Robot Framework User Guide

Version 3.0.2
This is a mirror of the official Robot Framework User Guide with Bootstrap CSS enabled.
Created by Roman Dodin

Copyright © 2008-2015 Nokia Networks
Copyright © 2016- Robot Framework Foundation

Table of Contents

1   Getting started

1.1   Introduction

Robot Framework is a Python-based, extensible keyword-driven test automation framework for end-to-end acceptance testing and acceptance-test-driven development (ATDD). It can be used for testing distributed, heterogeneous applications, where verification requires touching several technologies and interfaces.

The framework has a rich ecosystem around it consisting of various generic test libraries and tools that are developed as separate projects. For more information about Robot Framework and the ecosystem, see http://robotframework.org.

Robot Framework is open source software released under the Apache License 2.0. Its development is sponsored by the Robot Framework Foundation.

1.1.1   Why Robot Framework?

  • Enables easy-to-use tabular syntax for creating test cases in a uniform way.
  • Provides ability to create reusable higher-level keywords from the existing keywords.
  • Provides easy-to-read result reports and logs in HTML format.
  • Is platform and application independent.
  • Provides a simple library API for creating customized test libraries which can be implemented natively with either Python or Java.
  • Provides a command line interface and XML based output files for integration into existing build infrastructure (continuous integration systems).
  • Provides support for Selenium for web testing, Java GUI testing, running processes, Telnet, SSH, and so on.
  • Supports creating data-driven test cases.
  • Has built-in support for variables, practical particularly for testing in different environments.
  • Provides tagging to categorize and select test cases to be executed.
  • Enables easy integration with source control: test suites are just files and directories that can be versioned with the production code.
  • Provides test-case and test-suite -level setup and teardown.
  • The modular architecture supports creating tests even for applications with several diverse interfaces.

1.1.2   High-level architecture

Robot Framework is a generic, application and technology independent framework. It has a highly modular architecture illustrated in the diagram below.

src/GettingStarted/architecture.png

Robot Framework architecture

The test data is in simple, easy-to-edit tabular format. When Robot Framework is started, it processes the test data, executes test cases and generates logs and reports. The core framework does not know anything about the target under test, and the interaction with it is handled by test libraries. Libraries can either use application interfaces directly or use lower level test tools as drivers.

1.1.3   Screenshots

Following screenshots show examples of the test data and created reports and logs.

src/GettingStarted/testdata_screenshots.png

Test case files

src/GettingStarted/screenshots.png

Reports and logs

1.1.4   Getting more information

Project pages

The number one place to find more information about Robot Framework and the rich ecosystem around it is http://robotframework.org. Robot Framework itself is hosted on GitHub.

Mailing lists

There are several Robot Framework mailing lists where to ask and search for more information. The mailing list archives are open for everyone (including the search engines) and everyone can also join these lists freely. Only list members can send mails, though, and to prevent spam new users are moderated which means that it might take a little time before your first message goes through. Do not be afraid to send question to mailing lists but remember How To Ask Questions The Smart Way.

robotframework-users
General discussion about all Robot Framework related issues. Questions and problems can be sent to this list. Used also for information sharing for all users.
robotframework-announce
An announcements-only mailing list where only moderators can send messages. All announcements are sent also to the robotframework-users mailing list so there is no need to join both lists.
robotframework-devel
Discussion about Robot Framework development.

1.3   Installation instructions

These instructions cover installing and uninstalling Robot Framework and its preconditions on different operating systems. If you already have pip installed, it is enough to run:

pip install robotframework

1.3.1   Introduction

Robot Framework is implemented with Python and supports also Jython (JVM), IronPython (.NET) and PyPy. Before installing the framework, an obvious precondition is installing at least one of these interpreters.

Different ways to install Robot Framework itself are listed below and explained more thoroughly in the subsequent sections.

Installing with pip

Using pip is the recommended way to install Robot Framework. As the standard Python package manager it is included in the latest Python, Jython and IronPython versions. If you already have pip available, you can simply execute:

pip install robotframework
Installing from source
This approach works regardless the operating system and the Python interpreter used. You can get the source code either by downloading a source distribution from PyPI and extracting it, or by cloning the GitHub repository .
Standalone JAR distribution
If running tests with Jython is enough, the easiest approach is downloading the standalone robotframework-<version>.jar from Maven central. The JAR distribution contains both Jython and Robot Framework and thus only requires having Java installed.
Manual installation
If you have special needs and nothing else works, you can always do a custom manual installation.

Note

Prior to Robot Framework 3.0, there were also separate Windows installers for 32bit and 64bit Python versions. Because Python 2.7.9 and newer contain pip on Windows and Python 3 would have needed two more installers, it was decided that Windows installers are not created anymore. The recommend installation approach also on Windows is using pip.

1.3.2   Preconditions

Robot Framework is supported on Python (both Python 2 and Python 3), Jython (JVM) and IronPython (.NET) and PyPy. The interpreter you want to use should be installed before installing the framework itself.

Which interpreter to use depends on the needed test libraries and test environment in general. Some libraries use tools or modules that only work with Python, while others may use Java tools that require Jython or need .NET and thus IronPython. There are also many tools and libraries that run fine with all interpreters.

If you do not have special needs or just want to try out the framework, it is recommended to use Python. It is the most mature implementation, considerably faster than Jython or IronPython (especially start-up time is faster), and also readily available on most UNIX-like operating systems. Another good alternative is using the standalone JAR distribution that only has Java as a precondition.

Python 2 vs Python 3

Python 2 and Python 3 are mostly the same language, but they are not fully compatible with each others. The main difference is that in Python 3 all strings are Unicode while in Python 2 strings are bytes by default, but there are also several other backwards incompatible changes. The last Python 2 release is Python 2.7 that was released in 2010 and will be supported until 2020. See Should I use Python 2 or 3? for more information about the differences, which version to use, how to write code that works with both versions, and so on.

Robot Framework 3.0 is the first Robot Framework version to support Python 3. It supports also Python 2, and the plan is to continue Python 2 support as long as Python 2 itself is officially supported. We hope that authors of the libraries and tools in the wider Robot Framework ecosystem also start looking at Python 3 support now that the core framework supports it.

Python installation

On most UNIX-like systems such as Linux and OS X you have Python installed by default. If you are on Windows or otherwise need to install Python yourself, a good place to start is http://python.org. There you can download a suitable installer and get more information about the installation process and Python in general.

Robot Framework 3.0 supports Python 2.6, 2.7, 3.3 and newer, but the plan is to drop Python 2.6 support in RF 3.1. If you need to use older versions, Robot Framework 2.5-2.8 support Python 2.5 and Robot Framework 2.0-2.1 support Python 2.3 and 2.4.

On Windows it is recommended to install Python to all users and to run the installer as an administrator. Additionally, environment variable PYTHONCASEOK must not be set.

After installing Python, you probably still want to configure PATH to make Python itself as well as the robot and rebot runner scripts executable on the command line.

Tip

Latest Python Windows installers allow setting PATH as part of the installation. This is disabled by default, but Add python.exe to Path can be enabled on the Customize Python screen.

Jython installation

Using test libraries implemented with Java or that use Java tools internally requires running Robot Framework on Jython, which in turn requires Java Runtime Environment (JRE) or Java Development Kit (JDK). Installing either of these Java distributions is out of the scope of these instructions, but you can find more information, for example, from http://java.com.

Installing Jython is a fairly easy procedure, and the first step is getting an installer from http://jython.org. The installer is an executable JAR package, which you can run from the command line like java -jar jython_installer-<version>.jar. Depending on the system configuration, it may also be possible to just double-click the installer.

Robot Framework 3.0 supports Jython 2.7 which requires Java 7 or newer. If older Jython or Java versions are needed, Robot Framework 2.5-2.8 support Jython 2.5 (requires Java 5 or newer) and Robot Framework 2.0-2.1 support Jython 2.2.

After installing Jython, you probably still want to configure PATH to make Jython itself as well as the robot and rebot runner scripts executable on the command line.

IronPython installation

IronPython allows running Robot Framework on the .NET platform and interacting with C# and other .NET languages and APIs. Only IronPython 2.7 is supported.

When using IronPython, an additional dependency is installing elementtree module 1.2.7 preview release. This is required because the elementtree module distributed with IronPython is broken. You can install the package by downloading the source distribution, unzipping it, and running ipy setup.py install on the command prompt in the created directory.

After installing IronPython, you probably still want to configure PATH to make IronPython itself as well as the robot and rebot runner scripts executable on the command line.

PyPy installation

PyPy is an alternative implementation of the Python language with both Python 2 and Python 3 compatible versions available. Its main advantage over the standard Python implementation is that it can be faster and use less memory, but this depends on the context where and how it is used. If execution speed is important, at least testing PyPY is probably a good idea.

Installing PyPy is a straightforward procedure and you can find both installers and installation instructions at http://pypy.org. After installation you probably still want to configure PATH to make PyPy itself as well as the robot and rebot runner scripts executable on the command line.

Configuring PATH

The PATH environment variable lists locations where commands executed in a system are searched from. To make using Robot Framework easier from the command prompt, it is recommended to add the locations where the runner scripts are installed into the PATH. It is also often useful to have the interpreter itself in the PATH to make executing it easy.

When using Python on UNIX-like machines both Python itself and scripts installed with should be automatically in the PATH and no extra actions needed. On Windows and with other interpreters the PATH must be configured separately.

Tip

Latest Python Windows installers allow setting PATH as part of the installation. This is disabled by default, but Add python.exe to Path can be enabled on the Customize Python screen. It will add both the Python installation directory and the Scripts directory to the PATH.

What directories to add to PATH

What directories you need to add to the PATH depends on the interpreter and the operating system. The first location is the installation directory of the interpreter (e.g. C:\Python27) and the other is the location where scripts are installed with that interpreter. Both Python and IronPython install scripts to Scripts directory under the installation directory on Windows (e.g. C:\Python27\Scripts) and Jython uses bin directory regardless the operating system (e.g. C:\jython2.7.0\bin).

Notice that the Scripts and bin directories may not be created as part of the interpreter installation, but only later when Robot Framework or some other third party module is installed.

Setting PATH on Windows

On Windows you can configure PATH by following the steps below. Notice that the exact setting names may be different on different Windows versions, but the basic approach should still be the same.

  1. Open Control Panel > System > Advanced > Environment Variables. There are User variables and System variables, and the difference between them is that user variables affect only the current users, whereas system variables affect all users.
  2. To edit an existing PATH value, select Edit and add ;<InstallationDir>;<ScriptsDir> at the end of the value (e.g. ;C:\Python27;C:\Python27\Scripts). Note that the semicolons (;) are important as they separate the different entries. To add a new PATH value, select New and set both the name and the value, this time without the leading semicolon.
  3. Exit the dialog with Ok to save the changes.
  4. Start a new command prompt for the changes to take effect.

Notice that if you have multiple Python versions installed, the executed robot or rebot runner script will always use the one that is first in the PATH regardless under what Python version that script is installed. To avoid that, you can always execute the installed robot module directly like C:\Python27\python.exe -m robot.

Notice also that you should not add quotes around directories you add into the PATH (e.g. "C:\Python27\Scripts"). Quotes can cause problems with Python programs and they are not needed in this context even if the directory path would contain spaces.

Setting PATH on UNIX-like systems

On UNIX-like systems you typically need to edit either some system wide or user specific configuration file. Which file to edit and how depends on the system, and you need to consult your operating system documentation for more details.

Setting https_proxy

If you are installing with pip and are behind a proxy, you need to set the https_proxy environment variable. It is needed both when installing pip itself and when using it to install Robot Framework and other Python packages.

How to set the https_proxy depends on the operating system similarly as configuring PATH. The value of this variable must be an URL of the proxy, for example, http://10.0.0.42:8080.

1.3.3   Installing with pip

The standard Python package manager is pip, but there are also other alternatives such as Buildout and easy_install. These instructions only cover using pip, but other package managers ought be able to install Robot Framework as well.

Latest Python, Jython, IronPython and PyPy versions contain pip bundled in. Which versions contain it and how to possibly activate it is discussed in sections below. See pip project pages if for the latest installation instructions if you need to install it.

Note

Only Robot Framework 2.7 and newer can be installed using pip. If you need an older version, you must use other installation approaches.

Installing pip for Python

Starting from Python 2.7.9, the standard Windows installer by default installs and activates pip. Assuming you also have configured PATH and possibly set https_proxy, you can run pip install robotframework right after Python installation. With Python 3.4 and newer pip is officially part of the interpreter and should be automatically available.

Outside Windows and with older Python versions you need to install pip yourself. You may be able to do it using system package managers like Apt or Yum on Linux, but you can always use the manual installation instructions found from the pip project pages.

If you have multiple Python versions with pip installed, the version that is used when the pip command is executed depends on which pip is first in the PATH. An alternative is executing the pip module using the selected Python version directly:

python -m pip install robotframework
python3 -m pip install robotframework

Installing pip for Jython

Jython 2.7 contain pip bundled in, but it needs to be activated before using it by running the following command:

jython -m ensurepip

Jython installs its pip into <JythonInstallation>/bin directory. Does running pip install robotframework actually use it or possibly some other pip version depends on which pip is first in the PATH. An alternative is executing the pip module using Jython directly:

jython -m pip install robotframework

Installing pip for IronPython

IronPython contains bundled pip starting from version 2.7.5. Similarly as with Jython, it needs to be activated first:

ipy -X:Frames -m ensurepip

Notice that with IronPython -X:Frames command line option is needed both when activating and when using pip.

IronPython installs pip into <IronPythonInstallation>/Scripts directory. Does running pip install robotframework actually use it or possibly some other pip version depends on which pip is first in the PATH. An alternative is executing the pip module using IronPython directly:

ipy -X:Frames -m pip install robotframework

IronPython versions prior to 2.7.5 do not officially support pip.

Installing pip for PyPy

Also PyPy contains pip bundled in. It is not activated by default, but it can be activated similarly as with the other interpreters:

pypy -m ensurepip
pypy3 -m ensurepip

If you have multiple Python versions with pip installed, the version that is used when the pip command is executed depends on which pip is first in the PATH. An alternative is executing the pip module using PyPy directly:

pypy -m pip
pypy3 -m pip

Using pip

Once you have pip installed, and have set https_proxy if you are behind a proxy, using pip on the command line is very easy. The easiest way to use pip is by letting it find and download packages it installs from the Python Package Index (PyPI), but it can also install packages downloaded from the PyPI separately. The most common usages are shown below and pip documentation has more information and examples.

# Install the latest version
pip install robotframework

# Upgrade to the latest version
pip install --upgrade robotframework

# Install a specific version
pip install robotframework==2.9.2

# Install separately downloaded package (no network connection needed)
pip install robotframework-3.0.tar.gz

# Uninstall
pip uninstall robotframework

Notice that pip 1.4 and newer will only install stable releases by default. If you want to install an alpha, beta or release candidate, you need to either specify the version explicitly or use the --pre option:

# Install 3.0 beta 1
pip install robotframework==3.0b1

# Upgrade to the latest version even if it is a pre-release
pip install --pre --upgrade robotframework

Notice that on Windows pip, by default, does not recreate robot.bat and rebot.bat start-up scripts if the same Robot Framework version is installed multiple times using the same Python version. This mainly causes problems when using virtual environments, but is something to take into account also if doing custom installations using pip. A workaround if using the --no-cache-dir option like pip install --no-cache-dir robotframework. Alternatively it is possible to ignore the start-up scripts altogether and just use python -m robot and python -m robot.rebot commands instead.

1.3.4   Installing from source

This installation method can be used on any operating system with any of the supported interpreters. Installing from source can sound a bit scary, but the procedure is actually pretty straightforward.

Getting source code

You typically get the source by downloading a source distribution from PyPI as a .tar.gz package. Once you have downloaded the package, you need to extract it somewhere and, as a result, you get a directory named robotframework-<version>. The directory contains the source code and a setup.py script needed for installing it.

An alternative approach for getting the source code is cloning project's GitHub repository directly. By default you will get the latest code, but you can easily switch to different released versions or other tags.

Installation

Robot Framework is installed from source using Python's standard setup.py script. The script is in the directory containing the sources and you can run it from the command line using any of the supported interpreters:

python setup.py install
jython setup.py install
ipy setup.py install
pypy setup.py install

The setup.py script accepts several arguments allowing, for example, installation into a non-default location that does not require administrative rights. It is also used for creating different distribution packages. Run python setup.py --help for more details.

1.3.5   Standalone JAR distribution

Robot Framework is also distributed as a standalone Java archive that contains both Jython and Robot Framework and only requires Java a dependency. It is an easy way to get everything in one package that requires no installation, but has a downside that it does not work with the normal Python interpreter.

The package is named robotframework-<version>.jar and it is available on the Maven central. After downloading the package, you can execute tests with it like:

java -jar robotframework-3.0.jar mytests.robot
java -jar robotframework-3.0.jar --variable name:value mytests.robot

If you want to post-process outputs using Rebot or use other built-in supporting tools, you need to give the command name rebot, libdoc, testdoc or tidy as the first argument to the JAR file:

java -jar robotframework-3.0.jar rebot output.xml
java -jar robotframework-3.0.jar libdoc MyLibrary list

For more information about the different commands, execute the JAR without arguments.

In addition to the Python standard library and Robot Framework modules, the standalone JAR versions starting from 2.9.2 also contain the PyYAML dependency needed to handle yaml variable files.

1.3.6   Manual installation

If you do not want to use any automatic way of installing Robot Framework, you can always install it manually following these steps:

  1. Get the source code. All the code is in a directory (a package in Python) called robot. If you have a source distribution or a version control checkout, you can find it from the src directory, but you can also get it from an earlier installation.
  2. Copy the source code where you want to.
  3. Decide how to run tests.

1.3.7   Verifying installation

After a successful installation, you should be able to execute the created runner scripts with --version option and get both Robot Framework and interpreter versions as a result:

$ robot --version
Robot Framework 3.0 (Python 2.7.10 on linux2)

$ rebot --version
Rebot 3.0 (Python 2.7.10 on linux2)

If running the runner scripts fails with a message saying that the command is not found or recognized, a good first step is double-checking the PATH configuration. If that does not help, it is a good idea to re-read relevant sections from these instructions before searching help from the Internet or as asking help on robotframework-users mailing list or elsewhere.

Where files are installed

When an automatic installer is used, Robot Framework source code is copied into a directory containing external Python modules. On UNIX-like operating systems where Python is pre-installed the location of this directory varies. If you have installed the interpreter yourself, it is normally Lib/site-packages under the interpreter installation directory, for example, C:\Python27\Lib\site-packages. The actual Robot Framework code is in a directory named robot.

Robot Framework runner scripts are created and copied into another platform-specific location. When using Python on UNIX-like systems, they normally go to /usr/bin or /usr/local/bin. On Windows and with Jython and IronPython, the scripts are typically either in Scripts or bin directory under the interpreter installation directory.

1.3.8   Uninstallation

The easiest way to uninstall Robot Framework is using pip:

pip uninstall robotframework

A nice feature in pip is that it can uninstall packages even if they are installed from the source. If you do not have pip available or have done a manual installation to a custom location, you need to find where files are installed and remove them manually.

If you have set PATH or configured the environment otherwise, you need to undo those changes separately.

1.3.9   Upgrading

If you are using pip, upgrading to a new version requires either specifying the version explicitly or using the --upgrade option. If upgrading to a preview release, --pre option is needed as well.

# Upgrade to the latest stable version. This is the most common method.
pip install --upgrade robotframework

# Upgrade to the latest version even if it would be a preview release.
pip install --upgrade --pre robotframework

# Upgrade to the specified version.
pip install robotframework==2.9.2

When using pip, it automatically uninstalls previous versions before installation. If you are installing from source, it should be safe to just install over an existing installation. If you encounter problems, uninstallation before installation may help.

When upgrading Robot Framework, there is always a change that the new version contains backwards incompatible changes affecting existing tests or test infrastructure. Such changes are very rare in minor versions like 2.8.7 or 2.9.2, but more common in major versions like 2.9 and 3.0. Backwards incompatible changes and deprecated features are explained in the release notes, and it is a good idea to study them especially when upgrading to a new major version.

1.3.10   Executing Robot Framework

Using robot and rebot scripts

Starting from Robot Framework 3.0, tests are executed using the robot script and results post-processed with the rebot script:

robot tests.robot
rebot output.xml

Both of these scripts are installed as part of the normal installation and can be executed directly from the command line if PATH is set correctly. They are implemented using Python except on Windows where they are batch files.

Older Robot Framework versions do not have the robot script and the rebot script is installed only with Python. Instead they have interpreter specific scripts pybot, jybot and ipybot for test execution and jyrebot and ipyrebot for post-processing outputs. These scripts still work, but they will be deprecated and removed in the future.

Executing installed robot module

An alternative way to run tests is executing the installed robot module or its sub module robot.run directly using Python's -m command line option. This is especially useful if Robot Framework is used with multiple Python versions:

python -m robot tests.robot
python3 -m robot.run tests.robot
jython -m robot tests.robot
/opt/jython/jython -m robot tests.robot

The support for python -m robot approach is a new feature in Robot Framework 3.0, but the older versions support python -m robot.run. The latter must also be used with Python 2.6.

Post-processing outputs using the same approach works too, but the module to execute is robot.rebot:

python -m robot.rebot output.xml

Executing installed robot directory

If you know where Robot Framework is installed, you can also execute the installed robot directory or the run.py file inside it directly:

python path/to/robot/ tests.robot
jython path/to/robot/run.py tests.robot

Running the directory is a new feature in Robot Framework 3.0, but the older versions support running the robot/run.py file.

Post-processing outputs using the robot/rebot.py file works the same way too:

python path/to/robot/rebot.py output.xml

Executing Robot Framework this way is especially handy if you have done a manual installation.

1.3.11   Using virtual environments

Python virtual environments allow Python packages to be installed in an isolated location for a particular system or application, rather than installing all packages into the same global location. Virtual environments can be created using the virtualenv tool or, starting from Python 3.3, using the standard venv module.

Robot Framework in general works fine with virtual environments. The only problem is that when using pip on Windows, robot.bat and rebot.bat scripts are not recreated by default. This means that if Robot Framework is installed into multiple virtual environments, the robot.bat and rebot.bat scripts in the latter ones refer to the Python installation in the first virtual environment. A workaround is using the --no-cache-dir option when installing. Alternatively the start-up scripts can be ignored and python -m robot and python -m robot.rebot commands used instead.

1.4   Demonstrations

There are several demo projects that introduce Robot Framework and help getting started with it.

Quick Start Guide
Introduces the most important features of Robot Framework and acts as an executable demo.
Robot Framework demo
Simple example test cases. Demonstrates also creating custom test libraries.
Web testing demo
Demonstrates how to create tests and higher level keywords. The system under test is a simple web page that is tested using Selenium2Library.
SwingLibrary demo
Demonstrates using SwingLibrary for testing Java GUI applications.
ATDD with Robot Framework
Demonstrates how to use Robot Framework when following Acceptance Test Driven Development (ATDD) process.

2   Creating test data

2.1   Test data syntax

This section covers Robot Framework's overall test data syntax. The following sections will explain how to actually create test cases, test suites and so on.

2.1.1   Files and directories

The hierarchical structure for arranging test cases is built as follows:

  • Test cases are created in test case files.
  • A test case file automatically creates a test suite containing the test cases in that file.
  • A directory containing test case files forms a higher-level test suite. Such a test suite directory has suites created from test case files as its sub test suites.
  • A test suite directory can also contain other test suite directories, and this hierarchical structure can be as deeply nested as needed.
  • Test suite directories can have a special initialization file.

In addition to this, there are:

2.1.2   Supported file formats

Robot Framework test data is defined in tabular format, using either hypertext markup language (HTML), tab-separated values (TSV), plain text, or reStructuredText (reST) formats. The details of these formats, as well as the main benefits and problems with them, are explained in the subsequent sections. Which format to use depends on the context, but the plain text format is recommended if there are no special needs.

Robot Framework selects a parser for the test data based on the file extension. The extension is case-insensitive, and the recognized extensions are .html, .htm and .xhtml for HTML, .tsv for TSV, .txt and special .robot for plain text, and .rst and .rest for reStructuredText.

Different test data templates are available for HTML and TSV formats to make it easier to get started writing tests.

Note

The special .robot extension with plain text files is supported starting from Robot Framework 2.7.6.

HTML format

HTML files support formatting and free text around tables. This makes it possible to add additional information into test case files and allows creating test case files that look like formal test specifications. The main problem with HTML format is that editing these files using normal text editors is not that easy. Another problem is that HTML does not work as well with version control systems because the diffs resulting from changes contain HTML syntax in addition to changes to the actual test data.

In HTML files, the test data is defined in separate tables (see the example below). Robot Framework recognizes these test data tables based on the text in their first cell. Everything outside recognized tables is ignored.

Using the HTML format
Setting Value Value Value
Library OperatingSystem    
     
Variable Value Value Value
${MESSAGE} Hello, world!    
     
Test Case Action Argument Argument
My Test [Documentation] Example test  
Log ${MESSAGE}  
My Keyword /tmp  
     
Another Test Should Be Equal ${MESSAGE} Hello, world!
Keyword Action Argument Argument
My Keyword [Arguments] ${path}  
Directory Should Exist ${path}  
Editing test data

Test data in HTML files can be edited with whichever editor you prefer, but a graphic editor, where you can actually see the tables, is recommended. RIDE can read and write HTML files, but unfortunately it loses all HTML formatting and also possible data outside test case tables.

Encoding and entity references

HTML entity references (for example, &auml;) are supported. Additionally, any encoding can be used, assuming that it is specified in the data file. Normal HTML files must use the META element as in the example below:

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8">

XHTML files should use the XML preamble as in this example:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="Big5"?>

If no encoding is specified, Robot Framework uses ISO-8859-1 by default.

TSV format

TSV files can be edited in spreadsheet programs and, because the syntax is so simple, they are easy to generate programmatically. They are also pretty easy to edit using normal text editors and they work well in version control, but the plain text format is even better suited for these purposes.

The TSV format can be used in Robot Framework's test data for all the same purposes as HTML. In a TSV file, all the data is in one large table. Test data tables are recognized from one or more asterisks (*), followed by a normal table name and an optional closing asterisks. Everything before the first recognized table is ignored similarly as data outside tables in HTML data.

Using the TSV format
*Setting* *Value* *Value* *Value*
Library OperatingSystem    
     
     
*Variable* *Value* *Value* *Value*
${MESSAGE} Hello, world!    
     
     
*Test Case* *Action* *Argument* *Argument*
My Test [Documentation] Example test  
Log ${MESSAGE}  
My Keyword /tmp  
     
Another Test Should Be Equal ${MESSAGE} Hello, world!
     
     
*Keyword* *Action* *Argument* *Argument*
My Keyword [Arguments] ${path}  
Directory Should Exist ${path}  
Editing test data

You can create and edit TSV files in any spreadsheet program, such as Microsoft Excel. Select the tab-separated format when you save the file and remember to set the file extension to .tsv. It is also a good idea to turn all automatic corrections off and configure the tool to treat all values in the file as plain text.

TSV files are relatively easy to edit with any text editor, especially if the editor supports visually separating tabs from spaces. The TSV format is also supported by RIDE.

Robot Framework parses TSV data by first splitting all the content into rows and then rows into cells on the basis of the tabular characters. Spreadsheet programs sometimes surround cells with quotes (for example, "my value") and Robot Framework removes them. Possible quotes inside the data are doubled (for example, "my ""quoted"" value") and also this is handled correctly. If you are using a spreadsheet program to create TSV data, you should not need to pay attention to this, but if you create data programmatically, you have to follow the same quoting conventions as spreadsheets.

Encoding

TSV files are always expected to use UTF-8 encoding. Because ASCII is a subset of UTF-8, plain ASCII is naturally supported too.

Plain text format

The plain texts format is very easy to edit using any text editor and they also work very well in version control. Because of these benefits it has became the most used data format with Robot Framework.

The plain text format is technically otherwise similar to the TSV format but the separator between the cells is different. The TSV format uses tabs, but in the plain text format you can use either two or more spaces or a pipe character surrounded with spaces (|).

The test data tables must have one or more asterisk before their names similarly as in the TSV format. Otherwise asterisks and possible spaces in the table header are ignored so, for example, *** Settings *** and *Settings work the same way. Also similarly as in the TSV format, everything before the first table is ignored.

In plain text files tabs are automatically converted to two spaces. This allows using a single tab as a separator similarly as in the TSV format. Notice, however, that in the plain text format multiple tabs are considered to be a single separator whereas in the TSV format every tab would be a separator.

Space separated format

The number of spaces used as separator can vary, as long as there are at least two spaces, and it is thus possible to align the data nicely. This is a clear benefit over editing the TSV format in a text editor because with TSV the alignment cannot be controlled.

*** Settings ***
Library       OperatingSystem

*** Variables ***
${MESSAGE}    Hello, world!

*** Test Cases ***
My Test
    [Documentation]    Example test
    Log    ${MESSAGE}
    My Keyword    /tmp

Another Test
    Should Be Equal    ${MESSAGE}    Hello, world!

*** Keywords ***
My Keyword
    [Arguments]    ${path}
    Directory Should Exist    ${path}

Because space is used as separator, all empty cells must be escaped with ${EMPTY} variable or a single backslash. Otherwise handling whitespace is not different than in other test data because leading, trailing, and consecutive spaces must always be escaped.

Tip

It is recommend to use four spaces between keywords and arguments.

Pipe and space separated format

The biggest problem of the space delimited format is that visually separating keywords form arguments can be tricky. This is a problem especially if keywords take a lot of arguments and/or arguments contain spaces. In such cases the pipe and space delimited variant can work better because it makes the cell boundary more visible.

| *Setting*  |     *Value*     |
| Library    | OperatingSystem |

| *Variable* |     *Value*     |
| ${MESSAGE} | Hello, world!   |

| *Test Case*  | *Action*        | *Argument*   |
| My Test      | [Documentation] | Example test |
|              | Log             | ${MESSAGE}   |
|              | My Keyword      | /tmp         |
| Another Test | Should Be Equal | ${MESSAGE}   | Hello, world!

| *Keyword*  |
| My Keyword | [Arguments] | ${path}
|            | Directory Should Exist | ${path}

A plain text file can contain test data in both space-only and space-and-pipe separated formats, but a single line must always use the same separator. Pipe and space separated lines are recognized by the mandatory leading pipe, but the pipe at the end of the line is optional. There must always be at least one space on both sides of the pipe (except at the beginning and end) but there is no need to align the pipes other than if it makes the data more clear.

There is no need to escape empty cells (other than the trailing empty cells) when using the pipe and space separated format. The only thing to take into account is that possible pipes surrounded by spaces in the actual test data must be escaped with a backslash:

| *** Test Cases *** |                 |                 |                      |
| Escaping Pipe      | ${file count} = | Execute Command | ls -1 *.txt \| wc -l |
|                    | Should Be Equal | ${file count}   | 42                   |
Editing and encoding

One of the biggest benefit of the plain text format over HTML and TSV is that editing it using normal text editors is very easy. Many editors and IDEs (at least Eclipse, Emacs, Vim, and TextMate) also have plugins that support syntax highlighting Robot Framework test data and may also provide other features such as keyword completion. The plain text format is also supported by RIDE.

Similarly as with the TSV test data, plain text files are always expected to use UTF-8 encoding. As a consequence also ASCII files are supported.

Recognized extensions

Starting from Robot Framework 2.7.6, it is possible to save plain text test data files using a special .robot extension in addition to the normal .txt extension. The new extension makes it easier to distinguish test data files from other plain text files.

reStructuredText format

reStructuredText (reST) is an easy-to-read plain text markup syntax that is commonly used for documentation of Python projects (including Python itself, as well as this User Guide). reST documents are most often compiled to HTML, but also other output formats are supported.

Using reST with Robot Framework allows you to mix richly formatted documents and test data in a concise text format that is easy to work with using simple text editors, diff tools, and source control systems. In practice it combines many of the benefits of plain text and HTML formats.

When using reST files with Robot Framework, there are two ways to define the test data. Either you can use code blocks and define test cases in them using the plain text format or alternatively you can use tables exactly like you would with the HTML format.

Note

Using reST files with Robot Framework requires the Python docutils module to be installed.

Using code blocks

reStructuredText documents can contain code examples in so called code blocks. When these documents are compiled into HTML or other formats, the code blocks are syntax highlighted using Pygments. In standard reST code blocks are started using the code directive, but Sphinx uses code-block or sourcecode instead. The name of the programming language in the code block is given as an argument to the directive. For example, following code blocks contain Python and Robot Framework examples, respectively:

.. code:: python

   def example_keyword():
       print 'Hello, world!'

.. code:: robotframework

   *** Test Cases ***
   Example Test
       Example Keyword

When Robot Framework parses reStructuredText files, it first searches for possible code, code-block or sourcecode blocks containing Robot Framework test data. If such code blocks are found, data they contain is written into an in-memory file and executed. All data outside the code blocks is ignored.

The test data in the code blocks must be defined using the plain text format. As the example below illustrates, both space and pipe separated variants are supported:

Example
-------

This text is outside code blocks and thus ignored.

.. code:: robotframework

   *** Settings ***
   Library       OperatingSystem

   *** Variables ***
   ${MESSAGE}    Hello, world!

   *** Test Cases ***
   My Test
       [Documentation]    Example test
       Log    ${MESSAGE}
       My Keyword    /tmp

   Another Test
       Should Be Equal    ${MESSAGE}    Hello, world!

Also this text is outside code blocks and ignored. Above block used
the space separated plain text format and the block below uses the pipe
separated variant.

.. code:: robotframework

   | *** Keyword ***  |                        |         |
   | My Keyword       | [Arguments]            | ${path} |
   |                  | Directory Should Exist | ${path} |

Note

Escaping using the backslash character works normally in this format. No double escaping is needed like when using reST tables.

Note

Support for test data in code blocks is a new feature in Robot Framework 2.8.2.

Using tables

If a reStructuredText document contains no code blocks with Robot Framework data, it is expected to contain the data in tables similarly as in the HTML format. In this case Robot Framework compiles the document to HTML in memory and parses it exactly like it would parse a normal HTML file.

Robot Framework identifies test data tables based on the text in the first cell and all content outside of the recognized table types is ignored. An example of each of the four test data tables is shown below using both simple table and grid table syntax:

Example
-------

This text is outside tables and thus ignored.

============  ================  =======  =======
  Setting          Value         Value    Value
============  ================  =======  =======
Library       OperatingSystem
============  ================  =======  =======


============  ================  =======  =======
  Variable         Value         Value    Value
============  ================  =======  =======
${MESSAGE}    Hello, world!
============  ================  =======  =======


=============  ==================  ============  =============
  Test Case          Action          Argument      Argument
=============  ==================  ============  =============
My Test        [Documentation]     Example test
\              Log                 ${MESSAGE}
\              My Keyword          /tmp
\
Another Test   Should Be Equal     ${MESSAGE}    Hello, world!
=============  ==================  ============  =============

Also this text is outside tables and ignored. Above tables are created
using the simple table syntax and the table below uses the grid table
approach.

+-------------+------------------------+------------+------------+
|   Keyword   |         Action         |  Argument  |  Argument  |
+-------------+------------------------+------------+------------+
| My Keyword  | [Arguments]            | ${path}    |            |
+-------------+------------------------+------------+------------+
|             | Directory Should Exist | ${path}    |            |
+-------------+------------------------+------------+------------+

Note

Empty cells in the first column of simple tables need to be escaped. The above example uses \ but .. could also be used.

Note

Because the backslash character is an escape character in reST, specifying a backslash so that Robot Framework will see it requires escaping it with an other backslash like \\. For example, a new line character must be written like \\n. Because the backslash is used for escaping also in Robot Framework data, specifying a literal backslash when using reST tables requires double escaping like c:\\\\temp.

Generating HTML files based on reST files every time tests are run obviously adds some overhead. If this is a problem, it can be a good idea to convert reST files to HTML using external tools separately, and let Robot Framework use the generated files only.

Editing and encoding

Test data in reStructuredText files can be edited with any text editor, and many editors also provide automatic syntax highlighting for it. reST format is not supported by RIDE, though.

Robot Framework requires reST files containing non-ASCII characters to be saved using UTF-8 encoding.

Syntax errors in reST source files

If a reStructuredText document is not syntactically correct (a malformed table for example), parsing it will fail and no test cases can be found from that file. When executing a single reST file, Robot Framework will show the error on the console. When executing a directory, such parsing errors will generally be ignored.

Starting from Robot Framework 2.9.2, errors below level SEVERE are ignored when running tests to avoid noise about non-standard directives and other such markup. This may hide also real errors, but they can be seen when processing files normally.

2.1.3   Test data tables

Test data is structured in four types of tables listed below. These test data tables are identified by the first cell of the table. Recognized table names are Settings, Variables, Test Cases, and Keywords. Matching is case-insensitive and also singular variants like Setting and Test Case are accepted.

Different test data tables
Table Used for
Settings
2) Defining metadata for test suites and test cases.
Variables Defining variables that can be used elsewhere in the test data.
Test Cases Creating test cases from available keywords.
Keywords Creating user keywords from existing lower-level keywords

2.1.4   Rules for parsing the data

Ignored data

When Robot Framework parses the test data, it ignores:

  • All tables that do not start with a recognized table name in the first cell.
  • Everything else on the first row of a table apart from the first cell.
  • All data before the first table. If the data format allows data between tables, also that is ignored.
  • All empty rows, which means these kinds of rows can be used to make the tables more readable.
  • All empty cells at the end of rows, unless they are escaped.
  • All single backslashes (\) when not used for escaping.
  • All characters following the hash character (#), when it is the first character of a cell. This means that hash marks can be used to enter comments in the test data.
  • All formatting in the HTML/reST test data.

When Robot Framework ignores some data, this data is not available in any resulting reports and, additionally, most tools used with Robot Framework also ignore them. To add information that is visible in Robot Framework outputs, place it to the documentation or other metadata of test cases or suites, or log it with the BuiltIn keywords Log or Comment.

