Run Robotium test on multiple devices at the same time

In order to run multiple devices at the same time, you just need to put adb commands in shell script and made earlier ones run in background. In the adb command, specify device by their serial numbers. For example, create, in which you have

adb -s shell am instrument -w com.mytest.test/android.test.InstrumentationTestRunner&

adb -s shell am instrument -w com.mytest.test/android.test.InstrumentationTestRunner

That’s it!

The best part is that by combining this with auto build and deployment (hint: apache) , you can get fully automated test on multiple devices.

Video below shows a test suite of three very basic tests running on three devices (two physical and a simulator )at the same time.


Run multiple devices using calabash-android

Connected two devices to ran a Calabash test, works fine!

The first device will fail at “press voice call”, because the script was written for the phone version, and the tablet version does not have this “voice all” selection (It has an image button instead). You will see this does not affect the second test.

if you have 10 USB ports, then you can test 10 devices!

For Calabash-ios, this could be done through the wifi run option. I haven’t tried yet.

Also, this is consecutive. If you use Robotium or Android Unit Test, you can run tests at the same time using instrumentation test runner through adb script. I am only talking about Calabash here.

Please be patient from 1:20 to 2:50 as the query time out and fail. You can drag from 1:20 to 2:50. There is nothing in this time period.

Four levels of customization in Calabash-Android

The most important benefit of Calabash is that you can write your test in business-readable domain-specific language, which means you should take the pre defined steps and write custom steps. I will show how to really create custom steps here.

There are four levels, level one and level two and already covered by a famous blog and the Calabash-iOS documentation, but I will go through them again to make it complete.

Note: we will not assert anything here, the purpose is focused on automation.

Before we start hit the Calabash-Android’s Githut home to make sure you properly installed it. Then create a folder for your test, then cd this folder and type “calabash-android gen”. Then grab the Skype Android app as our test app. You can get it from Google Play, then you should re-sign it into debug mode so you test can access the app. Put the apk in the test folder you created.

Pre Level: no customization.
We will start by writing a test that uses all pre-defined steps. In your test folder, open my_first.feature and type in following code (change my_username and my_password” to your username and password:

Feature: Voice Call
Scenario: As a valid user I can log in to Skype and make a voice call

Given I wait for “Sign in” to appear
Then I enter “my_username” into input field number 1
And I enter “my_password” into input field number 2
And I press the “Sign in” button
And I press the “Enable” button
And I wait for “Contacts” to appear

When I press “Contacts”
And I wait for “Echo” to appear
And I touch the “Echo” text
And I wait for “Voice call” to appear
And I press “Voice call”
And I wait for “00:05” to appear
And I take a screenshot
And I press image button number 3
And I go back
And I go back
And I press “Sign out”
And I press “Yes”

Now go to your test folder and run

calabash-android run

or what ever the name of your apk is. It is fun, isn’t it?

Level 1: Macro
You notice the pre level test is just like old style procedural program. For a block of code that does one thing, we can just use macro to group it into a new custom step. Here is how:

Go to the step_definitions folder in your test folder and open calabash_steps.rb, and add the following code to the end.

Given /^I am logged in as a tester$/ do
macro 'I wait for "Sign in" to appear'
macro 'I enter "my_username" into input field number 1' #replace my_username with your real username
macro 'I enter "my_password" into input field number 2' #replace with real password.
macro 'I press the "Sign in" button'
macro 'I press the "Enable" button'
macro 'I wait for "Contacts" to appear'

now you can go back to your my_first.feature and replace the first block with just one line.

Feature: Voice Call
Scenario: As a valid user I can log in to Skype and make a voice call

Given I am logged in as a tester

When I press “Contacts”
And I wait for “Echo” to appear
And I touch the “Echo” text
And I wait for “Voice call” to appear
And I press “Voice call”
And I wait for “00:05” to appear
And I take a screenshot
And I press image button number 3
And I go back
And I go back
And I press “Sign out”
And I press “Yes”

Now run it. your code is much shorter due to this customization! You should do this to all blocks of your test scripts that you use quite often. This is just like create a function and then later on you just call the function instead of writing all the code again. Now level two!

