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April 5, 2018

Appium Framework: Pros, Cons, and What The Future Might Look Like

Mobile Application Testing

Many teams use Appium as their test framework for mobile testing. Here we cover what the Appium framework is — and the pros and cons of using it. 

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What Is Appium?

The Appium framework is an open source test automation framework. Many mobile testing teams use the Appium test framework for Android and iOS.

Appium is a framework you can use for testing mobile applications. It drives Android and iOS apps using a WebDriver. You can pair it with other testing tools. 

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Appium Framework Pros

Here's what's great about Appium mobile testing.

Strong, Active Open Source Community

Appium is by far the leading open-source test framework for cross-platform(mobile) native test automation (iOS, Android).

Plus, Appium is consistently backed by a large, very dynamic community, with steady support, commits, etc.

Support For End-to-End Testing in Multiple Languages

Appium provides support for multiple development languages through Remote WebDriver language bindings (Java, JavaScript, Perl, Python, C#).

And Appium can cover black box end-to-end test flows including outside-the-app scenarios (e.g., initiating a call, sending a text message).

Appium framework code

Already Using Appium?

Try Appium with Perfecto. You can use the Appium Perfecto integration to test real mobile devices in the Perfecto lab using your Appium framework.

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Cons: Challenges in Appium Automation

Here are some challenges in Appium automation. 

Setting Appium Up Locally Can Be a Challenge

Teams are required to download, install and configure their environment. This means having a local Android and iOS device available and connected.

Working With App Objects Is Difficult

Working with app objects for both iOS and Android isn’t easy, and falls into the top testing challenges coming from practitioners.

The Appium test framework relies on iOS XCUITest and Espresso Android (UI automation framework). This means that users need to be familiar with the object structure. And they need to know how to use the Appium object spy correctly.

Slow Test Execution

Tests can be slow due to the remote Webdriver dependency, network issues, and processing commands.

Test Framework Stability

Stability issues can occur when executing through CI or at scale and in parallel.

Test Automation Coverage

Being able to fully cover gestural inputs, environment conditions, device settings, and more, as well as support immediately latest Beta and GA versions of iOS and Android. Community-supported solutions frequently move slower than handset vendor/mobile OS innovations.

Top Challenges Appium
Top Challenges from users on the Appium discussion board

A mobile automation framework using Appium does differ from other frameworks. And despite Appium's leadership today, DevOps teams are also adopting Espresso and XCUITest.

Compare XCUITest vs. Appium vs. Espresso for your mobile automation framework. 

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The Future of the Appium Framework

My testing framework intuition tells me that:

  • Appium will share more of the testing framework market with Espresso and XCUITest.
  • Functional testing using Espresso/XCUITest will become part of commit-triggered built-testing.  
  • Full end-to-end testing using Appium will be leveraged during full regression testing.
  • Appium stability will improve and execution times will shrink — it will get better & faster!
  • Hybrid test execution will become supported. Appium scripts will be able to trigger embedded Espresso/XCITests.

When to Use Appium for Mobile Testing

Appium is great! It’s got:

  • A strong open source community
  • Outstanding support for a number of programming languages
  • The ability to handle end-to-end test flows

Appium is weak:

  • In test performance and stability
  • In keeping up with the latest OS features (e.g. gestural)
  • In setup time

XCUITest and Espresso are also leading the market with strong user bases and helps fill in the gaps where Appium falls short — so keep an eye out for those other tools!

Check out this webinar for more Appium mobile test automation skills.

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Bottom Line

Mobile testing with Appium is great for getting started with automation. But test automation frameworks can't do it all.

Perfecto integrates with Appium to accelerate automation. Perfecto can help boost your test coverage with a mobile device cloud. And it helps you scale as you grow.

Perfecto also provides Appium users some additional capabilities, including:

Accelerate mobile testing with Perfecto. See what the world's only end-to-end continuous testing platform can do for you.

Get started today for free.

Try Perfecto

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