Handling whitespace

Robot Framework handles whitespace the same way as they are handled in HTML source code:

  • Newlines, carriage returns, and tabs are converted to spaces.
  • Leading and trailing whitespace in all cells is ignored.
  • Multiple consecutive spaces are collapsed into a single space.

In addition to that, non-breaking spaces are replaced with normal spaces. This is done to avoid hard-to-debug errors when a non-breaking space is accidentally used instead of a normal space.

If leading, trailing, or consecutive spaces are needed, they must be escaped. Newlines, carriage returns, tabs, and non-breaking spaces can be created using escape sequences \n, \r, \t, and \xA0 respectively.

Escaping

The escape character in Robot Framework test data is the backslash (\) and additionally built-in variables ${EMPTY} and ${SPACE} can often be used for escaping. Different escaping mechanisms are discussed in the sections below.

Escaping special characters

The backslash character can be used to escape special characters so that their literal values are used.

Escaping special characters
Character Meaning Examples
\$ Dollar sign, never starts a scalar variable. \${notvar}
\@ At sign, never starts a list variable. \@{notvar}
\% Percent sign, never starts an environment variable. \%{notvar}
\# Hash sign, never starts a comment. \# not comment
\= Equal sign, never part of named argument syntax. not\=named
\| Pipe character, not a separator in the pipe separated format. | Run | ps \| grep xxx |
\\ Backslash character, never escapes anything. c:\\temp, \\${var}
Forming escape sequences

The backslash character also allows creating special escape sequences that are recognized as characters that would otherwise be hard or impossible to create in the test data.

Escape sequences
Sequence Meaning Examples
\n Newline character. first line\n2nd line
\r Carriage return character text\rmore text
\t Tab character. text\tmore text
\xhh Character with hex value hh. null byte: \x00, ä: \xE4
\uhhhh Character with hex value hhhh. snowman: \u2603
\Uhhhhhhhh Character with hex value hhhhhhhh. love hotel: \U0001f3e9

Note

All strings created in the test data, including characters like \x02, are Unicode and must be explicitly converted to byte strings if needed. This can be done, for example, using Convert To Bytes or Encode String To Bytes keywords in BuiltIn and String libraries, respectively, or with something like str(value) or value.encode('UTF-8') in Python code.

Note

If invalid hexadecimal values are used with \x, \u or \U escapes, the end result is the original value without the backslash character. For example, \xAX (not hex) and \U00110000 (too large value) result with xAX and U00110000, respectively. This behavior may change in the future, though.

Note

Built-in variable ${\n} can be used if operating system dependent line terminator is needed (\r\n on Windows and \n elsewhere).

Note

Possible un-escaped whitespace character after the \n is ignored. This means that two lines\nhere and two lines\n here are equivalent. The motivation for this is to allow wrapping long lines containing newlines when using the HTML format, but the same logic is used also with other formats. An exception to this rule is that the whitespace character is not ignored inside the extended variable syntax.

Note

\x, \u and \U escape sequences are new in Robot Framework 2.8.2.

Prevent ignoring empty cells

If empty values are needed as arguments for keywords or otherwise, they often need to be escaped to prevent them from being ignored. Empty trailing cells must be escaped regardless of the test data format, and when using the space separated format all empty values must be escaped.

Empty cells can be escaped either with the backslash character or with built-in variable ${EMPTY}. The latter is typically recommended as it is easier to understand. An exception to this recommendation is escaping the indented cells in for loops with a backslash when using the space separated format. All these cases are illustrated in the following examples first in HTML and then in the space separated plain text format:

Test Case Action Argument Argument Argument
Using backslash Do Something first arg \  
Using ${EMPTY} Do Something first arg ${EMPTY}  
Non-trailing empty Do Something   second arg # No escaping needed in HTML
For loop :FOR ${var} IN @{VALUES}
  Log ${var} # No escaping needed here either
*** Test Cases ***
Using backslash
    Do Something    first arg    \
Using ${EMPTY}
    Do Something    first arg    ${EMPTY}
Non-trailing empty
    Do Something    ${EMPTY}     second arg    # Escaping needed in space separated format
For loop
    :FOR    ${var}    IN    @{VALUES}
    \    Log    ${var}                         # Escaping needed here too
Prevent ignoring spaces

Because leading, trailing, and consecutive spaces in cells are ignored, they need to be escaped if they are needed as arguments to keywords or otherwise. Similarly as when preventing ignoring empty cells, it is possible to do that either using the backslash character or using built-in variable ${SPACE}.

Escaping spaces examples
Escaping with backslash Escaping with ${SPACE} Notes
\ leading space ${SPACE}leading space  
trailing space \ trailing space${SPACE} Backslash must be after the space.
\ \ ${SPACE} Backslash needed on both sides.
consecutive \ \ spaces consecutive${SPACE * 3}spaces Using extended variable syntax.

As the above examples show, using the ${SPACE} variable often makes the test data easier to understand. It is especially handy in combination with the extended variable syntax when more than one space is needed.

Dividing test data to several rows

If there is more data than readily fits a row, it possible to use ellipsis (...) to continue the previous line. In test case and keyword tables, the ellipsis must be preceded by at least one empty cell. In settings and variable tables, it can be placed directly under the setting or variable name. In all tables, all empty cells before the ellipsis are ignored.

Additionally, values of settings that take only one value (mainly documentations) can be split to several columns. These values will be then catenated together with spaces when the test data is parsed. Starting from Robot Framework 2.7, documentation and test suite metadata split into multiple rows will be catenated together with newlines.

All the syntax discussed above is illustrated in the following examples. In the first three tables test data has not been split, and the following three illustrate how fewer columns are needed after splitting the data to several rows.

Test data that has not been split
Setting Value Value Value Value Value Value
Default Tags tag-1 tag-2 tag-3 tag-4 tag-5 tag-6
Variable Value Value Value Value Value Value
@{LIST} this list has quite many items
Test Case Action Argument Arg Arg Arg Arg Arg Arg
Example [Documentation] Documentation for this test case.\n This can get quite long...            
  [Tags] t-1 t-2 t-3 t-4 t-5    
  Do X one two three four five six  
  ${var} = Get X 1 2 3 4 5 6
Test data split to several rows
Setting Value Value Value
Default Tags tag-1 tag-2 tag-3
... tag-4 tag-5 tag-6
Variable Value Value Value
@{LIST} this list has
... quite many items
Test Case Action Argument Argument Argument
Example [Documentation] Documentation for this test case.
... This can get quite long...
[Tags] t-1 t-2 t-3
... t-4 t-5  
Do X one two three
... four five six
${var} = Get X 1 2
  ... 3 4
  ... 5 6

2.2   Creating test cases

This section describes the overall test case syntax. Organizing test cases into test suites using test case files and test suite directories is discussed in the next section.

2.2.1   Test case syntax

Basic syntax

Test cases are constructed in test case tables from the available keywords. Keywords can be imported from test libraries or resource files, or created in the keyword table of the test case file itself.

The first column in the test case table contains test case names. A test case starts from the row with something in this column and continues to the next test case name or to the end of the table. It is an error to have something between the table headers and the first test.

The second column normally has keyword names. An exception to this rule is setting variables from keyword return values, when the second and possibly also the subsequent columns contain variable names and a keyword name is located after them. In either case, columns after the keyword name contain possible arguments to the specified keyword.

*** Test Cases ***
Valid Login
    Open Login Page
    Input Username    demo
    Input Password    mode
    Submit Credentials
    Welcome Page Should Be Open

Setting Variables
    Do Something    first argument    second argument
    ${value} =    Get Some Value
    Should Be Equal    ${value}    Expected value

Note

Although test case names can contain any character, using ? and especially * is not generally recommended because they are considered to be wildcards when selecting test cases. For example, trying to run only a test with name Example * like --test 'Example *' will actually run any test starting with Example.

Settings in the Test Case table

Test cases can also have their own settings. Setting names are always in the second column, where keywords normally are, and their values are in the subsequent columns. Setting names have square brackets around them to distinguish them from keywords. The available settings are listed below and explained later in this section.

[Documentation]
Used for specifying a test case documentation.
[Tags]
Used for tagging test cases.
[Setup], [Teardown]
Specify test setup and teardown.
[Template]
Specifies the template keyword to use. The test itself will contain only data to use as arguments to that keyword.
[Timeout]
Used for setting a test case timeout. Timeouts are discussed in their own section.

Example test case with settings:

*** Test Cases ***
Test With Settings
    [Documentation]    Another dummy test
    [Tags]    dummy    owner-johndoe
    Log    Hello, world!

2.2.2   Using arguments

The earlier examples have already demonstrated keywords taking different arguments, and this section discusses this important functionality more thoroughly. How to actually implement user keywords and library keywords with different arguments is discussed in separate sections.

Keywords can accept zero or more arguments, and some arguments may have default values. What arguments a keyword accepts depends on its implementation, and typically the best place to search this information is keyword's documentation. In the examples in this section the documentation is expected to be generated using the Libdoc tool, but the same information is available on documentation generated by generic documentation tools such as javadoc.

Mandatory arguments

Most keywords have a certain number of arguments that must always be given. In the keyword documentation this is denoted by specifying the argument names separated with a comma like first, second, third. The argument names actually do not matter in this case, except that they should explain what the argument does, but it is important to have exactly the same number of arguments as specified in the documentation. Using too few or too many arguments will result in an error.

The test below uses keywords Create Directory and Copy File from the OperatingSystem library. Their arguments are specified as path and source, destination, which means that they take one and two arguments, respectively. The last keyword, No Operation from BuiltIn, takes no arguments.

*** Test Cases ***
Example
    Create Directory    ${TEMPDIR}/stuff
    Copy File    ${CURDIR}/file.txt    ${TEMPDIR}/stuff
    No Operation

Default values

Arguments often have default values which can either be given or not. In the documentation the default value is typically separated from the argument name with an equal sign like name=default value, but with keywords implemented using Java there may be multiple implementations of the same keyword with different arguments instead. It is possible that all the arguments have default values, but there cannot be any positional arguments after arguments with default values.

Using default values is illustrated by the example below that uses Create File keyword which has arguments path, content=, encoding=UTF-8. Trying to use it without any arguments or more than three arguments would not work.

*** Test Cases ***
Example
    Create File    ${TEMPDIR}/empty.txt
    Create File    ${TEMPDIR}/utf-8.txt         Hyvä esimerkki
    Create File    ${TEMPDIR}/iso-8859-1.txt    Hyvä esimerkki    ISO-8859-1

Variable number of arguments

It is also possible that a keyword accepts any number of arguments. These so called varargs can be combined with mandatory arguments and arguments with default values, but they are always given after them. In the documentation they have an asterisk before the argument name like *varargs.

For example, Remove Files and Join Paths keywords from the OperatingSystem library have arguments *paths and base, *parts, respectively. The former can be used with any number of arguments, but the latter requires at least one argument.

*** Test Cases ***
Example
    Remove Files    ${TEMPDIR}/f1.txt    ${TEMPDIR}/f2.txt    ${TEMPDIR}/f3.txt
    @{paths} =    Join Paths    ${TEMPDIR}    f1.txt    f2.txt    f3.txt    f4.txt

Named arguments

The named argument syntax makes using arguments with default values more flexible, and allows explicitly labeling what a certain argument value means. Technically named arguments work exactly like keyword arguments in Python.

Basic syntax

It is possible to name an argument given to a keyword by prefixing the value with the name of the argument like arg=value. This is especially useful when multiple arguments have default values, as it is possible to name only some the arguments and let others use their defaults. For example, if a keyword accepts arguments arg1=a, arg2=b, arg3=c, and it is called with one argument arg3=override, arguments arg1 and arg2 get their default values, but arg3 gets value override. If this sounds complicated, the named arguments example below hopefully makes it more clear.

The named argument syntax is both case and space sensitive. The former means that if you have an argument arg, you must use it like arg=value, and neither Arg=value nor ARG=value works. The latter means that spaces are not allowed before the = sign, and possible spaces after it are considered part of the given value.

When the named argument syntax is used with user keywords, the argument names must be given without the ${} decoration. For example, user keyword with arguments ${arg1}=first, ${arg2}=second must be used like arg2=override.

Using normal positional arguments after named arguments like, for example, | Keyword | arg=value | positional |, does not work. Starting from Robot Framework 2.8 this causes an explicit error. The relative order of the named arguments does not matter.

Note

Prior to Robot Framework 2.8 it was not possible to name arguments that did not have a default value.

Named arguments with variables

It is possible to use variables in both named argument names and values. If the value is a single scalar variable, it is passed to the keyword as-is. This allows using any objects, not only strings, as values also when using the named argument syntax. For example, calling a keyword like arg=${object} will pass the variable ${object} to the keyword without converting it to a string.

If variables are used in named argument names, variables are resolved before matching them against argument names. This is a new feature in Robot Framework 2.8.6.

The named argument syntax requires the equal sign to be written literally in the keyword call. This means that variable alone can never trigger the named argument syntax, not even if it has a value like foo=bar. This is important to remember especially when wrapping keywords into other keywords. If, for example, a keyword takes a variable number of arguments like @{args} and passes all of them to another keyword using the same @{args} syntax, possible named=arg syntax used in the calling side is not recognized. This is illustrated by the example below.

*** Test Cases ***
Example
    Run Program    shell=True    # This will not come as a named argument to Run Process

*** Keywords ***
Run Program
    [Arguments]    @{args}
    Run Process    program.py    @{args}    # Named arguments are not recognized from inside @{args}

If keyword needs to accept and pass forward any named arguments, it must be changed to accept free keyword arguments. See kwargs examples for a wrapper keyword version that can pass both positional and named arguments forward.

Escaping named arguments syntax

The named argument syntax is used only when the part of the argument before the equal sign matches one of the keyword's arguments. It is possible that there is a positional argument with a literal value like foo=quux, and also an unrelated argument with name foo. In this case the argument foo either incorrectly gets the value quux or, more likely, there is a syntax error.

In these rare cases where there are accidental matches, it is possible to use the backslash character to escape the syntax like foo\=quux. Now the argument will get a literal value foo=quux. Note that escaping is not needed if there are no arguments with name foo, but because it makes the situation more explicit, it may nevertheless be a good idea.

Where named arguments are supported

As already explained, the named argument syntax works with keywords. In addition to that, it also works when importing libraries.

Naming arguments is supported by user keywords and by most test libraries. The only exception are Java based libraries that use the static library API. Library documentation generated with Libdoc has a note does the library support named arguments or not.

Note

Prior to Robot Framework 2.8 named argument syntax did not work with test libraries using the dynamic library API.

Named arguments example

The following example demonstrates using the named arguments syntax with library keywords, user keywords, and when importing the Telnet test library.

*** Settings ***
Library    Telnet    prompt=$    default_log_level=DEBUG

*** Test Cases ***
Example
    Open connection    10.0.0.42    port=${PORT}    alias=example
    List files    options=-lh
    List files    path=/tmp    options=-l

*** Keywords ***
List files
    [Arguments]    ${path}=.    ${options}=
    Execute command    ls ${options} ${path}

Free keyword arguments

Robot Framework 2.8 added support for Python style free keyword arguments (**kwargs). What this means is that keywords can receive all arguments that use the name=value syntax and do not match any other arguments as kwargs.

Free keyword arguments support variables similarly as named arguments. In practice that means that variables can be used both in names and values, but the escape sign must always be visible literally. For example, both foo=${bar} and ${foo}=${bar} are valid, as long as the variables that are used exist. An extra limitation is that free keyword argument names must always be strings. Support for variables in names is a new feature in Robot Framework 2.8.6, prior to that possible variables were left un-resolved.

Initially free keyword arguments only worked with Python based libraries, but Robot Framework 2.8.2 extended the support to the dynamic library API and Robot Framework 2.8.3 extended it further to Java based libraries and to the remote library interface. Finally, user keywords got kwargs support in Robot Framework 2.9. In other words, all keywords can nowadays support kwargs.

Kwargs examples

As the first example of using kwargs, let's take a look at Run Process keyword in the Process library. It has a signature command, *arguments, **configuration, which means that it takes the command to execute (command), its arguments as variable number of arguments (*arguments) and finally optional configuration parameters as free keyword arguments (**configuration). The example below also shows that variables work with free keyword arguments exactly like when using the named argument syntax.

*** Test Cases ***
Using Kwargs
    Run Process    program.py    arg1    arg2    cwd=/home/user
    Run Process    program.py    argument    shell=True    env=${ENVIRON}

See Free keyword arguments (**kwargs) section under Creating test libraries for more information about using the kwargs syntax in your custom test libraries.

As the second example, let's create a wrapper user keyword for running the program.py in the above example. The wrapper keyword Run Program accepts any number of arguments and kwargs, and passes them forward for Run Process along with the name of the command to execute.

*** Test Cases ***
Using Kwargs
    Run Program    arg1    arg2    cwd=/home/user
    Run Program    argument    shell=True    env=${ENVIRON}

*** Keywords ***
Run Program
    [Arguments]    @{arguments}    &{configuration}
    Run Process    program.py    @{arguments}    &{configuration}

Arguments embedded to keyword names

A totally different approach to specify arguments is embedding them into keyword names. This syntax is supported by both test library keywords and user keywords.

2.2.3   Failures

When test case fails

A test case fails if any of the keyword it uses fails. Normally this means that execution of that test case is stopped, possible test teardown is executed, and then execution continues from the next test case. It is also possible to use special continuable failures if stopping test execution is not desired.

Error messages

The error message assigned to a failed test case is got directly from the failed keyword. Often the error message is created by the keyword itself, but some keywords allow configuring them.

In some circumstances, for example when continuable failures are used, a test case can fail multiple times. In that case the final error message is got by combining the individual errors. Very long error messages are automatically cut from the middle to keep reports easier to read. Full error messages are always visible in log file as a message of the failed keyword.

By default error messages are normal text, but starting from Robot Framework 2.8 they can contain HTML formatting. This is enabled by starting the error message with marker string *HTML*. This marker will be removed from the final error message shown in reports and logs. Using HTML in a custom message is shown in the second example below.

*** Test Cases ***
Normal Error
    Fail    This is a rather boring example...

HTML Error
    ${number} =    Get Number
    Should Be Equal    ${number}    42    *HTML* Number is not my <b>MAGIC</b> number.

2.2.4   Test case name and documentation

The test case name comes directly from the Test Case table: it is exactly what is entered into the test case column. Test cases in one test suite should have unique names. Pertaining to this, you can also use the automatic variable ${TEST_NAME} within the test itself to refer to the test name. It is available whenever a test is being executed, including all user keywords, as well as the test setup and the test teardown.

The [Documentation] setting allows you to set a free documentation for a test case. That text is shown in the command line output, as well as the resulting test logs and test reports. It is possible to use simple HTML formatting in documentation and variables can be used to make the documentation dynamic.

If documentation is split into multiple columns, cells in one row are concatenated together with spaces. This is mainly be useful when using the HTML format and columns are narrow. If documentation is split into multiple rows, the created documentation lines themselves are concatenated using newlines. Newlines are not added if a line already ends with a newline or an escaping backslash.

*** Test Cases ***
Simple
    [Documentation]    Simple documentation
    No Operation

Formatting
    [Documentation]    *This is bold*, _this is italic_  and here is a link: http://robotframework.org
    No Operation

Variables
    [Documentation]    Executed at ${HOST} by ${USER}
    No Operation

Splitting
    [Documentation]    This documentation    is split    into multiple columns
    No Operation

Many lines
    [Documentation]    Here we have
    ...                an automatic newline
    No Operation

It is important that test cases have clear and descriptive names, and in that case they normally do not need any documentation. If the logic of the test case needs documenting, it is often a sign that keywords in the test case need better names and they are to be enhanced, instead of adding extra documentation. Finally, metadata, such as the environment and user information in the last example above, is often better specified using tags.

2.2.5   Tagging test cases

Using tags in Robot Framework is a simple, yet powerful mechanism for classifying test cases. Tags are free text and they can be used at least for the following purposes:

  • Tags are shown in test reports, logs and, of course, in the test data, so they provide metadata to test cases.
  • Statistics about test cases (total, passed, failed are automatically collected based on tags).
  • With tags, you can include or exclude test cases to be executed.
  • With tags, you can specify which test cases are considered critical.

In this section it is only explained how to set tags for test cases, and different ways to do it are listed below. These approaches can naturally be used together.

Force Tags in the Setting table
All test cases in a test case file with this setting always get specified tags. If it is used in the test suite initialization file, all test cases in sub test suites get these tags.
Default Tags in the Setting table
Test cases that do not have a [Tags] setting of their own get these tags. Default tags are not supported in test suite initialization files.
[Tags] in the Test Case table
A test case always gets these tags. Additionally, it does not get the possible tags specified with Default Tags, so it is possible to override the Default Tags by using empty value. It is also possible to use value NONE to override default tags.
--settag command line option
All executed test cases get tags set with this option in addition to tags they got elsewhere.
Set Tags, Remove Tags, Fail and Pass Execution keywords
These BuiltIn keywords can be used to manipulate tags dynamically during the test execution.

Tags are free text, but they are normalized so that they are converted to lowercase and all spaces are removed. If a test case gets the same tag several times, other occurrences than the first one are removed. Tags can be created using variables, assuming that those variables exist.

*** Settings ***
Force Tags      req-42
Default Tags    owner-john    smoke

*** Variables ***
${HOST}         10.0.1.42

*** Test Cases ***
No own tags
    [Documentation]    This test has tags owner-john, smoke and req-42.
    No Operation

With own tags
    [Documentation]    This test has tags not_ready, owner-mrx and req-42.
    [Tags]    owner-mrx    not_ready
    No Operation

Own tags with variables
    [Documentation]    This test has tags host-10.0.1.42 and req-42.
    [Tags]    host-${HOST}
    No Operation

Empty own tags
    [Documentation]    This test has only tag req-42.
    [Tags]
    No Operation

Set Tags and Remove Tags Keywords
    [Documentation]    This test has tags mytag and owner-john.
    Set Tags    mytag
    Remove Tags    smoke    req-*

Reserved tags

Users are generally free to use whatever tags that work in their context. There are, however, certain tags that have a predefined meaning for Robot Framework itself, and using them for other purposes can have unexpected results. All special tags Robot Framework has and will have in the future have either robot- or robot: prefix. To avoid problems, users should thus not use any tag with these prefixes unless actually activating the special functionality.

At the time of writing, the only special tags are robot-exit, that is automatically added to tests when stopping test execution gracefully, and robot:no-dry-run, that can be used to disable the dry run mode. More usages are likely to be added in the future.

Note

The plan is to unify reserved prefixes in the future. Most likely the robot: prefix will be used with all reserved tags, but it best to avoid both of these prefixes at the moment. See issue #2539 for details.

2.2.6   Test setup and teardown

Robot Framework has similar test setup and teardown functionality as many other test automation frameworks. In short, a test setup is something that is executed before a test case, and a test teardown is executed after a test case. In Robot Framework setups and teardowns are just normal keywords with possible arguments.

Setup and teardown are always a single keyword. If they need to take care of multiple separate tasks, it is possible to create higher-level user keywords for that purpose. An alternative solution is executing multiple keywords using the BuiltIn keyword Run Keywords.

The test teardown is special in two ways. First of all, it is executed also when a test case fails, so it can be used for clean-up activities that must be done regardless of the test case status. In addition, all the keywords in the teardown are also executed even if one of them fails. This continue on failure functionality can be used also with normal keywords, but inside teardowns it is on by default.

The easiest way to specify a setup or a teardown for test cases in a test case file is using the Test Setup and Test Teardown settings in the Setting table. Individual test cases can also have their own setup or teardown. They are defined with the [Setup] or [Teardown] settings in the test case table and they override possible Test Setup and Test Teardown settings. Having no keyword after a [Setup] or [Teardown] setting means having no setup or teardown. It is also possible to use value NONE to indicate that a test has no setup/teardown.

*** Settings ***
Test Setup       Open Application    App A
Test Teardown    Close Application

*** Test Cases ***
Default values
    [Documentation]    Setup and teardown from setting table
    Do Something

Overridden setup
    [Documentation]    Own setup, teardown from setting table
    [Setup]    Open Application    App B
    Do Something

No teardown
    [Documentation]    Default setup, no teardown at all
    Do Something
    [Teardown]

No teardown 2
    [Documentation]    Setup and teardown can be disabled also with special value NONE
    Do Something
    [Teardown]    NONE

Using variables
    [Documentation]    Setup and teardown specified using variables
    [Setup]    ${SETUP}
    Do Something
    [Teardown]    ${TEARDOWN}

The name of the keyword to be executed as a setup or a teardown can be a variable. This facilitates having different setups or teardowns in different environments by giving the keyword name as a variable from the command line.

Note

Test suites can have a setup and teardown of their own. A suite setup is executed before any test cases or sub test suites in that test suite, and similarly a suite teardown is executed after them.

2.2.7   Test templates

Test templates convert normal keyword-driven test cases into data-driven tests. Whereas the body of a keyword-driven test case is constructed from keywords and their possible arguments, test cases with template contain only the arguments for the template keyword. Instead of repeating the same keyword multiple times per test and/or with all tests in a file, it is possible to use it only per test or just once per file.

Template keywords can accept both normal positional and named arguments, as well as arguments embedded to the keyword name. Unlike with other settings, it is not possible to define a template using a variable.

Basic usage

How a keyword accepting normal positional arguments can be used as a template is illustrated by the following example test cases. These two tests are functionally fully identical.

*** Test Cases **
Normal test case
    Example keyword    first argument    second argument

Templated test case
    [Template]    Example keyword
    first argument    second argument

As the example illustrates, it is possible to specify the template for an individual test case using the [Template] setting. An alternative approach is using the Test Template setting in the Setting table, in which case the template is applied for all test cases in that test case file. The [Template] setting overrides the possible template set in the Setting table, and an empty value for [Template] means that the test has no template even when Test Template is used. It is also possible to use value NONE to indicate that a test has no template.

If a templated test case has multiple data rows in its body, the template is applied for all the rows one by one. This means that the same keyword is executed multiple times, once with data on each row. Templated tests are also special so that all the rounds are executed even if one or more of them fails. It is possible to use this kind of continue on failure mode with normal tests too, but with the templated tests the mode is on automatically.

*** Settings ***
Test Template    Example keyword

*** Test Cases ***
Templated test case
    first round 1     first round 2
    second round 1    second round 2
    third round 1     third round 2

Using arguments with default values or varargs, as well as using named arguments and free keyword arguments, work with templates exactly like they work otherwise. Using variables in arguments is also supported normally.

Templates with embedded arguments

Starting from Robot Framework 2.8.2, templates support a variation of the embedded argument syntax. With templates this syntax works so that if the template keyword has variables in its name, they are considered placeholders for arguments and replaced with the actual arguments used with the template. The resulting keyword is then used without positional arguments. This is best illustrated with an example:

*** Test Cases ***
Normal test case with embedded arguments
    The result of 1 + 1 should be 2
    The result of 1 + 2 should be 3

Template with embedded arguments
    [Template]    The result of ${calculation} should be ${expected}
    1 + 1    2
    1 + 2    3

*** Keywords ***
The result of ${calculation} should be ${expected}
    ${result} =    Calculate    ${calculation}
    Should Be Equal    ${result}     ${expected}

When embedded arguments are used with templates, the number of arguments in the template keyword name must match the number of arguments it is used with. The argument names do not need to match the arguments of the original keyword, though, and it is also possible to use different arguments altogether:

*** Test Cases ***
Different argument names
    [Template]    The result of ${foo} should be ${bar}
    1 + 1    2
    1 + 2    3

Only some arguments
    [Template]    The result of ${calculation} should be 3
    1 + 2
    4 - 1

New arguments
    [Template]    The ${meaning} of ${life} should be 42
    result    21 * 2

The main benefit of using embedded arguments with templates is that argument names are specified explicitly. When using normal arguments, the same effect can be achieved by naming the columns that contain arguments. This is illustrated by the data-driven style example in the next section.

Templates with for loops

If templates are used with for loops, the template is applied for all the steps inside the loop. The continue on failure mode is in use also in this case, which means that all the steps are executed with all the looped elements even if there are failures.

*** Test Cases ***
Template and for
    [Template]    Example keyword
    :FOR    ${item}    IN    @{ITEMS}
    \    ${item}    2nd arg
    :FOR    ${index}    IN RANGE    42
    \    1st arg    ${index}

2.2.8   Different test case styles

There are several different ways in which test cases may be written. Test cases that describe some kind of workflow may be written either in keyword-driven or behavior-driven style. Data-driven style can be used to test the same workflow with varying input data.

Keyword-driven style

Workflow tests, such as the Valid Login test described earlier, are constructed from several keywords and their possible arguments. Their normal structure is that first the system is taken into the initial state (Open Login Page in the Valid Login example), then something is done to the system (Input Name, Input Password, Submit Credentials), and finally it is verified that the system behaved as expected (Welcome Page Should Be Open).

Data-driven style

Another style to write test cases is the data-driven approach where test cases use only one higher-level keyword, normally created as a user keyword, that hides the actual test workflow. These tests are very useful when there is a need to test the same scenario with different input and/or output data. It would be possible to repeat the same keyword with every test, but the test template functionality allows specifying the keyword to use only once.

*** Settings ***
Test Template    Login with invalid credentials should fail

*** Test Cases ***                USERNAME         PASSWORD
Invalid User Name                 invalid          ${VALID PASSWORD}
Invalid Password                  ${VALID USER}    invalid
Invalid User Name and Password    invalid          invalid
Empty User Name                   ${EMPTY}         ${VALID PASSWORD}
Empty Password                    ${VALID USER}    ${EMPTY}
Empty User Name and Password      ${EMPTY}         ${EMPTY}

Tip

Naming columns like in the example above makes tests easier to understand. This is possible because on the header row other cells except the first one are ignored.

The above example has six separate tests, one for each invalid user/password combination, and the example below illustrates how to have only one test with all the combinations. When using test templates, all the rounds in a test are executed even if there are failures, so there is no real functional difference between these two styles. In the above example separate combinations are named so it is easier to see what they test, but having potentially large number of these tests may mess-up statistics. Which style to use depends on the context and personal preferences.

*** Test Cases ***
Invalid Password
    [Template]    Login with invalid credentials should fail
    invalid          ${VALID PASSWORD}
    ${VALID USER}    invalid
    invalid          whatever
    ${EMPTY}         ${VALID PASSWORD}
    ${VALID USER}    ${EMPTY}
    ${EMPTY}         ${EMPTY}

Behavior-driven style

It is also possible to write test cases as requirements that also non-technical project stakeholders must understand. These executable requirements are a corner stone of a process commonly called Acceptance Test Driven Development (ATDD) or Specification by Example.

One way to write these requirements/tests is Given-When-Then style popularized by Behavior Driven Development (BDD). When writing test cases in this style, the initial state is usually expressed with a keyword starting with word Given, the actions are described with keyword starting with When and the expectations with a keyword starting with Then. Keyword starting with And or But may be used if a step has more than one action.

*** Test Cases ***
Valid Login
    Given login page is open
    When valid username and password are inserted
    and credentials are submitted
    Then welcome page should be open
Ignoring Given/When/Then/And/But prefixes

Prefixes Given, When, Then, And and But are dropped when matching keywords are searched, if no match with the full name is found. This works for both user keywords and library keywords. For example, Given login page is open in the above example can be implemented as user keyword either with or without the word Given. Ignoring prefixes also allows using the same keyword with different prefixes. For example Welcome page should be open could also used as And welcome page should be open.

Note

Ignoring But prefix is new in Robot Framework 2.8.7.

Embedding data to keywords

When writing concrete examples it is useful to be able pass actual data to keyword implementations. User keywords support this by allowing embedding arguments into keyword name.

2.3   Creating test suites

Robot Framework test cases are created in test case files, which can be organized into directories. These files and directories create a hierarchical test suite structure.

2.3.1   Test case files

Robot Framework test cases are created using test case tables in test case files. Such a file automatically creates a test suite from all the test cases it contains. There is no upper limit for how many test cases there can be, but it is recommended to have less than ten, unless the data-driven approach is used, where one test case consists of only one high-level keyword.

The following settings in the Setting table can be used to customize the test suite:

Documentation
Used for specifying a test suite documentation
Metadata
Used for setting free test suite metadata as name-value pairs.
Suite Setup, Suite Teardown
Specify suite setup and teardown.

Note

All setting names can optionally include a colon at the end, for example Documentation:. This can make reading the settings easier especially when using the plain text format.

2.3.2   Test suite directories

Test case files can be organized into directories, and these directories create higher-level test suites. A test suite created from a directory cannot have any test cases directly, but it contains other test suites with test cases, instead. These directories can then be placed into other directories creating an even higher-level suite. There are no limits for the structure, so test cases can be organized as needed.

When a test directory is executed, the files and directories it contains are processed recursively as follows:

  • Files and directories with names starting with a dot (.) or an underscore (_) are ignored.
  • Directories with the name CVS are ignored (case-sensitive).
  • Files not having one of the recognized extensions (.html, .xhtml, .htm, .tsv, .txt, .rst, or .rest) are ignored (case-insensitive).
  • Other files and directories are processed.

If a file or directory that is processed does not contain any test cases, it is silently ignored (a message is written to the syslog) and the processing continues.

Warning on invalid files

Normally files that do not have a valid test case table are silently ignored with a message written to the syslog. It is possible to use a command line option --warnonskippedfiles, which turns the message into a warning shown in test execution errors.

Initialization files

A test suite created from a directory can have similar settings as a suite created from a test case file. Because a directory alone cannot have that kind of information, it must be placed into a special test suite initialization file. An initialization file name must always be of the format __init__.ext, where the extension must be one of the supported file formats (for example, __init__.robot or __init__.html). The name format is borrowed from Python, where files named in this manner denote that a directory is a module.

Initialization files have the same structure and syntax as test case files, except that they cannot have test case tables and not all settings are supported. Variables and keywords created or imported in initialization files are not available in the lower level test suites. If you need to share variables or keywords, you can put them into resource files that can be imported both by initialization and test case files.

The main usage for initialization files is specifying test suite related settings similarly as in test case files, but setting some test case related settings is also possible. How to use different settings in the initialization files is explained below.

Documentation, Metadata, Suite Setup, Suite Teardown
These test suite specific settings work the same way as in test case files.
Force Tags
Specified tags are unconditionally set to all test cases in all test case files this directory contains directly or recursively.
Test Setup, Test Teardown, Test Timeout
Set the default value for test setup/teardown or test timeout to all test cases this directory contains. Can be overridden on lower level. Support for defining test timeout in initialization files was added in Robot Framework 2.7.
Default Tags, Test Template
Not supported in initialization files.
*** Settings ***
Documentation    Example suite
Suite Setup      Do Something    ${MESSAGE}
Force Tags       example
Library          SomeLibrary

*** Variables ***
${MESSAGE}       Hello, world!

*** Keywords ***
Do Something
    [Arguments]    ${args}
    Some Keyword    ${arg}
    Another Keyword

2.3.3   Test suite name and documentation

The test suite name is constructed from the file or directory name. The name is created so that the extension is ignored, possible underscores are replaced with spaces, and names fully in lower case are title cased. For example, some_tests.html becomes Some Tests and My_test_directory becomes My test directory.

The file or directory name can contain a prefix to control the execution order of the suites. The prefix is separated from the base name by two underscores and, when constructing the actual test suite name, both the prefix and underscores are removed. For example files 01__some_tests.txt and 02__more_tests.txt create test suites Some Tests and More Tests, respectively, and the former is executed before the latter.

The documentation for a test suite is set using the Documentation setting in the Setting table. It can be used in test case files or, with higher-level suites, in test suite initialization files. Test suite documentation has exactly the same characteristics regarding to where it is shown and how it can be created as test case documentation.

*** Settings ***
Documentation    An example test suite documentation with *some* _formatting_.
...              See test documentation for more documentation examples.

Both the name and documentation of the top-level test suite can be overridden in test execution. This can be done with the command line options --name and --doc, respectively, as explained in section Setting metadata.

2.3.4   Free test suite metadata

Test suites can also have other metadata than the documentation. This metadata is defined in the Setting table using the Metadata setting. Metadata set in this manner is shown in test reports and logs.

The name and value for the metadata are located in the columns following Metadata. The value is handled similarly as documentation, which means that it can be split into several cells (joined together with spaces) or into several rows (joined together with newlines), simple HTML formatting works and even variables can be used.

*** Settings ***
Metadata    Version        2.0
Metadata    More Info      For more information about *Robot Framework* see http://robotframework.org
Metadata    Executed At    ${HOST}

For top-level test suites, it is possible to set metadata also with the --metadata command line option. This is discussed in more detail in section Setting metadata.

2.3.5   Suite setup and teardown

Not only test cases but also test suites can have a setup and a teardown. A suite setup is executed before running any of the suite's test cases or child test suites, and a test teardown is executed after them. All test suites can have a setup and a teardown; with suites created from a directory they must be specified in a test suite initialization file.

Similarly as with test cases, a suite setup and teardown are keywords that may take arguments. They are defined in the Setting table with Suite Setup and Suite Teardown settings, respectively. Keyword names and possible arguments are located in the columns after the setting name.

If a suite setup fails, all test cases in it and its child test suites are immediately assigned a fail status and they are not actually executed. This makes suite setups ideal for checking preconditions that must be met before running test cases is possible.

A suite teardown is normally used for cleaning up after all the test cases have been executed. It is executed even if the setup of the same suite fails. If the suite teardown fails, all test cases in the suite are marked failed, regardless of their original execution status. Note that all the keywords in suite teardowns are executed even if one of them fails.

The name of the keyword to be executed as a setup or a teardown can be a variable. This facilitates having different setups or teardowns in different environments by giving the keyword name as a variable from the command line.

2.4   Using test libraries

Test libraries contain those lowest-level keywords, often called library keywords, which actually interact with the system under test. All test cases always use keywords from some library, often through higher-level user keywords. This section explains how to take test libraries into use and how to use the keywords they provide. Creating test libraries is described in a separate section.

2.4.1   Importing libraries

Test libraries are typically imported using the Library setting, but it is also possible to use the Import Library keyword.

Using Library setting

Test libraries are normally imported using the Library setting in the Setting table and having the library name in the subsequent column. Unlike most of the other data, the library name is both case- and space-sensitive. If a library is in a package, the full name including the package name must be used.

