HTML5 tutorials - writing functional tests

In this tutorial you will learn how to write functional tests to strengthen the quality of your Ubuntu HTML5 application. It builds upon the HTML5 development tutorials.


  • Ubuntu 14.10 or later
  • The HTML5 development tutorials
  • autopilot, selenium
    • Open a terminal with Ctrl+Alt+T and run these commands to install all required packages:
    • sudo apt-add-repository ppa:canonical-platform-qa/selenium
    • sudo apt-get update
    • sudo apt-get install python3-autopilot python3-selenium oxideqt-chromedriver

What are acceptance tests?

Functional or acceptance tests help ensure your application behaves properly from a user perspective. The tests seek to mimic the user as closely as possible. Acceptance tests are the pinnacle of the testing pyramid. The testing pyramid describes the three levels of testing an application, going from low level tests at the bottom and increasing to high level tests at the top. As acceptance tests are the highest level, they will represent the smallest number of tests, but will also likely be the most complex.

In Ubuntu, functional tests for your HTML5 application:

  • Are written in python
  • Utilize selenium and autopilot

What is autopilot? selenium?

Autopilot is a tool for introspecting applications using dbus. What this means is autopilot can read application objects and their properties, while also allowing you to mock user interactions like clicking, tapping and sending keystrokes.

Selenium is also a testing tool meant for testing web applications. Like autopilot, it allows you to find and interact with page elements, but does this by driving a browser and providing programmatic access to it.

A simple testcase

The setup

Before you can run a testcase, you’ll need to setup your environment.

  • Create a test class that inherits AutopilotTestCase
  • Define your Setup() and TearDown() functions
  • Launch the application with introspection via launch_test_application

Fortunately, this setup is taken care of for you by the testing templates provided by the SDK. Let’s break down a few important pieces to understand.

First is how we launch the application. Autopilot is used to introspect the html5-app-launcher executable which will run the web app and contains the web view.

def launch_html5_app_inline(self, args):
        return self.launch_test_application(

Next, we define a webdriver for selenium that we can use to interact with the webview. A webdriver an interface to a browser allowing for programmatically interacting with an application. Each browser has a separate browser driver. Since our HTML5 application will be running utilizing Blink, we launch a Chrome driver.

def launch_webdriver(self):
    options = Options()
    options.binary_location = ''
    options.debugger_address = '{}:{}'.format(
    self.driver = webdriver.Chrome(

Finally we are able to launch the application and start the webdriver once it’s loaded.

def launch_html5_app(self):
    self.app_proxy = self.launch_html5_app_inline()

Building blocks of a testcase


  • Create a Testcase class that inherits your test class
  • Define your Setup() (and perhaps TearDown()) functions
  • Launch the application with introspection via launch_test_application

Here’s a simple test example of testing an HTML5 app with 2 buttons.

def test_for_buttons(self):
        html5_doc_buttons =
            "#hello-page a")
        self.assertThat(len(html5_doc_buttons), Equals(2))

Making use of selenium

Once you’ve launched the application successfully, you will have access to the object tree as usual. You will find the objects you need under the WebAppContainer object. A simple select will get you the object:


Even further, you can also utilize the selenium webdriver methods to interact with the application.

For example, you will find it useful to search for objects using selenium, while interacting with the container will be easier using autopilot (tapping the back button for example). As you see in the example above we are able to easily find elements on the page using a find_elements_by_css_selector method which is provided by the selenium webdriver. This is in contrast to introspecting for the object over the dbus tree via autopilot.

Finding and Selecting Objects

Fortunately selenium also makes it easy to find and introspect objects. You can issue a find by id, name, path, link, tag, class, and css! You can also find multiple elements by most of the same attributes.

You can read more about finding elements in the Selenium documentation.

Once you have found an element you can interact with it by reading its properties or performing an action. Let’s talk about each one.

Reading attributes

You can read element attributes by utilizing the get_attribute method. For example, we can read attributes of the button from the previous example.


Note that getting a list of all attributes isn’t possible via the API. Instead, you can visualize the element using web developer tools or javascript to list it’s attributes.

You can also get values of css properties via the value_of_css_property method.

Action Chains

Now that we can find objects and get details about them, let’s interact with them as well. A user interacting with our application will swipe and tap our UI elements. To do the same in selenium, we can utilize what is known as an action chain. This is simply a set of actions that we ask selenium to perform in the same way as a user.

Let’s provide an example, by expanding the example testcase we gave above. After finding the buttons, let’s add an action to click the first button.

First, let’s define a new actionchain for the main page.

actions = ActionChains(

Now we can add actions to perform. Selenium allows us to click on items, drag, move, etc. For our purposes let’s add a single action to click the button.

Once all of our actions are added, we call the perform method to execute the actions. So putting it all together, here’s our full testcase:

def test_click_button(self):
        button =[0]
        actions = ActionChains(

To find out about other useful methods, check out the Actions Chain documentation.

Assertions and Expectations

In addition to the suite of assertions that autopilot has, selenium allows for you to create expectations about elements. These are called expected conditions. For example, we could wait for an element to be clickable before clicking on it.


Page Object Model

When you are architecting your test suite, it’s important to think about design. Functional tests are the most UI sensitive testcases in your project and are more likely to break than lower level tests. To address this issue, the page object model can guide you towards writing tests that can scale and deal with changes over time easily. Check out the Page ObjectModel for more information.


You've just learned how to write acceptance tests for a Ubuntu HTML5 application. But there is more information to be learned about how to write HTML5 tests. Check out the links below for more documentation and help.