Speeding up UI Browser tests with Robot Framework

My current AWS demo project is a Cat Voting Booth.  It uses SocketIO/WebSockets, so in addition to server-side unit tests I’ve built a number of browser-level tests, using Robot Framework.

One feature people don’t realize is that Robot can actually be quite speedy. Opening and closing a browser window is very slow, on the order of 1-2 seconds. Depending on the application, this can be done once, saving 1-2 seconds for *every* test!  For my Very Important Cat Voting Booth, this is the case.

Here’s the magic bit:

*** Settings ***
Resource          resource.robot
Test Setup        Reset Votes
Suite Setup       Open Browser To Voting Page
Suite Teardown    Close All Browsers

*** Test Cases ***
Valid Page
    Votes Not Available

Register Up Vote
    Vote Up
    Element Text Should Be    vote-count-up    1
    Element Text Should Be    vote-count-down    0

Normally, Robot will open/close a browser on each test.  The above stanza says “Test Setup: Reset Votes”, that is, it’ll reset my database and *not* open a browser.  The suite-level setup is “Suite Setup: Open Browser”, which means Robot will open a browser once and not per test.  Similarly the suite-level teardown closes all the (Robot-created) browsers.

I can run four (admittedly modest) browser-level tests, in a full real browser, in four seconds! This includes going back and forth to my Flask-SocketIO server, interacting with Redis, and other things.  I’m quite happy with this result.

As a heavy Test Driven Development (TDD) guy, with the above speed I can do full browser-level tests as TDD!  I don’t have to wait until I absolutely *have* to run UI tests, they can be fast enough for running many times an hour, to give me very fast development feedback.

Full source code here: https://github.com/johntellsall/aws-realtime-metrics