realize the importance of the testing process to ensure that their application maintains optimal performance irrespective of so many variations. Currently, there are three types of mobile applications that are available in the market. They are known as native apps, hybrid apps, and cross-platform apps.

A recent market study shows that almost 50% of Internet traffic is accessed from mobile devices. So, application development companies need to ensure that they maintain a strong market share in this segment. Now, let us move on to the basics of XCUITest and learn more about its features.

The Basic idea of XCUITest

XCUITest is an automated testing framework that helps to verify the proper functioning of all the user interface elements present in an iOS application. This framework was developed by Apple in 2015. For testing purposes, it uses XCTest. XCTest is an integrated app testing framework that belongs to XCode by Apple. While working with XCUITest, the developers will be able to write the test cases using Swift or Objective-C programming languages. Test cases written with these programming languages help to verify the functioning of native iOS applications and Mac OS applications. Many developers consider XCUITest to be one of the best mobile app testing frameworks. This is because it is very easy to maintain, prevents test flakiness, and also helps in improving the overall continuous integration process.

The native support from Apple allows XCUITest to access various internal parameters of an iOS device. This is very important as it helps to customize the end-user experience and provide optimal user satisfaction.

Advantages of Using XCUITest

XCUITest isn't one of the most popular mobile app testing frameworks for nothing. So let us take a look at some of the major advantages of this framework:  

  • While using XCUITest, the developers do not have to worry about a lengthy installation process. This is because XCode comes with all the necessary files that are required to begin the mobile automation testing process. XCUITest is preinstalled into XCode, and the developers do not need to install anything else.
  • XCUITest provides native testing support for iOS applications. This feature provides additional confidence to developers while using user interface test cases. Moreover, the programming languages used by XCUITest are natively used by the Apple development team. XCUITest also helps to simplify integration synchronization and faster test execution processes.
  • Since XCUITest supports the native iOS programming language, the development and testing team can use the same codebase. This allows for improving the collaboration between both of these teams of an application development company.
  • Test recorder is available in XCUITest with the help of the XCode integrated development environment. This feature was initially available in XCTest and has been passed down to XCUITest due to the massive similarities. The test recorder not only helps to generate test code but also helps to record the UI elements. The developers can use this data to tweak the code and efficiently produce the test cases.

The Downsides of XCUITest

Like every other thing in this world, XCUITest also has its share of limitations. Let us take a quick look at some of the major limitations of XCUITest that all mobile app testers must be aware of:

  • It is true that conducting the test cases on emulators and simulators can lead to highly flaky test results. But, on the other hand, conducting iOS testing with XCUITest on real devices does not always guarantee non-flaky test reports.
  • XCUITest isn't a suitable framework for performing smoke or regression testing on real devices. Regression testing consists of repetitive test cases that need to be conducted several times during the application testing process.
  • XCUITest does not support a wide range of programming languages. It only supports Swift and Objective-C languages that are natively used by the Apple development team.
  • It is impossible to perform automation testing of Android devices with the help of this platform.

Best Practices for XCUITest App Testing

Now let us take a quick look at some of the best practices for XCUITest app testing. By following these steps, the developers can improve the quality of the iOS application:

  • The developers can use the built-in recording features to record app interactions. It will capture how the test will interact with all the elements present in the native iOS application. Then, it will save the report in the form of a source code.
  • The developers should ensure that they are avoiding test code fixing whenever they're converting a test script into a test case.
  • XCUITest might take some time before it displays the app view completely. So, the developers must always wait for the loading process before making any form of assertion.
  • XCUITest allows the developers to specify user interactions with the help of specific commands. this means there are specific commands for tap(), doubleTap(), and twoFingerTap(). So, it will be a wise decision to use these dedicated commands and analyze how the application behaves in different forms of user interactions. It can also test other features like pinch to zoom, different directional swipes, and screen rotation.
  • Other than user interface testing, the developers can also use this framework to perform web accessibility testing. This process can be conducted with the help of the UIAccessibility protocol. This feature is dedicated to maximizing the user base for an application.
  • While performing iOS app testing, it is a good practice to create a specific guideline for the testing process. This will help all the members of the testing team to add more test cases according to the requirements of the application. 

How to Test a Mobile App with XCUITest

As it is a costly process to maintain an Apple in-house device testing lab, the developers should use cloud platforms like LambdaTest for this process. We will discuss more this integration in the latter part of this article. In this framework, all the test cases will be grouped into a single class known as “XCTest”. The XCTest API will provide multiple classes according to the requirements of the developers. Let us look at some of the major ones:

  • XCUIElementQuery: This method is useful for finding an element in the User interface of the application. The finding process will be followed by the execution of a specific action.
  • XCUIElement: This method will represent a specific UI element that will be present in the iOS application. This method will also help the testers to verify the functioning of the application according to multiple types of user interactions.
  • XCUIApplication: This is a proxy method for the iOS testing process. The purpose of this is to launch, monitor, and terminate the testing process.
  • XCUIScreen: It will represent the physical screen of the iOS device.

There are also other methods like XCUIElement.ElementType, XCUIScreenshot, and XCUIDevice.

Integrating XCUITest with Other Tools and Platforms

Considering the price of iOS devices, it is illogical for any company to maintain a physical iOS device testing bench. However, on the other hand, it is also not practical to release a mobile application just based on test reports from emulators and simulators. So, the best solution to eliminate both of these problems is to integrate a cloud platform into the test bench. Currently, there are thousands of cloud-based platforms that are available in the mobile application development industry. These platforms help developers to access hundreds of real devices that are stored on their cloud servers. These platforms also provide various other features to improve the overall quality of the mobile app testing process. To better understand this concept, let us use LambdaTest as a reference:

To begin our discussion, LambdaTest is a cloud-integrated platform to ensure that a web application is perfectly cross-browser compatible. For the new testers, cross-browser compatibility test cases ensure that a web application does not display any abnormal behavior due to changes in the operating system, browser version, or physical device specifications. LambdaTest allows the testers to conduct the XCUITest test cases on hundreds of real iPhones and iPads stored on cloud servers. LambdaTest also helps to improve the efficiency of the test cases by enforcing parallel testing, continuous testing, system testing and more. With the help of parallel test cases, the developers can execute multiple configurations of test cases at the same time. While using LambdaTest, the developers can write the test cases with swift or objective C. This helps to ensure that the native iOS application will be completely compatible with all Apple hand-held devices.

The Conclusion

So, we can conclude that XCUITest is one of the best tools for testing the proper functioning of an iOS mobile application. It provides various features that help developers ensure the proper functioning of a native iOS app. The developers can also integrate XCUITest with other CI/CD tools like Jenkins to further improve the development process of an iOS application. The app development company needs to realize the importance of a well-planned app testing process. This is because the testing phase ensures that you provide the intended end-user experience to create the brand image. On the other hand, the testers should also keep themselves updated with all the recent market trends related to mobile app testing. 

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