In those cases where the library needs arguments, they are listed in the columns after the library name. It is possible to use default values, variable number of arguments, and named arguments in test library imports similarly as with arguments to keywords. Both the library name and arguments can be set using variables.

*** Settings ***
Library    OperatingSystem
Library    my.package.TestLibrary
Library    MyLibrary    arg1    arg2
Library    ${LIBRARY}

It is possible to import test libraries in test case files, resource files and test suite initialization files. In all these cases, all the keywords in the imported library are available in that file. With resource files, those keywords are also available in other files using them.

Using Import Library keyword

Another possibility to take a test library into use is using the keyword Import Library from the BuiltIn library. This keyword takes the library name and possible arguments similarly as the Library setting. Keywords from the imported library are available in the test suite where the Import Library keyword was used. This approach is useful in cases where the library is not available when the test execution starts and only some other keywords make it available.

*** Test Cases ***
Example
    Do Something
    Import Library    MyLibrary    arg1    arg2
    KW From MyLibrary

2.4.2   Specifying library to import

Libraries to import can be specified either by using the library name or the path to the library. These approaches work the same way regardless is the library imported using the Library setting or the Import Library keyword.

Using library name

The most common way to specify a test library to import is using its name, like it has been done in all the examples in this section. In these cases Robot Framework tries to find the class or module implementing the library from the module search path. Libraries that are installed somehow ought to be in the module search path automatically, but with other libraries the search path may need to be configured separately.

The biggest benefit of this approach is that when the module search path has been configured, often using a custom start-up script, normal users do not need to think where libraries actually are installed. The drawback is that getting your own, possible very simple, libraries into the search path may require some additional configuration.

Using physical path to library

Another mechanism for specifying the library to import is using a path to it in the file system. This path is considered relative to the directory where current test data file is situated similarly as paths to resource and variable files. The main benefit of this approach is that there is no need to configure the module search path.

If the library is a file, the path to it must contain extension. For Python libraries the extension is naturally .py and for Java libraries it can either be .class or .java, but the class file must always be available. If Python library is implemented as a directory, the path to it must have a trailing forward slash (/). Following examples demonstrate these different usages.

*** Settings ***
Library    PythonLibrary.py
Library    /absolute/path/JavaLibrary.java
Library    relative/path/PythonDirLib/    possible    arguments
Library    ${RESOURCES}/Example.class

A limitation of this approach is that libraries implemented as Python classes must be in a module with the same name as the class. Additionally, importing libraries distributed in JAR or ZIP packages is not possible with this mechanism.

2.4.3   Setting custom name to test library

The library name is shown in test logs before keyword names, and if multiple keywords have the same name, they must be used so that the keyword name is prefixed with the library name. The library name is got normally from the module or class name implementing it, but there are some situations where changing it is desirable:

  • There is a need to import the same library several times with different arguments. This is not possible otherwise.
  • The library name is inconveniently long. This can happen, for example, if a Java library has a long package name.
  • You want to use variables to import different libraries in different environments, but refer to them with the same name.
  • The library name is misleading or otherwise poor. In this case, changing the actual name is, of course, a better solution.

The basic syntax for specifying the new name is having the text WITH NAME (case-sensitive) after the library name and then having the new name in the next cell. The specified name is shown in logs and must be used in the test data when using keywords' full name (LibraryName.Keyword Name).

*** Settings ***
Library    com.company.TestLib    WITH NAME    TestLib
Library    ${LIBRARY}             WITH NAME    MyName

Possible arguments to the library are placed into cells between the original library name and the WITH NAME text. The following example illustrates how the same library can be imported several times with different arguments:

*** Settings ***
Library    SomeLibrary    localhost        1234    WITH NAME    LocalLib
Library    SomeLibrary    server.domain    8080    WITH NAME    RemoteLib

*** Test Cases ***
My Test
    LocalLib.Some Keyword     some arg       second arg
    RemoteLib.Some Keyword    another arg    whatever
    LocalLib.Another Keyword

Setting a custom name to a test library works both when importing a library in the Setting table and when using the Import Library keyword.

2.4.4   Standard libraries

Some test libraries are distributed with Robot Framework and these libraries are called standard libraries. The BuiltIn library is special, because it is taken into use automatically and thus its keywords are always available. Other standard libraries need to be imported in the same way as any other libraries, but there is no need to install them.

Normal standard libraries

The available normal standard libraries are listed below with links to their documentations:

Remote library

In addition to the normal standard libraries listed above, there is also Remote library that is totally different than the other standard libraries. It does not have any keywords of its own but it works as a proxy between Robot Framework and actual test library implementations. These libraries can be running on other machines than the core framework and can even be implemented using languages not supported by Robot Framework natively.

See separate Remote library interface section for more information about this concept.

2.4.5   External libraries

Any test library that is not one of the standard libraries is, by definition, an external library. The Robot Framework open source community has implemented several generic libraries, such as Selenium2Library and SwingLibrary, which are not packaged with the core framework. A list of publicly available libraries can be found from http://robotframework.org.

Generic and custom libraries can obviously also be implemented by teams using Robot Framework. See Creating test libraries section for more information about that topic.

Different external libraries can have a totally different mechanism for installing them and taking them into use. Sometimes they may also require some other dependencies to be installed separately. All libraries should have clear installation and usage documentation and they should preferably automate the installation process.

2.5   Variables

2.5.1   Introduction

Variables are an integral feature of Robot Framework, and they can be used in most places in test data. Most commonly, they are used in arguments for keywords in test case tables and keyword tables, but also all settings allow variables in their values. A normal keyword name cannot be specified with a variable, but the BuiltIn keyword Run Keyword can be used to get the same effect.

Robot Framework has its own variables that can be used as scalars, lists or dictionaries using syntax ${SCALAR}, @{LIST} and &{DICT}, respectively. In addition to this, environment variables can be used directly with syntax %{ENV_VAR}.

Variables are useful, for example, in these cases:

  • When strings change often in the test data. With variables you only need to make these changes in one place.
  • When creating system-independent and operating-system-independent test data. Using variables instead of hard-coded strings eases that considerably (for example, ${RESOURCES} instead of c:\resources, or ${HOST} instead of 10.0.0.1:8080). Because variables can be set from the command line when tests are started, changing system-specific variables is easy (for example, --variable HOST:10.0.0.2:1234 --variable RESOURCES:/opt/resources). This also facilitates localization testing, which often involves running the same tests with different strings.
  • When there is a need to have objects other than strings as arguments for keywords. This is not possible without variables.
  • When different keywords, even in different test libraries, need to communicate. You can assign a return value from one keyword to a variable and pass it as an argument to another.
  • When values in the test data are long or otherwise complicated. For example, ${URL} is shorter than http://long.domain.name:8080/path/to/service?foo=1&bar=2&zap=42.

If a non-existent variable is used in the test data, the keyword using it fails. If the same syntax that is used for variables is needed as a literal string, it must be escaped with a backslash as in \${NAME}.

2.5.2   Variable types

Different variable types are explained in this section. How variables can be created is discussed in subsequent sections.

Robot Framework variables, similarly as keywords, are case-insensitive, and also spaces and underscores are ignored. However, it is recommended to use capital letters with global variables (for example, ${PATH} or ${TWO WORDS}) and small letters with variables that are only available in certain test cases or user keywords (for example, ${my var} or ${myVar}). Much more importantly, though, cases should be used consistently.

Variable name consists of the variable type identifier ($, @, &, %), curly braces ({, }) and actual variable name between the braces. Unlike in some programming languages where similar variable syntax is used, curly braces are always mandatory. Variable names can basically have any characters between the curly braces. However, using only alphabetic characters from a to z, numbers, underscore and space is recommended, and it is even a requirement for using the extended variable syntax.

Scalar variables

When scalar variables are used in the test data, they are replaced with the value they are assigned to. While scalar variables are most commonly used for simple strings, you can assign any objects, including lists, to them. The scalar variable syntax, for example ${NAME}, should be familiar to most users, as it is also used, for example, in shell scripts and Perl programming language.

The example below illustrates the usage of scalar variables. Assuming that the variables ${GREET} and ${NAME} are available and assigned to strings Hello and world, respectively, both the example test cases are equivalent.

*** Test Cases ***
Constants
    Log    Hello
    Log    Hello, world!!

Variables
    Log    ${GREET}
    Log    ${GREET}, ${NAME}!!

When a scalar variable is used as the only value in a test data cell, the scalar variable is replaced with the value it has. The value may be any object. When a scalar variable is used in a test data cell with anything else (constant strings or other variables), its value is first converted into a Unicode string and then catenated to whatever is in that cell. Converting the value into a string means that the object's method __unicode__ (in Python, with __str__ as a fallback) or toString (in Java) is called.

Note

Variable values are used as-is without conversions also when passing arguments to keywords using the named arguments syntax like argname=${var}.

The example below demonstrates the difference between having a variable in a cell alone or with other content. First, let us assume that we have a variable ${STR} set to a string Hello, world! and ${OBJ} set to an instance of the following Java object:

public class MyObj {

    public String toString() {
        return "Hi, tellus!";
    }
}

With these two variables set, we then have the following test data:

*** Test Cases ***
Objects
    KW 1    ${STR}
    KW 2    ${OBJ}
    KW 3    I said "${STR}"
    KW 4    You said "${OBJ}"

Finally, when this test data is executed, different keywords receive the arguments as explained below:

  • KW 1 gets a string Hello, world!
  • KW 2 gets an object stored to variable ${OBJ}
  • KW 3 gets a string I said "Hello, world!"
  • KW 4 gets a string You said "Hi, tellus!"

Note

Converting variables to Unicode obviously fails if the variable cannot be represented as Unicode. This can happen, for example, if you try to use byte sequences as arguments to keywords so that you catenate the values together like ${byte1}${byte2}. A workaround is creating a variable that contains the whole value and using it alone in the cell (e.g. ${bytes}) because then the value is used as-is.

List variables

When a variable is used as a scalar like ${EXAMPLE}, its value will be used as-is. If a variable value is a list or list-like, it is also possible to use as a list variable like @{EXAMPLE}. In this case individual list items are passed in as arguments separately. This is easiest to explain with an example. Assuming that a variable @{USER} has value ['robot', 'secret'], the following two test cases are equivalent:

*** Test Cases ***
Constants
    Login    robot    secret

List Variable
    Login    @{USER}

Robot Framework stores its own variables in one internal storage and allows using them as scalars, lists or dictionaries. Using a variable as a list requires its value to be a Python list or list-like object. Robot Framework does not allow strings to be used as lists, but other iterable objects such as tuples or dictionaries are accepted.

Prior to Robot Framework 2.9, scalar and list variables were stored separately, but it was possible to use list variables as scalars and scalar variables as lists. This caused lot of confusion when there accidentally was a scalar variable and a list variable with same name but different value.

Using list variables with other data

It is possible to use list variables with other arguments, including other list variables.

*** Test Cases ***
Example
    Keyword    @{LIST}    more    args
    Keyword    ${SCALAR}    @{LIST}    constant
    Keyword    @{LIST}    @{ANOTHER}    @{ONE MORE}

If a list variable is used in a cell with other data (constant strings or other variables), the final value will contain a string representation of the variable value. The end result is thus exactly the same as when using the variable as a scalar with other data in the same cell.

Accessing individual list items

It is possible to access a certain value of a list variable with the syntax @{NAME}[index], where index is the index of the selected value. Indices start from zero, negative indices can be used to access items from the end, and trying to access a value with too large an index causes an error. Indices are automatically converted to integers, and it is also possible to use variables as indices. List items accessed in this manner can be used similarly as scalar variables.

*** Test Cases ***
List Variable Item
    Login    @{USER}[0]    @{USER}[1]
    Title Should Be    Welcome @{USER}[0]!

Negative Index
    Log    @{LIST}[-1]

Index As Variable
    Log    @{LIST}[${INDEX}]
Using list variables with settings

List variables can be used only with some of the settings. They can be used in arguments to imported libraries and variable files, but library and variable file names themselves cannot be list variables. Also with setups and teardowns list variable can not be used as the name of the keyword, but can be used in arguments. With tag related settings they can be used freely. Using scalar variables is possible in those places where list variables are not supported.

*** Settings ***
Library         ExampleLibrary      @{LIB ARGS}    # This works
Library         ${LIBRARY}          @{LIB ARGS}    # This works
Library         @{NAME AND ARGS}                   # This does not work
Suite Setup     Some Keyword        @{KW ARGS}     # This works
Suite Setup     ${KEYWORD}          @{KW ARGS}     # This works
Suite Setup     @{KEYWORD}                         # This does not work
Default Tags    @{TAGS}                            # This works

Dictionary variables

As discussed above, a variable containing a list can be used as a list variable to pass list items to a keyword as individual arguments. Similarly a variable containing a Python dictionary or a dictionary-like object can be used as a dictionary variable like &{EXAMPLE}. In practice this means that individual items of the dictionary are passed as named arguments to the keyword. Assuming that a variable &{USER} has value {'name': 'robot', 'password': 'secret'}, the following two test cases are equivalent.

*** Test Cases ***
Constants
    Login    name=robot    password=secret

Dict Variable
    Login    &{USER}

Dictionary variables are new in Robot Framework 2.9.

Using dictionary variables with other data

It is possible to use dictionary variables with other arguments, including other dictionary variables. Because named argument syntax requires positional arguments to be before named argument, dictionaries can only be followed by named arguments or other dictionaries.

*** Test Cases ***
Example
    Keyword    &{DICT}    named=arg
    Keyword    positional    @{LIST}    &{DICT}
    Keyword    &{DICT}    &{ANOTHER}    &{ONE MORE}

If a dictionary variable is used in a cell with other data (constant strings or other variables), the final value will contain a string representation of the variable value. The end result is thus exactly the same as when using the variable as a scalar with other data in the same cell.

Accessing individual dictionary items

It is possible to access a certain value of a dictionary variable with the syntax &{NAME}[key], where key is the name of the selected value. Keys are considered to be strings, but non-strings keys can be used as variables. Dictionary values accessed in this manner can be used similarly as scalar variables.

If a key is a string, it is possible to access its value also using attribute access syntax ${NAME.key}. See Creating dictionary variables for more details about this syntax.

*** Test Cases ***
Dict Variable Item
    Login    &{USER}[name]    &{USER}[password]
    Title Should Be    Welcome &{USER}[name]!

Key As Variable
    Log Many    &{DICT}[${KEY}]    &{DICT}[${42}]

Attribute Access
    Login    ${USER.name}    ${USER.password}
    Title Should Be    Welcome ${USER.name}!
Using dictionary variables with settings

Dictionary variables cannot generally be used with settings. The only exception are imports, setups and teardowns where dictionaries can be used as arguments.

*** Settings ***
Library        ExampleLibrary    &{LIB ARGS}
Suite Setup    Some Keyword      &{KW ARGS}     named=arg

Environment variables

Robot Framework allows using environment variables in the test data using the syntax %{ENV_VAR_NAME}. They are limited to string values.

Environment variables set in the operating system before the test execution are available during it, and it is possible to create new ones with the keyword Set Environment Variable or delete existing ones with the keyword Delete Environment Variable, both available in the OperatingSystem library. Because environment variables are global, environment variables set in one test case can be used in other test cases executed after it. However, changes to environment variables are not effective after the test execution.

*** Test Cases ***
Env Variables
    Log    Current user: %{USER}
    Run    %{JAVA_HOME}${/}javac

Java system properties

When running tests with Jython, it is possible to access Java system properties using same syntax as environment variables. If an environment variable and a system property with same name exist, the environment variable will be used.

*** Test Cases ***
System Properties
    Log    %{user.name} running tests on %{os.name}

2.5.3   Creating variables

Variables can spring into existence from different sources.

Variable table

The most common source for variables are Variable tables in test case files and resource files. Variable tables are convenient, because they allow creating variables in the same place as the rest of the test data, and the needed syntax is very simple. Their main disadvantages are that values are always strings and they cannot be created dynamically. If either of these is a problem, variable files can be used instead.

Creating scalar variables

The simplest possible variable assignment is setting a string into a scalar variable. This is done by giving the variable name (including ${}) in the first column of the Variable table and the value in the second one. If the second column is empty, an empty string is set as a value. Also an already defined variable can be used in the value.

*** Variables ***
${NAME}         Robot Framework
${VERSION}      2.0
${ROBOT}        ${NAME} ${VERSION}

It is also possible, but not obligatory, to use the equals sign = after the variable name to make assigning variables slightly more explicit.

*** Variables ***
${NAME} =       Robot Framework
${VERSION} =    2.0

If a scalar variable has a long value, it can be split to multiple columns and rows. By default cells are catenated together using a space, but this can be changed by having SEPARATOR=<sep> in the first cell.

*** Variables ***
${EXAMPLE}      This value is joined    together with a space
${MULTILINE}    SEPARATOR=\n    First line
...             Second line     Third line

Joining long values like above is a new feature in Robot Framework 2.9. Creating a scalar variable with multiple values was a syntax error in Robot Framework 2.8 and with earlier versions it created a variable with a list value.

Creating list variables

Creating list variables is as easy as creating scalar variables. Again, the variable name is in the first column of the Variable table and values in the subsequent columns. A list variable can have any number of values, starting from zero, and if many values are needed, they can be split into several rows.

*** Variables ***
@{NAMES}        Matti       Teppo
@{NAMES2}       @{NAMES}    Seppo
@{NOTHING}
@{MANY}         one         two      three      four
...             five        six      seven
Creating dictionary variables

Dictionary variables can be created in the variable table similarly as list variables. The difference is that items need to be created using name=value syntax or existing dictionary variables. If there are multiple items with same name, the last value has precedence. If a name contains a literal equal sign, it can be escaped with a backslash like \=.

*** Variables ***
&{USER 1}       name=Matti    address=xxx         phone=123
&{USER 2}       name=Teppo    address=yyy         phone=456
&{MANY}         first=1       second=${2}         ${3}=third
&{EVEN MORE}    &{MANY}       first=override      empty=
...             =empty        key\=here=value

Dictionary variables have two extra properties compared to normal Python dictionaries. First of all, values of these dictionaries can be accessed like attributes, which means that it is possible to use extended variable syntax like ${VAR.key}. This only works if the key is a valid attribute name and does not match any normal attribute Python dictionaries have. For example, individual value &{USER}[name] can also be accessed like ${USER.name} (notice that $ is needed in this context), but using ${MANY.3} is not possible.

Another special property of dictionary variables is that they are ordered. This means that if these dictionaries are iterated, their items always come in the order they are defined. This can be useful if dictionaries are used as list variables with for loops or otherwise. When a dictionary is used as a list variable, the actual value contains dictionary keys. For example, @{MANY} variable would have value ['first', 'second', 3].

Variable file

Variable files are the most powerful mechanism for creating different kind of variables. It is possible to assign variables to any object using them, and they also enable creating variables dynamically. The variable file syntax and taking variable files into use is explained in section Resource and variable files.

Setting variables in command line

Variables can be set from the command line either individually with the --variable (-v) option or using a variable file with the --variablefile (-V) option. Variables set from the command line are globally available for all executed test data files, and they also override possible variables with the same names in the Variable table and in variable files imported in the test data.

The syntax for setting individual variables is --variable name:value, where name is the name of the variable without ${} and value is its value. Several variables can be set by using this option several times. Only scalar variables can be set using this syntax and they can only get string values. Many special characters are difficult to represent in the command line, but they can be escaped with the --escape option.

--variable EXAMPLE:value
--variable HOST:localhost:7272 --variable USER:robot
--variable ESCAPED:Qquotes_and_spacesQ --escape quot:Q --escape space:_

In the examples above, variables are set so that

  • ${EXAMPLE} gets the value value
  • ${HOST} and ${USER} get the values localhost:7272 and robot
  • ${ESCAPED} gets the value "quotes and spaces"

The basic syntax for taking variable files into use from the command line is --variablefile path/to/variables.py, and Taking variable files into use section has more details. What variables actually are created depends on what variables there are in the referenced variable file.

If both variable files and individual variables are given from the command line, the latter have higher priority.

Return values from keywords

Return values from keywords can also be set into variables. This allows communication between different keywords even in different test libraries.

Variables set in this manner are otherwise similar to any other variables, but they are available only in the local scope where they are created. Thus it is not possible, for example, to set a variable like this in one test case and use it in another. This is because, in general, automated test cases should not depend on each other, and accidentally setting a variable that is used elsewhere could cause hard-to-debug errors. If there is a genuine need for setting a variable in one test case and using it in another, it is possible to use BuiltIn keywords as explained in the next section.

Assigning scalar variables

Any value returned by a keyword can be assigned to a scalar variable. As illustrated by the example below, the required syntax is very simple:

*** Test Cases ***
Returning
    ${x} =    Get X    an argument
    Log    We got ${x}!

In the above example the value returned by the Get X keyword is first set into the variable ${x} and then used by the Log keyword. Having the equals sign = after the variable name is not obligatory, but it makes the assignment more explicit. Creating local variables like this works both in test case and user keyword level.

Notice that although a value is assigned to a scalar variable, it can be used as a list variable if it has a list-like value and as a dictionary variable if it has a dictionary-like value.

*** Test Cases ***
Example
    ${list} =    Create List    first    second    third
    Length Should Be    ${list}    3
    Log Many    @{list}
Assigning list variables

If a keyword returns a list or any list-like object, it is possible to assign it to a list variable:

*** Test Cases ***
Example
    @{list} =    Create List    first    second    third
    Length Should Be    ${list}    3
    Log Many    @{list}

Because all Robot Framework variables are stored in the same namespace, there is not much difference between assigning a value to a scalar variable or a list variable. This can be seen by comparing the last two examples above. The main differences are that when creating a list variable, Robot Framework automatically verifies that the value is a list or list-like, and the stored variable value will be a new list created from the return value. When assigning to a scalar variable, the return value is not verified and the stored value will be the exact same object that was returned.

Assigning dictionary variables

If a keyword returns a dictionary or any dictionary-like object, it is possible to assign it to a dictionary variable:

*** Test Cases ***
Example
    &{dict} =    Create Dictionary    first=1    second=${2}    ${3}=third
    Length Should Be    ${dict}    3
    Do Something    &{dict}
    Log    ${dict.first}

Because all Robot Framework variables are stored in the same namespace, it would also be possible to assign a dictionary into a scalar variable and use it later as a dictionary when needed. There are, however, some actual benefits in creating a dictionary variable explicitly. First of all, Robot Framework verifies that the returned value is a dictionary or dictionary-like similarly as it verifies that list variables can only get a list-like value.

A bigger benefit is that the value is converted into a special dictionary that it uses also when creating dictionary variables in the variable table. Values in these dictionaries can be accessed using attribute access like ${dict.first} in the above example. These dictionaries are also ordered, but if the original dictionary was not ordered, the resulting order is arbitrary.

Assigning multiple variables

If a keyword returns a list or a list-like object, it is possible to assign individual values into multiple scalar variables or into scalar variables and a list variable.

*** Test Cases ***
Assign Multiple
    ${a}    ${b}    ${c} =    Get Three
    ${first}    @{rest} =    Get Three
    @{before}    ${last} =    Get Three
    ${begin}    @{middle}    ${end} =    Get Three

Assuming that the keyword Get Three returns a list [1, 2, 3], the following variables are created:

  • ${a}, ${b} and ${c} with values 1, 2, and 3, respectively.
  • ${first} with value 1, and @{rest} with value [2, 3].
  • @{before} with value [1, 2] and ${last} with value 3.
  • ${begin} with value 1, @{middle} with value [2] and ${end} with value 3.

It is an error if the returned list has more or less values than there are scalar variables to assign. Additionally, only one list variable is allowed and dictionary variables can only be assigned alone.

The support for assigning multiple variables was slightly changed in Robot Framework 2.9. Prior to it a list variable was only allowed as the last assigned variable, but nowadays it can be used anywhere. Additionally, it was possible to return more values than scalar variables. In that case the last scalar variable was magically turned into a list containing the extra values.

Using Set Test/Suite/Global Variable keywords

The BuiltIn library has keywords Set Test Variable, Set Suite Variable and Set Global Variable which can be used for setting variables dynamically during the test execution. If a variable already exists within the new scope, its value will be overwritten, and otherwise a new variable is created.

Variables set with Set Test Variable keyword are available everywhere within the scope of the currently executed test case. For example, if you set a variable in a user keyword, it is available both in the test case level and also in all other user keywords used in the current test. Other test cases will not see variables set with this keyword.

Variables set with Set Suite Variable keyword are available everywhere within the scope of the currently executed test suite. Setting variables with this keyword thus has the same effect as creating them using the Variable table in the test data file or importing them from variable files. Other test suites, including possible child test suites, will not see variables set with this keyword.

Variables set with Set Global Variable keyword are globally available in all test cases and suites executed after setting them. Setting variables with this keyword thus has the same effect as creating from the command line using the options --variable or --variablefile. Because this keyword can change variables everywhere, it should be used with care.

Note

Set Test/Suite/Global Variable keywords set named variables directly into test, suite or global variable scope and return nothing. On the other hand, another BuiltIn keyword Set Variable sets local variables using return values.

2.5.4   Built-in variables

Robot Framework provides some built-in variables that are available automatically.

Operating-system variables

Built-in variables related to the operating system ease making the test data operating-system-agnostic.

Available operating-system-related built-in variables
Variable Explanation
${CURDIR} An absolute path to the directory where the test data file is located. This variable is case-sensitive.
${TEMPDIR} An absolute path to the system temporary directory. In UNIX-like systems this is typically /tmp, and in Windows c:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Local Settings\Temp.
${EXECDIR} An absolute path to the directory where test execution was started from.
${/} The system directory path separator. / in UNIX-like systems and \ in Windows.
${:} The system path element separator. : in UNIX-like systems and ; in Windows.
${\n} The system line separator. \n in UNIX-like systems and \r\n in Windows. New in version 2.7.5.
*** Test Cases ***
Example
    Create Binary File    ${CURDIR}${/}input.data    Some text here${\n}on two lines
    Set Environment Variable    CLASSPATH    ${TEMPDIR}${:}${CURDIR}${/}foo.jar

Number variables

The variable syntax can be used for creating both integers and floating point numbers, as illustrated in the example below. This is useful when a keyword expects to get an actual number, and not a string that just looks like a number, as an argument.

*** Test Cases ***
Example 1A
    Connect    example.com    80       # Connect gets two strings as arguments

Example 1B
    Connect    example.com    ${80}    # Connect gets a string and an integer

Example 2
    Do X    ${3.14}    ${-1e-4}        # Do X gets floating point numbers 3.14 and -0.0001

It is possible to create integers also from binary, octal, and hexadecimal values using 0b, 0o and 0x prefixes, respectively. The syntax is case insensitive.

*** Test Cases ***
Example
    Should Be Equal    ${0b1011}    ${11}
    Should Be Equal    ${0o10}      ${8}
    Should Be Equal    ${0xff}      ${255}
    Should Be Equal    ${0B1010}    ${0XA}

Boolean and None/null variables

Also Boolean values and Python None and Java null can be created using the variable syntax similarly as numbers.

*** Test Cases ***
Boolean
    Set Status    ${true}               # Set Status gets Boolean true as an argument
    Create Y    something   ${false}    # Create Y gets a string and Boolean false

None
    Do XYZ    ${None}                   # Do XYZ gets Python None as an argument

Null
    ${ret} =    Get Value    arg        # Checking that Get Value returns Java null
    Should Be Equal    ${ret}    ${null}

These variables are case-insensitive, so for example ${True} and ${true} are equivalent. Additionally, ${None} and ${null} are synonyms, because when running tests on the Jython interpreter, Jython automatically converts None and null to the correct format when necessary.

Space and empty variables

It is possible to create spaces and empty strings using variables ${SPACE} and ${EMPTY}, respectively. These variables are useful, for example, when there would otherwise be a need to escape spaces or empty cells with a backslash. If more than one space is needed, it is possible to use the extended variable syntax like ${SPACE * 5}. In the following example, Should Be Equal keyword gets identical arguments but those using variables are easier to understand than those using backslashes.

*** Test Cases ***
One Space
    Should Be Equal    ${SPACE}          \ \

Four Spaces
    Should Be Equal    ${SPACE * 4}      \ \ \ \ \

Ten Spaces
    Should Be Equal    ${SPACE * 10}     \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \

Quoted Space
    Should Be Equal    "${SPACE}"        " "

Quoted Spaces
    Should Be Equal    "${SPACE * 2}"    " \ "

Empty
    Should Be Equal    ${EMPTY}          \

There is also an empty list variable @{EMPTY} and an empty dictionary variable &{EMPTY}. Because they have no content, they basically vanish when used somewhere in the test data. They are useful, for example, with test templates when the template keyword is used without arguments or when overriding list or dictionary variables in different scopes. Modifying the value of @{EMPTY} or &{EMPTY} is not possible.

*** Test Cases ***
Template
    [Template]    Some keyword
    @{EMPTY}

Override
    Set Global Variable    @{LIST}    @{EMPTY}
    Set Suite Variable     &{DICT}    &{EMPTY}

Note

@{EMPTY} is new in Robot Framework 2.7.4 and &{EMPTY} in Robot Framework 2.9.

Automatic variables

Some automatic variables can also be used in the test data. These variables can have different values during the test execution and some of them are not even available all the time. Altering the value of these variables does not affect the original values, but some values can be changed dynamically using keywords from the BuiltIn library.

Available automatic variables
Variable Explanation Available
${TEST NAME} The name of the current test case. Test case
@{TEST TAGS} Contains the tags of the current test case in alphabetical order. Can be modified dynamically using Set Tags and Remove Tags keywords. Test case
${TEST DOCUMENTATION} The documentation of the current test case. Can be set dynamically using using Set Test Documentation keyword. New in Robot Framework 2.7. Test case
${TEST STATUS} The status of the current test case, either PASS or FAIL. Test teardown
${TEST MESSAGE} The message of the current test case. Test teardown
${PREV TEST NAME} The name of the previous test case, or an empty string if no tests have been executed yet. Everywhere
${PREV TEST STATUS} The status of the previous test case: either PASS, FAIL, or an empty string when no tests have been executed. Everywhere
${PREV TEST MESSAGE} The possible error message of the previous test case. Everywhere
${SUITE NAME} The full name of the current test suite. Everywhere
${SUITE SOURCE} An absolute path to the suite file or directory. Everywhere
${SUITE DOCUMENTATION} The documentation of the current test suite. Can be set dynamically using using Set Suite Documentation keyword. New in Robot Framework 2.7. Everywhere
&{SUITE METADATA} The free metadata of the current test suite. Can be set using Set Suite Metadata keyword. New in Robot Framework 2.7.4. Everywhere
${SUITE STATUS} The status of the current test suite, either PASS or FAIL. Suite teardown
${SUITE MESSAGE} The full message of the current test suite, including statistics. Suite teardown
${KEYWORD STATUS} The status of the current keyword, either PASS or FAIL. New in Robot Framework 2.7 User keyword teardown
${KEYWORD MESSAGE} The possible error message of the current keyword. New in Robot Framework 2.7. User keyword teardown
${LOG LEVEL} Current log level. New in Robot Framework 2.8. Everywhere
${OUTPUT FILE} An absolute path to the output file. Everywhere
${LOG FILE} An absolute path to the log file or string NONE when no log file is created. Everywhere
${REPORT FILE} An absolute path to the report file or string NONE when no report is created. Everywhere
${DEBUG FILE} An absolute path to the debug file or string NONE when no debug file is created. Everywhere
${OUTPUT DIR} An absolute path to the output directory. Everywhere

Suite related variables ${SUITE SOURCE}, ${SUITE NAME}, ${SUITE DOCUMENTATION} and &{SUITE METADATA} are available already when test libraries and variable files are imported, except to Robot Framework 2.8 and 2.8.1 where this support was broken. Possible variables in these automatic variables are not yet resolved at the import time, though.

2.5.5   Variable priorities and scopes

Variables coming from different sources have different priorities and are available in different scopes.

Variable priorities

Variables from the command line

Variables set in the command line have the highest priority of all variables that can be set before the actual test execution starts. They override possible variables created in Variable tables in test case files, as well as in resource and variable files imported in the test data.

Individually set variables (--variable option) override the variables set using variable files (--variablefile option). If you specify same individual variable multiple times, the one specified last will override earlier ones. This allows setting default values for variables in a start-up script and overriding them from the command line. Notice, though, that if multiple variable files have same variables, the ones in the file specified first have the highest priority.

Variable table in a test case file

Variables created using the Variable table in a test case file are available for all the test cases in that file. These variables override possible variables with same names in imported resource and variable files.

Variables created in the variable tables are available in all other tables in the file where they are created. This means that they can be used also in the Setting table, for example, for importing more variables from resource and variable files.

Imported resource and variable files

Variables imported from the resource and variable files have the lowest priority of all variables created in the test data. Variables from resource files and variable files have the same priority. If several resource and/or variable file have same variables, the ones in the file imported first are taken into use.

If a resource file imports resource files or variable files, variables in its own Variable table have a higher priority than variables it imports. All these variables are available for files that import this resource file.

Note that variables imported from resource and variable files are not available in the Variable table of the file that imports them. This is due to the Variable table being processed before the Setting table where the resource files and variable files are imported.

Variables set during test execution

Variables set during the test execution either using return values from keywords or using Set Test/Suite/Global Variable keywords always override possible existing variables in the scope where they are set. In a sense they thus have the highest priority, but on the other hand they do not affect variables outside the scope they are defined.

Built-in variables

Built-in variables like ${TEMPDIR} and ${TEST_NAME} have the highest priority of all variables. They cannot be overridden using Variable table or from command line, but even they can be reset during the test execution. An exception to this rule are number variables, which are resolved dynamically if no variable is found otherwise. They can thus be overridden, but that is generally a bad idea. Additionally ${CURDIR} is special because it is replaced already during the test data processing time.

Variable scopes

Depending on where and how they are created, variables can have a global, test suite, test case or local scope.

Global scope

Global variables are available everywhere in the test data. These variables are normally set from the command line with the --variable and --variablefile options, but it is also possible to create new global variables or change the existing ones with the BuiltIn keyword Set Global Variable anywhere in the test data. Additionally also built-in variables are global.

It is recommended to use capital letters with all global variables.

Test suite scope

Variables with the test suite scope are available anywhere in the test suite where they are defined or imported. They can be created in Variable tables, imported from resource and variable files, or set during the test execution using the BuiltIn keyword Set Suite Variable.

The test suite scope is not recursive, which means that variables available in a higher-level test suite are not available in lower-level suites. If necessary, resource and variable files can be used for sharing variables.

Since these variables can be considered global in the test suite where they are used, it is recommended to use capital letters also with them.

Test case scope

Variables with the test case scope are visible in a test case and in all user keywords the test uses. Initially there are no variables in this scope, but it is possible to create them by using the BuiltIn keyword Set Test Variable anywhere in a test case.

Also variables in the test case scope are to some extend global. It is thus generally recommended to use capital letters with them too.

Local scope

Test cases and user keywords have a local variable scope that is not seen by other tests or keywords. Local variables can be created using return values from executed keywords and user keywords also get them as arguments.

It is recommended to use lower-case letters with local variables.

Note

Prior to Robot Framework 2.9 variables in the local scope leaked to lower level user keywords. This was never an intended feature, and variables should be set or passed explicitly also with earlier versions.

2.5.6   Advanced variable features

Extended variable syntax

Extended variable syntax allows accessing attributes of an object assigned to a variable (for example, ${object.attribute}) and even calling its methods (for example, ${obj.getName()}). It works both with scalar and list variables, but is mainly useful with the former

Extended variable syntax is a powerful feature, but it should be used with care. Accessing attributes is normally not a problem, on the contrary, because one variable containing an object with several attributes is often better than having several variables. On the other hand, calling methods, especially when they are used with arguments, can make the test data pretty complicated to understand. If that happens, it is recommended to move the code into a test library.

The most common usages of extended variable syntax are illustrated in the example below. First assume that we have the following variable file and test case:

class MyObject:

    def __init__(self, name):
        self.name = name

    def eat(self, what):
        return '%s eats %s' % (self.name, what)

    def __str__(self):
        return self.name

OBJECT = MyObject('Robot')
DICTIONARY = {1: 'one', 2: 'two', 3: 'three'}
*** Test Cases ***
Example
    KW 1    ${OBJECT.name}
    KW 2    ${OBJECT.eat('Cucumber')}
    KW 3    ${DICTIONARY[2]}

When this test data is executed, the keywords get the arguments as explained below:

  • KW 1 gets string Robot
  • KW 2 gets string Robot eats Cucumber
  • KW 3 gets string two

The extended variable syntax is evaluated in the following order:

  1. The variable is searched using the full variable name. The extended variable syntax is evaluated only if no matching variable is found.
  2. The name of the base variable is created. The body of the name consists of all the characters after the opening { until the first occurrence of a character that is not an alphanumeric character or a space. For example, base variables of ${OBJECT.name} and ${DICTIONARY[2]}) are OBJECT and DICTIONARY, respectively.
  3. A variable matching the body is searched. If there is no match, an exception is raised and the test case fails.
  4. The expression inside the curly brackets is evaluated as a Python expression, so that the base variable name is replaced with its value. If the evaluation fails because of an invalid syntax or that the queried attribute does not exist, an exception is raised and the test fails.
  5. The whole extended variable is replaced with the value returned from the evaluation.

If the object that is used is implemented with Java, the extended variable syntax allows you to access attributes using so-called bean properties. In essence, this means that if you have an object with the getName method set into a variable ${OBJ}, then the syntax ${OBJ.name} is equivalent to but clearer than ${OBJ.getName()}. The Python object used in the previous example could thus be replaced with the following Java implementation:

public class MyObject:

    private String name;

    public MyObject(String name) {
        name = name;
    }

    public String getName() {
        return name;
    }

    public String eat(String what) {
        return name + " eats " + what;
    }

    public String toString() {
        return name;
    }
}

Many standard Python objects, including strings and numbers, have methods that can be used with the extended variable syntax either explicitly or implicitly. Sometimes this can be really useful and reduce the need for setting temporary variables, but it is also easy to overuse it and create really cryptic test data. Following examples show few pretty good usages.