Level 2: add Ruby/Cucumber code in calabash_steps.rb file in the test folder

This requires you to understand what the pre-define the steps really, so dig into the source code of the step definition at

to read them. For our tutorial, we want to add a custom step to make sure we are on the Skype home screen (not really necessary, but doing it for the purpose of the tutorial).
Notice that the “Share” EditText filed always say “Tell friends what you’re up to”, so we know when when see “Tell friends”, we are on the home screen. This tells us we can modify pre defined assert steps to do our job. Open
and copy

Then /^I see the text "([^"]*)"$/ do |text|
performAction('assert_text',text, true)

to the end of you calabash_steps.rb and change it to

Given /^I am on the Skype Home Screen$/ do
performAction('assert_text', 'Tell friends', true)

and add one line to your my_first.feature

Feature: Voice Call

Scenario: As a valid user I can log in to Skype and make a voice call
Given I am logged in as a tester
And I am on the Skype Home Screen

When I press “Contacts”
And I wait for “Echo” to appear
And I touch the “Echo” text
And I wait for “Voice call” to appear
And I press “Voice call”
And I wait for “00:05” to appear
And I take a screenshot
And I press image button number 3
And I go back
And I go back
And I press “Sign out”
And I press “Yes”

Now run it! You just created another custom step using Ruby code. To be really creative and productive you should understand all the .rb file of the pre defined steps. All of them can be modified to satisfy your customization needs. So study them.
These files are usually located under
under this folder you should find these files. Study them!

Level three: use your custom steps file in any test
The two levels above will only affect your current folder/project. To use your custom steps in any of your test, you can just put them in .rb file, and then include (require) them in your xxx_steps.rb in your test folder.
using examples from level 0, 1, 2 above, you can create a login.rb and put it in a location dedicated for Calabash rb files.
for example, in
folder, your create a login.rb file

require 'calabash-android/calabash_steps'

Given /^I am logged in as a tester$/ do
macro ‘I wait for “Sign in” to appear’
macro ‘I enter “tester.skype44” into input field number 1’ #replace my_username with your real username
macro ‘I enter “ts44pass” into input field number 2’ #replace with real password.
macro ‘I press the “Sign in” button’
macro ‘I press the “Enable” button’
macro ‘I wait for “Contacts” to appear’

now, you can use “Given I am logged in as a tester” in many test folders as long as your “require” it in your features/step_definitions/xxx_steps.rb
such as this

require 'calabash-android/calabash_steps'
require '/Users/jfang/development/test/login'

When …. #now you can use “Given I am logged in as a tester” here

And your .feature file is not affect.

Level four: Best part! Java level customization! write your own server side code

In order to do this, you should understand how Calabash-Android works. Under the hood, Calabash communicates with a tiny http server it installed to your device. On that server side, it uses Robotium to interact with your app. Calabash is just the language that makes the communication easy to understand in plain language. If there is something your Calabash can not do but Robotium can do, you can white your own server side code and tell Calabash what sentense to use in order to do it. Let’s do an example.

Notice Calabash-android does not mimic phone rotation landscape or portrait, which often cause UI problems or even crash. In its document
it says this about rotation:

These steps do nothing if you run them locally. If you run the test on LessPainful they will actually rotate the physical device.

Then /^I rotate the device to landscape$/
Then /^I rotate the device to portrait$/

However, Robotium IS able to set device landscape or portrait, you can find this method in Robotium doc

public void setActivityOrientation(int orientation)

So, we will write the Calabash server side code to set the screen to landscape, and create custom step to do it in Calabash! (for portrait just do the same thing)

1) First, you need to clone the Calabash-android source code, follow the instruction at

2) Then, using text editor or your IDE, add the java file to the source code. For our example, I added under this folder:

The code is:

package sh.calaba.instrumentationbackend.actions.gestures;


import android.view.Display;
import sh.calaba.instrumentationbackend.InstrumentationBackend;
import sh.calaba.instrumentationbackend.Result;
import sh.calaba.instrumentationbackend.actions.Action;

public class SetLandscape implements Action {

public Result execute(String… args) {

return Result.successResult();

public String key() {
return “set_landscape”;

Have you been wondering what is those performAction (‘xxxx’, ‘xxx’, xx) is? It is the Ruby code to send the “key” to the server. I will show you how to use it in a bit.

