Tuesday, May 18, 2010

GUI Test Automation with RoutineBot

Recently, I came across a simple and effective GUI Test Automation tool. It is named RoutineBot. RoutineBot works by searching and performing actions on image patterns. Other than that, it can emulate keystrokes and mouse movements and clicks.

A few salient points about RoutineBot are:
1. It works with both Windows applications and Web applications.
2. It supports Pascal, Basic and JScript scripting languages.
3. It provides warning and error messages to help debugging, returns results of the test and closes the test on timeout.
4. It provides Environment options (e.g. snapshot interval i.e. time during which you should navigate to the image, location of the log file etc.)
5. It currently comes with a free unlimited 30-day trial version.
6. The full version is priced quite economically when compared to other tools with similar features.

Here is my experience when I decided to try out RoutineBot.

The installer is in a single file, routinebot.exe of a small size (2.2 MB). On running the installer, the installer shows the standard wizard (confirmation to install RoutineBot, License Agreement, selecting destination folder, selecting start menu folder, creating desktop icon, selected settings so far and the complete setup screen). The installation was done in a matter of seconds on my machine.

Applications tested

Since the example mentioned on RoutineBot website used a Windows application (Calculator), I decided to use RoutineBot to automate few test steps on a Windows application. However, I used the Notepad application instead. The steps that I decided to automate were:
a. Open Notepad.
b. Type some text in it.
c. Save the text in a file.

Opening an application is very simple in RoutineBot. The Execute command did that for me. Next, I needed to enter some text. The command to do so is EnterKeys. Note that EnterKeys can be used not only to type text but also other keystrokes like Ctrl, Alt, Enter, Function Keys and so on. The next part is where I had to learn using the RoutineBot approach of using image patterns. I needed to click the File menu item. Therefore, I changed the tab to Select Test Image. Then, I clicked on the Make snapshot button. It starts a countdown of 5 seconds during which I had to move the mouse pointer near the File menu item. Next, I used the Select and crop button to select just the File menu item text. Then, I saved the selected image (of the File menu item text) as a .bmp file (I could have chosen the .jpg or .gif format instead) using the Save sample button. Next, I selected the action of MouseFocuse (the default action). Now, I switched to the Script tab and placed a MouseClick command after the MouseFocuse command. Similarly, I automated the click on the Save menu item (under the File main menu item), typed a filename and clicked on the Save button. Every time I added something to the script, I clicked the Run script button to ensure that it worked just as I wanted it to work.
My final script looked like:
EnterKeys('Hello world!');

Firefox browser
Next, I chose to automate the following test steps of a Web application:
a. Open Firefox browser.
b. Navigate to Google search engine.
c. Search for "RoutineBot".
d. Click on the first result (expected as the RoutineBot website's home page).

I tried the Record option but, as expected, it generated too many lines in the script. Therefore, I chose to create my own script by using the Add Action button. The working script looked like:
Execute('D:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe');
EnterKeys('www.google.co.in~'); //Note that the ~ stands for the Enter key

Licensing and Price
1. I found the price of RoutineBot reasonable. You can see the pricing information here.
2. Note the important current licensing approach here, "One registered copy of RoutineBot may either be used by a single person who uses the software personally on one or more computers, or installed on a single workstation used non-simultaneously by multiple people, but not both."
3. It currently comes with free updates (minor version changes) but paid upgrades (major version changes).

Other tips
1. RoutineBot did not display complete UI on my screen that had the resolution set to 800X600. I found that when I increased my screen resolution to 1024X768 or higher, there was no display problem.
2. If you add actions from the buttons (Add Action or Select Action) as well as write commands in the script yourself, you should look out for formatting errors. Anyway, RoutineBot points the exact location where the syntax is incorrect.
3. When you Hide RoutineBot, it not only becomes invisible but also disappears from the list of open applications (meaning, for example, that you cannot use Alt-Tab key combination to open it). On hiding, RoutineBot displays as an icon in the taskbar. You can click this icon to unhide it.
4. When you execute your script, you should ensure (programmatically or otherwise) that the RoutineBot Interpreter toolbar (with Stop, Pause and Hide buttons) does not overlap an image of interest. In other words, the image to be searched should be visible. Otherwise, RoutineBot will not be able to find the image and perform actions on it.
5. If the image pattern changes in the application, then your script may not work correctly. Therefore, for images likely to change, it is better to use smaller images (that stay constant) or to use the button's caption to click it.

This is my overall view of RoutineBot. I was able to learn building test automation scripts using RoutineBot within a few minutes. Then, I read the documentation that is available on the tool website (see links below). After reading the documentation and trying simple examples, I became confident that I had mastered the basics of the tool. Since, I the trial period of the tool is far from over, I plan to automate test cases of a web application with it and see for myself how well RoutineBot is able to automate them.
Important links

Disclaimer: I have reviewed RoutineBot as a potential user. I do not represent the tool vendor (AKS-Labs). If you want to evaluate RoutineBot for your needs, you should use your own judgment and contact the tool vendor directly.

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