*** Test Cases ***
String
    ${string} =    Set Variable    abc
    Log    ${string.upper()}      # Logs 'ABC'
    Log    ${string * 2}          # Logs 'abcabc'

Number
    ${number} =    Set Variable    ${-2}
    Log    ${number * 10}         # Logs -20
    Log    ${number.__abs__()}    # Logs 2

Note that even though abs(number) is recommended over number.__abs__() in normal Python code, using ${abs(number)} does not work. This is because the variable name must be in the beginning of the extended syntax. Using __xxx__ methods in the test data like this is already a bit questionable, and it is normally better to move this kind of logic into test libraries.

Extended variable syntax works also in list variable context. If, for example, an object assigned to a variable ${EXTENDED} has an attribute attribute that contains a list as a value, it can be used as a list variable @{EXTENDED.attribute}.

Extended variable assignment

Starting from Robot Framework 2.7, it is possible to set attributes of objects stored to scalar variables using keyword return values and a variation of the extended variable syntax. Assuming we have variable ${OBJECT} from the previous examples, attributes could be set to it like in the example below.

*** Test Cases ***
Example
    ${OBJECT.name} =    Set Variable    New name
    ${OBJECT.new_attr} =    Set Variable    New attribute

The extended variable assignment syntax is evaluated using the following rules:

  1. The assigned variable must be a scalar variable and have at least one dot. Otherwise the extended assignment syntax is not used and the variable is assigned normally.
  2. If there exists a variable with the full name (e.g. ${OBJECT.name} in the example above) that variable will be assigned a new value and the extended syntax is not used.
  3. The name of the base variable is created. The body of the name consists of all the characters between the opening ${ and the last dot, for example, OBJECT in ${OBJECT.name} and foo.bar in ${foo.bar.zap}. As the second example illustrates, the base name may contain normal extended variable syntax.
  4. The name of the attribute to set is created by taking all the characters between the last dot and the closing }, for example, name in ${OBJECT.name}. If the name does not start with a letter or underscore and contain only these characters and numbers, the attribute is considered invalid and the extended syntax is not used. A new variable with the full name is created instead.
  5. A variable matching the base name is searched. If no variable is found, the extended syntax is not used and, instead, a new variable is created using the full variable name.
  6. If the found variable is a string or a number, the extended syntax is ignored and a new variable created using the full name. This is done because you cannot add new attributes to Python strings or numbers, and this way the new syntax is also less backwards-incompatible.
  7. If all the previous rules match, the attribute is set to the base variable. If setting fails for any reason, an exception is raised and the test fails.

Note

Unlike when assigning variables normally using return values from keywords, changes to variables done using the extended assign syntax are not limited to the current scope. Because no new variable is created but instead the state of an existing variable is changed, all tests and keywords that see that variable will also see the changes.

Variables inside variables

Variables are allowed also inside variables, and when this syntax is used, variables are resolved from the inside out. For example, if you have a variable ${var${x}}, then ${x} is resolved first. If it has the value name, the final value is then the value of the variable ${varname}. There can be several nested variables, but resolving the outermost fails, if any of them does not exist.

In the example below, Do X gets the value ${JOHN HOME} or ${JANE HOME}, depending on if Get Name returns john or jane. If it returns something else, resolving ${${name} HOME} fails.

*** Variables ***
${JOHN HOME}    /home/john
${JANE HOME}    /home/jane

*** Test Cases ***
Example
    ${name} =    Get Name
    Do X    ${${name} HOME}

2.6   Creating user keywords

Keyword tables are used to create new higher-level keywords by combining existing keywords together. These keywords are called user keywords to differentiate them from lowest level library keywords that are implemented in test libraries. The syntax for creating user keywords is very close to the syntax for creating test cases, which makes it easy to learn.

2.6.1   User keyword syntax

Basic syntax

In many ways, the overall user keyword syntax is identical to the test case syntax. User keywords are created in keyword tables which differ from test case tables only by the name that is used to identify them. User keyword names are in the first column similarly as test cases names. Also user keywords are created from keywords, either from keywords in test libraries or other user keywords. Keyword names are normally in the second column, but when setting variables from keyword return values, they are in the subsequent columns.

*** Keywords ***
Open Login Page
    Open Browser    http://host/login.html
    Title Should Be    Login Page

Title Should Start With
    [Arguments]    ${expected}
    ${title} =    Get Title
    Should Start With    ${title}    ${expected}

Most user keywords take some arguments. This important feature is used already in the second example above, and it is explained in detail later in this section, similarly as user keyword return values.

User keywords can be created in test case files, resource files, and test suite initialization files. Keywords created in resource files are available for files using them, whereas other keywords are only available in the files where they are created.

Settings in the Keyword table

User keywords can have similar settings as test cases, and they have the same square bracket syntax separating them from keyword names. All available settings are listed below and explained later in this section.

[Documentation]
Used for setting a user keyword documentation.
[Tags]
Sets tags for the keyword.
[Arguments]
Specifies user keyword arguments.
[Return]
Specifies user keyword return values.
[Teardown]
Specify user keyword teardown.
[Timeout]
Sets the possible user keyword timeout. Timeouts are discussed in a section of their own.

2.6.2   User keyword name and documentation

The user keyword name is defined in the first column of the user keyword table. Of course, the name should be descriptive, and it is acceptable to have quite long keyword names. Actually, when creating use-case-like test cases, the highest-level keywords are often formulated as sentences or even paragraphs.

User keywords can have a documentation that is set with the [Documentation] setting, exactly as test case documentation. This setting documents the user keyword in the test data. It is also shown in a more formal keyword documentation, which the Libdoc tool can create from resource files. Finally, the first row of the documentation is shown as a keyword documentation in test logs.

Sometimes keywords need to be removed, replaced with new ones, or deprecated for other reasons. User keywords can be marked deprecated by starting the documentation with *DEPRECATED*, which will cause a warning when the keyword is used. For more information, see Deprecating keywords section.

2.6.3   User keyword tags

Starting from Robot Framework 2.9, keywords can also have tags. User keywords tags can be set with [Tags] setting similarly as test case tags, but possible Force Tags and Default Tags setting do not affect them. Additionally keyword tags can be specified on the last line of the documentation with Tags: prefix and separated by a comma. For example, following two keywords would both get same three tags.

*** Keywords ***
Settings tags using separate setting
    [Tags]    my    fine    tags
    No Operation

Settings tags using documentation
    [Documentation]    I have documentation. And my documentation has tags.
    ...                Tags: my, fine, tags
    No Operation

Keyword tags are shown in logs and in documentation generated by Libdoc, where the keywords can also be searched based on tags. The --removekeywords and --flattenkeywords commandline options also support selecting keywords by tag, and new usages for keywords tags are possibly added in later releases.

Similarly as with test case tags, user keyword tags with robot- and robot: prefixes are reserved for special features by Robot Framework itself. Users should thus not use any tag with these prefixes unless actually activating the special functionality.

2.6.4   User keyword arguments

Most user keywords need to take some arguments. The syntax for specifying them is probably the most complicated feature normally needed with Robot Framework, but even that is relatively easy, particularly in most common cases. Arguments are normally specified with the [Arguments] setting, and argument names use the same syntax as variables, for example ${arg}.

Positional arguments

The simplest way to specify arguments (apart from not having them at all) is using only positional arguments. In most cases, this is all that is needed.

The syntax is such that first the [Arguments] setting is given and then argument names are defined in the subsequent cells. Each argument is in its own cell, using the same syntax as with variables. The keyword must be used with as many arguments as there are argument names in its signature. The actual argument names do not matter to the framework, but from users' perspective they should be as descriptive as possible. It is recommended to use lower-case letters in variable names, either as ${my_arg}, ${my arg} or ${myArg}.

*** Keywords ***
One Argument
    [Arguments]    ${arg_name}
    Log    Got argument ${arg_name}

Three Arguments
    [Arguments]    ${arg1}    ${arg2}    ${arg3}
    Log    1st argument: ${arg1}
    Log    2nd argument: ${arg2}
    Log    3rd argument: ${arg3}

Default values with user keywords

When creating user keywords, positional arguments are sufficient in most situations. It is, however, sometimes useful that keywords have default values for some or all of their arguments. Also user keywords support default values, and the needed new syntax does not add very much to the already discussed basic syntax.

In short, default values are added to arguments, so that first there is the equals sign (=) and then the value, for example ${arg}=default. There can be many arguments with defaults, but they all must be given after the normal positional arguments. The default value can contain a variable created on test, suite or global scope, but local variables of the keyword executor cannot be used. Starting from Robot Framework 3.0, default value can also be defined based on earlier arguments accepted by the keyword.

Note

The syntax for default values is space sensitive. Spaces before the = sign are not allowed, and possible spaces after it are considered part of the default value itself.

*** Keywords ***
One Argument With Default Value
    [Arguments]    ${arg}=default value
    [Documentation]    This keyword takes 0-1 arguments
    Log    Got argument ${arg}

Two Arguments With Defaults
    [Arguments]    ${arg1}=default 1    ${arg2}=${VARIABLE}
    [Documentation]    This keyword takes 0-2 arguments
    Log    1st argument ${arg1}
    Log    2nd argument ${arg2}

One Required And One With Default
    [Arguments]    ${required}    ${optional}=default
    [Documentation]    This keyword takes 1-2 arguments
    Log    Required: ${required}
    Log    Optional: ${optional}

 Default Based On Earlier Argument
    [Arguments]    ${a}    ${b}=${a}    ${c}=${a} and ${b}
    Should Be Equal    ${a}    ${b}
    Should Be Equal    ${c}    ${a} and ${b}

When a keyword accepts several arguments with default values and only some of them needs to be overridden, it is often handy to use the named arguments syntax. When this syntax is used with user keywords, the arguments are specified without the ${} decoration. For example, the second keyword above could be used like below and ${arg1} would still get its default value.

*** Test Cases ***
Example
    Two Arguments With Defaults    arg2=new value

As all Pythonistas must have already noticed, the syntax for specifying default arguments is heavily inspired by Python syntax for function default values.

Varargs with user keywords

Sometimes even default values are not enough and there is a need for a keyword accepting variable number of arguments. User keywords support also this feature. All that is needed is having list variable such as @{varargs} after possible positional arguments in the keyword signature. This syntax can be combined with the previously described default values, and at the end the list variable gets all the leftover arguments that do not match other arguments. The list variable can thus have any number of items, even zero.

*** Keywords ***
Any Number Of Arguments
    [Arguments]    @{varargs}
    Log Many    @{varargs}

One Or More Arguments
    [Arguments]    ${required}    @{rest}
    Log Many    ${required}    @{rest}

Required, Default, Varargs
    [Arguments]    ${req}    ${opt}=42    @{others}
    Log    Required: ${req}
    Log    Optional: ${opt}
    Log    Others:
    : FOR    ${item}    IN    @{others}
    \    Log    ${item}

Notice that if the last keyword above is used with more than one argument, the second argument ${opt} always gets the given value instead of the default value. This happens even if the given value is empty. The last example also illustrates how a variable number of arguments accepted by a user keyword can be used in a for loop. This combination of two rather advanced functions can sometimes be very useful.

The keywords in the examples above could be used, for example, like this:

*** Test Cases ***
Varargs with user keywords
    Any Number Of Arguments
    Any Number Of Arguments    arg
    Any Number Of Arguments    arg1    arg2    arg3   arg4
    One Or More Arguments    required
    One Or More Arguments    arg1    arg2    arg3   arg4
    Required, Default, Varargs    required
    Required, Default, Varargs    required    optional
    Required, Default, Varargs    arg1    arg2    arg3    arg4    arg5

Again, Pythonistas probably notice that the variable number of arguments syntax is very close to the one in Python.

Kwargs with user keywords

User keywords can also accept free keyword arguments by having a dictionary variable like &{kwargs} as the last argument after possible positional arguments and varargs. When the keyword is called, this variable will get all named arguments that do not match any positional argument in the keyword signature.

*** Keywords ***
Kwargs Only
    [Arguments]    &{kwargs}
    Log    ${kwargs}
    Log Many    @{kwargs}

Positional And Kwargs
    [Arguments]    ${required}    &{extra}
    Log Many    ${required}    @{extra}

Run Program
    [Arguments]    @{varargs}    &{kwargs}
    Run Process    program.py    @{varargs}    &{kwargs}

The last example above shows how to create a wrapper keyword that accepts any positional or named argument and passes them forward. See kwargs examples for a full example with same keyword.

Also kwargs support with user keywords works very similarly as kwargs work in Python. In the signature and also when passing arguments forward, &{kwargs} is pretty much the same as Python's **kwargs.

2.6.5   Embedding arguments into keyword name

Robot Framework has also another approach to pass arguments to user keywords than specifying them in cells after the keyword name as explained in the previous section. This method is based on embedding the arguments directly into the keyword name, and its main benefit is making it easier to use real and clear sentences as keywords.

Basic syntax

It has always been possible to use keywords like Select dog from list and Selects cat from list, but all such keywords must have been implemented separately. The idea of embedding arguments into the keyword name is that all you need is a keyword with name like Select ${animal} from list.

*** Keywords ***
Select ${animal} from list
    Open Page    Pet Selection
    Select Item From List    animal_list    ${animal}

Keywords using embedded arguments cannot take any "normal" arguments (specified with [Arguments] setting) but otherwise they are created just like other user keywords. The arguments used in the name will naturally be available inside the keyword and they have different value depending on how the keyword is called. For example, ${animal} in the previous has value dog if the keyword is used like Select dog from list. Obviously it is not mandatory to use all these arguments inside the keyword, and they can thus be used as wildcards.

These kind of keywords are also used the same way as other keywords except that spaces and underscores are not ignored in their names. They are, however, case-insensitive like other keywords. For example, the keyword in the example above could be used like select x from list, but not like Select x fromlist.

Embedded arguments do not support default values or variable number of arguments like normal arguments do. Using variables when calling these keywords is possible but that can reduce readability. Notice also that embedded arguments only work with user keywords.

Embedded arguments matching too much

One tricky part in using embedded arguments is making sure that the values used when calling the keyword match the correct arguments. This is a problem especially if there are multiple arguments and characters separating them may also appear in the given values. For example, keyword Select ${city} ${team} does not work correctly if used with city containing too parts like Select Los Angeles Lakers.

An easy solution to this problem is quoting the arguments (e.g. Select "${city}" "${team}") and using the keyword in quoted format (e.g. Select "Los Angeles" "Lakers"). This approach is not enough to resolve all this kind of conflicts, though, but it is still highly recommended because it makes arguments stand out from rest of the keyword. A more powerful but also more complicated solution, using custom regular expressions when defining variables, is explained in the next section. Finally, if things get complicated, it might be a better idea to use normal positional arguments instead.

The problem of arguments matching too much occurs often when creating keywords that ignore given/when/then/and/but prefixes . For example, ${name} goes home matches Given Janne goes home so that ${name} gets value Given Janne. Quotes around the argument, like in "${name}" goes home, resolve this problem easily.

Using custom regular expressions

When keywords with embedded arguments are called, the values are matched internally using regular expressions (regexps for short). The default logic goes so that every argument in the name is replaced with a pattern .*? that basically matches any string. This logic works fairly well normally, but as just discussed above, sometimes keywords match more than intended. Quoting or otherwise separating arguments from the other text can help but, for example, the test below fails because keyword I execute "ls" with "-lh" matches both of the defined keywords.

*** Test Cases ***
Example
    I execute "ls"
    I execute "ls" with "-lh"

*** Keywords ***
I execute "${cmd}"
    Run Process    ${cmd}    shell=True

I execute "${cmd}" with "${opts}"
    Run Process    ${cmd} ${opts}    shell=True

A solution to this problem is using a custom regular expression that makes sure that the keyword matches only what it should in that particular context. To be able to use this feature, and to fully understand the examples in this section, you need to understand at least the basics of the regular expression syntax.

A custom embedded argument regular expression is defined after the base name of the argument so that the argument and the regexp are separated with a colon. For example, an argument that should match only numbers can be defined like ${arg:\d+}. Using custom regular expressions is illustrated by the examples below.

*** Test Cases ***
Example
    I execute "ls"
    I execute "ls" with "-lh"
    I type 1 + 2
    I type 53 - 11
    Today is 2011-06-27

*** Keywords ***
I execute "${cmd:[^"]+}"
    Run Process    ${cmd}    shell=True

I execute "${cmd}" with "${opts}"
    Run Process    ${cmd} ${opts}    shell=True

I type ${a:\d+} ${operator:[+-]} ${b:\d+}
    Calculate    ${a}    ${operator}    ${b}

Today is ${date:\d{4\}-\d{2\}-\d{2\}}
    Log    ${date}

In the above example keyword I execute "ls" with "-lh" matches only I execute "${cmd}" with "${opts}". That is guaranteed because the custom regular expression [^"]+ in I execute "${cmd:[^"]}" means that a matching argument cannot contain any quotes. In this case there is no need to add custom regexps to the other I execute variant.

Tip

If you quote arguments, using regular expression [^"]+ guarantees that the argument matches only until the first closing quote.

Supported regular expression syntax

Being implemented with Python, Robot Framework naturally uses Python's re module that has pretty standard regular expressions syntax. This syntax is otherwise fully supported with embedded arguments, but regexp extensions in format (?...) cannot be used. Notice also that matching embedded arguments is done case-insensitively. If the regular expression syntax is invalid, creating the keyword fails with an error visible in test execution errors.

Escaping special characters

There are some special characters that need to be escaped when used in the custom embedded arguments regexp. First of all, possible closing curly braces (}) in the pattern need to be escaped with a single backslash (\}) because otherwise the argument would end already there. This is illustrated in the previous example with keyword Today is ${date:\d{4\}-\d{2\}-\d{2\}}.

Backslash (\) is a special character in Python regular expression syntax and thus needs to be escaped if you want to have a literal backslash character. The safest escape sequence in this case is four backslashes (\\\\) but, depending on the next character, also two backslashes may be enough.

Notice also that keyword names and possible embedded arguments in them should not be escaped using the normal test data escaping rules. This means that, for example, backslashes in expressions like ${name:\w+} should not be escaped.

Using variables with custom embedded argument regular expressions

Whenever custom embedded argument regular expressions are used, Robot Framework automatically enhances the specified regexps so that they match variables in addition to the text matching the pattern. This means that it is always possible to use variables with keywords having embedded arguments. For example, the following test case would pass using the keywords from the earlier example.

*** Variables ***
${DATE}    2011-06-27

*** Test Cases ***
Example
    I type ${1} + ${2}
    Today is ${DATE}

A drawback of variables automatically matching custom regular expressions is that it is possible that the value the keyword gets does not actually match the specified regexp. For example, variable ${DATE} in the above example could contain any value and Today is ${DATE} would still match the same keyword.

Behavior-driven development example

The biggest benefit of having arguments as part of the keyword name is that it makes it easier to use higher-level sentence-like keywords when writing test cases in behavior-driven style. The example below illustrates this. Notice also that prefixes Given, When and Then are left out of the keyword definitions.

*** Test Cases ***
Add two numbers
    Given I have Calculator open
    When I add 2 and 40
    Then result should be 42

Add negative numbers
    Given I have Calculator open
    When I add 1 and -2
    Then result should be -1

*** Keywords ***
I have ${program} open
    Start Program    ${program}

I add ${number 1} and ${number 2}
    Input Number    ${number 1}
    Push Button     +
    Input Number    ${number 2}
    Push Button     =

Result should be ${expected}
    ${result} =    Get Result
    Should Be Equal    ${result}    ${expected}

Note

Embedded arguments feature in Robot Framework is inspired by how step definitions are created in a popular BDD tool Cucumber.

2.6.6   User keyword return values

Similarly as library keywords, also user keywords can return values. Typically return values are defined with the [Return] setting, but it is also possible to use BuiltIn keywords Return From Keyword and Return From Keyword If. Regardless how values are returned, they can be assigned to variables in test cases and in other user keywords.

Using [Return] setting

The most common case is that a user keyword returns one value and it is assigned to a scalar variable. When using the [Return] setting, this is done by having the return value in the next cell after the setting.

User keywords can also return several values, which can then be assigned into several scalar variables at once, to a list variable, or to scalar variables and a list variable. Several values can be returned simply by specifying those values in different cells after the [Return] setting.

*** Test Cases ***
One Return Value
    ${ret} =    Return One Value    argument
    Some Keyword    ${ret}

Multiple Values
    ${a}    ${b}    ${c} =    Return Three Values
    @{list} =    Return Three Values
    ${scalar}    @{rest} =    Return Three Values

*** Keywords ***
Return One Value
    [Arguments]    ${arg}
    Do Something    ${arg}
    ${value} =    Get Some Value
    [Return]    ${value}

Return Three Values
    [Return]    foo    bar    zap

Using special keywords to return

BuiltIn keywords Return From Keyword and Return From Keyword If allow returning from a user keyword conditionally in the middle of the keyword. Both of them also accept optional return values that are handled exactly like with the [Return] setting discussed above.

The first example below is functionally identical to the previous [Return] setting example. The second, and more advanced, example demonstrates returning conditionally inside a for loop.

*** Test Cases ***
One Return Value
    ${ret} =    Return One Value  argument
    Some Keyword    ${ret}

Advanced
    @{list} =    Create List    foo    baz
    ${index} =    Find Index    baz    @{list}
    Should Be Equal    ${index}    ${1}
    ${index} =    Find Index    non existing    @{list}
    Should Be Equal    ${index}    ${-1}

*** Keywords ***
Return One Value
    [Arguments]    ${arg}
    Do Something    ${arg}
    ${value} =    Get Some Value
    Return From Keyword    ${value}
    Fail    This is not executed

Find Index
    [Arguments]    ${element}    @{items}
    ${index} =    Set Variable    ${0}
    :FOR    ${item}    IN    @{items}
    \    Return From Keyword If    '${item}' == '${element}'    ${index}
    \    ${index} =    Set Variable    ${index + 1}
    Return From Keyword    ${-1}    # Could also use [Return]

Note

Both Return From Keyword and Return From Keyword If are available since Robot Framework 2.8.

2.6.7   User keyword teardown

User keywords may have a teardown defined using [Teardown] setting.

Keyword teardown works much in the same way as a test case teardown. Most importantly, the teardown is always a single keyword, although it can be another user keyword, and it gets executed also when the user keyword fails. In addition, all steps of the teardown are executed even if one of them fails. However, a failure in keyword teardown will fail the test case and subsequent steps in the test are not run. The name of the keyword to be executed as a teardown can also be a variable.

*** Keywords ***
With Teardown
    Do Something
    [Teardown]    Log    keyword teardown

Using variables
    [Documentation]    Teardown given as variable
    Do Something
    [Teardown]    ${TEARDOWN}

2.7   Resource and variable files

User keywords and variables in test case files and test suite initialization files can only be used in files where they are created, but resource files provide a mechanism for sharing them. Since the resource file structure is very close to test case files, it is easy to create them.

Variable files provide a powerful mechanism for creating and sharing variables. For example, they allow values other than strings and enable creating variables dynamically. Their flexibility comes from the fact that they are created using Python code, which also makes them somewhat more complicated than Variable tables.

2.7.1   Resource files

Taking resource files into use

Resource files are imported using the Resource setting in the Settings table. The path to the resource file is given in the cell after the setting name.

If the path is given in an absolute format, it is used directly. In other cases, the resource file is first searched relatively to the directory where the importing file is located. If the file is not found there, it is then searched from the directories in Python's module search path. The path can contain variables, and it is recommended to use them to make paths system-independent (for example, ${RESOURCES}/login_resources.html or ${RESOURCE_PATH}). Additionally, slashes (/) in the path are automatically changed to backslashes (\) on Windows.

*** Settings ***
Resource    myresources.html
Resource    ../data/resources.html
Resource    ${RESOURCES}/common.tsv

The user keywords and variables defined in a resource file are available in the file that takes that resource file into use. Similarly available are also all keywords and variables from the libraries, resource files and variable files imported by the said resource file.

Resource file structure

The higher-level structure of resource files is the same as that of test case files otherwise, but, of course, they cannot contain Test Case tables. Additionally, the Setting table in resource files can contain only import settings (Library, Resource, Variables) and Documentation. The Variable table and Keyword table are used exactly the same way as in test case files.

If several resource files have a user keyword with the same name, they must be used so that the keyword name is prefixed with the resource file name without the extension (for example, myresources.Some Keyword and common.Some Keyword). Moreover, if several resource files contain the same variable, the one that is imported first is taken into use.

Documenting resource files

Keywords created in a resource file can be documented using [Documentation] setting. The resource file itself can have Documentation in the Setting table similarly as test suites.

Both Libdoc and RIDE use these documentations, and they are naturally available for anyone opening resource files. The first line of the documentation of a keyword is logged when it is run, but otherwise resource file documentations are ignored during the test execution.

Example resource file

*** Settings ***
Documentation     An example resource file
Library           Selenium2Library
Resource          ${RESOURCES}/common.robot

*** Variables ***
${HOST}           localhost:7272
${LOGIN URL}      http://${HOST}/
${WELCOME URL}    http://${HOST}/welcome.html
${BROWSER}        Firefox

*** Keywords ***
Open Login Page
    [Documentation]    Opens browser to login page
    Open Browser    ${LOGIN URL}    ${BROWSER}
    Title Should Be    Login Page

Input Name
    [Arguments]    ${name}
    Input Text    username_field    ${name}

Input Password
    [Arguments]    ${password}
    Input Text    password_field    ${password}

2.7.2   Variable files

Variable files contain variables that can be used in the test data. Variables can also be created using variable tables or set from the command line, but variable files allow creating them dynamically and their variables can contain any objects.

Variable files are typically implemented as Python modules and there are two different approaches for creating variables:

Creating variables directly
Variables are specified as module attributes. In simple cases, the syntax is so simple that no real programming is needed. For example, MY_VAR = 'my value' creates a variable ${MY_VAR} with the specified text as the value.
Getting variables from a special function
Variable files can have a special get_variables (or getVariables) method that returns variables as a mapping. Because the method can take arguments this approach is very flexible.

Alternatively variable files can be implemented as Python or Java classes that the framework will instantiate. Also in this case it is possible to create variables as attributes or get them from a special method.

Taking variable files into use

Setting table

All test data files can import variables using the Variables setting in the Setting table, in the same way as resource files are imported using the Resource setting. Similarly to resource files, the path to the imported variable file is considered relative to the directory where the importing file is, and if not found, it is searched from the directories in the module search path. The path can also contain variables, and slashes are converted to backslashes on Windows. If an argument file takes arguments, they are specified in the cells after the path and also they can contain variables.

*** Settings ***
Variables    myvariables.py
Variables    ../data/variables.py
Variables    ${RESOURCES}/common.py
Variables    taking_arguments.py    arg1    ${ARG2}

All variables from a variable file are available in the test data file that imports it. If several variable files are imported and they contain a variable with the same name, the one in the earliest imported file is taken into use. Additionally, variables created in Variable tables and set from the command line override variables from variable files.

Command line

Another way to take variable files into use is using the command line option --variablefile. Variable files are referenced using a path to them, and possible arguments are joined to the path with a colon (:):

--variablefile myvariables.py
--variablefile path/variables.py
--variablefile /absolute/path/common.py
--variablefile taking_arguments.py:arg1:arg2

Starting from Robot Framework 2.8.2, variable files taken into use from the command line are also searched from the module search path similarly as variable files imported in the Setting table.

If a variable file is given as an absolute Windows path, the colon after the drive letter is not considered a separator:

--variablefile C:\path\variables.py

Starting from Robot Framework 2.8.7, it is also possible to use a semicolon (;) as an argument separator. This is useful if variable file arguments themselves contain colons, but requires surrounding the whole value with quotes on UNIX-like operating systems:

--variablefile "myvariables.py;argument:with:colons"
--variablefile C:\path\variables.py;D:\data.xls

Variables in these variable files are globally available in all test data files, similarly as individual variables set with the --variable option. If both --variablefile and --variable options are used and there are variables with same names, those that are set individually with --variable option take precedence.

Creating variables directly

Basic syntax

When variable files are taken into use, they are imported as Python modules and all their global attributes that do not start with an underscore (_) are considered to be variables. Because variable names are case-insensitive, both lower- and upper-case names are possible, but in general, capital letters are recommended for global variables and attributes.

VARIABLE = "An example string"
ANOTHER_VARIABLE = "This is pretty easy!"
INTEGER = 42
STRINGS = ["one", "two", "kolme", "four"]
NUMBERS = [1, INTEGER, 3.14]
MAPPING = {"one": 1, "two": 2, "three": 3}

In the example above, variables ${VARIABLE}, ${ANOTHER VARIABLE}, and so on, are created. The first two variables are strings, the third one is an integer, then there are two lists, and the final value is a dictionary. All these variables can be used as a scalar variable, lists and the dictionary also a list variable like @{STRINGS} (in the dictionary's case that variable would only contain keys), and the dictionary also as a dictionary variable like &{MAPPING}.

To make creating a list variable or a dictionary variable more explicit, it is possible to prefix the variable name with LIST__ or DICT__, respectively:

from collections import OrderedDict

LIST__ANIMALS = ["cat", "dog"]
DICT__FINNISH = OrderedDict([("cat", "kissa"), ("dog", "koira")])

These prefixes will not be part of the final variable name, but they cause Robot Framework to validate that the value actually is list-like or dictionary-like. With dictionaries the actual stored value is also turned into a special dictionary that is used also when creating dictionary variables in the Variable table. Values of these dictionaries are accessible as attributes like ${FINNISH.cat}. These dictionaries are also ordered, but preserving the source order requires also the original dictionary to be ordered.

The variables in both the examples above could be created also using the Variable table below.

*** Variables ***
${VARIABLE}            An example string
${ANOTHER VARIABLE}    This is pretty easy!
${INTEGER}             ${42}
@{STRINGS}             one          two           kolme         four
@{NUMBERS}             ${1}         ${INTEGER}    ${3.14}
&{MAPPING}             one=${1}     two=${2}      three=${3}
@{ANIMALS}             cat          dog
&{FINNISH}             cat=kissa    dog=koira

Note

Variables are not replaced in strings got from variable files. For example, VAR = "an ${example}" would create variable ${VAR} with a literal string value an ${example} regardless would variable ${example} exist or not.

Using objects as values

Variables in variable files are not limited to having only strings or other base types as values like variable tables. Instead, their variables can contain any objects. In the example below, the variable ${MAPPING} contains a Java Hashtable with two values (this example works only when running tests on Jython).

from java.util import Hashtable

MAPPING = Hashtable()
MAPPING.put("one", 1)
MAPPING.put("two", 2)

The second example creates ${MAPPING} as a Python dictionary and also has two variables created from a custom object implemented in the same file.

MAPPING = {'one': 1, 'two': 2}

class MyObject:
    def __init__(self, name):
        self.name = name

OBJ1 = MyObject('John')
OBJ2 = MyObject('Jane')
Creating variables dynamically

Because variable files are created using a real programming language, they can have dynamic logic for setting variables.

import os
import random
import time

USER = os.getlogin()                # current login name
RANDOM_INT = random.randint(0, 10)  # random integer in range [0,10]
CURRENT_TIME = time.asctime()       # timestamp like 'Thu Apr  6 12:45:21 2006'
if time.localtime()[3] > 12:
    AFTERNOON = True
else:
    AFTERNOON = False

The example above uses standard Python libraries to set different variables, but you can use your own code to construct the values. The example below illustrates the concept, but similarly, your code could read the data from a database, from an external file or even ask it from the user.

import math

def get_area(diameter):
    radius = diameter / 2
    area = math.pi * radius * radius
    return area

AREA1 = get_area(1)
AREA2 = get_area(2)
Selecting which variables to include

When Robot Framework processes variable files, all their attributes that do not start with an underscore are expected to be variables. This means that even functions or classes created in the variable file or imported from elsewhere are considered variables. For example, the last example would contain the variables ${math} and ${get_area} in addition to ${AREA1} and ${AREA2}.

Normally the extra variables do not cause problems, but they could override some other variables and cause hard-to-debug errors. One possibility to ignore other attributes is prefixing them with an underscore:

import math as _math

def _get_area(diameter):
    radius = diameter / 2.0
    area = _math.pi * radius * radius
    return area

AREA1 = _get_area(1)
AREA2 = _get_area(2)

If there is a large number of other attributes, instead of prefixing them all, it is often easier to use a special attribute __all__ and give it a list of attribute names to be processed as variables.

import math

__all__ = ['AREA1', 'AREA2']

def get_area(diameter):
    radius = diameter / 2.0
    area = math.pi * radius * radius
    return area

AREA1 = get_area(1)
AREA2 = get_area(2)

Note

The __all__ attribute is also, and originally, used by Python to decide which attributes to import when using the syntax from modulename import *.

Getting variables from a special function

An alternative approach for getting variables is having a special get_variables function (also camelCase syntax getVariables is possible) in a variable file. If such a function exists, Robot Framework calls it and expects to receive variables as a Python dictionary or a Java Map with variable names as keys and variable values as values. Created variables can be used as scalars, lists, and dictionaries exactly like when creating variables directly, and it is possible to use LIST__ and DICT__ prefixes to make creating list and dictionary variables more explicit. The example below is functionally identical to the first creating variables directly example.

def get_variables():
    variables = {"VARIABLE ": "An example string",
                 "ANOTHER VARIABLE": "This is pretty easy!",
                 "INTEGER": 42,
                 "STRINGS": ["one", "two", "kolme", "four"],
                 "NUMBERS": [1, 42, 3.14],
                 "MAPPING": {"one": 1, "two": 2, "three": 3}}
    return variables

get_variables can also take arguments, which facilitates changing what variables actually are created. Arguments to the function are set just as any other arguments for a Python function. When taking variable files into use in the test data, arguments are specified in cells after the path to the variable file, and in the command line they are separated from the path with a colon or a semicolon.

The dummy example below shows how to use arguments with variable files. In a more realistic example, the argument could be a path to an external text file or database where to read variables from.

variables1 = {'scalar': 'Scalar variable',
              'LIST__list': ['List','variable']}
variables2 = {'scalar' : 'Some other value',
              'LIST__list': ['Some','other','value'],
              'extra': 'variables1 does not have this at all'}

def get_variables(arg):
    if arg == 'one':
        return variables1
    else:
        return variables2

Implementing variable file as Python or Java class

Starting from Robot Framework 2.7, it is possible to implement variables files as Python or Java classes.

Implementation

Because variable files are always imported using a file system path, creating them as classes has some restrictions:

  • Python classes must have the same name as the module they are located.
  • Java classes must live in the default package.
  • Paths to Java classes must end with either .java or .class. The class file must exists in both cases.

Regardless the implementation language, the framework will create an instance of the class using no arguments and variables will be gotten from the instance. Similarly as with modules, variables can be defined as attributes directly in the instance or gotten from a special get_variables (or getVariables) method.

When variables are defined directly in an instance, all attributes containing callable values are ignored to avoid creating variables from possible methods the instance has. If you would actually need callable variables, you need to use other approaches to create variable files.

Examples

The first examples create variables from attributes using both Python and Java. Both of them create variables ${VARIABLE} and @{LIST} from class attributes and ${ANOTHER VARIABLE} from an instance attribute.

class StaticPythonExample(object):
    variable = 'value'
    LIST__list = [1, 2, 3]
    _not_variable = 'starts with an underscore'

    def __init__(self):
        self.another_variable = 'another value'
public class StaticJavaExample {
    public static String variable = "value";
    public static String[] LIST__list = {1, 2, 3};
    private String notVariable = "is private";
    public String anotherVariable;

    public StaticJavaExample() {
        anotherVariable = "another value";
    }
}

The second examples utilizes dynamic approach for getting variables. Both of them create only one variable ${DYNAMIC VARIABLE}.

class DynamicPythonExample(object):

    def get_variables(self, *args):
        return {'dynamic variable': ' '.join(args)}
import java.util.Map;
import java.util.HashMap;

public class DynamicJavaExample {

    public Map<String, String> getVariables(String arg1, String arg2) {
        HashMap<String, String> variables = new HashMap<String, String>();
        variables.put("dynamic variable", arg1 + " " + arg2);
        return variables;
    }
}

Variable file as YAML

Variable files can also be implemented as YAML files. YAML is a data serialization language with a simple and human-friendly syntax. The following example demonstrates a simple YAML file:

string:   Hello, world!
integer:  42
list:
  - one
  - two
dict:
  one: yksi
  two: kaksi
  with spaces: kolme

Note

Using YAML files with Robot Framework requires PyYAML module to be installed. If you have pip installed, you can install it simply by running pip install pyyaml.

YAML support is new in Robot Framework 2.9. Starting from version 2.9.2, the standalone JAR distribution has PyYAML included by default.

YAML variable files can be used exactly like normal variable files from the command line using --variablefile option, in the settings table using Variables setting, and dynamically using the Import Variables keyword. The only thing to remember is that paths to YAML files must always end with .yaml extension.

If the above YAML file is imported, it will create exactly the same variables as the following variable table:

*** Variables ***
${STRING}     Hello, world!
${INTEGER}    ${42}
@{LIST}       one         two
&{DICT}       one=yksi    two=kaksi

YAML files used as variable files must always be mappings in the top level. As the above example demonstrates, keys and values in the mapping become variable names and values, respectively. Variable values can be any data types supported by YAML syntax. If names or values contain non-ASCII characters, YAML variables files must be UTF-8 encoded.

Mappings used as values are automatically converted to special dictionaries that are used also when creating dictionary variables in the variable table. Most importantly, values of these dictionaries are accessible as attributes like ${DICT.one}, assuming their names are valid as Python attribute names. If the name contains spaces or is otherwise not a valid attribute name, it is always possible to access dictionary values using syntax like &{DICT}[with spaces] syntax. The created dictionaries are also ordered, but unfortunately the original source order of in the YAML file is not preserved.

2.8   Advanced features

2.8.1   Handling keywords with same names

Keywords that are used with Robot Framework are either library keywords or user keywords. The former come from standard libraries or external libraries, and the latter are either created in the same file where they are used or then imported from resource files. When many keywords are in use, it is quite common that some of them have the same name, and this section describes how to handle possible conflicts in these situations.