3) build Calabash that includes your own java code
You need Android SDK level 16 installed as well as bundler and rake. To build and install the gem go to the ruby-gem folder run rake install

cd ruby-gem
rake build

if your build is successful you should see something like this

Total time: 25 seconds
calabash-android 0.4.3.pre7 built to your/git/folder/calabash-android/ruby-gem/pkg/calabash-android-0.4.3.pre7.gem.

Then you can install the new gem you just built
sudo gem install /your/calabash/android/gitfolder/calabash-android/ruby-gem/pkg/calabash-android-0.4.3.pre7.gem

4) Add custom step definition.

You really should add this custom step in a .rb file in the git folder and build it together with the java code. If you add it in a exsiting .rb file, you don’t need to even add the “require” in the files that will use it.

But I am being lazy here by adding it in test folder only. In your features/step_definitions/xxx_steps.rb or any .rb file in your dedicated Calabash folder (you learn this in level 2 and 3 above), just add

Then /^I set the screen to landscape$/ do

now when your Calabash script says “Then I set the screen to landscape”, it will performAction(‘set_landscape’), which sends the key ‘set_landscape’ we defined ourself to the tiny http server on your device, which in turn runs the Robotium (java/android) code to set the phone to landscape! This tutorial of level 4 might look simple, but there are so many things could go wrong in every step, so hit me with questions when you get stuck.

Now A picture is worth a thousand words! Then a video is worth a hundred thousand words! we will do the old routine and run Skype and call Echo and take a picture, but I will set the phone landscape once log in without touching it and make sure everything works just fine in this mode. (Note the phone was in portrait mode during sign in).

and…don’t steal my test account password 🙂 The only benefit from it is sending me messages on Skype. There is on other contacts in it.

Afterthoughts: What if I want something even Robotium can’t do? git clone and modify Robotium!

Robotium is also a great open source project, which mean you can pull the source code and modify or extend it as well. Robotium uses android.test.ActivityInstrumentationTestCase2. Android unit test. So you can go from there and extend Robotium. Things will be a bit complicated afterwards because you need to create the jar file and replace the robotium jar file in your Calabash ruby-gem. But it can be done. I will write a tutorial…if there is a need.

Another thought, Robotium vs Calabash?
As you see above something is missing in the translation. It can be done but is just not done yet. So Calabash can do less than Robotium. However it is easy to understand easy to use; the script management is also easy. Even if you need to write some Ruby code, it is still easier than writing Java.

Robotium is powerful but the test suite management is not as easy. Tests in one project file run alphabetically so you have to play with their names for correct order. And as the number of test projects grow your IDE looks really messy.

So Robotium or Calabash? Both! Both are still being improved and more is coming. In the meanwhile, go back to the basics sometimes. Use android.test.ActivityInstrumentationTestCase2 when neither of these satisfy your needs.

Update: This blog is outdated because Robotium already implemented the screen orientations. However, the method here still works. You can use some different name to try it out.

Robotium in Action


Be patient from 00:10 to 00:24 as I run the program.

Here I wrote a small Robotium project to test Skype apk I got from Google Play after properly processing it. No source code is needed. I clear previous user name and enter new username/ password, go to contact, call Echo / Sound Service, turn on speaker to make it louder, take a screenshot at exact 5 seconds (or any time you want), then end call, go back and log out.

The screen shot is in Robotium-Screenshot folder on sdcard. You can add time stamp to the file name in Robotium so you can take a lot of screenshots.

