iOS UI testing framework and guidelines





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AutomationTools is a framework that helps you writing better and more maintainable UI tests. It allows launching the app, injecting flags to load the correct configuration and to automate repetitive actions (e.g. filling a basket, logging in a user etc.). The mechanism that is used for injecting state from a test case into the app under test is via the use of launch arguments and environment variables. The launch arguments are passed in to XCUIApplication’s launch method as an array of strings and the environment variables are passed as a dictionary.

Along with the state configuration functionality, AutomationTools also contains the most reused functionality that we have in our test suites. Things like Page Object base classes, sensible waiting methods and an extension for XCUIApplication all mean that our test suite is easy to maintain and has high readability, flexibility and code reuse.

AutomationTools is composed of 2 pods: AutomationTools-Core and AutomationTools-Host. Core consists of app state configuration, base classes and utilities. Host provides a bridge between the test case and the app by unwrapping the testcase injected flags. The reason for using 2 separate podspecs instead of subspecs is to support Apple's new Build System. CocoaPods has a known limitation with naming the frameworks generated from subspecs.


  • ATTestCase.swift is the base class inherited from XCTestCase to be used for all the UI test suites. It holds a reference to XCUIApplication and provides a launchApp method to be used to run the app from the tests:
launchApp(featureFlags: [Flag] = [], 
          automationFlags: [Flag] = [], 
          envVariables: [String : String] = [:],
          otherArgs: [String] = [])

We pass in arrays of Flags to the launchApp method which will then be marshalled using the LaunchArgumentBuilder by adding appropriate "EPHEMERAL" and "AUTOMATION" prefixes and converted into String representation.

  • LaunchArgumentsBuilder.swift used in ExtensionXCUIApplication.swift has the following 2 methods exposed:
static public func launchArgumentForEphemeralConfiguration(_ ephemeralConfiguration: NSDictionary) -> String
static public func launchArgumentForAutomationConfiguration(_ automationConfiguration: NSDictionary) -> String

There is a nice trick here: since information from UI Tests process to app process happens via ProcessInfo.processInfo.arguments, which is typed [String], we convert a dictionary of flags to a single string representation and marshal/unmarshal it. We pass in separate arrays for feature flags and automation flags. Feature flags drive decision making paths while automation flags are used to setup the app environment (e.g. directly deeplink to a specific screen, simulate the user to be logged in at startup, etc.). LaunchArgumentBuilder will add "EPHEMERAL" prefix to feature flags & "AUTOMATION" prefix to automation flags arguments to distinguish them easily to allow the unmarshalling in the app (via the later on described AutomationBridge.swift).

Flags are structs defined as:

public struct Flag {
    public let key: String
    public let value: Any
  • PageObject.swift is the base class of the page objects defined in the client code. It holds references to XCUIApplication and the current XCTestCase.


  • ExtensionXCTestCase.swift contains basic utility methods to be used in the test suites. A wider range of utility methods can be found such as EarlGrey. Exposed methods are:
func waitForElementToNotExist(element: XCUIElement, timeout: Double = 10)
func waitForElementToExist(element: XCUIElement, timeout: Double = 10)
func waitForElementValueToExist(element: XCUIElement, valueString: String, timeout: Double = 10)


The client should have a component able to inspect the flags in the ProcessInfo. This can be done via AutomationBridge.swift, which exposes the following methods:

public var ephemeralConfiguration: NSDictionary?
public var automationConfiguration: NSDictionary?
public func launchArgumentsContain(_ launchArgument: String) -> Bool

Running a test via the ATTestCase's launchApp method, the arguments that can be extracted in the ProcessInfo should now be no more than 2:

  • One containing all the feature flags (optional)
  • One containing all the automation flags (optional)

Extensions of AutomationBridge in the client code should expose methods like simulateUserAlreadyLoggedIn() checking for the existence of a value in the automation configuration. The client app uses these methods to drive decisions and simplify the execution of the UI tests.

AutomationBridge also publicly exposes the ephemeralConfiguration property (NSDictionary type) that is ultimately used to setup feature flags in the client code. The name comes from JustTweaks where NSDictionary and NSMutableDictionary are respectively made conformat to Configuration and MutableConfiguration, and we suggest to use it to setup a stack to ease to usage of featue flags.



Call the launchApp() method from the test case with relevant configuration to set up and run the test case that inherits from ATTestCase. The launchApp() method gets the injected flags/arguments marshalled through LaunchArgumentsBuilder and launches the app with the correct configuration.

import XCTest
import AutomationTools_Core

class ExampleTestCases: ATTestCase {
    func testExample1() {
        launchApp(featureFlags: [Flag(key: Constants.feature1, value: false)],
                  automationFlags: [Flag(key: Constants.simulateUserAlreadyLoggedIn, value: true)],
                  otherArgs: [Constants.defaultStubBundle])

        // Test steps


Extend AutomationBridge to include methods required for configuring the environment.

import Foundation
import AutomationTools_Host

public extension AutomationBridge {

     public var simulateUserAlreadyLoggedIn: Bool {
        return automationConfiguration?[Constants.simulateUserAlreadyLoggedIn] as? Bool ?? false

and use the ephemeral configuration to setup app configuration.

if let ephemeralConfiguration = automationBridge.ephemeralConfiguration {
    // use ephemeralConfiguration to setup app configuration
    // or setup a TweakManager with JustTweak

Here's an example of a stack setup with JustTweak:

lazy var tweakManager: TweakManager = {
    let ephemeralConfiguration = automationBridge.ephemeralConfiguration
    let userDefaultsConfiguration = UserDefaultsConfiguration(userDefaults: UserDefaults.standard)

    let jsonURL = Bundle.main.url(forResource: "Tweaks", withExtension: "json")!
    let localConfiguration = LocalConfiguration(jsonURL: jsonFileURL)
    let configurations: [Configuration] = [ephemeral, userDefaultsConfiguration, localConfiguration].compactMap { $0 }

    return TweakManager(configurations: configurations)


Include AutomationTools pod reference in the Checkout module's pod file

target 'YourProject_MainTarget' do
pod 'AutomationTools-Host', '5.0.0'

target 'YourProject_UITestsTarget' do
pod 'AutomationTools-Core', '5.0.0'
  • Just Eat iOS team

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