Keyword scopes

When only a keyword name is used and there are several keywords with that name, Robot Framework attempts to determine which keyword has the highest priority based on its scope. The keyword's scope is determined on the basis of how the keyword in question is created:

  1. Created as a user keyword in the same file where it is used. These keywords have the highest priority and they are always used, even if there are other keywords with the same name elsewhere.
  2. Created in a resource file and imported either directly or indirectly from another resource file. This is the second-highest priority.
  3. Created in an external test library. These keywords are used, if there are no user keywords with the same name. However, if there is a keyword with the same name in the standard library, a warning is displayed.
  4. Created in a standard library. These keywords have the lowest priority.

Specifying a keyword explicitly

Scopes alone are not a sufficient solution, because there can be keywords with the same name in several libraries or resources, and thus, they provide a mechanism to use only the keyword of the highest priority. In such cases, it is possible to use the full name of the keyword, where the keyword name is prefixed with the name of the resource or library and a dot is a delimiter.

With library keywords, the long format means only using the format LibraryName.Keyword Name. For example, the keyword Run from the OperatingSystem library could be used as OperatingSystem.Run, even if there was another Run keyword somewhere else. If the library is in a module or package, the full module or package name must be used (for example, com.company.Library.Some Keyword). If a custom name is given to a library using the WITH NAME syntax, the specified name must be used also in the full keyword name.

Resource files are specified in the full keyword name, similarly as library names. The name of the resource is derived from the basename of the resource file without the file extension. For example, the keyword Example in a resource file myresources.html can be used as myresources.Example. Note that this syntax does not work, if several resource files have the same basename. In such cases, either the files or the keywords must be renamed. The full name of the keyword is case-, space- and underscore-insensitive, similarly as normal keyword names.

Specifying explicit priority between libraries and resources

If there are multiple conflicts between keywords, specifying all the keywords in the long format can be quite a lot work. Using the long format also makes it impossible to create dynamic test cases or user keywords that work differently depending on which libraries or resources are available. A solution to both of these problems is specifying the keyword priorities explicitly using the keyword Set Library Search Order from the BuiltIn library.

Note

Although the keyword has the word library in its name, it works also with resource files. As discussed above, keywords in resources always have higher priority than keywords in libraries, though.

The Set Library Search Order accepts an ordered list or libraries and resources as arguments. When a keyword name in the test data matches multiple keywords, the first library or resource containing the keyword is selected and that keyword implementation used. If the keyword is not found from any of the specified libraries or resources, execution fails for conflict the same way as when the search order is not set.

For more information and examples, see the documentation of the keyword.

2.8.2   Timeouts

Keywords may be problematic in situations where they take exceptionally long to execute or just hang endlessly. Robot Framework allows you to set timeouts both for test cases and user keywords, and if a test or keyword is not finished within the specified time, the keyword that is currently being executed is forcefully stopped. Stopping keywords in this manner may leave the library or system under test to an unstable state, and timeouts are recommended only when there is no safer option available. In general, libraries should be implemented so that keywords cannot hang or that they have their own timeout mechanism, if necessary.

Test case timeout

The test case timeout can be set either by using the Test Timeout setting in the Setting table or the [Timeout] setting in the Test Case table. Test Timeout in the Setting table defines a default test timeout value for all the test cases in the test suite, whereas [Timeout] in the Test Case table applies a timeout to an individual test case and overrides the possible default value.

Using an empty [Timeout] means that the test has no timeout even when Test Timeout is used. It is also possible to use value NONE for this purpose.

Regardless of where the test timeout is defined, the first cell after the setting name contains the duration of the timeout. The duration must be given in Robot Framework's time format, that is, either directly in seconds or in a format like 1 minute 30 seconds. It must be noted that there is always some overhead by the framework, and timeouts shorter than one second are thus not recommended.

The default error message displayed when a test timeout occurs is Test timeout <time> exceeded. It is also possible to use custom error messages, and these messages are written into the cells after the timeout duration. The message can be split into multiple cells, similarly as documentations. Both the timeout value and the error message may contain variables.

If there is a timeout, the keyword running is stopped at the expiration of the timeout and the test case fails. However, keywords executed as test teardown are not interrupted if a test timeout occurs, because they are normally engaged in important clean-up activities. If necessary, it is possible to interrupt also these keywords with user keyword timeouts.

*** Settings ***
Test Timeout    2 minutes

*** Test Cases ***
Default Timeout
    [Documentation]    Timeout from the Setting table is used
    Some Keyword    argument

Override
    [Documentation]    Override default, use 10 seconds timeout
    [Timeout]    10
    Some Keyword    argument

Custom Message
    [Documentation]    Override default and use custom message
    [Timeout]    1min 10s    This is my custom error
    Some Keyword    argument

Variables
    [Documentation]    It is possible to use variables too
    [Timeout]    ${TIMEOUT}
    Some Keyword    argument

No Timeout
    [Documentation]    Empty timeout means no timeout even when Test Timeout has been used
    [Timeout]
    Some Keyword    argument

No Timeout 2
    [Documentation]    Disabling timeout with NONE works too and is more explicit.
    [Timeout]    NONE
    Some Keyword    argument

User keyword timeout

A timeout can be set for a user keyword using the [Timeout] setting in the Keyword table. The syntax for setting it, including how timeout values and possible custom messages are given, is identical to the syntax used with test case timeouts. If no custom message is provided, the default error message Keyword timeout <time> exceeded is used if a timeout occurs.

Starting from Robot Framework 3.0, timeout can be specified as a variable so that the variable value is given as an argument. Using global variables works already with previous versions.

*** Keywords ***
Timed Keyword
    [Documentation]    Set only the timeout value and not the custom message.
    [Timeout]    1 minute 42 seconds
    Do Something
    Do Something Else

Wrapper With Timeout
    [Arguments]    @{args}
    [Documentation]    This keyword is a wrapper that adds a timeout to another keyword.
    [Timeout]    2 minutes    Original Keyword didn't finish in 2 minutes
    Original Keyword    @{args}

Wrapper With Customizable Timeout
    [Arguments]    ${timeout}    @{args}
    [Documentation]    Same as the above but timeout given as an argument.
    [Timeout]    ${timeout}
    Original Keyword    @{args}

A user keyword timeout is applicable during the execution of that user keyword. If the total time of the whole keyword is longer than the timeout value, the currently executed keyword is stopped. User keyword timeouts are applicable also during a test case teardown, whereas test timeouts are not.

If both the test case and some of its keywords (or several nested keywords) have a timeout, the active timeout is the one with the least time left.

2.8.3   For loops

Repeating same actions several times is quite a common need in test automation. With Robot Framework, test libraries can have any kind of loop constructs, and most of the time loops should be implemented in them. Robot Framework also has its own for loop syntax, which is useful, for example, when there is a need to repeat keywords from different libraries.

For loops can be used with both test cases and user keywords. Except for really simple cases, user keywords are better, because they hide the complexity introduced by for loops. The basic for loop syntax, FOR item IN sequence, is derived from Python, but similar syntax is possible also in shell scripts or Perl.

Normal for loop

In a normal for loop, one variable is assigned from a list of values, one value per iteration. The syntax starts with :FOR, where colon is required to separate the syntax from normal keywords. The next cell contains the loop variable, the subsequent cell must have IN, and the final cells contain values over which to iterate. These values can contain variables, including list variables.

The keywords used in the for loop are on the following rows and they must be indented one cell to the right. When using the plain text format, the indented cells must be escaped with a backslash, but with other data formats the cells can be just left empty. The for loop ends when the indentation returns back to normal or the table ends.

*** Test Cases ***
Example 1
    :FOR    ${animal}    IN    cat    dog
    \    Log    ${animal}
    \    Log    2nd keyword
    Log    Outside loop

Example 2
    :FOR    ${var}    IN    one    two
    ...     ${3}    four    ${last}
    \    Log    ${var}

The for loop in Example 1 above is executed twice, so that first the loop variable ${animal} has the value cat and then dog. The loop consists of two Log keywords. In the second example, loop values are split into two rows and the loop is run altogether five times.

It is often convenient to use for loops with list variables. This is illustrated by the example below, where @{ELEMENTS} contains an arbitrarily long list of elements and keyword Start Element is used with all of them one by one.

*** Test Cases ***
Example
    :FOR    ${element}    IN    @{ELEMENTS}
    \    Start Element  ${element}

Nested for loops

Having nested for loops is not supported directly, but it is possible to use a user keyword inside a for loop and have another for loop there.

*** Keywords ***
Handle Table
    [Arguments]    @{table}
    :FOR    ${row}    IN    @{table}
    \    Handle Row    @{row}

Handle Row
    [Arguments]    @{row}
    :FOR    ${cell}    IN    @{row}
    \    Handle Cell    ${cell}

Using several loop variables

It is also possible to use several loop variables. The syntax is the same as with the normal for loop, but all loop variables are listed in the cells between :FOR and IN. There can be any number of loop variables, but the number of values must be evenly dividable by the number of variables.

If there are lot of values to iterate, it is often convenient to organize them below the loop variables, as in the first loop of the example below:

*** Test Cases ***
Three loop variables
    :FOR    ${index}    ${english}    ${finnish}    IN
    ...     1           cat           kissa
    ...     2           dog           koira
    ...     3           horse         hevonen
    \    Add to dictionary    ${english}    ${finnish}    ${index}
    :FOR    ${name}    ${id}    IN    @{EMPLOYERS}
    \    Create    ${name}    ${id}

For-in-range loop

Earlier for loops always iterated over a sequence, and this is also the most common use case. Sometimes it is still convenient to have a for loop that is executed a certain number of times, and Robot Framework has a special FOR index IN RANGE limit syntax for this purpose. This syntax is derived from the similar Python idiom.

Similarly as other for loops, the for-in-range loop starts with :FOR and the loop variable is in the next cell. In this format there can be only one loop variable and it contains the current loop index. The next cell must contain IN RANGE and the subsequent cells loop limits.

In the simplest case, only the upper limit of the loop is specified. In this case, loop indexes start from zero and increase by one until, but excluding, the limit. It is also possible to give both the start and end limits. Then indexes start from the start limit, but increase similarly as in the simple case. Finally, it is possible to give also the step value that specifies the increment to use. If the step is negative, it is used as decrement.

It is possible to use simple arithmetics such as addition and subtraction with the range limits. This is especially useful when the limits are specified with variables.

Starting from Robot Framework 2.8.7, it is possible to use float values for lower limit, upper limit and step.

*** Test Cases ***
Only upper limit
    [Documentation]    Loops over values from 0 to 9
    :FOR    ${index}    IN RANGE    10
    \    Log    ${index}

Start and end
    [Documentation]  Loops over values from 1 to 10
    :FOR    ${index}    IN RANGE    1    11
    \    Log    ${index}

Also step given
    [Documentation]  Loops over values 5, 15, and 25
    :FOR    ${index}    IN RANGE    5    26    10
    \    Log    ${index}

Negative step
    [Documentation]  Loops over values 13, 3, and -7
    :FOR    ${index}    IN RANGE    13    -13    -10
    \    Log    ${index}

Arithmetics
    [Documentation]  Arithmetics with variable
    :FOR    ${index}    IN RANGE    ${var}+1
    \    Log    ${index}

Float parameters
    [Documentation]  Loops over values 3.14, 4.34, and 5.54
    :FOR    ${index}    IN RANGE    3.14    6.09    1.2
    \    Log    ${index}

For-in-enumerate loop

Sometimes it is useful to loop over a list and also keep track of your location inside the list. Robot Framework has a special FOR index ... IN ENUMERATE ... syntax for this situation. This syntax is derived from the Python built-in function.

For-in-enumerate loops work just like regular for loops, except the cell after its loop variables must say IN ENUMERATE, and they must have an additional index variable before any other loop-variables. That index variable has a value of 0 for the first iteration, 1 for the second, etc.

For example, the following two test cases do the same thing:

*** Variables ***
@{LIST}         a    b    c

*** Test Cases ***
Manage index manually
    ${index} =    Set Variable    -1
    : FOR    ${item}    IN    @{LIST}
    \    ${index} =    Evaluate    ${index} + 1
    \    My Keyword    ${index}    ${item}

For-in-enumerate
    : FOR    ${index}    ${item}    IN ENUMERATE    @{LIST}
    \    My Keyword    ${index}    ${item}

Just like with regular for loops, you can loop over multiple values per loop iteration as long as the number of values in your list is evenly divisible by the number of loop-variables (excluding the first, index variable).

*** Test Case ***
For-in-enumerate with two values per iteration
    :FOR    ${index}    ${english}    ${finnish}    IN ENUMERATE
    ...    cat      kissa
    ...    dog      koira
    ...    horse    hevonen
    \    Add to dictionary    ${english}    ${finnish}    ${index}

For-in-enumerate loops are new in Robot Framework 2.9.

For-in-zip loop

Some tests build up several related lists, then loop over them together. Robot Framework has a shortcut for this case: FOR ... IN ZIP ..., which is derived from the Python built-in zip function.

This may be easiest to show with an example:

*** Variables ***
@{NUMBERS}      ${1}    ${2}    ${5}
@{NAMES}        one     two     five

*** Test Cases ***
Iterate over two lists manually
    ${length}=    Get Length    ${NUMBERS}
    : FOR    ${idx}    IN RANGE    ${length}
    \    Number Should Be Named    ${NUMBERS}[${idx}]    ${NAMES}[${idx}]

For-in-zip
    : FOR    ${number}    ${name}    IN ZIP    ${NUMBERS}    ${NAMES}
    \    Number Should Be Named    ${number}    ${name}

Similarly as for-in-range and for-in-enumerate loops, for-in-zip loops require the cell after the loop variables to read IN ZIP.

Values used with for-in-zip loops must be lists or list-like objects, and there must be same number of loop variables as lists to loop over. Looping will stop when the shortest list is exhausted.

Note that any lists used with for-in-zip should usually be given as scalar variables like ${list}. A list variable only works if its items themselves are lists.

For-in-zip loops are new in Robot Framework 2.9.

Exiting for loop

Normally for loops are executed until all the loop values have been iterated or a keyword used inside the loop fails. If there is a need to exit the loop earlier, BuiltIn keywords Exit For Loop and Exit For Loop If can be used to accomplish that. They works similarly as break statement in Python, Java, and many other programming languages.

Exit For Loop and Exit For Loop If keywords can be used directly inside a for loop or in a keyword that the loop uses. In both cases test execution continues after the loop. It is an error to use these keywords outside a for loop.

*** Test Cases ***
Exit Example
    ${text} =    Set Variable    ${EMPTY}
    :FOR    ${var}    IN    one    two
    \    Run Keyword If    '${var}' == 'two'    Exit For Loop
    \    ${text} =    Set Variable    ${text}${var}
    Should Be Equal    ${text}    one

In the above example it would be possible to use Exit For Loop If instead of using Exit For Loop with Run Keyword If. For more information about these keywords, including more usage examples, see their documentation in the BuiltIn library.

Note

Exit For Loop If keyword was added in Robot Framework 2.8.

Continuing for loop

In addition to exiting a for loop prematurely, it is also possible to continue to the next iteration of the loop before all keywords have been executed. This can be done using BuiltIn keywords Continue For Loop and Continue For Loop If, that work like continue statement in many programming languages.

Continue For Loop and Continue For Loop If keywords can be used directly inside a for loop or in a keyword that the loop uses. In both cases rest of the keywords in that iteration are skipped and execution continues from the next iteration. If these keywords are used on the last iteration, execution continues after the loop. It is an error to use these keywords outside a for loop.

*** Test Cases ***
Continue Example
    ${text} =    Set Variable    ${EMPTY}
    :FOR    ${var}    IN    one    two    three
    \    Continue For Loop If    '${var}' == 'two'
    \    ${text} =    Set Variable    ${text}${var}
    Should Be Equal    ${text}    onethree

For more information about these keywords, including usage examples, see their documentation in the BuiltIn library.

Note

Both Continue For Loop and Continue For Loop If were added in Robot Framework 2.8.

Removing unnecessary keywords from outputs

For loops with multiple iterations often create lots of output and considerably increase the size of the generated output and log files. Starting from Robot Framework 2.7, it is possible to remove unnecessary keywords from the outputs using --RemoveKeywords FOR command line option.

Repeating single keyword

For loops can be excessive in situations where there is only a need to repeat a single keyword. In these cases it is often easier to use BuiltIn keyword Repeat Keyword. This keyword takes a keyword and how many times to repeat it as arguments. The times to repeat the keyword can have an optional postfix times or x to make the syntax easier to read.

*** Test Cases ***
Example
    Repeat Keyword    5    Some Keyword    arg1    arg2
    Repeat Keyword    42 times    My Keyword
    Repeat Keyword    ${var}    Another Keyword    argument

2.8.4   Conditional execution

In general, it is not recommended to have conditional logic in test cases, or even in user keywords, because it can make them hard to understand and maintain. Instead, this kind of logic should be in test libraries, where it can be implemented using natural programming language constructs. However, some conditional logic can be useful at times, and even though Robot Framework does not have an actual if/else construct, there are several ways to get the same effect.

  • The name of the keyword used as a setup or a teardown of both test cases and test suites can be specified using a variable. This facilitates changing them, for example, from the command line.
  • The BuiltIn keyword Run Keyword takes a keyword to actually execute as an argument, and it can thus be a variable. The value of the variable can, for example, be got dynamically from an earlier keyword or given from the command line.
  • The BuiltIn keywords Run Keyword If and Run Keyword Unless execute a named keyword only if a certain expression is true or false, respectively. They are ideally suited to creating simple if/else constructs. For an example, see the documentation of the former.
  • Another BuiltIn keyword, Set Variable If, can be used to set variables dynamically based on a given expression.
  • There are several BuiltIn keywords that allow executing a named keyword only if a test case or test suite has failed or passed.

2.8.5   Parallel execution of keywords

When parallel execution is needed, it must be implemented in test library level so that the library executes the code on background. Typically this means that the library needs a keyword like Start Something that starts the execution and returns immediately, and another keyword like Get Results From Something that waits until the result is available and returns it. See OperatingSystem library keywords Start Process and Read Process Output for an example.

3   Executing test cases

3.1   Basic usage

Robot Framework test cases are executed from the command line, and the end result is, by default, an output file in XML format and an HTML report and log. After the execution, output files can be combined and otherwise post-processed with the Rebot tool.

3.1.1   Starting test execution

Synopsis

robot [options] data_sources
python|jython|ipy -m robot [options] data_sources
python|jython|ipy path/to/robot/ [options] data_sources
java -jar robotframework.jar [options] data_sources

Test execution is normally started using the robot runner script. Alternatively it is possible to execute the installed robot module or robot directory directly using the selected interpreter. The final alternative is using the standalone JAR distribution.

Note

Versions prior to Robot Framework 3.0 did not have the robot script. Instead they had pybot, jybot and ipybot scripts that executed tests using Python, Jython and IronPython, respectively. These scripts are still installed, but the plan is to deprecate and remove them in the future.

Regardless of execution approach, the path (or paths) to the test data to be executed is given as an argument after the command. Additionally, different command line options can be used to alter the test execution or generated outputs in many ways.

Specifying test data to be executed

Robot Framework test cases are created in files and directories, and they are executed by giving the path to the file or directory in question to the selected runner script. The path can be absolute or, more commonly, relative to the directory where tests are executed from. The given file or directory creates the top-level test suite, which gets its name, unless overridden with the --name option, from the file or directory name. Different execution possibilities are illustrated in the examples below. Note that in these examples, as well as in other examples in this section, only the robot script is used, but other execution approaches could be used similarly.

robot tests.robot
robot path/to/my_tests/
robot c:\robot\tests.robot

It is also possible to give paths to several test case files or directories at once, separated with spaces. In this case, Robot Framework creates the top-level test suite automatically, and the specified files and directories become its child test suites. The name of the created test suite is got from child suite names by catenating them together with an ampersand (&) and spaces. For example, the name of the top-level suite in the first example below is My Tests & Your Tests. These automatically created names are often quite long and complicated. In most cases, it is thus better to use the --name option for overriding it, as in the second example below:

robot my_tests.robot your_tests.robot
robot --name Example path/to/tests/pattern_*.robot

3.1.2   Using command line options

Robot Framework provides a number of command line options that can be used to control how test cases are executed and what outputs are generated. This section explains the option syntax, and what options actually exist. How they can be used is discussed elsewhere in this chapter.

Using options

When options are used, they must always be given between the runner script and the data sources. For example:

robot -L debug my_tests.robot
robot --include smoke --variable HOST:10.0.0.42 path/to/tests/

Short and long options

Options always have a long name, such as --name, and the most frequently needed options also have a short name, such as -N. In addition to that, long options can be shortened as long as they are unique. For example, --logle DEBUG works, while --lo log.html does not, because the former matches only --loglevel, but the latter matches several options. Short and shortened options are practical when executing test cases manually, but long options are recommended in start-up scripts, because they are easier to understand.

The long option format is case-insensitive, which facilitates writing option names in an easy-to-read format. For example, --SuiteStatLevel is equivalent to, but easier to read than --suitestatlevel.

Setting option values

Most of the options require a value, which is given after the option name. Both short and long options accept the value separated from the option name with a space, as in --include tag or -i tag. With long options, the separator can also be the equals sign, for example --include=tag, and with short options the separator can be omitted, as in -itag.

Some options can be specified several times. For example, --variable VAR1:value --variable VAR2:another sets two variables. If the options that take only one value are used several times, the value given last is effective.

Disabling options accepting no values

Options accepting no values can be disabled by using the same option again with no prefix added or dropped. The last option has precedence regardless of how many times options are used. For example, --dryrun --dryrun --nodryrun --nostatusrc --statusrc would not activate the dry-run mode and would return normal status rc.

Note

Support for adding or dropping no prefix is a new feature in Robot Framework 2.9. In earlier versions options accepting no values could be disabled by using the exact same option again.

Simple patterns

Many command line options take arguments as simple patterns. These glob-like patterns are matched according to the following rules:

  • * is a wildcard matching any string, even an empty string.
  • ? is a wildcard matching any single character.
  • Unless noted otherwise, pattern matching is case, space, and underscore insensitive.

Examples:

--test Example*     # Matches tests with name starting 'Example', case insensitively.
--include f??       # Matches tests with a tag that starts with 'f' or 'F' and is three characters long.

Tag patterns

Most tag related options accept arguments as tag patterns. They have all the same characteristics as simple patterns, but they also support AND, OR and NOT operators explained below. These operators can be used for combining two or more individual tags or patterns together.

AND or &

The whole pattern matches if all individual patterns match. AND and & are equivalent:

--include fooANDbar     # Matches tests containing tags 'foo' and 'bar'.
--exclude xx&yy&zz      # Matches tests containing tags 'xx', 'yy', and 'zz'.
OR

The whole pattern matches if any individual pattern matches:

--include fooORbar      # Matches tests containing either tag 'foo' or tag 'bar'.
--exclude xxORyyORzz    # Matches tests containing any of tags 'xx', 'yy', or 'zz'.
NOT

The whole pattern matches if the pattern on the left side matches but the one on the right side does not. If used multiple times, none of the patterns after the first NOT must not match:

--include fooNOTbar     # Matches tests containing tag 'foo' but not tag 'bar'.
--exclude xxNOTyyNOTzz  # Matches tests containing tag 'xx' but not tag 'yy' or tag 'zz'.

Starting from Robot Framework 2.9 the pattern can also start with NOT in which case the pattern matches if the pattern after NOT does not match:

--include NOTfoo        # Matches tests not containing tag 'foo'
--include NOTfooANDbar  # Matches tests not containing tags 'foo' and 'bar'

The above operators can also be used together. The operator precedence, from highest to lowest, is AND, OR and NOT:

--include xANDyORz      # Matches tests containing either tags 'x' and 'y', or tag 'z'.
--include xORyNOTz      # Matches tests containing either tag 'x' or 'y', but not tag 'z'.
--include xNOTyANDz     # Matches tests containing tag 'x', but not tags 'y' and 'z'.

Although tag matching itself is case-insensitive, all operators are case-sensitive and must be written with upper case letters. If tags themselves happen to contain upper case AND, OR or NOT, they need to specified using lower case letters to avoid accidental operator usage:

--include port          # Matches tests containing tag 'port', case-insensitively
--include PORT          # Matches tests containing tag 'P' or 'T', case-insensitively
--exclude handoverORportNOTnotification

Note

OR operator is new in Robot Framework 2.8.4.

ROBOT_OPTIONS and REBOT_OPTIONS environment variables

Environment variables ROBOT_OPTIONS and REBOT_OPTIONS can be used to specify default options for test execution and result post-processing, respectively. The options and their values must be defined as a space separated list and they are placed in front of any explicit options on the command line. The main use case for these environment variables is setting global default values for certain options to avoid the need to repeat them every time tests are run or Rebot used.

export ROBOT_OPTIONS="--critical regression --tagdoc 'mytag:Example doc with spaces'"
robot tests.robot
export REBOT_OPTIONS="--reportbackground green:yellow:red"
rebot --name example output.xml

Note

Support for ROBOT_OPTIONS and REBOT_OPTIONS environment variables was added in Robot Framework 2.8.2.

Possibility to have spaces in values by surrounding them in quotes is new in Robot Framework 2.9.2.

3.1.3   Test results

Command line output

The most visible output from test execution is the output displayed in the command line. All executed test suites and test cases, as well as their statuses, are shown there in real time. The example below shows the output from executing a simple test suite with only two test cases:

==============================================================================
Example test suite
==============================================================================
First test :: Possible test documentation                             | PASS |
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Second test                                                           | FAIL |
Error message is displayed here
==============================================================================
Example test suite                                                    | FAIL |
2 critical tests, 1 passed, 1 failed
2 tests total, 1 passed, 1 failed
==============================================================================
Output:  /path/to/output.xml
Report:  /path/to/report.html
Log:     /path/to/log.html

Starting from Robot Framework 2.7, there is also a notification on the console whenever a top-level keyword in a test case ends. A green dot is used if a keyword passes and a red F if it fails. These markers are written to the end of line and they are overwritten by the test status when the test itself ends. Writing the markers is disabled if console output is redirected to a file.

Generated output files

The command line output is very limited, and separate output files are normally needed for investigating the test results. As the example above shows, three output files are generated by default. The first one is in XML format and contains all the information about test execution. The second is a higher-level report and the third is a more detailed log file. These files and other possible output files are discussed in more detail in the section Different output files.

Return codes

Runner scripts communicate the overall test execution status to the system running them using return codes. When the execution starts successfully and no critical test fail, the return code is zero. All possible return codes are explained in the table below.

Possible return codes
RC Explanation
0 All critical tests passed.
1-249 Returned number of critical tests failed.
250 250 or more critical failures.
251 Help or version information printed.
252 Invalid test data or command line options.
253 Test execution stopped by user.
255 Unexpected internal error.

Return codes should always be easily available after the execution, which makes it easy to automatically determine the overall execution status. For example, in bash shell the return code is in special variable $?, and in Windows it is in %ERRORLEVEL% variable. If you use some external tool for running tests, consult its documentation for how to get the return code.

The return code can be set to 0 even if there are critical failures using the --NoStatusRC command line option. This might be useful, for example, in continuous integration servers where post-processing of results is needed before the overall status of test execution can be determined.

Note

Same return codes are also used with Rebot.

Errors and warnings during execution

During the test execution there can be unexpected problems like failing to import a library or a resource file or a keyword being deprecated. Depending on the severity such problems are categorized as errors or warnings and they are written into the console (using the standard error stream), shown on a separate Test Execution Errors section in log files, and also written into Robot Framework's own system log. Normally these errors and warnings are generated by Robot Framework itself, but libraries can also log errors and warnings. Example below illustrates how errors and warnings look like in the log file.

20090322 19:58:42.528 ERROR Error in file '/home/robot/tests.robot' in table 'Setting' in element on row 2: Resource file 'resource.robot' does not exist
20090322 19:58:43.931 WARN Keyword 'SomeLibrary.Example Keyword' is deprecated. Use keyword `Other Keyword` instead.

3.1.4   Escaping complicated characters

Because spaces are used for separating options from each other, it is problematic to use them in option values. Some options, such as --name, automatically convert underscores to spaces, but with others spaces must be escaped. Additionally, many special characters are complicated to use on the command line. Because escaping complicated characters with a backslash or quoting the values does not always work too well, Robot Framework has its own generic escaping mechanism. Another possibility is using argument files where options can be specified in the plain text format. Both of these mechanisms work when executing tests and when post-processing outputs, and also some of the external supporting tools have the same or similar capabilities.

In Robot Framework's command line escaping mechanism, problematic characters are escaped with freely selected text. The command line option to use is --escape (-E), which takes an argument in the format what:with, where what is the name of the character to escape and with is the string to escape it with. Characters that can be escaped are listed in the table below:

Available escapes
Character Name to use Character Name to use
& amp ( paren1
' apos ) paren2
@ at % percent
\ bslash | pipe
: colon ? quest
, comma " quot
{ curly1 ; semic
} curly2 / slash
$ dollar space
! exclam [ square1
> gt ] square2
# hash * star
< lt

The following examples make the syntax more clear. In the first example, the metadata X gets the value Value with spaces, and in the second example variable ${VAR} is assigned to "Hello, world!":

--escape space:_ --metadata X:Value_with_spaces
-E space:SP -E quot:QU -E comma:CO -E exclam:EX -v VAR:QUHelloCOSPworldEXQU

Note that all the given command line arguments, including paths to test data, are escaped. Escape character sequences thus need to be selected carefully.

3.1.5   Argument files

Argument files allow placing all or some command line options and arguments into an external file where they will be read. This avoids the problems with characters that are problematic on the command line. If lot of options or arguments are needed, argument files also prevent the command that is used on the command line growing too long.

Argument files are taken into use with --argumentfile (-A) option along with possible other command line options.

Note

Unlike other long command line options, --argumentfile cannot be given in shortened format like --argumentf. Additionally, using it case-insensitively like --ArgumentFile is only supported by Robot Framework 3.0.2 and newer.

Argument file syntax

Argument files can contain both command line options and paths to the test data, one option or data source per line. Both short and long options are supported, but the latter are recommended because they are easier to understand. Argument files can contain any characters without escaping, but spaces in the beginning and end of lines are ignored. Additionally, empty lines and lines starting with a hash mark (#) are ignored:

--doc This is an example (where "special characters" are ok!)
--metadata X:Value with spaces
--variable VAR:Hello, world!
# This is a comment
path/to/my/tests

In the above example the separator between options and their values is a single space. In Robot Framework 2.7.6 and newer it is possible to use either an equal sign (=) or any number of spaces. As an example, the following three lines are identical:

--name An Example
--name=An Example
--name       An Example

If argument files contain non-ASCII characters, they must be saved using UTF-8 encoding.

Using argument files

Argument files can be used either alone so that they contain all the options and paths to the test data, or along with other options and paths. When an argument file is used with other arguments, its contents are placed into the original list of arguments to the same place where the argument file option was. This means that options in argument files can override options before it, and its options can be overridden by options after it. It is possible to use --argumentfile option multiple times or even recursively:

robot --argumentfile all_arguments.robot
robot --name Example --argumentfile other_options_and_paths.robot
robot --argumentfile default_options.txt --name Example my_tests.robot
robot -A first.txt -A second.txt -A third.txt tests.robot

Reading argument files from standard input

Special argument file name STDIN can be used to read arguments from the standard input stream instead of a file. This can be useful when generating arguments with a script:

generate_arguments.sh | robot --argumentfile STDIN
generate_arguments.sh | robot --name Example --argumentfile STDIN tests.robot

3.1.6   Getting help and version information

Both when executing test cases and when post-processing outputs, it is possible to get command line help with the option --help (-h). These help texts have a short general overview and briefly explain the available command line options.

All runner scripts also support getting the version information with the option --version. This information also contains Python or Jython version and the platform type:

$ robot --version
Robot Framework 3.0 (Jython 2.7.0 on java1.7.0_45)

C:\>rebot --version
Rebot 3.0 (Python 2.7.10 on win32)

3.1.7   Creating start-up scripts

Test cases are often executed automatically by a continuous integration system or some other mechanism. In such cases, there is a need to have a script for starting the test execution, and possibly also for post-processing outputs somehow. Similar scripts are also useful when running tests manually, especially if a large number of command line options are needed or setting up the test environment is complicated.

In UNIX-like environments, shell scripts provide a simple but powerful mechanism for creating custom start-up scripts. Windows batch files can also be used, but they are more limited and often also more complicated. A platform-independent alternative is using Python or some other high-level programming language. Regardless of the language, it is recommended that long option names are used, because they are easier to understand than the short names.

In the first examples, the same web tests are executed with different browsers and the results combined afterwards. This is easy with shell scripts, as practically you just list the needed commands one after another:

#!/bin/bash
robot --variable BROWSER:Firefox --name Firefox --log none --report none --output out/fx.xml login
robot --variable BROWSER:IE --name IE --log none --report none --output out/ie.xml login
rebot --name Login --outputdir out --output login.xml out/fx.xml out/ie.xml

Implementing the above example with Windows batch files is not very complicated, either. The most important thing to remember is that because robot and rebot scripts are implemented as batch files on Windows, call must be used when running them from another batch file. Otherwise execution would end when the first batch file is finished.

@echo off
call robot --variable BROWSER:Firefox --name Firefox --log none --report none --output out\fx.xml login
call robot --variable BROWSER:IE --name IE --log none --report none --output out\ie.xml login
call rebot --name Login --outputdir out --output login.xml out\fx.xml out\ie.xml

In the next examples, jar files under the lib directory are put into CLASSPATH before starting the test execution. In these examples, start-up scripts require that paths to the executed test data are given as arguments. It is also possible to use command line options freely, even though some options have already been set in the script. All this is relatively straight-forward using bash:

#!/bin/bash

cp=.
for jar in lib/*.jar; do
    cp=$cp:$jar
done
export CLASSPATH=$cp

robot --ouputdir /tmp/logs --suitestatlevel 2 $*

Implementing this using Windows batch files is slightly more complicated. The difficult part is setting the variable containing the needed JARs inside a For loop, because, for some reason, that is not possible without a helper function.

@echo off

set CP=.
for %%jar in (lib\*.jar) do (
    call :set_cp %%jar
)
set CLASSPATH=%CP%

robot --ouputdir c:\temp\logs --suitestatlevel 2 %*

goto :eof

:: Helper for setting variables inside a for loop
:set_cp
    set CP=%CP%;%1
goto :eof

Modifying Java startup parameters

Sometimes when using Jython there is need to alter the Java startup parameters. The most common use case is increasing the JVM maximum memory size as the default value may not be enough for creating reports and logs when outputs are very big. There are two easy ways to configure JVM options:

  1. Set JYTHON_OPTS environment variable. This can be done permanently in operating system level or per execution in a custom start-up script.

  2. Pass the needed Java parameters with -J option to Jython that will pass them forward to Java. This is especially easy when executing installed robot module directly:

    jython -J-Xmx1024m -m robot tests.robot
    

3.1.8   Debugging problems

A test case can fail because the system under test does not work correctly, in which case the test has found a bug, or because the test itself is buggy. The error message explaining the failure is shown on the command line output and in the report file, and sometimes the error message alone is enough to pinpoint the problem. More often that not, however, log files are needed because they have also other log messages and they show which keyword actually failed.

When a failure is caused by the tested application, the error message and log messages ought to be enough to understand what caused it. If that is not the case, the test library does not provide enough information and needs to be enhanced. In this situation running the same test manually, if possible, may also reveal more information about the issue.

Failures caused by test cases themselves or by keywords they use can sometimes be hard to debug. If the error message, for example, tells that a keyword is used with wrong number of arguments fixing the problem is obviously easy, but if a keyword is missing or fails in unexpected way finding the root cause can be harder. The first place to look for more information is the execution errors section in the log file. For example, an error about a failed test library import may well explain why a test has failed due to a missing keyword.

If the log file does not provide enough information by default, it is possible to execute tests with a lower log level. For example tracebacks showing where in the code the failure occurred are logged using the DEBUG level, and this information is invaluable when the problem is in an individual library keyword.

Logged tracebacks do not contain information about methods inside Robot Framework itself. If you suspect an error is caused by a bug in the framework, you can enable showing internal traces by setting environment variable ROBOT_INTERNAL_TRACES to any non-empty value. This functionality is new in Robot Framework 2.9.2.

If the log file still does not have enough information, it is a good idea to enable the syslog and see what information it provides. It is also possible to add some keywords to the test cases to see what is going on. Especially BuiltIn keywords Log and Log Variables are useful. If nothing else works, it is always possible to search help from mailing lists or elsewhere.

Using the Python debugger (pdb)

It is also possible to use the pdb module from the Python standard library to set a break point and interactively debug a running test. The typical way of invoking pdb by inserting

import pdb; pdb.set_trace()

at the location you want to break into debugger will not work correctly with Robot Framework, though, as the standard output stream is redirected during keyword execution. Instead, you can use the following:

import sys, pdb; pdb.Pdb(stdout=sys.__stdout__).set_trace()

3.2   Test execution

This section describes how the test suite structure created from the parsed test data is executed, how to continue executing a test case after failures, and how to stop the whole test execution gracefully.

3.2.1   Execution flow

Executed suites and tests

Test cases are always executed within a test suite. A test suite created from a test case file has tests directly, whereas suites created from directories have child test suites which either have tests or their own child suites. By default all the tests in an executed suite are run, but it is possible to select tests using options --test, --suite, --include and --exclude. Suites containing no tests are ignored.

The execution starts from the top-level test suite. If the suite has tests they are executed one-by-one, and if it has suites they are executed recursively in depth-first order. When an individual test case is executed, the keywords it contains are run in a sequence. Normally the execution of the current test ends if any of the keywords fails, but it is also possible to continue after failures. The exact execution order and how possible setups and teardowns affect the execution are discussed in the following sections.

Setups and teardowns

Setups and teardowns can be used on test suite, test case and user keyword levels.

Suite setup

If a test suite has a setup, it is executed before its tests and child suites. If the suite setup passes, test execution continues normally. If it fails, all the test cases the suite and its child suites contain are marked failed. The tests and possible suite setups and teardowns in the child test suites are not executed.