The only drawback is that the password will show up on device, whether you use enterText() or typeText(). I think I might have a solution but I haven’t try it out.

A simple android test automation

A project I am working on requires testers to input some 2750 integers and their +0.1 value into the search box on an Android devices, and compare result from server to records in a XML file. Good thing is that the numbers are consecutive. Good candidate for automation. Note that it does not require any code access.

Combining codes in my earlier posts here and here, I was able to fully automate the process, only need to pause to compare the result.

The pros of this method: work straight out on the shell, don’t need source code, don’t need re-sign apk (as Robotium does).
The cons: For different screen resolution and Android version, you will need different code. Robotium wins here.

What’s next:
1) xml parsing! I already created sample code to use InstrumentationTestCase2 to do Android unit test, and compare the parsed xml result with “mock” server result. This will require source code in order to build the unit test to it. I don’t feel like reverse engineering the product so I will probably stop here. I already know how to do the unit test with the “mock” server result.

Android, adb command to send “touch” screen events to ICS devices (and now Jelly Bean)

Thanks to SoftTeco. I found how to send touch event directly to Android devices. However, his code works for 2.3.3, but not ICS and Jelly Bean. (I did not test 3.x).

However, his great blog not only gives you the code, but also tells you how to get it. After searching valid code for ICS without any result, I just catch the codes using
adb shell getevent | grep event2
Then convert Hex to decimal.
Here is the code to touch the center of my GS2 (240, 400) running AOKP ICS 4.0.X ( I am lazy, this is NOT the newest version of AOKP)
adb shell sendevent /dev/input/event2 3 57 29
adb shell sendevent /dev/input/event2 3 53 240
adb shell sendevent /dev/input/event2 3 54 400
adb shell sendevent /dev/input/event2 3 48 29
adb shell sendevent /dev/input/event2 3 58 2
adb shell sendevent /dev/input/event2 0 0 0
adb shell sendevent /dev/input/event2 3 57 4294967295
adb shell sendevent /dev/input/event2 0 0 0

As you can see, only 8 lines of code is needed now, versus 16 lines for 2.x.

Also, if you run this on DOS cmd, copy all lines and add one more line of something, and paste it all to execute all 8 lines. If you don’t add one more line, you only run 7 lines and result is unpredictable.

You can also put all of them in one line with no new line break:
adb shell "sendevent /dev/input/event2 3 57 29;sendevent /dev/input/event2 3 53 240;sendevent /dev/input/event2 3 54 400;sendevent /dev/input/event2 3 48 29;sendevent /dev/input/event2 3 58 2;sendevent /dev/input/event2 0 0 0;sendevent /dev/input/event2 3 57 4294967295;sendevent /dev/input/event2 0 0 0;"

I did not test it on Jelly Bean, but I think it should be same.
Again, the credit goes to SOFTTE, I am merely using his method to get the code for a different version of Android.

Revision: Tested on Jelly Bean. Different code. So your best shot is getevent.

Spinner triggered by code?

Did you want to add listener to your spinner to do something, say, play one of the listed sounds? The problem is, when you enter this activity, your code will set the spinner as well. Guess what? It will trigger the listener as well!

Zordid at stackoverflow has a great work around.  Here is how:

  • keep the selected positions in field variables. (like currentPos1, currentPos2)
  • the listeners onItemSelectedListener() call a method like refreshMyResult() or whatever.
  • when setting positions programmatically, set the spinners and call your own refresh method manually right after that.

The refreshMyResult() method looks like this:

int newPos1 = mySpinner1.getSelectedItemPosition();

int newPos2 = mySpinner2.getSelectedItemPosition();

// only do something if update is not done yet

if (newPos1 != currentPos1 || newPos2 != currentPos2) {
              currentPos1 = newPos1;
        currentPos2 = newPos2;
         // do whatever has to be done to update things! 
         //This would be in the "old" listener 

Or, may be customize your spinner. For example, to play a sound in a spinner item, add a play button in the customized spinner item, and use listener for that.