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Creating Maintainable Tests

The first important rule in developing tests is to keep them readable and maintainable. Otherwise, when the test fail, such as after refactoring the application code, the developers get impatient in trying to understand them to fix them, and easily disable them. Readability and maintainability can be improved with the Page Object Pattern described below.

The second rule is to run the tests often. It is best to use a continuous integration server to run them at least once a day, or preferably on every commit.

Increasing Selector Robustness

Robustness of tests is important for avoiding failures because of irrelevant changes in the HTML DOM tree. Different selectors have differences in their robustness and it depends on how they are used.

The ElementQuery API uses the logical widget hierarchy to find the HTML elements, instead of the exact HTML DOM structure. This makes them somewhat robust, although still vulnerable to irrelevant changes in the exact component hierarchy of the UI. Also, if you internationalize the application, selecting components by their caption is not viable.

The low-level XPath selector can be highly vulnerable to changes in the DOM path, especially if the path is given down from the body element of the page. The selector is, however, very flexible, and can be used in robust ways, for example, by selecting by HTML element and a CSS class name or an attribute value. You can likewise use a CSS selector to select specific components by CSS class in a robust way.

Using Component IDs to Increase Robustness

To make UIs more robust for testing, you can set a unique component ID for specific components with setId(), as described in more detail in "Finding by ID".

Let us consider the following application, in which we set the IDs using a hierarchical notation to ensure that they are unique; in a more modular case you could consider a different strategy.

public class UIToBeTested extends UI {
    protected void init(VaadinRequest request) {

        final VerticalLayout content = new VerticalLayout();

        // Create a button
        Button button = new Button("Push Me!");

        // Optional: give the button a unique ID


After preparing the application this way, you can find the element by the component ID with the id() query terminator.

// Click the button
ButtonElement button =

The IDs are HTML element id attributes and must be unique in the UI, as well as in the page in which the UI is running, in case the page has other content than the particular UI instance. In case there could be multiple UIs, you can include a UI part in the ID, as we did in the example above.

Using CSS Class Names to Increase Robustness

As a similar method to using component IDs, you can add CSS class names to components with addStyleName(). This enables matching them with the findElement(By.className()) selector, as described in "Finding by CSS Class". You can use the selector in element queries. Unlike IDs, CSS class names do not need to be unique, so an HTML page can have many elements with the same CSS class.

You can use CSS class names also in XPath selectors.

The Page Object Pattern

The Page Object Pattern aims to simplify and modularize testing application views. The pattern follows the design principle of separation of concerns, to handle different concerns in separate modules, while hiding information irrelevant to other tests by encapsulation.

Defining a Page Object

A page object has methods to interact with a view or a sub-view, and to retrieve values in the view. You also need a method to open the page and navigate to the proper view.

For example:

public class CalculatorPageObject
       extends TestBenchTestCase {
    @FindBy(id = "button_=")
    private WebElement equals;

     * Opens the URL where the calculator resides.
    public void open() {

     * Pushes buttons on the calculator
     * @param buttons the buttons to push: "123+2", etc.
     * @return The same instance for method chaining.
    public CalculatorPageObject enter(String buttons) {
        for (char numberChar : buttons.toCharArray()) {
        return this;

     * Pushes the specified button.
     * @param button The character of the button to push.
    private void pushButton(char button) {
  "button_" + button)).click();

     * Pushes the equals button and returns the contents
     * of the calculator "display".
     * @return The string (number) shown in the "display"
    public String getResult() {;
        return display.getText();


Finding Member Elements By ID

If you have WebElement members annotated with @FindBy, they can be automatically filled with the HTML element matching the given component ID, as if done with driver.findElement( To do so, you need to create the page object with PageFactory as is done in the following test setup:

public class PageObjectExampleITCase {
    private CalculatorPageObject calculator;

    public void setUp() throws Exception {
        driver = TestBench.createDriver(new FirefoxDriver());

        // Use PageFactory to automatically initialize fields
        calculator = PageFactory.initElements(driver,

The members must be typed dynamically as WebElement, but you can wrap them to a typed element class with the wrap() method:

ButtonElement equals = equalsElement.wrap(ButtonElement.class);

Using a Page Object

Test cases can use the page object methods at business logic level, without knowing about the exact structure of the views.

For example:

public void testAddCommentRowToLog() throws Exception {;

    // Just do some math first

    // Verify the result of the calculation
    assertEquals("3.0", calculator.getResult());


The Page Object Example

You can find the complete example of the Page Object Pattern in the src/test/java/com/vaadin/testbenchexample/pageobjectexample/ folder in the TestBench Demo. The runs tests on the Calc UI (also included in the example sources), using the page objects to interact with the different parts of the UI and to check the results.

The page objects included in the pageobjects subfolder are as follows:

  • The CalculatorPageObject (as outlined in the example code above) has methods to click the buttons in the calculator and the retrieve the result shown in the "display".

  • The LogPageObject can retrieve the content of the log entries in the log table, and right-click them to open the comment sub-window.

  • The AddComment can enter a comment string in the comment editor sub-window and submit it (click the Add button).