Suite setups are often used for setting up the test environment. Because tests are not run if the suite setup fails, it is easy to use suite setups for verifying that the environment is in state in which the tests can be executed.

Suite teardown

If a test suite has a teardown, it is executed after all its test cases and child suites. Suite teardowns are executed regardless of the test status and even if the matching suite setup fails. If the suite teardown fails, all tests in the suite are marked failed afterwards in reports and logs.

Suite teardowns are mostly used for cleaning up the test environment after the execution. To ensure that all these tasks are done, all the keywords used in the teardown are executed even if some of them fail.

Test setup

Possible test setup is executed before the keywords of the test case. If the setup fails, the keywords are not executed. The main use for test setups is setting up the environment for that particular test case.

Test teardown

Possible test teardown is executed after the test case has been executed. It is executed regardless of the test status and also if test setup has failed.

Similarly as suite teardown, test teardowns are used mainly for cleanup activities. Also they are executed fully even if some of their keywords fail.

Keyword teardown

User keywords cannot have setups, but they can have teardowns that work exactly like other teardowns. Keyword teardowns are run after the keyword is executed otherwise, regardless the status, and they are executed fully even if some of their keywords fail.

Execution order

Test cases in a test suite are executed in the same order as they are defined in the test case file. Test suites inside a higher level test suite are executed in case-insensitive alphabetical order based on the file or directory name. If multiple files and/or directories are given from the command line, they are executed in the order they are given.

If there is a need to use certain test suite execution order inside a directory, it is possible to add prefixes like 01 and 02 into file and directory names. Such prefixes are not included in the generated test suite name if they are separated from the base name of the suite with two underscores:

01__my_suite.html -> My Suite
02__another_suite.html -> Another Suite

If the alphabetical ordering of test suites inside suites is problematic, a good workaround is giving them separately in the required order. This easily leads to overly long start-up commands, but argument files allow listing files nicely one file per line.

It is also possible to randomize the execution order using the --randomize option.

Passing execution

Typically test cases, setups and teardowns are considered passed if all keywords they contain are executed and none of them fail. From Robot Framework 2.8 onwards, it is also possible to use BuiltIn keywords Pass Execution and Pass Execution If to stop execution with PASS status and skip the remaining keywords.

How Pass Execution and Pass Execution If behave in different situations is explained below:

  • When used in any setup or teardown (suite, test or keyword), these keywords pass that setup or teardown. Possible teardowns of the started keywords are executed. Test execution or statuses are not affected otherwise.
  • When used in a test case outside setup or teardown, the keywords pass that particular test case. Possible test and keyword teardowns are executed.
  • Possible continuable failures that occur before these keyword are used, as well as failures in teardowns executed afterwards, will fail the execution.
  • It is mandatory to give an explanation message why execution was interrupted, and it is also possible to modify test case tags. For more details, and usage examples, see the documentation of these keywords.

Passing execution in the middle of a test, setup or teardown should be used with care. In the worst case it leads to tests that skip all the parts that could actually uncover problems in the tested application. In cases where execution cannot continue do to external factors, it is often safer to fail the test case and make it non-critical.

3.2.2   Continue on failure

Normally test cases are stopped immediately when any of their keywords fail. This behavior shortens test execution time and prevents subsequent keywords hanging or otherwise causing problems if the system under test is in unstable state. This has the drawback that often subsequent keywords would give more information about the state of the system. Hence Robot Framework offers several features to continue after failures.

Run Keyword And Ignore Error and Run Keyword And Expect Error keywords

BuiltIn keywords Run Keyword And Ignore Error and Run Keyword And Expect Error handle failures so that test execution is not terminated immediately. Though, using these keywords for this purpose often adds extra complexity to test cases, so the following features are worth considering to make continuing after failures easier.

Special failures from keywords

Library keywords report failures using exceptions, and it is possible to use special exceptions to tell the core framework that execution can continue regardless the failure. How these exceptions can be created is explained in the test library API chapter.

When a test ends and there has been one or more continuable failure, the test will be marked failed. If there are more than one failure, all of them will be enumerated in the final error message:

Several failures occurred:

1) First error message.

2) Second error message ...

Test execution ends also if a normal failure occurs after continuable failures. Also in that case all the failures will be listed in the final error message.

The return value from failed keywords, possibly assigned to a variable, is always the Python None.

Run Keyword And Continue On Failure keyword

BuiltIn keyword Run Keyword And Continue On Failure allows converting any failure into a continuable failure. These failures are handled by the framework exactly the same way as continuable failures originating from library keywords.

Execution continues on teardowns automatically

To make it sure that all the cleanup activities are taken care of, the continue on failure mode is automatically on in test and suite teardowns. In practice this means that in teardowns all the keywords in all levels are always executed.

All top-level keywords are executed when tests have templates

When using test templates, all the data rows are always executed to make it sure that all the different combinations are tested. In this usage continuing is limited to the top-level keywords, and inside them the execution ends normally if there are non-continuable failures.

3.2.3   Stopping test execution gracefully

Sometimes there is a need to stop the test execution before all the tests have finished, but so that logs and reports are created. Different ways how to accomplish this are explained below. In all these cases the remaining test cases are marked failed.

Starting from Robot Framework 2.9 the tests that are automatically failed get robot-exit tag and the generated report will include NOT robot-exit combined tag pattern to easily see those tests that were not skipped. Note that the test in which the exit happened does not get the robot-exit tag.

Note

The prefix used with the reserved tags is likely to be changed to robot: in the future, which means the robot-exit tag will be renamed. See issue #2539 for more details.

Pressing Ctrl-C

The execution is stopped when Ctrl-C is pressed in the console where the tests are running. When running the tests on Python, the execution is stopped immediately, but with Jython it ends only after the currently executing keyword ends.

If Ctrl-C is pressed again, the execution ends immediately and reports and logs are not created.

Using signals

On Unix-like machines it is possible to terminate test execution using signals INT and TERM. These signals can be sent from the command line using kill command, and sending signals can also be easily automated.

Signals have the same limitation on Jython as pressing Ctrl-C. Similarly also the second signal stops the execution forcefully.

Using keywords

The execution can be stopped also by the executed keywords. There is a separate Fatal Error BuiltIn keyword for this purpose, and custom keywords can use fatal exceptions when they fail.

Stopping when first test case fails

If option --exitonfailure (-X) is used, test execution stops immediately if any critical test fails. The remaining tests are marked as failed without actually executing them.

Note

The short option -X is new in Robot Framework 3.0.1.

Stopping on parsing or execution error

Robot Framework separates failures caused by failing keywords from errors caused by, for example, invalid settings or failed test library imports. By default these errors are reported as test execution errors, but errors themselves do not fail tests or affect execution otherwise. If --exitonerror option is used, however, all such errors are considered fatal and execution stopped so that remaining tests are marked failed. With parsing errors encountered before execution even starts, this means that no tests are actually run.

Note

--exitonerror is new in Robot Framework 2.8.6.

Handling teardowns

By default teardowns of the tests and suites that have been started are executed even if the test execution is stopped using one of the methods above. This allows clean-up activities to be run regardless how execution ends.

It is also possible to skip teardowns when execution is stopped by using --skipteardownonexit option. This can be useful if, for example, clean-up tasks take a lot of time.

3.3   Post-processing outputs

XML output files that are generated during the test execution can be post-processed afterwards by the Rebot tool, which is an integral part of Robot Framework. It is used automatically when test reports and logs are generated during the test execution, and using it separately allows creating custom reports and logs as well as combining and merging results.

3.3.1   Using Rebot

Synopsis

rebot [options] robot_outputs
python|jython|ipy -m robot.rebot [options] robot_outputs
python|jython|ipy path/to/robot/rebot.py [options] robot_outputs
java -jar robotframework.jar rebot [options] robot_outputs

The most common way to use Rebot is using the rebot runner script. Alternatively it is possible to execute the installed robot.rebot module or robot/rebot.py file directly using the selected interpreter. The final alternative is using the standalone JAR distribution.

Note

Versions prior to Robot Framework 3.0 installed the rebot script only with Python and used jyrebot and ipyrebot scripts with Jython and IronPython, respectively. These scripts are still installed, but the plan is to deprecate and remove them in the future.

Specifying options and arguments

The basic syntax for using Rebot is exactly the same as when starting test execution and also most of the command line options are identical. The main difference is that arguments to Rebot are XML output files instead of test data files or directories.

Return codes with Rebot

Return codes from Rebot are exactly same as when running tests.

3.3.2   Creating different reports and logs

You can use Rebot for creating the same reports and logs that are created automatically during the test execution. Of course, it is not sensible to create the exactly same files, but, for example, having one report with all test cases and another with only some subset of tests can be useful:

rebot output.xml
rebot path/to/output_file.xml
rebot --include smoke --name Smoke_Tests c:\results\output.xml

Another common usage is creating only the output file when running tests (log and report generation can be disabled with --log NONE --report NONE) and generating logs and reports later. Tests can, for example, be executed on different environments, output files collected to a central place, and reports and logs created there. This approach can also work very well if generating reports and logs takes a lot of time when running tests on Jython. Disabling log and report generation and generating them later with Rebot can save a lot of time and use less memory.

3.3.3   Combining outputs

An important feature in Rebot is its ability to combine outputs from different test execution rounds. This capability allows, for example, running the same test cases on different environments and generating an overall report from all outputs. Combining outputs is extremely easy, all that needs to be done is giving several output files as arguments:

rebot output1.xml output2.xml
rebot outputs/*.xml

When outputs are combined, a new top-level test suite is created so that test suites in the given output files are its child suites. This works the same way when multiple test data files or directories are executed, and also in this case the name of the top-level test suite is created by joining child suite names with an ampersand (&) and spaces. These automatically generated names are not that good, and it is often a good idea to use --name to give a more meaningful name:

rebot --name Browser_Compatibility firefox.xml opera.xml safari.xml ie.xml
rebot --include smoke --name Smoke_Tests c:\results\*.xml

3.3.4   Merging outputs

If same tests are re-executed or a single test suite executed in pieces, combining results like discussed above creates an unnecessary top-level test suite. In these cases it is typically better to merge results instead. Merging is done by using --merge (-R) option which changes the way how Rebot combines two or more output files. This option itself takes no arguments and all other command line options can be used with it normally:

rebot --merge --name Example --critical regression original.xml merged.xml

How merging works in practice is explained in the following sections discussing its two main use cases.

Merging re-executed tests

There is often a need to re-execute a subset of tests, for example, after fixing a bug in the system under test or in the tests themselves. This can be accomplished by selecting test cases by names (--test and --suite options), tags (--include and --exclude), or by previous status (--rerunfailed or --rerunfailedsuites).

Combining re-execution results with the original results using the default combining outputs approach does not work too well. The main problem is that you get separate test suites and possibly already fixed failures are also shown. In this situation it is better to use --merge (-R) option to tell Rebot to merge the results instead. In practice this means that tests from the latter test runs replace tests in the original. The usage is best illustrated by a practical example using --rerunfailed and --merge together:

robot --output original.xml tests                          # first execute all tests
robot --rerunfailed original.xml --output rerun.xml tests  # then re-execute failing
rebot --merge original.xml rerun.xml                       # finally merge results

The message of the merged tests contains a note that results have been replaced. The message also shows the old status and message of the test.

Merged results must always have same top-level test suite. Tests and suites in merged outputs that are not found from the original output are added into the resulting output. How this works in practice is discussed in the next section.

Note

Merging re-executed results is a new feature in Robot Framework 2.8.4. Prior to Robot Framework 2.8.6 new tests or suites in merged outputs were skipped and merging was done using --rerunmerge option.

Merging suites executed in pieces

Another important use case for the --merge option is merging results got when running a test suite in pieces using, for example, --include and --exclude options:

robot --include smoke --output smoke.xml tests   # first run some tests
robot --exclude smoke --output others.xml tests  # then run others
rebot --merge smoke.xml others.xml               # finally merge results

When merging outputs like this, the resulting output contains all tests and suites found from all given output files. If some test is found from multiple outputs, latest results replace the earlier ones like explained in the previous section. Also this merging strategy requires the top-level test suites to be same in all outputs.

3.4   Configuring execution

This section explains different command line options that can be used for configuring the test execution or post-processing outputs. Options related to generated output files are discussed in the next section.

3.4.1   Selecting files to parse

Robot Framework supports test data in various formats, but nowadays the plain text format in dedicated *.robot files is most commonly used. If only one file format is used in a project, it can be a good idea to limit parsing test data to only these files by using the --extension (-F) option. This is especially useful if the executed directory contains large files that contain no test data, but have an extension that Robot Framework would parse otherwise. Especially large HTML files, such as reports and logs you can get from Robot Framework itself, can be pretty slow to process.

The --extension option takes a file extension as an argument, and only files with that extension are parsed. It only has an effect when executing directories, though, not when running explicitly specified individual files. It does not affect which files can be used as resource files either. If there is a need to parse more than one kind of files, it is possible to use a colon : to separate extensions. Matching extensions is case insensitive.

robot --extension robot path/to/tests
robot --extension ROBOT:TXT path/to/tests

If files in one format use different extensions like *.html and *.htm, you need to specify those extensions separately. Using just one of them would mean that other files in that format are skipped.

Note

Selecting files to parse is a new functionality in Robot Framework 3.0.1.

3.4.2   Selecting test cases

Robot Framework offers several command line options for selecting which test cases to execute. The same options also work when post-processing outputs with Rebot.

By test suite and test case names

Test suites and test cases can be selected by their names with the command line options --suite (-s) and --test (-t), respectively. Both of these options can be used several times to select several test suites or cases. Arguments to these options are case- and space-insensitive, and there can also be simple patterns matching multiple names. If both the --suite and --test options are used, only test cases in matching suites with matching names are selected.

--test Example
--test mytest --test yourtest
--test example*
--test mysuite.mytest
--test *.suite.mytest
--suite example-??
--suite mysuite --test mytest --test your*

Using the --suite option is more or less the same as executing only the appropriate test case file or directory. One major benefit is the possibility to select the suite based on its parent suite. The syntax for this is specifying both the parent and child suite names separated with a dot. In this case, the possible setup and teardown of the parent suite are executed.

--suite parent.child
--suite myhouse.myhousemusic --test jack*

Selecting individual test cases with the --test option is very practical when creating test cases, but quite limited when running tests automatically. The --suite option can be useful in that case, but in general, selecting test cases by tag names is more flexible.

By tag names

It is possible to include and exclude test cases by tag names with the --include (-i) and --exclude (-e) options, respectively. If the --include option is used, only test cases having a matching tag are selected, and with the --exclude option test cases having a matching tag are not. If both are used, only tests with a tag matching the former option, and not with a tag matching the latter, are selected.

--include example
--exclude not_ready
--include regression --exclude long_lasting

Both --include and --exclude can be used several times to match multiple tags. In that case a test is selected if it has a tag that matches any included tags, and also has no tag that matches any excluded tags.

In addition to specifying a tag to match fully, it is possible to use tag patterns where * and ? are wildcards and AND, OR, and NOT operators can be used for combining individual tags or patterns together:

--include feature-4?
--exclude bug*
--include fooANDbar
--exclude xxORyyORzz
--include fooNOTbar

Selecting test cases by tags is a very flexible mechanism and allows many interesting possibilities:

  • A subset of tests to be executed before other tests, often called smoke tests, can be tagged with smoke and executed with --include smoke.
  • Unfinished test can be committed to version control with a tag such as not_ready and excluded from the test execution with --exclude not_ready.
  • Tests can be tagged with sprint-<num>, where <num> specifies the number of the current sprint, and after executing all test cases, a separate report containing only the tests for a certain sprint can be generated (for example, rebot --include sprint-42 output.xml).

Re-executing failed test cases

Command line option --rerunfailed (-R) can be used to select all failed tests from an earlier output file for re-execution. This option is useful, for example, if running all tests takes a lot of time and one wants to iteratively fix failing test cases.

robot tests                             # first execute all tests
robot --rerunfailed output.xml tests    # then re-execute failing

Behind the scenes this option selects the failed tests as they would have been selected individually with the --test option. It is possible to further fine-tune the list of selected tests by using --test, --suite, --include and --exclude options.

Using an output not originating from executing the same tests that are run now causes undefined results. Additionally, it is an error if the output contains no failed tests. Using a special value NONE as the output is same as not specifying this option at all.

Tip

Re-execution results and original results can be merged together using the --merge command line option.

Note

Re-executing failed tests is a new feature in Robot Framework 2.8. Prior to Robot Framework 2.8.4 the option was named --runfailed.

Re-executing failed test suites

Command line option rerunfailedsuites (-S) can be used to select all failed suites from an earlier output file for re-execution. Like --rerunfailed (-R), this option is useful when full test execution takes a lot of time. Note that all tests from a failed test suite will be re-executed, even passing ones. This option is useful when the tests in a test suite depends on each other.

Behind the scenes this option selects the failed suites as they would have been selected individually with the --suite option. It is possible to further fine-tune the list of selected tests by using --test, --suite, --include and --exclude options.

Note

--rerunfailedsuites option was added in Robot Framework 3.0.1.

When no tests match selection

By default when no tests match the selection criteria test execution fails with an error like:

[ ERROR ] Suite 'Example' with includes 'xxx' contains no test cases.

Because no outputs are generated, this behavior can be problematic if tests are executed and results processed automatically. Luckily a command line option --RunEmptySuite can be used to force the suite to be executed also in this case. As a result normal outputs are created but show zero executed tests. The same option can be used also to alter the behavior when an empty directory or a test case file containing no tests is executed.

Similar situation can occur also when processing output files with Rebot. It is possible that no test match the used filtering criteria or that the output file contained no tests to begin with. By default executing Rebot fails in these cases, but it has a separate --ProcessEmptySuite option that can be used to alter the behavior. In practice this option works the same way as --RunEmptySuite when running tests.

Note

--ProcessEmptySuite option was added in Robot Framework 2.7.2.

3.4.3   Setting criticality

The final result of test execution is determined based on critical tests. If a single critical test fails, the whole test run is considered failed. On the other hand, non-critical test cases can fail and the overall status is still considered passed.

All test cases are considered critical by default, but this can be changed with the --critical (-c) and --noncritical (-n) options. These options specify which tests are critical based on tags, similarly as --include and --exclude are used to select tests by tags. If only --critical is used, test cases with a matching tag are critical. If only --noncritical is used, tests without a matching tag are critical. Finally, if both are used, only test with a critical tag but without a non-critical tag are critical.

Both --critical and --noncritical also support same tag patterns as --include and --exclude. This means that pattern matching is case, space, and underscore insensitive, * and ? are supported as wildcards, and AND, OR and NOT operators can be used to create combined patterns.

--critical regression
--noncritical not_ready
--critical iter-* --critical req-* --noncritical req-6??

The most common use case for setting criticality is having test cases that are not ready or test features still under development in the test execution. These tests could also be excluded from the test execution altogether with the --exclude option, but including them as non-critical tests enables you to see when they start to pass.

Criticality set when tests are executed is not stored anywhere. If you want to keep same criticality when post-processing outputs with Rebot, you need to use --critical and/or --noncritical also with it:

# Use rebot to create new log and report from the output created during execution
robot --critical regression --outputdir all tests.robot
rebot --name Smoke --include smoke --critical regression --outputdir smoke all/output.xml

# No need to use --critical/--noncritical when no log or report is created
robot --log NONE --report NONE tests.robot
rebot --critical feature1 output.xml

3.4.4   Setting metadata

Setting the name

When Robot Framework parses test data, test suite names are created from file and directory names. The name of the top-level test suite can, however, be overridden with the command line option --name (-N). Underscores in the given name are converted to spaces automatically.

Setting the documentation

In addition to defining documentation in the test data, documentation of the top-level suite can be given from the command line with the option --doc (-D). Underscores in the given documentation are converted to spaces, and it may contain simple HTML formatting.

Setting free metadata

Free test suite metadata may also be given from the command line with the option --metadata (-M). The argument must be in the format name:value, where name the name of the metadata to set and value is its value. Underscores in the name and value are converted to spaces, and the latter may contain simple HTML formatting. This option may be used several times to set multiple metadata.

Setting tags

The command line option --settag (-G) can be used to set the given tag to all executed test cases. This option may be used several times to set multiple tags.

3.4.5   Configuring where to search libraries and other extensions

When Robot Framework imports a test library, listener, or some other Python based extension, it uses the Python interpreter to import the module containing the extension from the system. The list of locations where modules are looked for is called the module search path, and its contents can be configured using different approaches explained in this section. When importing Java based libraries or other extensions on Jython, Java classpath is used in addition to the normal module search path.

Robot Framework uses Python's module search path also when importing resource and variable files if the specified path does not match any file directly.

The module search path being set correctly so that libraries and other extensions are found is a requirement for successful test execution. If you need to customize it using approaches explained below, it is often a good idea to create a custom start-up script.

Locations automatically in module search path

Python interpreters have their own standard library as well as a directory where third party modules are installed automatically in the module search path. This means that test libraries packaged using Python's own packaging system are automatically installed so that they can be imported without any additional configuration.

PYTHONPATH, JYTHONPATH and IRONPYTHONPATH

Python, Jython and IronPython read additional locations to be added to the module search path from PYTHONPATH, JYTHONPATH and IRONPYTHONPATH environment variables, respectively. If you want to specify more than one location in any of them, you need to separate the locations with a colon on UNIX-like machines (e.g. /opt/libs:$HOME/testlibs) and with a semicolon on Windows (e.g. D:\libs;%HOMEPATH%\testlibs).

Environment variables can be configured permanently system wide or so that they affect only a certain user. Alternatively they can be set temporarily before running a command, something that works extremely well in custom start-up scripts.

Note

Prior to Robot Framework 2.9, contents of PYTHONPATH environment variable were added to the module search path by the framework itself when running on Jython and IronPython. Nowadays that is not done anymore and JYTHONPATH and IRONPYTHONPATH must be used with these interpreters.

Using --pythonpath option

Robot Framework has a separate command line option --pythonpath (-P) for adding locations to the module search path. Although the option name has the word Python in it, it works also on Jython and IronPython.

Multiple locations can be given by separating them with a colon, regardless the operating system, or by using this option several times. The given path can also be a glob pattern matching multiple paths, but then it typically needs to be escaped.

Examples:

--pythonpath libs
--pythonpath /opt/testlibs:mylibs.zip:yourlibs
--pythonpath mylib.jar --pythonpath lib/STAR.jar --escape star:STAR

Configuring sys.path programmatically

Python interpreters store the module search path they use as a list of strings in sys.path attribute. This list can be updated dynamically during execution, and changes are taken into account next time when something is imported.

Java classpath

When libraries implemented in Java are imported with Jython, they can be either in Jython's normal module search path or in Java classpath. The most common way to alter classpath is setting the CLASSPATH environment variable similarly as PYTHONPATH, JYTHONPATH or IRONPYTHONPATH. Alternatively it is possible to use Java's -cp command line option. This option is not exposed to the robot runner script, but it is possible to use it with Jython by adding -J prefix like jython -J-cp example.jar -m robot.run tests.robot.

When using the standalone JAR distribution, the classpath has to be set a bit differently, due to the fact that java -jar command does support the CLASSPATH environment variable nor the -cp option. There are two different ways to configure the classpath:

java -cp lib/testlibrary.jar:lib/app.jar:robotframework-2.9.jar org.robotframework.RobotFramework tests.robot
java -Xbootclasspath/a:lib/testlibrary.jar:lib/app.jar -jar robotframework-2.9.jar tests.robot

3.4.6   Setting variables

Variables can be set from the command line either individually using the --variable (-v) option or through variable files with the --variablefile (-V) option. Variables and variable files are explained in separate chapters, but the following examples illustrate how to use these options:

--variable name:value
--variable OS:Linux --variable IP:10.0.0.42
--variablefile path/to/variables.py
--variablefile myvars.py:possible:arguments:here
--variable ENVIRONMENT:Windows --variablefile c:\resources\windows.py

3.4.7   Dry run

Robot Framework supports so called dry run mode where the tests are run normally otherwise, but the keywords coming from the test libraries are not executed at all. The dry run mode can be used to validate the test data; if the dry run passes, the data should be syntactically correct. This mode is triggered using option --dryrun.

The dry run execution may fail for following reasons:

  • Using keywords that are not found.
  • Using keywords with wrong number of arguments.
  • Using user keywords that have invalid syntax.

In addition to these failures, normal execution errors are shown, for example, when test library or resource file imports cannot be resolved.

It is possible to disable dry run validation of specific user keywords by adding a special robot:no-dry-run keyword tag to them. This is useful if a keyword fails in the dry run mode for some reason, but work fine when executed normally. Disabling the dry run more is a new feature in Robot Framework 3.0.2.

Note

The dry run mode does not validate variables.

3.4.8   Randomizing execution order

The test execution order can be randomized using option --randomize <what>[:<seed>], where <what> is one of the following:

tests
Test cases inside each test suite are executed in random order.
suites
All test suites are executed in a random order, but test cases inside suites are run in the order they are defined.
all
Both test cases and test suites are executed in a random order.
none
Neither execution order of test nor suites is randomized. This value can be used to override the earlier value set with --randomize.

Starting from Robot Framework 2.8.5, it is possible to give a custom seed to initialize the random generator. This is useful if you want to re-run tests using the same order as earlier. The seed is given as part of the value for --randomize in format <what>:<seed> and it must be an integer. If no seed is given, it is generated randomly. The executed top level test suite automatically gets metadata named Randomized that tells both what was randomized and what seed was used.

Examples:

robot --randomize tests my_test.robot
robot --randomize all:12345 path/to/tests

3.4.9   Programmatic modification of test data

If the provided built-in features to modify test data before execution are not enough, Robot Framework 2.9 and newer provide a possible to do custom modifications programmatically. This is accomplished by creating a so called pre-run modifier and activating it using the --prerunmodifier option.

Pre-run modifiers should be implemented as visitors that can traverse through the executable test suite structure and modify it as needed. The visitor interface is explained as part of the Robot Framework API documentation, and it possible to modify executed test suites, test cases and keywords using it. The examples below ought to give an idea of how pre-run modifiers can be used and how powerful this functionality is.

When a pre-run modifier is taken into use on the command line using the --prerunmodifier option, it can be specified either as a name of the modifier class or a path to the modifier file. If the modifier is given as a class name, the module containing the class must be in the module search path, and if the module name is different than the class name, the given name must include both like module.ModifierClass. If the modifier is given as a path, the class name must be same as the file name. For most parts this works exactly like when importing a test library.

If a modifier requires arguments, like the examples below do, they can be specified after the modifier name or path using either a colon (:) or a semicolon (;) as a separator. If both are used in the value, the one first is considered to be the actual separator.

If more than one pre-run modifier is needed, they can be specified by using the --prerunmodifier option multiple times. If similar modifying is needed before creating logs and reports, programmatic modification of results can be enabled using the --prerebotmodifier option.

Example: Select every Xth test

The first example shows how a pre-run-modifier can remove tests from the executed test suite structure. In this example only every Xth tests is preserved, and the X is given from the command line along with an optional start index.

"""Pre-run modifier that selects only every Xth test for execution.

Starts from the first test by default. Tests are selected per suite.
"""

from robot.api import SuiteVisitor


class SelectEveryXthTest(SuiteVisitor):

    def __init__(self, x, start=0):
        self.x = int(x)
        self.start = int(start)

    def start_suite(self, suite):
        """Modify suite's tests to contain only every Xth."""
        suite.tests = suite.tests[self.start::self.x]

    def end_suite(self, suite):
        """Remove suites that are empty after removing tests."""
        suite.suites = [s for s in suite.suites if s.test_count > 0]

    def visit_test(self, test):
        """Avoid visiting tests and their keywords to save a little time."""
        pass

If the above pre-run modifier is in a file SelectEveryXthTest.py and the file is in the module search path, it could be used like this:

# Specify the modifier as a path. Run every second test.
robot --prerunmodifier path/to/SelectEveryXthTest.py:2 tests.robot

# Specify the modifier as a name. Run every third test, starting from the second.
robot --prerunmodifier SelectEveryXthTest:3:1 tests.robot

Example: Exclude tests by name

Also the second example removes tests, this time based on a given name pattern. In practice it works like a negative version of the built-in --test option.

"""Pre-run modifier that excludes tests by their name.

Tests to exclude are specified by using a pattern that is both case and space
insensitive and supports '*' (match anything) and '?' (match single character)
as wildcards.
"""

from robot.api import SuiteVisitor
from robot.utils import Matcher


class ExcludeTests(SuiteVisitor):

    def __init__(self, pattern):
        self.matcher = Matcher(pattern)

    def start_suite(self, suite):
        """Remove tests that match the given pattern."""
        suite.tests = [t for t in suite.tests if not self._is_excluded(t)]

    def _is_excluded(self, test):
        return self.matcher.match(test.name) or self.matcher.match(test.longname)

    def end_suite(self, suite):
        """Remove suites that are empty after removing tests."""
        suite.suites = [s for s in suite.suites if s.test_count > 0]

    def visit_test(self, test):
        """Avoid visiting tests and their keywords to save a little time."""
        pass

Assuming the above modifier is in a file named ExcludeTests.py, it could be used like this:

# Exclude test named 'Example'.
robot --prerunmodifier path/to/ExcludeTests.py:Example tests.robot

# Exclude all tests ending with 'something'.
robot --prerunmodifier path/to/ExcludeTests.py:*something tests.robot

Example: Skip setups and teardowns

Sometimes when debugging tests it can be useful to disable setups or teardowns. This can be accomplished by editing the test data, but pre-run modifiers make it easy to do that temporarily for a single run:

"""Pre-run modifiers for disabling suite and test setups and teardowns."""

from robot.api import SuiteVisitor


class SuiteSetup(SuiteVisitor):

    def start_suite(self, suite):
        suite.keywords.setup = None


class SuiteTeardown(SuiteVisitor):

    def start_suite(self, suite):
        suite.keywords.teardown = None


class TestSetup(SuiteVisitor):

    def start_test(self, test):
        test.keywords.setup = None


class TestTeardown(SuiteVisitor):

    def start_test(self, test):
        test.keywords.teardown = None

Assuming that the above modifiers are all in a file named disable.py and this file is in the module search path, setups and teardowns could be disabled, for example, as follows:

# Disable suite teardowns.
robot --prerunmodifier disable.SuiteTeardown tests.robot

# Disable both test setups and teardowns by using '--prerunmodifier' twice.
robot --prerunmodifier disable.TestSetup --prerunmodifier disable.TestTeardown tests.robot

3.4.10   Controlling console output

There are various command line options to control how test execution is reported on the console.

Console output type

The overall console output type is set with the --console option. It supports the following case-insensitive values:

verbose
Every test suite and test case is reported individually. This is the default.
dotted
Only show . for passed test, f for failed non-critical tests, F for failed critical tests, and x for tests which are skipped because test execution exit. Failed critical tests are listed separately after execution. This output type makes it easy to see are there any failures during execution even if there would be a lot of tests.
quiet
No output except for errors and warnings.
none
No output whatsoever. Useful when creating a custom output using, for example, listeners.

Separate convenience options --dotted (-.) and --quiet are shortcuts for --console dotted and --console quiet, respectively.

Examples:

robot --console quiet tests.robot
robot --dotted tests.robot

Note

--console, --dotted and --quiet are new options in Robot Framework 2.9. Prior to that the output was always the same as in the current verbose mode.

Console width

The width of the test execution output in the console can be set using the option --consolewidth (-W). The default width is 78 characters.

Tip

On many UNIX-like machines you can use handy $COLUMNS environment variable like --consolewidth $COLUMNS.

Note

Prior to Robot Framework 2.9 this functionality was enabled with --monitorwidth option that was first deprecated and is nowadays removed. The short option -W works the same way in all versions.

Console colors

The --consolecolors (-C) option is used to control whether colors should be used in the console output. Colors are implemented using ANSI colors except on Windows where, by default, Windows APIs are used instead. Accessing these APIs from Jython is not possible, and as a result colors do not work with Jython on Windows.

This option supports the following case-insensitive values:

auto
Colors are enabled when outputs are written into the console, but not when they are redirected into a file or elsewhere. This is the default.
on
Colors are used also when outputs are redirected. Does not work on Windows.
ansi
Same as on but uses ANSI colors also on Windows. Useful, for example, when redirecting output to a program that understands ANSI colors. New in Robot Framework 2.7.5.
off
Colors are disabled.

Note

Prior to Robot Framework 2.9 this functionality was enabled with --monitorcolors option that was first deprecated and is nowadays removed. The short option -C works the same way in all versions.

Console markers

Starting from Robot Framework 2.7, special markers . (success) and F (failure) are shown on the console when using the verbose output and top level keywords in test cases end. The markers allow following the test execution in high level, and they are erased when test cases end.

Starting from Robot Framework 2.7.4, it is possible to configure when markers are used with --consolemarkers (-K) option. It supports the following case-insensitive values:

auto
Markers are enabled when the standard output is written into the console, but not when it is redirected into a file or elsewhere. This is the default.
on
Markers are always used.
off
Markers are disabled.

Note

Prior to Robot Framework 2.9 this functionality was enabled with --monitormarkers option that was first deprecated and is nowadays removed. The short option -K works the same way in all versions.

3.4.11   Setting listeners

Listeners can be used to monitor the test execution. When they are taken into use from the command line, they are specified using the --listener command line option. The value can either be a path to a listener or a listener name. See the Listener interface section for more details about importing listeners and using them in general.

3.5   Created outputs

Several output files are created when tests are executed, and all of them are somehow related to test results. This section discusses what outputs are created, how to configure where they are created, and how to fine-tune their contents.

3.5.1   Different output files

This section explains what different output files can be created and how to configure where they are created. Output files are configured using command line options, which get the path to the output file in question as an argument. A special value NONE (case-insensitive) can be used to disable creating a certain output file.

Output directory

All output files can be set using an absolute path, in which case they are created to the specified place, but in other cases, the path is considered relative to the output directory. The default output directory is the directory where the execution is started from, but it can be altered with the --outputdir (-d) option. The path set with this option is, again, relative to the execution directory, but can naturally be given also as an absolute path. Regardless of how a path to an individual output file is obtained, its parent directory is created automatically, if it does not exist already.

Output file

Output files contain all the test execution results in machine readable XML format. Log, report and xUnit files are typically generated based on them, and they can also be combined and otherwise post-processed with Rebot.

Tip

Starting from Robot Framework 2.8, generating report and xUnit files as part of test execution does not anymore require processing output files. Disabling log generation when running tests can thus save memory.

The command line option --output (-o) determines the path where the output file is created relative to the output directory. The default name for the output file, when tests are run, is output.xml.

When post-processing outputs with Rebot, new output files are not created unless the --output option is explicitly used.

It is possible to disable creation of the output file when running tests by giving a special value NONE to the --output option. Prior to Robot Framework 2.8 this also automatically disabled creating log and report files, but nowadays that is not done anymore. If no outputs are needed, they should all be explicitly disabled using --output NONE --report NONE --log NONE.

Log file

Log files contain details about the executed test cases in HTML format. They have a hierarchical structure showing test suite, test case and keyword details. Log files are needed nearly every time when test results are to be investigated in detail. Even though log files also have statistics, reports are better for getting an higher-level overview.

The command line option --log (-l) determines where log files are created. Unless the special value NONE is used, log files are always created and their default name is log.html.

src/ExecutingTestCases/log_passed.png

An example of beginning of a log file

src/ExecutingTestCases/log_failed.png

An example of a log file with keyword details visible

Report file

Report files contain an overview of the test execution results in HTML format. They have statistics based on tags and executed test suites, as well as a list of all executed test cases. When both reports and logs are generated, the report has links to the log file for easy navigation to more detailed information. It is easy to see the overall test execution status from report, because its background color is green, if all critical tests pass, and bright red otherwise.

The command line option --report (-r) determines where report files are created. Similarly as log files, reports are always created unless NONE is used as a value, and their default name is report.html.

src/ExecutingTestCases/report_passed.png

An example report file of successful test execution

src/ExecutingTestCases/report_failed.png

An example report file of failed test execution

XUnit compatible result file

XUnit result files contain the test execution summary in xUnit compatible XML format. These files can thus be used as an input for external tools that understand xUnit reports. For example, Jenkins continuous integration server supports generating statistics based on xUnit compatible results.

Tip

Jenkins also has a separate Robot Framework plugin.

XUnit output files are not created unless the command line option --xunit (-x) is used explicitly. This option requires a path to the generated xUnit file, relatively to the output directory, as a value.

Because xUnit reports do not have the concept of non-critical tests, all tests in an xUnit report will be marked either passed or failed, with no distinction between critical and non-critical tests. If this is a problem, --xunitskipnoncritical option can be used to mark non-critical tests as skipped. Skipped tests will get a message containing the actual status and possible message of the test case in a format like FAIL: Error message.

Note

--xunitskipnoncritical is a new option in Robot Framework 2.8.

Debug file

Debug files are plain text files that are written during the test execution. All messages got from test libraries are written to them, as well as information about started and ended test suites, test cases and keywords. Debug files can be used for monitoring the test execution. This can be done using, for example, a separate fileviewer.py tool, or in UNIX-like systems, simply with the tail -f command.

Debug files are not created unless the command line option --debugfile (-b) is used explicitly.

Timestamping output files

All output files listed in this section can be automatically timestamped with the option --timestampoutputs (-T). When this option is used, a timestamp in the format YYYYMMDD-hhmmss is placed between the extension and the base name of each file. The example below would, for example, create such output files as output-20080604-163225.xml and mylog-20080604-163225.html:

robot --timestampoutputs --log mylog.html --report NONE tests.robot

Setting titles

The default titles for logs and reports are generated by prefixing the name of the top-level test suite with Test Log or Test Report. Custom titles can be given from the command line using the options --logtitle and --reporttitle, respectively. Underscores in the given titles are converted to spaces automatically.

Example:

robot --logtitle Smoke_Test_Log --reporttitle Smoke_Test_Report --include smoke my_tests/

Setting background colors

By default the report file has a green background when all the critical tests pass and a red background otherwise. These colors can be customized by using the --reportbackground command line option, which takes two or three colors separated with a colon as an argument:

--reportbackground blue:red
--reportbackground green:yellow:red
--reportbackground #00E:#E00

If you specify two colors, the first one will be used instead of the default green color and the second instead of the default red. This allows, for example, using blue instead of green to make backgrounds easier to separate for color blind people.

If you specify three colors, the first one will be used when all the test succeed, the second when only non-critical tests have failed, and the last when there are critical failures. This feature thus allows using a separate background color, for example yellow, when non-critical tests have failed.

The specified colors are used as a value for the body element's background CSS property. The value is used as-is and can be a HTML color name (e.g. red), a hexadecimal value (e.g. #f00 or #ff0000), or an RGB value (e.g. rgb(255,0,0)). The default green and red colors are specified using hexadecimal values #9e9 and #f66, respectively.

3.5.2   Log levels

Available log levels

Messages in log files can have different log levels. Some of the messages are written by Robot Framework itself, but also executed keywords can log information using different levels. The available log levels are:

FAIL
Used when a keyword fails. Can be used only by Robot Framework itself.
WARN
Used to display warnings. They shown also in the console and in the Test Execution Errors section in log files, but they do not affect the test case status.
INFO
The default level for normal messages. By default, messages below this level are not shown in the log file.
DEBUG
Used for debugging purposes. Useful, for example, for logging what libraries are doing internally. When a keyword fails, a traceback showing where in the code the failure occurred is logged using this level automatically.
TRACE
More detailed debugging level. The keyword arguments and return values are automatically logged using this level.

Setting log level

By default, log messages below the INFO level are not logged, but this threshold can be changed from the command line using the --loglevel (-L) option. This option takes any of the available log levels as an argument, and that level becomes the new threshold level. A special value NONE can also be used to disable logging altogether.

It is possible to use the --loglevel option also when post-processing outputs with Rebot. This allows, for example, running tests initially with the TRACE level, and generating smaller log files for normal viewing later with the INFO level. By default all the messages included during execution will be included also with Rebot. Messages ignored during the execution cannot be recovered.

Another possibility to change the log level is using the BuiltIn keyword Set Log Level in the test data. It takes the same arguments as the --loglevel option, and it also returns the old level so that it can be restored later, for example, in a test teardown.

Visible log level

Starting from Robot Framework 2.7.2, if the log file contains messages at DEBUG or TRACE levels, a visible log level drop down is shown in the upper right corner. This allows users to remove messages below chosen level from the view. This can be useful especially when running test at TRACE level.

src/ExecutingTestCases/visible_log_level.png

An example log showing the visible log level drop down

By default the drop down will be set at the lowest level in the log file, so that all messages are shown. The default visible log level can be changed using --loglevel option by giving the default after the normal log level separated by a colon:

--loglevel DEBUG:INFO

In the above example, tests are run using level DEBUG, but the default visible level in the log file is INFO.

3.5.3   Splitting logs

Normally the log file is just a single HTML file. When the amount of the test cases increases, the size of the file can grow so large that opening it into a browser is inconvenient or even impossible. Hence, it is possible to use the --splitlog option to split parts of the log into external files that are loaded transparently into the browser when needed.

The main benefit of splitting logs is that individual log parts are so small that opening and browsing the log file is possible even if the amount of the test data is very large. A small drawback is that the overall size taken by the log file increases.

Technically the test data related to each test case is saved into a JavaScript file in the same folder as the main log file. These files have names such as log-42.js where log is the base name of the main log file and 42 is an incremented index.

Note

When copying the log files, you need to copy also all the log-*.js files or some information will be missing.

3.5.4   Configuring statistics

There are several command line options that can be used to configure and adjust the contents of the Statistics by Tag, Statistics by Suite and Test Details by Tag tables in different output files. All these options work both when executing test cases and when post-processing outputs.

Configuring displayed suite statistics

When a deeper suite structure is executed, showing all the test suite levels in the Statistics by Suite table may make the table somewhat difficult to read. By default all suites are shown, but you can control this with the command line option --suitestatlevel which takes the level of suites to show as an argument:

--suitestatlevel 3

Including and excluding tag statistics

When many tags are used, the Statistics by Tag table can become quite congested. If this happens, the command line options --tagstatinclude and --tagstatexclude can be used to select which tags to display, similarly as --include and --exclude are used to select test cases:

--tagstatinclude some-tag --tagstatinclude another-tag
--tagstatexclude owner-*
--tagstatinclude prefix-* --tagstatexclude prefix-13

Generating combined tag statistics

The command line option --tagstatcombine can be used to generate aggregate tags that combine statistics from multiple tags. The combined tags are specified using tag patterns where * and ? are supported as wildcards and AND, OR and NOT operators can be used for combining individual tags or patterns together.

The following examples illustrate creating combined tag statistics using different patterns, and the figure below shows a snippet of the resulting Statistics by Tag table:

--tagstatcombine owner-*
--tagstatcombine smokeANDmytag
--tagstatcombine smokeNOTowner-janne*
src/ExecutingTestCases/tagstatcombine.png

Examples of combined tag statistics

As the above example illustrates, the name of the added combined statistic is, by default, just the given pattern. If this is not good enough, it is possible to give a custom name after the pattern by separating them with a colon (:). Possible underscores in the name are converted to spaces:

--tagstatcombine prio1ORprio2:High_priority_tests

Adding documentation to tags

Tags can be given a documentation with the command line option --tagdoc, which takes an argument in the format tag:doc. tag is the name of the tag to assign the documentation to, and it can also be a simple pattern matching multiple tags. doc is the assigned documentation. Underscores in the documentation are automatically converted to spaces and it can also contain HTML formatting.

The given documentation is shown with matching tags in the Test Details by Tag table, and as a tool tip for these tags in the Statistics by Tag table. If one tag gets multiple documentations, they are combined together and separated with an ampersand.

Examples:

--tagdoc mytag:My_documentation
--tagdoc regression:*See*_http://info.html
--tagdoc owner-*:Original_author

3.5.5   Removing and flattening keywords

Most of the content of output files comes from keywords and their log messages. When creating higher level reports, log files are not necessarily needed at all, and in that case keywords and their messages just take space unnecessarily. Log files themselves can also grow overly large, especially if they contain for loops or other constructs that repeat certain keywords multiple times.

In these situations, command line options --removekeywords and --flattenkeywords can be used to dispose or flatten unnecessary keywords. They can be used both when executing test cases and when post-processing outputs. When used during execution, they only affect the log file, not the XML output file. With rebot they affect both logs and possibly generated new output XML files.

Removing keywords

The --removekeywords option removes keywords and their messages altogether. It has the following modes of operation, and it can be used multiple times to enable multiple modes. Keywords that contain errors or warnings are not removed except when using the ALL mode.

ALL
Remove data from all keywords unconditionally.
PASSED
Remove keyword data from passed test cases. In most cases, log files created using this option contain enough information to investigate possible failures.
FOR
Remove all passed iterations from for loops except the last one.
WUKS
Remove all failing keywords inside BuiltIn keyword Wait Until Keyword Succeeds except the last one.
NAME:<pattern>
Remove data from all keywords matching the given pattern regardless the keyword status. The pattern is matched against the full name of the keyword, prefixed with the possible library or resource file name. The pattern is case, space, and underscore insensitive, and it supports simple patterns with * and ? as wildcards.
TAG:<pattern>
Remove data from keywords with tags that match the given pattern. Tags are case and space insensitive and they can be specified using tag patterns where * and ? are supported as wildcards and AND, OR and NOT operators can be used for combining individual tags or patterns together. Can be used both with library keyword tags and user keyword tags.

Examples:

rebot --removekeywords all --output removed.xml output.xml
robot --removekeywords passed --removekeywords for tests.robot
robot --removekeywords name:HugeKeyword --removekeywords name:resource.* tests.robot
robot --removekeywords tag:huge tests.robot

Removing keywords is done after parsing the output file and generating an internal model based on it. Thus it does not reduce memory usage as much as flattening keywords.

Note

The support for using --removekeywords when executing tests as well as FOR and WUKS modes were added in Robot Framework 2.7.

Note

NAME:<pattern> mode was added in Robot Framework 2.8.2 and TAG:<pattern> in 2.9.

Flattening keywords

The --flattenkeywords option flattens matching keywords. In practice this means that matching keywords get all log messages from their child keywords, recursively, and child keywords are discarded otherwise. Flattening supports the following modes:

FOR
Flatten for loops fully.
FORITEM
Flatten individual for loop iterations.
NAME:<pattern>
Flatten keywords matching the given pattern. Pattern matching rules are same as when removing keywords using NAME:<pattern> mode.
TAG:<pattern>
Flatten keywords with tags matching the given pattern. Pattern matching rules are same as when removing keywords using TAG:<pattern> mode.

Examples:

robot --flattenkeywords name:HugeKeyword --flattenkeywords name:resource.* tests.robot
rebot --flattenkeywords foritem --output flattened.xml original.xml

Flattening keywords is done already when the output file is parsed initially. This can save a significant amount of memory especially with deeply nested keyword structures.

Note

Flattening keywords is a new feature in Robot Framework 2.8.2, FOR and FORITEM modes were added in 2.8.5 and TAG:<pattern> in 2.9.

3.5.6   Setting start and end time of execution

When combining outputs using Rebot, it is possible to set the start and end time of the combined test suite using the options --starttime and --endtime, respectively. This is convenient, because by default, combined suites do not have these values. When both the start and end time are given, the elapsed time is also calculated based on them. Otherwise the elapsed time is got by adding the elapsed times of the child test suites together.

It is also possible to use the above mentioned options to set start and end times for a single suite when using Rebot. Using these options with a single output always affects the elapsed time of the suite.

Times must be given as timestamps in the format YYYY-MM-DD hh:mm:ss.mil, where all separators are optional and the parts from milliseconds to hours can be omitted. For example, 2008-06-11 17:59:20.495 is equivalent both to 20080611-175920.495 and 20080611175920495, and also mere 20080611 would work.

Examples:

rebot --starttime 20080611-17:59:20.495 output1.xml output2.xml
rebot --starttime 20080611-175920 --endtime 20080611-180242 *.xml
rebot --starttime 20110302-1317 --endtime 20110302-11418 myoutput.xml

3.5.7   Programmatic modification of results

If the provided built-in features to modify results are are not enough, Robot Framework 2.9 and newer provide a possible to do custom modifications programmatically. This is accomplished by creating a model modifier and activating it using the --prerebotmodifier option.

This functionality works nearly exactly like programmatic modification of test data that can be enabled with the --prerunmodifier option. The obvious difference is that this time modifiers operate with the result model, not the running model. For example, the following modifier marks all passed tests that have taken more time than allowed as failed:

from robot.api import SuiteVisitor


class ExecutionTimeChecker(SuiteVisitor):

    def __init__(self, max_seconds):
        self.max_milliseconds = float(max_seconds) * 1000

    def visit_test(self, test):
        if test.status == 'PASS' and test.elapsedtime > self.max_milliseconds:
            test.status = 'FAIL'
            test.message = 'Test execution took too long.'

If the above modifier would be in file ExecutionTimeChecker.py, it could be used, for example, like this:

# Specify modifier as a path when running tests. Maximum time is 42 seconds.
robot --prerebotmodifier path/to/ExecutionTimeChecker.py:42 tests.robot

# Specify modifier as a name when using Rebot. Maximum time is 3.14 seconds.
# ExecutionTimeChecker.py must be in the module search path.
rebot --prerebotmodifier ExecutionTimeChecker:3.14 output.xml

If more than one model modifier is needed, they can be specified by using the --prerebotmodifier option multiple times. When executing tests, it is possible to use --prerunmodifier and --prerebotmodifier options together.

3.5.8   System log

Robot Framework has its own plain-text system log where it writes information about

  • Processed and skipped test data files
  • Imported test libraries, resource files and variable files
  • Executed test suites and test cases
  • Created outputs

Normally users never need this information, but it can be useful when investigating problems with test libraries or Robot Framework itself. A system log is not created by default, but it can be enabled by setting the environment variable ROBOT_SYSLOG_FILE so that it contains a path to the selected file.

A system log has the same log levels as a normal log file, with the exception that instead of FAIL it has the ERROR level. The threshold level to use can be altered using the ROBOT_SYSLOG_LEVEL environment variable like shown in the example below. Possible unexpected errors and warnings are written into the system log in addition to the console and the normal log file.

#!/bin/bash

export ROBOT_SYSLOG_FILE=/tmp/syslog.txt
export ROBOT_SYSLOG_LEVEL=DEBUG

robot --name Syslog_example path/to/tests

4   Extending Robot Framework

4.1   Creating test libraries

Robot Framework's actual testing capabilities are provided by test libraries. There are many existing libraries, some of which are even bundled with the core framework, but there is still often a need to create new ones. This task is not too complicated because, as this chapter illustrates, Robot Framework's library API is simple and straightforward.

4.1.1   Introduction

Supported programming languages

Robot Framework itself is written with Python and naturally test libraries extending it can be implemented using the same language. When running the framework on Jython, libraries can also be implemented using Java. Pure Python code works both on Python and Jython, assuming that it does not use syntax or modules that are not available on Jython. When using Python, it is also possible to implement libraries with C using Python C API, although it is often easier to interact with C code from Python libraries using ctypes module.

Libraries implemented using these natively supported languages can also act as wrappers to functionality implemented using other programming languages. A good example of this approach is the Remote library, and another widely used approaches is running external scripts or tools as separate processes.

Tip

Python Tutorial for Robot Framework Test Library Developers covers enough of Python language to get started writing test libraries using it. It also contains a simple example library and test cases that you can execute and otherwise investigate on your machine.

Different test library APIs

Robot Framework has three different test library APIs.

Static API

The simplest approach is having a module (in Python) or a class (in Python or Java) with methods which map directly to keyword names. Keywords also take the same arguments as the methods implementing them. Keywords report failures with exceptions, log by writing to standard output and can return values using the return statement.

Dynamic API

Dynamic libraries are classes that implement a method to get the names of the keywords they implement, and another method to execute a named keyword with given arguments. The names of the keywords to implement, as well as how they are executed, can be determined dynamically at runtime, but reporting the status, logging and returning values is done similarly as in the static API.

Hybrid API

This is a hybrid between the static and the dynamic API. Libraries are classes with a method telling what keywords they implement, but those keywords must be available directly. Everything else except discovering what keywords are implemented is similar as in the static API.

All these APIs are described in this chapter. Everything is based on how the static API works, so its functions are discussed first. How the dynamic library API and the hybrid library API differ from it is then discussed in sections of their own.

The examples in this chapter are mainly about using Python, but they should be easy to understand also for Java-only developers. In those few cases where APIs have differences, both usages are explained with adequate examples.

4.1.2   Creating test library class or module

Test libraries can be implemented as Python modules and Python or Java classes.

Test library names

The name of a test library that is used when a library is imported is the same as the name of the module or class implementing it. For example, if you have a Python module MyLibrary (that is, file MyLibrary.py), it will create a library with name MyLibrary. Similarly, a Java class YourLibrary, when it is not in any package, creates a library with exactly that name.

Python classes are always inside a module. If the name of a class implementing a library is the same as the name of the module, Robot Framework allows dropping the class name when importing the library. For example, class MyLib in MyLib.py file can be used as a library with just name MyLib. This also works with submodules so that if, for example, parent.MyLib module has class MyLib, importing it using just parent.MyLib works. If the module name and class name are different, libraries must be taken into use using both module and class names, such as mymodule.MyLibrary or parent.submodule.MyLib.

Java classes in a non-default package must be taken into use with the full name. For example, class MyLib in com.mycompany.myproject package must be imported with name com.mycompany.myproject.MyLib.

Note

Dropping class names with submodules works only in Robot Framework 2.8.4 and newer. With earlier versions you need to include also the class name like parent.MyLib.MyLib.

Tip

If the library name is really long, for example when the Java package name is long, it is recommended to give the library a simpler alias by using the WITH NAME syntax.

Providing arguments to test libraries

All test libraries implemented as classes can take arguments. These arguments are specified in the Setting table after the library name, and when Robot Framework creates an instance of the imported library, it passes them to its constructor. Libraries implemented as a module cannot take any arguments, so trying to use those results in an error.

The number of arguments needed by the library is the same as the number of arguments accepted by the library's constructor. The default values and variable number of arguments work similarly as with keyword arguments, with the exception that there is no variable argument support for Java libraries. Arguments passed to the library, as well as the library name itself, can be specified using variables, so it is possible to alter them, for example, from the command line.

*** Settings ***
Library    MyLibrary     10.0.0.1    8080
Library    AnotherLib    ${VAR}

Example implementations, first one in Python and second in Java, for the libraries used in the above example:

from example import Connection

class MyLibrary:

    def __init__(self, host, port=80):
        self._conn = Connection(host, int(port))

    def send_message(self, message):
        self._conn.send(message)
public class AnotherLib {

    private String setting = null;

    public AnotherLib(String setting) {
        setting = setting;
    }

    public void doSomething() {
        if setting.equals("42") {
            // do something ...
        }
    }
}

Test library scope

Libraries implemented as classes can have an internal state, which can be altered by keywords and with arguments to the constructor of the library. Because the state can affect how keywords actually behave, it is important to make sure that changes in one test case do not accidentally affect other test cases. These kind of dependencies may create hard-to-debug problems, for example, when new test cases are added and they use the library inconsistently.

Robot Framework attempts to keep test cases independent from each other: by default, it creates new instances of test libraries for every test case. However, this behavior is not always desirable, because sometimes test cases should be able to share a common state. Additionally, all libraries do not have a state and creating new instances of them is simply not needed.

Test libraries can control when new libraries are created with a class attribute ROBOT_LIBRARY_SCOPE . This attribute must be a string and it can have the following three values:

TEST CASE
A new instance is created for every test case. A possible suite setup and suite teardown share yet another instance. This is the default.
TEST SUITE
A new instance is created for every test suite. The lowest-level test suites, created from test case files and containing test cases, have instances of their own, and higher-level suites all get their own instances for their possible setups and teardowns.
GLOBAL
Only one instance is created during the whole test execution and it is shared by all test cases and test suites. Libraries created from modules are always global.

Note

If a library is imported multiple times with different arguments, a new instance is created every time regardless the scope.

When the TEST SUITE or GLOBAL scopes are used with test libraries that have a state, it is recommended that libraries have some special keyword for cleaning up the state. This keyword can then be used, for example, in a suite setup or teardown to ensure that test cases in the next test suites can start from a known state. For example, SeleniumLibrary uses the GLOBAL scope to enable using the same browser in different test cases without having to reopen it, and it also has the Close All Browsers keyword for easily closing all opened browsers.

Example Python library using the TEST SUITE scope:

class ExampleLibrary:

    ROBOT_LIBRARY_SCOPE = 'TEST SUITE'

    def __init__(self):
        self._counter = 0

    def count(self):
        self._counter += 1
        print self._counter

    def clear_counter(self):
        self._counter = 0

Example Java library using the GLOBAL scope:

public class ExampleLibrary {

    public static final String ROBOT_LIBRARY_SCOPE = "GLOBAL";

    private int counter = 0;

    public void count() {
        counter += 1;
        System.out.println(counter);
    }

    public void clearCounter() {
        counter = 0;
    }
}

Specifying library version

When a test library is taken into use, Robot Framework tries to determine its version. This information is then written into the syslog to provide debugging information. Library documentation tool Libdoc also writes this information into the keyword documentations it generates.

Version information is read from attribute ROBOT_LIBRARY_VERSION, similarly as test library scope is read from ROBOT_LIBRARY_SCOPE. If ROBOT_LIBRARY_VERSION does not exist, information is tried to be read from __version__ attribute. These attributes must be class or module attributes, depending whether the library is implemented as a class or a module. For Java libraries the version attribute must be declared as static final.

An example Python module using __version__:

__version__ = '0.1'

def keyword():
    pass

A Java class using ROBOT_LIBRARY_VERSION:

public class VersionExample {

    public static final String ROBOT_LIBRARY_VERSION = "1.0.2";

    public void keyword() {
    }
}

Specifying documentation format

Starting from Robot Framework 2.7.5, library documentation tool Libdoc supports documentation in multiple formats. If you want to use something else than Robot Framework's own documentation formatting, you can specify the format in the source code using ROBOT_LIBRARY_DOC_FORMAT attribute similarly as scope and version are set with their own ROBOT_LIBRARY_* attributes.

The possible case-insensitive values for documentation format are ROBOT (default), HTML, TEXT (plain text), and reST (reStructuredText). Using the reST format requires the docutils module to be installed when documentation is generated.

Setting the documentation format is illustrated by the following Python and Java examples that use reStructuredText and HTML formats, respectively. See Documenting libraries section and Libdoc chapter for more information about documenting test libraries in general.

"""A library for *documentation format* demonstration purposes.

This documentation is created using reStructuredText__. Here is a link
to the only \`Keyword\`.

__ http://docutils.sourceforge.net
"""

ROBOT_LIBRARY_DOC_FORMAT = 'reST'

def keyword():
    """**Nothing** to see here. Not even in the table below.

    =======  =====  =====
    Table    here   has
    nothing  to     see.
    =======  =====  =====
    """
    pass
/**
 * A library for <i>documentation format</i> demonstration purposes.
 *
 * This documentation is created using <a href="http://www.w3.org/html">HTML</a>.
 * Here is a link to the only `Keyword`.
 */
public class DocFormatExample {

    public static final String ROBOT_LIBRARY_DOC_FORMAT = "HTML";

    /**<b>Nothing</b> to see here. Not even in the table below.
     *
     * <table>
     * <tr><td>Table</td><td>here</td><td>has</td></tr>
     * <tr><td>nothing</td><td>to</td><td>see.</td></tr>
     * </table>
     */
    public void keyword() {
    }
}

Library acting as listener

Listener interface allows external listeners to get notifications about test execution. They are called, for example, when suites, tests, and keywords start and end. Sometimes getting such notifications is also useful for test libraries, and they can register a custom listener by using ROBOT_LIBRARY_LISTENER attribute. The value of this attribute should be an instance of the listener to use, possibly the library itself. For more information and examples see Test libraries as listeners section.

4.1.3   Creating static keywords

What methods are considered keywords

When the static library API is used, Robot Framework uses reflection to find out what public methods the library class or module contains. It will exclude all methods starting with an underscore (unless using a custom keyword name), and with Java libraries also methods implemented only in the implicit base class java.lang.Object are excluded. All the methods that are not ignored are considered keywords. For example, the Python and Java libraries below implement a single keyword My Keyword.

class MyLibrary:

    def my_keyword(self, arg):
        return self._helper_method(arg)

    def _helper_method(self, arg):
        return arg.upper()
public class MyLibrary {

    public String myKeyword(String arg) {
        return helperMethod(arg);
    }

    private String helperMethod(String arg) {
        return arg.toUpperCase();
    }
}

When implementing a library as a Python or Java class, also methods in possible base classes are considered keywords. When implementing a library as a Python module, also possible functions imported into the module namespace become keywords. For example, if the module below would be used as a library, it would contain keywords Example Keyword, Second Example and also Current Thread.

from threading import current_thread


def example_keyword():
    print 'Running in thread "%s".' % current_thread().name

def second_example():
    pass

A simple way to avoid imported functions becoming keywords is to only import modules (e.g. import threading) and use functions via the module (e.g threading.current_thread()). Alternatively functions could be given an alias starting with an underscore at the import time (e.g. from threading import current_thread as _current_thread).

A more explicit way to limit what functions become keywords is using the module level __all__ attribute that Python itself uses for similar purposes. If it is used, only the listed functions can be keywords. For example, the library below implements only keywords Example Keyword and Second Example.

from threading import current_thread


__all__ = ['example_keyword', 'second_example']


def example_keyword():
    print 'Running in thread "%s".' % current_thread().name

def second_example():
    pass

def not_exposed_as_keyword():
    pass

Keyword names

Keyword names used in the test data are compared with method names to find the method implementing these keywords. Name comparison is case-insensitive, and also spaces and underscores are ignored. For example, the method hello maps to the keyword name Hello, hello or even h e l l o. Similarly both the do_nothing and doNothing methods can be used as the Do Nothing keyword in the test data.

Example Python library implemented as a module in the MyLibrary.py file:

def hello(name):
    print "Hello, %s!" % name

def do_nothing():
    pass

Example Java library implemented as a class in the MyLibrary.java file:

public class MyLibrary {

    public void hello(String name) {
        System.out.println("Hello, " + name + "!");
    }

    public void doNothing() {
    }

}

The example below illustrates how the example libraries above can be used. If you want to try this yourself, make sure that the library is in the module search path.

*** Settings ***
Library    MyLibrary

*** Test Cases ***
My Test
    Do Nothing
    Hello    world
Using a custom keyword name

It is possible to expose a different name for a keyword instead of the default keyword name which maps to the method name. This can be accomplished by setting the robot_name attribute on the method to the desired custom name. This is typically easiest done by using the robot.api.deco.keyword decorator as follows:

from robot.api.deco import keyword

@keyword('Login Via User Panel')
def login(username, password):
    # ...
*** Test Cases ***
My Test
    Login Via User Panel    ${username}    ${password}

Using this decorator without an argument will have no effect on the exposed keyword name, but will still set the robot_name attribute. This allows marking methods to expose as keywords without actually changing keyword names. Starting from Robot Framework 3.0.2, methods that have the robot_name attribute also create keywords even if the method name itself would start with an underscore.

Setting a custom keyword name can also enable library keywords to accept arguments using Embedded Arguments syntax.

Keyword tags

Starting from Robot Framework 2.9, library keywords and user keywords can have tags. Library keywords can define them by setting the robot_tags attribute on the method to a list of desired tags. The robot.api.deco.keyword decorator may be used as a shortcut for setting this attribute when used as follows:

from robot.api.deco import keyword

@keyword(tags=['tag1', 'tag2'])
def login(username, password):
    # ...

@keyword('Custom name', ['tags', 'here'])
def another_example():
    # ...

Another option for setting tags is giving them on the last line of keyword documentation with Tags: prefix and separated by a comma. For example:

def login(username, password):
    """Log user in to SUT.

    Tags: tag1, tag2
    """
    # ...

Keyword arguments

With a static and hybrid API, the information on how many arguments a keyword needs is got directly from the method that implements it. Libraries using the dynamic library API have other means for sharing this information, so this section is not relevant to them.

The most common and also the simplest situation is when a keyword needs an exact number of arguments. In this case, both the Python and Java methods simply take exactly those arguments. For example, a method implementing a keyword with no arguments takes no arguments either, a method implementing a keyword with one argument also takes one argument, and so on.

Example Python keywords taking different numbers of arguments:

def no_arguments():
    print "Keyword got no arguments."

def one_argument(arg):
    print "Keyword got one argument '%s'." % arg

def three_arguments(a1, a2, a3):
    print "Keyword got three arguments '%s', '%s' and '%s'." % (a1, a2, a3)

Note

A major limitation with Java libraries using the static library API is that they do not support the named argument syntax. If this is a blocker, it is possible to either use Python or switch to the dynamic library API.

Default values to keywords

It is often useful that some of the arguments that a keyword uses have default values. Python and Java have different syntax for handling default values to methods, and the natural syntax of these languages can be used when creating test libraries for Robot Framework.

Default values with Python

In Python a method has always exactly one implementation and possible default values are specified in the method signature. The syntax, which is familiar to all Python programmers, is illustrated below:

def one_default(arg='default'):
    print "Argument has value %s" % arg

def multiple_defaults(arg1, arg2='default 1', arg3='default 2'):
    print "Got arguments %s, %s and %s" % (arg1, arg2, arg3)

The first example keyword above can be used either with zero or one arguments. If no arguments are given, arg gets the value default. If there is one argument, arg gets that value, and calling the keyword with more than one argument fails. In the second example, one argument is always required, but the second and the third one have default values, so it is possible to use the keyword with one to three arguments.

*** Test Cases ***
Defaults
    One Default
    One Default    argument
    Multiple Defaults    required arg
    Multiple Defaults    required arg    optional
    Multiple Defaults    required arg    optional 1    optional 2
Default values with Java

In Java one method can have several implementations with different signatures. Robot Framework regards all these implementations as one keyword, which can be used with different arguments. This syntax can thus be used to provide support for the default values. This is illustrated by the example below, which is functionally identical to the earlier Python example:

public void oneDefault(String arg) {
    System.out.println("Argument has value " + arg);
}

public void oneDefault() {
    oneDefault("default");
}

public void multipleDefaults(String arg1, String arg2, String arg3) {
    System.out.println("Got arguments " + arg1 + ", " + arg2 + " and " + arg3);
}

public void multipleDefaults(String arg1, String arg2) {
    multipleDefaults(arg1, arg2, "default 2");
}

public void multipleDefaults(String arg1) {
    multipleDefaults(arg1, "default 1");
}

Variable number of arguments (*varargs)

Robot Framework supports also keywords that take any number of arguments. Similarly as with the default values, the actual syntax to use in test libraries is different in Python and Java.

Variable number of arguments with Python

Python supports methods accepting any number of arguments. The same syntax works in libraries and, as the examples below show, it can also be combined with other ways of specifying arguments:

def any_arguments(*args):
    print "Got arguments:"
    for arg in args:
        print arg

def one_required(required, *others):
    print "Required: %s\nOthers:" % required
    for arg in others:
        print arg

def also_defaults(req, def1="default 1", def2="default 2", *rest):
    print req, def1, def2, rest
*** Test Cases ***
Varargs
    Any Arguments
    Any Arguments    argument
    Any Arguments    arg 1    arg 2    arg 3    arg 4    arg 5
    One Required     required arg
    One Required     required arg    another arg    yet another
    Also Defaults    required
    Also Defaults    required    these two    have defaults
    Also Defaults    1    2    3    4    5    6
Variable number of arguments with Java

Robot Framework supports Java varargs syntax for defining variable number of arguments. For example, the following two keywords are functionally identical to the above Python examples with same names:

public void anyArguments(String... varargs) {
    System.out.println("Got arguments:");
    for (String arg: varargs) {
        System.out.println(arg);
    }
}

public void oneRequired(String required, String... others) {
    System.out.println("Required: " + required + "\nOthers:");
    for (String arg: others) {
        System.out.println(arg);
    }
}

It is also possible to use variable number of arguments also by having an array or, starting from Robot Framework 2.8.3, java.util.List as the last argument, or second to last if free keyword arguments (**kwargs) are used. This is illustrated by the following examples that are functionally identical to the previous ones:

public void anyArguments(String[] varargs) {
    System.out.println("Got arguments:");
    for (String arg: varargs) {
        System.out.println(arg);
    }
}

public void oneRequired(String required, List<String> others) {
    System.out.println("Required: " + required + "\nOthers:");
    for (String arg: others) {
        System.out.println(arg);
    }
}

Note

Only java.util.List is supported as varargs, not any of its sub types.

The support for variable number of arguments with Java keywords has one limitation: it works only when methods have one signature. Thus it is not possible to have Java keywords with both default values and varargs. In addition to that, only Robot Framework 2.8 and newer support using varargs with library constructors.

Free keyword arguments (**kwargs)

Robot Framework 2.8 added the support for free keyword arguments using Python's **kwargs syntax. How to use the syntax in the test data is discussed in Free keyword arguments section under Creating test cases. In this section we take a look at how to actually use it in custom test libraries.

Free keyword arguments with Python

If you are already familiar how kwargs work with Python, understanding how they work with Robot Framework test libraries is rather simple. The example below shows the basic functionality:

def example_keyword(**stuff):
    for name, value in stuff.items():
        print name, value
*** Test Cases ***
Keyword Arguments
    Example Keyword    hello=world        # Logs 'hello world'.
    Example Keyword    foo=1    bar=42    # Logs 'foo 1' and 'bar 42'.

Basically, all arguments at the end of the keyword call that use the named argument syntax name=value, and that do not match any other arguments, are passed to the keyword as kwargs. To avoid using a literal value like foo=quux as a free keyword argument, it must be escaped like foo\=quux.

The following example illustrates how normal arguments, varargs, and kwargs work together:

def various_args(arg, *varargs, **kwargs):
    print 'arg:', arg
    for value in varargs:
        print 'vararg:', value
    for name, value in sorted(kwargs.items()):
        print 'kwarg:', name, value
*** Test Cases ***
Positional
    Various Args    hello    world                # Logs 'arg: hello' and 'vararg: world'.

Named
    Various Args    arg=value                     # Logs 'arg: value'.

Kwargs
    Various Args    a=1    b=2    c=3             # Logs 'kwarg: a 1', 'kwarg: b 2' and 'kwarg: c 3'.
    Various Args    c=3    a=1    b=2             # Same as above. Order does not matter.

Positional and kwargs
    Various Args    1    2    kw=3                # Logs 'arg: 1', 'vararg: 2' and 'kwarg: kw 3'.

Named and kwargs
    Various Args    arg=value      hello=world    # Logs 'arg: value' and 'kwarg: hello world'.
    Various Args    hello=world    arg=value      # Same as above. Order does not matter.

For a real world example of using a signature exactly like in the above example, see Run Process and Start Keyword keywords in the Process library.

Free keyword arguments with Java

Starting from Robot Framework 2.8.3, also Java libraries support the free keyword arguments syntax. Java itself has no kwargs syntax, but keywords can have java.util.Map as the last argument to specify that they accept kwargs.

If a Java keyword accepts kwargs, Robot Framework will automatically pack all arguments in name=value syntax at the end of the keyword call into a Map and pass it to the keyword. For example, following example keywords can be used exactly like the previous Python examples:

public void exampleKeyword(Map<String, String> stuff):
    for (String key: stuff.keySet())
        System.out.println(key + " " + stuff.get(key));

public void variousArgs(String arg, List<String> varargs, Map<String, Object> kwargs):
    System.out.println("arg: " + arg);
    for (String varg: varargs)
        System.out.println("vararg: " + varg);
    for (String key: kwargs.keySet())
        System.out.println("kwarg: " + key + " " + kwargs.get(key));

Note

The type of the kwargs argument must be exactly java.util.Map, not any of its sub types.

Note

Similarly as with the varargs support, a keyword supporting kwargs cannot have more than one signature.

Argument types

Normally keyword arguments come to Robot Framework as strings. If keywords require some other types, it is possible to either use variables or convert strings to required types inside keywords. With Java keywords base types are also coerced automatically.

Argument types with Python

Because arguments in Python do not have any type information, there is no possibility to automatically convert strings to other types when using Python libraries. Calling a Python method implementing a keyword with a correct number of arguments always succeeds, but the execution fails later if the arguments are incompatible. Luckily with Python it is simple to convert arguments to suitable types inside keywords:

def connect_to_host(address, port=25):
    port = int(port)
    # ...
Argument types with Java

Arguments to Java methods have types, and all the base types are handled automatically. This means that arguments that are normal strings in the test data are coerced to correct type at runtime. The types that can be coerced are:

  • integer types (byte, short, int, long)
  • floating point types (float and double)
  • the boolean type
  • object versions of the above types e.g. java.lang.Integer

The coercion is done for arguments that have the same or compatible type across all the signatures of the keyword method. In the following example, the conversion can be done for keywords doubleArgument and compatibleTypes, but not for conflictingTypes.

public void doubleArgument(double arg) {}

public void compatibleTypes(String arg1, Integer arg2) {}
public void compatibleTypes(String arg2, Integer arg2, Boolean arg3) {}

public void conflictingTypes(String arg1, int arg2) {}
public void conflictingTypes(int arg1, String arg2) {}

The coercion works with the numeric types if the test data has a string containing a number, and with the boolean type the data must contain either string true or false. Coercion is only done if the original value was a string from the test data, but it is of course still possible to use variables containing correct types with these keywords. Using variables is the only option if keywords have conflicting signatures.

*** Test Cases ***
Coercion
    Double Argument     3.14
    Double Argument     2e16
    Compatible Types    Hello, world!    1234
    Compatible Types    Hi again!    -10    true

No Coercion
    Double Argument    ${3.14}
    Conflicting Types    1       ${2}    # must use variables
    Conflicting Types    ${1}    2

Starting from Robot Framework 2.8, argument type coercion works also with Java library constructors.

Using decorators

When writing static keywords, it is sometimes useful to modify them with Python's decorators. However, decorators modify function signatures, and can confuse Robot Framework's introspection when determining which arguments keywords accept. This is especially problematic when creating library documentation with Libdoc and when using RIDE. To avoid this issue, either do not use decorators, or use the handy decorator module to create signature-preserving decorators.

Embedding arguments into keyword names

Library keywords can also accept arguments which are passed using Embedded Argument syntax. The robot.api.deco.keyword decorator can be used to create a custom keyword name for the keyword which includes the desired syntax.

from robot.api.deco import keyword

@keyword('Add ${quantity:\d+} Copies Of ${item} To Cart')
def add_copies_to_cart(quantity, item):
    # ...
*** Test Cases ***
My Test
    Add 7 Copies Of Coffee To Cart

4.1.4   Communicating with Robot Framework

After a method implementing a keyword is called, it can use any mechanism to communicate with the system under test. It can then also send messages to Robot Framework's log file, return information that can be saved to variables and, most importantly, report if the keyword passed or not.

Reporting keyword status

Reporting keyword status is done simply using exceptions. If an executed method raises an exception, the keyword status is FAIL, and if it returns normally, the status is PASS.

The error message shown in logs, reports and the console is created from the exception type and its message. With generic exceptions (for example, AssertionError, Exception, and RuntimeError), only the exception message is used, and with others, the message is created in the format ExceptionType: Actual message.

Starting from Robot Framework 2.8.2, it is possible to avoid adding the exception type as a prefix to failure message also with non generic exceptions. This is done by adding a special ROBOT_SUPPRESS_NAME attribute with value True to your exception.

Python:

class MyError(RuntimeError):
    ROBOT_SUPPRESS_NAME = True

Java:

public class MyError extends RuntimeException {
    public static final boolean ROBOT_SUPPRESS_NAME = true;
}

In all cases, it is important for the users that the exception message is as informative as possible.

HTML in error messages

Starting from Robot Framework 2.8, it is also possible have HTML formatted error messages by starting the message with text *HTML*:

raise AssertionError("*HTML* <a href='robotframework.org'>Robot Framework</a> rulez!!")

This method can be used both when raising an exception in a library, like in the example above, and when users provide an error message in the test data.

Cutting long messages automatically

If the error message is longer than 40 lines, it will be automatically cut from the middle to prevent reports from getting too long and difficult to read. The full error message is always shown in the log message of the failed keyword.

Tracebacks

The traceback of the exception is also logged using DEBUG log level. These messages are not visible in log files by default because they are very rarely interesting for normal users. When developing libraries, it is often a good idea to run tests using --loglevel DEBUG.

Stopping test execution

It is possible to fail a test case so that the whole test execution is stopped. This is done simply by having a special ROBOT_EXIT_ON_FAILURE attribute with True value set on the exception raised from the keyword. This is illustrated in the examples below.

Python:

class MyFatalError(RuntimeError):
    ROBOT_EXIT_ON_FAILURE = True

Java:

public class MyFatalError extends RuntimeException {
    public static final boolean ROBOT_EXIT_ON_FAILURE = true;
}

Continuing test execution despite of failures

It is possible to continue test execution even when there are failures. The way to signal this from test libraries is adding a special ROBOT_CONTINUE_ON_FAILURE attribute with True value to the exception used to communicate the failure. This is demonstrated by the examples below.

Python:

class MyContinuableError(RuntimeError):
    ROBOT_CONTINUE_ON_FAILURE = True

Java:

public class MyContinuableError extends RuntimeException {
    public static final boolean ROBOT_CONTINUE_ON_FAILURE = true;
}

Logging information

Exception messages are not the only way to give information to the users. In addition to them, methods can also send messages to log files simply by writing to the standard output stream (stdout) or to the standard error stream (stderr), and they can even use different log levels. Another, and often better, logging possibility is using the programmatic logging APIs.

By default, everything written by a method into the standard output is written to the log file as a single entry with the log level INFO. Messages written into the standard error are handled similarly otherwise, but they are echoed back to the original stderr after the keyword execution has finished. It is thus possible to use the stderr if you need some messages to be visible on the console where tests are executed.

Using log levels

To use other log levels than INFO, or to create several messages, specify the log level explicitly by embedding the level into the message in the format *LEVEL* Actual log message, where *LEVEL* must be in the beginning of a line and LEVEL is one of the available logging levels TRACE, DEBUG, INFO, WARN, ERROR and HTML.

Errors and warnings

Messages with ERROR or WARN level are automatically written to the console and a separate Test Execution Errors section in the log files. This makes these messages more visible than others and allows using them for reporting important but non-critical problems to users.

Note

In Robot Framework 2.9, new functionality was added to automatically add ERRORs logged by keywords to the Test Execution Errors section.

Logging HTML

Everything normally logged by the library will be converted into a format that can be safely represented as HTML. For example, <b>foo</b> will be displayed in the log exactly like that and not as foo. If libraries want to use formatting, links, display images and so on, they can use a special pseudo log level HTML. Robot Framework will write these messages directly into the log with the INFO level, so they can use any HTML syntax they want. Notice that this feature needs to be used with care, because, for example, one badly placed </table> tag can ruin the log file quite badly.

When using the public logging API, various logging methods have optional html attribute that can be set to True to enable logging in HTML format.

Timestamps

By default messages logged via the standard output or error streams get their timestamps when the executed keyword ends. This means that the timestamps are not accurate and debugging problems especially with longer running keywords can be problematic.

Keywords have a possibility to add an accurate timestamp to the messages they log if there is a need. The timestamp must be given as milliseconds since the Unix epoch and it must be placed after the log level separated from it with a colon:

*INFO:1308435758660* Message with timestamp
*HTML:1308435758661* <b>HTML</b> message with timestamp

As illustrated by the examples below, adding the timestamp is easy both using Python and Java. If you are using Python, it is, however, even easier to get accurate timestamps using the programmatic logging APIs. A big benefit of adding timestamps explicitly is that this approach works also with the remote library interface.

Python:

import time

def example_keyword():
    print '*INFO:%d* Message with timestamp' % (time.time()*1000)

Java:

public void exampleKeyword() {
    System.out.println("*INFO:" + System.currentTimeMillis() + "* Message with timestamp");
}
Logging to console

If libraries need to write something to the console they have several options. As already discussed, warnings and all messages written to the standard error stream are written both to the log file and to the console. Both of these options have a limitation that the messages end up to the console only after the currently executing keyword finishes. A bonus is that these approaches work both with Python and Java based libraries.

Another option, that is only available with Python, is writing messages to sys.__stdout__ or sys.__stderr__. When using this approach, messages are written to the console immediately and are not written to the log file at all:

import sys

def my_keyword(arg):
   sys.__stdout__.write('Got arg %s\n' % arg)

The final option is using the public logging API:

from robot.api import logger

def log_to_console(arg):
   logger.console('Got arg %s' % arg)

def log_to_console_and_log_file(arg):
   logger.info('Got arg %s' % arg, also_console=True)
Logging example

In most cases, the INFO level is adequate. The levels below it, DEBUG and TRACE, are useful for writing debug information. These messages are normally not shown, but they can facilitate debugging possible problems in the library itself. The WARN or ERROR level can be used to make messages more visible and HTML is useful if any kind of formatting is needed.

The following examples clarify how logging with different levels works. Java programmers should regard the code print 'message' as pseudocode meaning System.out.println("message");.

print 'Hello from a library.'
print '*WARN* Warning from a library.'
print '*ERROR* Something unexpected happen that may indicate a problem in the test.'
print '*INFO* Hello again!'
print 'This will be part of the previous message.'
print '*INFO* This is a new message.'
print '*INFO* This is <b>normal text</b>.'
print '*HTML* This is <b>bold</b>.'
print '*HTML* <a href="http://robotframework.org">Robot Framework</a>'
16:18:42.123 INFO Hello from a library.
16:18:42.123 WARN Warning from a library.
16:18:42.123 ERROR Something unexpected happen that may indicate a problem in the test.
16:18:42.123 INFO Hello again!
This will be part of the previous message.
16:18:42.123 INFO This is a new message.
16:18:42.123 INFO This is <b>normal text</b>.
16:18:42.123 INFO This is bold.
16:18:42.123 INFO Robot Framework

Programmatic logging APIs

Programmatic APIs provide somewhat cleaner way to log information than using the standard output and error streams. Currently these interfaces are available only to Python bases test libraries.

Public logging API

Robot Framework has a Python based logging API for writing messages to the log file and to the console. Test libraries can use this API like logger.info('My message') instead of logging through the standard output like print '*INFO* My message'. In addition to a programmatic interface being a lot cleaner to use, this API has a benefit that the log messages have accurate timestamps.

The public logging API is thoroughly documented as part of the API documentation at https://robot-framework.readthedocs.org. Below is a simple usage example:

from robot.api import logger

def my_keyword(arg):
    logger.debug('Got argument %s' % arg)
    do_something()
    logger.info('<i>This</i> is a boring example', html=True)
    logger.console('Hello, console!')

An obvious limitation is that test libraries using this logging API have a dependency to Robot Framework. Before version 2.8.7 Robot also had to be running for the logging to work. Starting from Robot Framework 2.8.7 if Robot is not running the messages are redirected automatically to Python's standard logging module.

Using Python's standard logging module

In addition to the new public logging API, Robot Framework offers a built-in support to Python's standard logging module. This works so that all messages that are received by the root logger of the module are automatically propagated to Robot Framework's log file. Also this API produces log messages with accurate timestamps, but logging HTML messages or writing messages to the console are not supported. A big benefit, illustrated also by the simple example below, is that using this logging API creates no dependency to Robot Framework.

import logging

def my_keyword(arg):
    logging.debug('Got argument %s' % arg)
    do_something()
    logging.info('This is a boring example')

The logging module has slightly different log levels than Robot Framework. Its levels DEBUG, INFO, WARNING and ERROR are mapped directly to the matching Robot Framework log levels, and CRITICAL is mapped to ERROR. Custom log levels are mapped to the closest standard level smaller than the custom level. For example, a level between INFO and WARNING is mapped to Robot Framework's INFO level.

Logging during library initialization

Libraries can also log during the test library import and initialization. These messages do not appear in the log file like the normal log messages, but are instead written to the syslog. This allows logging any kind of useful debug information about the library initialization. Messages logged using the WARN or ERROR levels are also visible in the test execution errors section in the log file.

Logging during the import and initialization is possible both using the standard output and error streams and the programmatic logging APIs. Both of these are demonstrated below.

Java library logging via stdout during initialization:

public class LoggingDuringInitialization {

    public LoggingDuringInitialization() {
        System.out.println("*INFO* Initializing library");
    }

    public void keyword() {
        // ...
    }
}

Python library logging using the logging API during import:

from robot.api import logger

logger.debug("Importing library")

def keyword():
    # ...

Note

If you log something during initialization, i.e. in Python __init__ or in Java constructor, the messages may be logged multiple times depending on the test library scope.

Returning values

The final way for keywords to communicate back to the core framework is returning information retrieved from the system under test or generated by some other means. The returned values can be assigned to variables in the test data and then used as inputs for other keywords, even from different test libraries.

Values are returned using the return statement both from the Python and Java methods. Normally, one value is assigned into one scalar variable, as illustrated in the example below. This example also illustrates that it is possible to return any objects and to use extended variable syntax to access object attributes.

from mymodule import MyObject

def return_string():
    return "Hello, world!"

def return_object(name):
    return MyObject(name)
*** Test Cases ***
Returning one value
    ${string} =    Return String
    Should Be Equal    ${string}    Hello, world!
    ${object} =    Return Object    Robot
    Should Be Equal    ${object.name}    Robot

Keywords can also return values so that they can be assigned into several scalar variables at once, into a list variable, or into scalar variables and a list variable. All these usages require that returned values are Python lists or tuples or in Java arrays, Lists, or Iterators.

def return_two_values():
    return 'first value', 'second value'

def return_multiple_values():
    return ['a', 'list', 'of', 'strings']
*** Test Cases ***
Returning multiple values
    ${var1}    ${var2} =    Return Two Values
    Should Be Equal    ${var1}    first value
    Should Be Equal    ${var2}    second value
    @{list} =    Return Two Values
    Should Be Equal    @{list}[0]    first value
    Should Be Equal    @{list}[1]    second value
    ${s1}    ${s2}    @{li} =    Return Multiple Values
    Should Be Equal    ${s1} ${s2}    a list
    Should Be Equal    @{li}[0] @{li}[1]    of strings

Communication when using threads

If a library uses threads, it should generally communicate with the framework only from the main thread. If a worker thread has, for example, a failure to report or something to log, it should pass the information first to the main thread, which can then use exceptions or other mechanisms explained in this section for communication with the framework.

This is especially important when threads are run on background while other keywords are running. Results of communicating with the framework in that case are undefined and can in the worst case cause a crash or a corrupted output file. If a keyword starts something on background, there should be another keyword that checks the status of the worker thread and reports gathered information accordingly.

Messages logged by non-main threads using the normal logging methods from programmatic logging APIs are silently ignored.

There is also a BackgroundLogger in separate robotbackgroundlogger project, with a similar API as the standard robot.api.logger. Normal logging methods will ignore messages from other than main thread, but the BackgroundLogger will save the background messages so that they can be later logged to Robot's log.

4.1.5   Distributing test libraries

Documenting libraries

A test library without documentation about what keywords it contains and what those keywords do is rather useless. To ease maintenance, it is highly recommended that library documentation is included in the source code and generated from it. Basically, that means using docstrings with Python and Javadoc with Java, as in the examples below.

class MyLibrary:
    """This is an example library with some documentation."""

    def keyword_with_short_documentation(self, argument):
        """This keyword has only a short documentation"""
        pass

    def keyword_with_longer_documentation(self):
        """First line of the documentation is here.

        Longer documentation continues here and it can contain
        multiple lines or paragraphs.
        """
        pass
/**
 *  This is an example library with some documentation.
 */
public class MyLibrary {

    /**
     * This keyword has only a short documentation
     */
    public void keywordWithShortDocumentation(String argument) {
    }

    /**
     * First line of the documentation is here.
     *
     * Longer documentation continues here and it can contain
     * multiple lines or paragraphs.
     */
    public void keywordWithLongerDocumentation() {
    }

}

Both Python and Java have tools for creating an API documentation of a library documented as above. However, outputs from these tools can be slightly technical for some users. Another alternative is using Robot Framework's own documentation tool Libdoc. This tool can create a library documentation from both Python and Java libraries using the static library API, such as the ones above, but it also handles libraries using the dynamic library API and hybrid library API.

The first line of a keyword documentation is used for a special purpose and should contain a short overall description of the keyword. It is used as a short documentation, for example as a tool tip, by Libdoc and also shown in the test logs. However, the latter does not work with Java libraries using the static API, because their documentations are lost in compilation and not available at runtime.

By default documentation is considered to follow Robot Framework's documentation formatting rules. This simple format allows often used styles like *bold* and _italic_, tables, lists, links, etc. Starting from Robot Framework 2.7.5, it is possible to use also HTML, plain text and reStructuredText formats. See Specifying documentation format section for information how to set the format in the library source code and Libdoc chapter for more information about the formats in general.

Note

If you want to use non-ASCII characters in the documentation of Python libraries, you must either use UTF-8 as your source code encoding or create docstrings as Unicode.

Testing libraries

Any non-trivial test library needs to be thoroughly tested to prevent bugs in them. Of course, this testing should be automated to make it easy to rerun tests when libraries are changed.

Both Python and Java have excellent unit testing tools, and they suite very well for testing libraries. There are no major differences in using them for this purpose compared to using them for some other testing. The developers familiar with these tools do not need to learn anything new, and the developers not familiar with them should learn them anyway.

It is also easy to use Robot Framework itself for testing libraries and that way have actual end-to-end acceptance tests for them. There are plenty of useful keywords in the BuiltIn library for this purpose. One worth mentioning specifically is Run Keyword And Expect Error, which is useful for testing that keywords report errors correctly.

Whether to use a unit- or acceptance-level testing approach depends on the context. If there is a need to simulate the actual system under test, it is often easier on the unit level. On the other hand, acceptance tests ensure that keywords do work through Robot Framework. If you cannot decide, of course it is possible to use both the approaches.

Packaging libraries

After a library is implemented, documented, and tested, it still needs to be distributed to the users. With simple libraries consisting of a single file, it is often enough to ask the users to copy that file somewhere and set the module search path accordingly. More complicated libraries should be packaged to make the installation easier.

Since libraries are normal programming code, they can be packaged using normal packaging tools. With Python, good options include distutils, contained by Python's standard library, and the newer setuptools. A benefit of these tools is that library modules are installed into a location that is automatically in the module search path.

When using Java, it is natural to package libraries into a JAR archive. The JAR package must be put into the module search path before running tests, but it is easy to create a start-up script that does that automatically.

Deprecating keywords

Sometimes there is a need to replace existing keywords with new ones or remove them altogether. Just informing the users about the change may not always be enough, and it is more efficient to get warnings at runtime. To support that, Robot Framework has a capability to mark keywords deprecated. This makes it easier to find old keywords from the test data and remove or replace them.

Keywords can be deprecated by starting their documentation with text *DEPRECATED, case-sensitive, and having a closing * also on the first line of the documentation. For example, *DEPRECATED*, *DEPRECATED.*, and *DEPRECATED in version 1.5.* are all valid markers.

When a deprecated keyword is executed, a deprecation warning is logged and the warning is shown also in the console and the Test Execution Errors section in log files. The deprecation warning starts with text Keyword '<name>' is deprecated. and has rest of the short documentation after the deprecation marker, if any, afterwards. For example, if the following keyword is executed, there will be a warning like shown below in the log file.

def example_keyword(argument):
    """*DEPRECATED!!* Use keyword `Other Keyword` instead.

    This keyword does something to given ``argument`` and returns results.
    """
    return do_something(argument)
20080911 16:00:22.650 WARN Keyword 'SomeLibrary.Example Keyword' is deprecated. Use keyword `Other Keyword` instead.

This deprecation system works with most test libraries and also with user keywords. The only exception are keywords implemented in a Java test library that uses the static library interface because their documentation is not available at runtime. With such keywords, it possible to use user keywords as wrappers and deprecate them.

Note

Prior to Robot Framework 2.9 the documentation must start with *DEPRECATED* exactly without any extra content before the closing *.

4.1.6   Dynamic library API

The dynamic API is in most ways similar to the static API. For example, reporting the keyword status, logging, and returning values works exactly the same way. Most importantly, there are no differences in importing dynamic libraries and using their keywords compared to other libraries. In other words, users do not need to know what APIs their libraries use.

Only differences between static and dynamic libraries are how Robot Framework discovers what keywords a library implements, what arguments and documentation these keywords have, and how the keywords are actually executed. With the static API, all this is done using reflection (except for the documentation of Java libraries), but dynamic libraries have special methods that are used for these purposes.

One of the benefits of the dynamic API is that you have more flexibility in organizing your library. With the static API, you must have all keywords in one class or module, whereas with the dynamic API, you can, for example, implement each keyword as a separate class. This use case is not so important with Python, though, because its dynamic capabilities and multi-inheritance already give plenty of flexibility, and there is also possibility to use the hybrid library API.

Another major use case for the dynamic API is implementing a library so that it works as proxy for an actual library possibly running on some other process or even on another machine. This kind of a proxy library can be very thin, and because keyword names and all other information is got dynamically, there is no need to update the proxy when new keywords are added to the actual library.

This section explains how the dynamic API works between Robot Framework and dynamic libraries. It does not matter for Robot Framework how these libraries are actually implemented (for example, how calls to the run_keyword method are mapped to a correct keyword implementation), and many different approaches are possible. However, if you use Java, you may want to examine the JavaLibCore project before implementing your own system. This collection of reusable tools supports several ways of creating keywords, and it is likely that it already has a mechanism that suites your needs. Python users may also find the similar PythonLibCore project useful.

Getting keyword names

Dynamic libraries tell what keywords they implement with the get_keyword_names method. The method also has the alias getKeywordNames that is recommended when using Java. This method cannot take any arguments, and it must return a list or array of strings containing the names of the keywords that the library implements.

If the returned keyword names contain several words, they can be returned separated with spaces or underscores, or in the camelCase format. For example, ['first keyword', 'second keyword'], ['first_keyword', 'second_keyword'], and ['firstKeyword', 'secondKeyword'] would all be mapped to keywords First Keyword and Second Keyword.

Dynamic libraries must always have this method. If it is missing, or if calling it fails for some reason, the library is considered a static library.

Marking methods to expose as keywords

If a dynamic library should contain both methods which are meant to be keywords and methods which are meant to be private helper methods, it may be wise to mark the keyword methods as such so it is easier to implement get_keyword_names. The robot.api.deco.keyword decorator allows an easy way to do this since it creates a custom robot_name attribute on the decorated method. This allows generating the list of keywords just by checking for the robot_name attribute on every method in the library during get_keyword_names. See Using a custom keyword name for more about this decorator.

from robot.api.deco import keyword

class DynamicExample:

    def get_keyword_names(self):
        return [name for name in dir(self) if hasattr(getattr(self, name), 'robot_name')]

    def helper_method(self):
        # ...

    @keyword
    def keyword_method(self):
        # ...

Running keywords

Dynamic libraries have a special run_keyword (alias runKeyword) method for executing their keywords. When a keyword from a dynamic library is used in the test data, Robot Framework uses the library's run_keyword method to get it executed. This method takes two or three arguments. The first argument is a string containing the name of the keyword to be executed in the same format as returned by get_keyword_names. The second argument is a list or array of arguments given to the keyword in the test data.

The optional third argument is a dictionary (map in Java) that gets possible free keyword arguments (**kwargs) passed to the keyword. See free keyword arguments with dynamic libraries section for more details about using kwargs with dynamic test libraries.

After getting keyword name and arguments, the library can execute the keyword freely, but it must use the same mechanism to communicate with the framework as static libraries. This means using exceptions for reporting keyword status, logging by writing to the standard output or by using provided logging APIs, and using the return statement in run_keyword for returning something.

Every dynamic library must have both the get_keyword_names and run_keyword methods but rest of the methods in the dynamic API are optional. The example below shows a working, albeit trivial, dynamic library implemented in Python.

class DynamicExample:

    def get_keyword_names(self):
        return ['first keyword', 'second keyword']

    def run_keyword(self, name, args):
        print "Running keyword '%s' with arguments %s." % (name, args)

Getting keyword arguments

If a dynamic library only implements the get_keyword_names and run_keyword methods, Robot Framework does not have any information about the arguments that the implemented keywords need. For example, both First Keyword and Second Keyword in the example above could be used with any number of arguments. This is problematic, because most real keywords expect a certain number of keywords, and under these circumstances they would need to check the argument counts themselves.

Dynamic libraries can tell Robot Framework what arguments the keywords it implements expect by using the get_keyword_arguments (alias getKeywordArguments) method. This method takes the name of a keyword as an argument, and returns a list or array of strings containing the arguments accepted by that keyword.

Similarly as static keywords, dynamic keywords can require any number of arguments, have default values, and accept variable number of arguments and free keyword arguments. The syntax for how to represent all these different variables is explained in the following table. Note that the examples use Python syntax for lists, but Java developers should use Java lists or String arrays instead.

Representing different arguments with get_keyword_arguments
Expected arguments How to represent Examples Limits (min/max)
No arguments Empty list.
[]
0/0
One or more argument List of strings containing argument names.
['one_argument']
['a1', 'a2', 'a3']
1/1
3/3
Default values for arguments Default values separated from names with =. Default values are always considered to be strings.
['arg=default value']
['a', 'b=1', 'c=2']
0/1
1/3
Variable number of arguments (varargs) Last (or second last with kwargs) argument has * before its name.
['*varargs']
['a', 'b=42', '*rest']
0/any
1/any
Free keyword arguments (kwargs) Last arguments has ** before its name.
['**kwargs']
['a', 'b=42', '**kws']
['*varargs', '**kwargs']
0/0
1/2
0/any

When the get_keyword_arguments is used, Robot Framework automatically calculates how many positional arguments the keyword requires and does it support free keyword arguments or not. If a keyword is used with invalid arguments, an error occurs and run_keyword is not even called.

The actual argument names and default values that are returned are also important. They are needed for named argument support and the Libdoc tool needs them to be able to create a meaningful library documentation.

If get_keyword_arguments is missing or returns None or null for a certain keyword, that keyword gets an argument specification accepting all arguments. This automatic argument spec is either [*varargs, **kwargs] or [*varargs], depending does run_keyword support kwargs by having three arguments or not.

Getting keyword tags

Starting from Robot Framework 3.0.2, dynamic libraries can report keyword tags by using the get_keyword_tags method (alias getKeywordTags). It gets a keyword name as an argument, and should return corresponding tags as a list of strings.

Alternatively it is possible to specify tags on the last row of the documentation returned by the get_keyword_documentation method discussed below. This requires starting the last row with Tags: and listing tags after it like Tags: first tag, second, third. This approach works also with Robot Framework versions prior to 3.0.2.

Tip

The get_keyword_tags method is guaranteed to be called before the get_keyword_documentation method. This makes it easy to embed tags into the documentation only if the get_keyword_tags method is not called.

Getting keyword documentation

If dynamic libraries want to provide keyword documentation, they can implement the get_keyword_documentation method (alias getKeywordDocumentation). It takes a keyword name as an argument and, as the method name implies, returns its documentation as a string.

The returned documentation is used similarly as the keyword documentation string with static libraries implemented with Python. The main use case is getting keywords' documentations into a library documentation generated by Libdoc. Additionally, the first line of the documentation (until the first \n) is shown in test logs.

Getting general library documentation

The get_keyword_documentation method can also be used for specifying overall library documentation. This documentation is not used when tests are executed, but it can make the documentation generated by Libdoc much better.

Dynamic libraries can provide both general library documentation and documentation related to taking the library into use. The former is got by calling get_keyword_documentation with special value __intro__, and the latter is got using value __init__. How the documentation is presented is best tested with Libdoc in practice.

Python based dynamic libraries can also specify the general library documentation directly in the code as the docstring of the library class and its __init__ method. If a non-empty documentation is got both directly from the code and from the get_keyword_documentation method, the latter has precedence.

Named argument syntax with dynamic libraries

Starting from Robot Framework 2.8, also the dynamic library API supports the named argument syntax. Using the syntax works based on the argument names and default values got from the library using the get_keyword_arguments method.

For the most parts, the named arguments syntax works with dynamic keywords exactly like it works with any other keyword supporting it. The only special case is the situation where a keyword has multiple arguments with default values, and only some of the latter ones are given. In that case the framework fills the skipped optional arguments based on the default values returned by the get_keyword_arguments method.

Using the named argument syntax with dynamic libraries is illustrated by the following examples. All the examples use a keyword Dynamic that has been specified to have argument specification [arg1, arg2=xxx, arg3=yyy]. The comment shows the arguments that the keyword is actually called with.

*** Test Cases ***
Only positional
    Dynamic    a                             # [a]
    Dynamic    a         b                   # [a, b]
    Dynamic    a         b         c         # [a, b, c]

Named
    Dynamic    a         arg2=b              # [a, b]
    Dynamic    a         b         arg3=c    # [a, b, c]
    Dynamic    a         arg2=b    arg3=c    # [a, b, c]
    Dynamic    arg1=a    arg2=b    arg3=c    # [a, b, c]

Fill skipped
    Dynamic    a         arg3=c              # [a, xxx, c]

Free keyword arguments with dynamic libraries

Starting from Robot Framework 2.8.2, dynamic libraries can also support free keyword arguments (**kwargs). A mandatory precondition for this support is that the run_keyword method takes three arguments: the third one will get kwargs when they are used. Kwargs are passed to the keyword as a dictionary (Python) or Map (Java).

What arguments a keyword accepts depends on what get_keyword_arguments returns for it. If the last argument starts with **, that keyword is recognized to accept kwargs.

Using the free keyword argument syntax with dynamic libraries is illustrated by the following examples. All the examples use a keyword Dynamic that has been specified to have argument specification [arg1=xxx, arg2=yyy, **kwargs]. The comment shows the arguments that the keyword is actually called with.

*** Test Cases ***
No arguments
    Dynamic                            # [], {}

Only positional
    Dynamic    a                       # [a], {}
    Dynamic    a         b             # [a, b], {}

Only kwargs
    Dynamic    a=1                     # [], {a: 1}
    Dynamic    a=1       b=2    c=3    # [], {a: 1, b: 2, c: 3}

Positional and kwargs
    Dynamic    a         b=2           # [a], {b: 2}
    Dynamic    a         b=2    c=3    # [a], {b: 2, c: 3}

Named and kwargs
    Dynamic    arg1=a    b=2           # [a], {b: 2}
    Dynamic    arg2=a    b=2    c=3    # [xxx, a], {b: 2, c: 3}

Summary

All special methods in the dynamic API are listed in the table below. Method names are listed in the underscore format, but their camelCase aliases work exactly the same way.

All special methods in the dynamic API
Name Arguments Purpose
get_keyword_names   Return names of the implemented keywords.
run_keyword name, arguments, kwargs Execute the specified keyword with given arguments. kwargs is optional.
get_keyword_arguments name Return keywords' argument specifications. Optional method.
get_keyword_documentation name Return keywords' and library's documentation. Optional method.

It is possible to write a formal interface specification in Java as below. However, remember that libraries do not need to implement any explicit interface, because Robot Framework directly checks with reflection if the library has the required get_keyword_names and run_keyword methods or their camelCase aliases. Additionally, get_keyword_arguments and get_keyword_documentation are completely optional.

public interface RobotFrameworkDynamicAPI {

    List<String> getKeywordNames();

    Object runKeyword(String name, List arguments);

    Object runKeyword(String name, List arguments, Map kwargs);

    List<String> getKeywordArguments(String name);

    String getKeywordDocumentation(String name);

}

Note

In addition to using List, it is possible to use also arrays like Object[] or String[].

A good example of using the dynamic API is Robot Framework's own Remote library.

4.1.7   Hybrid library API

The hybrid library API is, as its name implies, a hybrid between the static API and the dynamic API. Just as with the dynamic API, it is possible to implement a library using the hybrid API only as a class.

Getting keyword names

Keyword names are got in the exactly same way as with the dynamic API. In practice, the library needs to have the get_keyword_names or getKeywordNames method returning a list of keyword names that the library implements.

Running keywords

In the hybrid API, there is no run_keyword method for executing keywords. Instead, Robot Framework uses reflection to find methods implementing keywords, similarly as with the static API. A library using the hybrid API can either have those methods implemented directly or, more importantly, it can handle them dynamically.

In Python, it is easy to handle missing methods dynamically with the __getattr__ method. This special method is probably familiar to most Python programmers and they can immediately understand the following example. Others may find it easier to consult Python Reference Manual first.

from somewhere import external_keyword

class HybridExample:

    def get_keyword_names(self):
        return ['my_keyword', 'external_keyword']

    def my_keyword(self, arg):
        print "My Keyword called with '%s'" % arg

    def __getattr__(self, name):
        if name == 'external_keyword':
            return external_keyword
        raise AttributeError("Non-existing attribute '%s'" % name)

Note that __getattr__ does not execute the actual keyword like run_keyword does with the dynamic API. Instead, it only returns a callable object that is then executed by Robot Framework.

Another point to be noted is that Robot Framework uses the same names that are returned from get_keyword_names for finding the methods implementing them. Thus the names of the methods that are implemented in the class itself must be returned in the same format as they are defined. For example, the library above would not work correctly, if get_keyword_names returned My Keyword instead of my_keyword.

The hybrid API is not very useful with Java, because it is not possible to handle missing methods with it. Of course, it is possible to implement all the methods in the library class, but that brings few benefits compared to the static API.

Getting keyword arguments and documentation

When this API is used, Robot Framework uses reflection to find the methods implementing keywords, similarly as with the static API. After getting a reference to the method, it searches for arguments and documentation from it, in the same way as when using the static API. Thus there is no need for special methods for getting arguments and documentation like there is with the dynamic API.

Summary

When implementing a test library in Python, the hybrid API has the same dynamic capabilities as the actual dynamic API. A great benefit with it is that there is no need to have special methods for getting keyword arguments and documentation. It is also often practical that the only real dynamic keywords need to be handled in __getattr__ and others can be implemented directly in the main library class.

Because of the clear benefits and equal capabilities, the hybrid API is in most cases a better alternative than the dynamic API when using Python. One notable exception is implementing a library as a proxy for an actual library implementation elsewhere, because then the actual keyword must be executed elsewhere and the proxy can only pass forward the keyword name and arguments.

A good example of using the hybrid API is Robot Framework's own Telnet library.

4.1.8   Using Robot Framework's internal modules

Test libraries implemented with Python can use Robot Framework's internal modules, for example, to get information about the executed tests and the settings that are used. This powerful mechanism to communicate with the framework should be used with care, though, because all Robot Framework's APIs are not meant to be used by externally and they might change radically between different framework versions.

Available APIs

Starting from Robot Framework 2.7, API documentation is hosted separately at the excellent Read the Docs service. If you are unsure how to use certain API or is using them forward compatible, please send a question to mailing list.

Using BuiltIn library

The safest API to use are methods implementing keywords in the BuiltIn library. Changes to keywords are rare and they are always done so that old usage is first deprecated. One of the most useful methods is replace_variables which allows accessing currently available variables. The following example demonstrates how to get ${OUTPUT_DIR} which is one of the many handy automatic variables. It is also possible to set new variables from libraries using set_test_variable, set_suite_variable and set_global_variable.

import os.path
from robot.libraries.BuiltIn import BuiltIn

def do_something(argument):
    output = do_something_that_creates_a_lot_of_output(argument)
    outputdir = BuiltIn().replace_variables('${OUTPUTDIR}')
    path = os.path.join(outputdir, 'results.txt')
    f = open(path, 'w')
    f.write(output)
    f.close()
    print '*HTML* Output written to <a href="results.txt">results.txt</a>'

The only catch with using methods from BuiltIn is that all run_keyword method variants must be handled specially. Methods that use run_keyword methods have to be registered as run keywords themselves using register_run_keyword method in BuiltIn module. This method's documentation explains why this needs to be done and obviously also how to do it.

4.1.9   Extending existing test libraries

This section explains different approaches how to add new functionality to existing test libraries and how to use them in your own libraries otherwise.

Modifying original source code

If you have access to the source code of the library you want to extend, you can naturally modify the source code directly. The biggest problem of this approach is that it can be hard for you to update the original library without affecting your changes. For users it may also be confusing to use a library that has different functionality than the original one. Repackaging the library may also be a big extra task.

This approach works extremely well if the enhancements are generic and you plan to submit them back to the original developers. If your changes are applied to the original library, they are included in the future releases and all the problems discussed above are mitigated. If changes are non-generic, or you for some other reason cannot submit them back, the approaches explained in the subsequent sections probably work better.

Using inheritance

Another straightforward way to extend an existing library is using inheritance. This is illustrated by the example below that adds new Title Should Start With keyword to the SeleniumLibrary. This example uses Python, but you can obviously extend an existing Java library in Java code the same way.

from SeleniumLibrary import SeleniumLibrary

class ExtendedSeleniumLibrary(SeleniumLibrary):

    def title_should_start_with(self, expected):
        title = self.get_title()
        if not title.startswith(expected):
            raise AssertionError("Title '%s' did not start with '%s'"
                                 % (title, expected))

A big difference with this approach compared to modifying the original library is that the new library has a different name than the original. A benefit is that you can easily tell that you are using a custom library, but a big problem is that you cannot easily use the new library with the original. First of all your new library will have same keywords as the original meaning that there is always conflict. Another problem is that the libraries do not share their state.

This approach works well when you start to use a new library and want to add custom enhancements to it from the beginning. Otherwise other mechanisms explained in this section are probably better.

Using other libraries directly

Because test libraries are technically just classes or modules, a simple way to use another library is importing it and using its methods. This approach works great when the methods are static and do not depend on the library state. This is illustrated by the earlier example that uses Robot Framework's BuiltIn library.

If the library has state, however, things may not work as you would hope. The library instance you use in your library will not be the same as the framework uses, and thus changes done by executed keywords are not visible to your library. The next section explains how to get an access to the same library instance that the framework uses.

Getting active library instance from Robot Framework

BuiltIn keyword Get Library Instance can be used to get the currently active library instance from the framework itself. The library instance returned by this keyword is the same as the framework itself uses, and thus there is no problem seeing the correct library state. Although this functionality is available as a keyword, it is typically used in test libraries directly by importing the BuiltIn library class as discussed earlier. The following example illustrates how to implement the same Title Should Start With keyword as in the earlier example about using inheritance.

from robot.libraries.BuiltIn import BuiltIn

def title_should_start_with(expected):
    seleniumlib = BuiltIn().get_library_instance('SeleniumLibrary')
    title = seleniumlib.get_title()
    if not title.startswith(expected):
        raise AssertionError("Title '%s' did not start with '%s'"
                             % (title, expected))

This approach is clearly better than importing the library directly and using it when the library has a state. The biggest benefit over inheritance is that you can use the original library normally and use the new library in addition to it when needed. That is demonstrated in the example below where the code from the previous examples is expected to be available in a new library SeLibExtensions.

*** Settings ***
Library    SeleniumLibrary
Library    SeLibExtensions

*** Test Cases ***
Example
    Open Browser    http://example      # SeleniumLibrary
    Title Should Start With    Example  # SeLibExtensions

Libraries using dynamic or hybrid API

Test libraries that use the dynamic or hybrid library API often have their own systems how to extend them. With these libraries you need to ask guidance from the library developers or consult the library documentation or source code.

4.2   Remote library interface

The remote library interface provides means for having test libraries on different machines than where Robot Framework itself is running, and also for implementing libraries using other languages than the natively supported Python and Java. For a test library, user remote libraries look pretty much the same as any other test library, and developing test libraries using the remote library interface is also very close to creating normal test libraries.

4.2.1   Introduction

There are two main reasons for using the remote library API:

  • It is possible to have actual libraries on different machines than where Robot Framework is running. This allows interesting possibilities for distributed testing.
  • Test libraries can be implemented using any language that supports XML-RPC protocol. There exists ready-made generic remote servers for various languages like Python, Java, Ruby, .NET, and so on.

The remote library interface is provided by the Remote library that is one of the standard libraries. This library does not have any keywords of its own, but it works as a proxy between the core framework and keywords implemented elsewhere. The Remote library interacts with actual library implementations through remote servers, and the Remote library and servers communicate using a simple remote protocol on top of an XML-RPC channel. The high level architecture of all this is illustrated in the picture below:

src/ExtendingRobotFramework/remote.png

Robot Framework architecture with Remote library

Note

The remote client uses Python's standard xmlrpclib module. It does not support custom XML-RPC extensions implemented by some XML-RPC servers.

4.2.2   Putting Remote library to use

Importing Remote library

The Remote library needs to know the address of the remote server but otherwise importing it and using keywords that it provides is no different to how other libraries are used. If you need to use the Remote library multiple times in a test suite, or just want to give it a more descriptive name, you can import it using the WITH NAME syntax.

*** Settings ***
Library    Remote    http://127.0.0.1:8270       WITH NAME    Example1
Library    Remote    http://example.com:8080/    WITH NAME    Example2
Library    Remote    http://10.0.0.2/example    1 minute    WITH NAME    Example3

The URL used by the first example above is also the default address that the Remote library uses if no address is given.

The last example above shows how to give a custom timeout to the Remote library as an optional second argument. The timeout is used when initially connecting to the server and if a connection accidentally closes. Timeout can be given in Robot Framework time format like 60s or 2 minutes 10 seconds. The default timeout is typically several minutes, but it depends on the operating system and its configuration. Notice that setting a timeout that is shorter than keyword execution time will interrupt the keyword. Setting a custom timeout does not work with IronPython.

Note

Port 8270 is the default port that remote servers are expected to use and it has been registered by IANA for this purpose. This port number was selected because 82 and 70 are the ASCII codes of letters R and F, respectively.

Note

When connecting to the local machine, it is recommended to use IP address 127.0.0.1 instead of machine name localhost. This avoids address resolution that can be extremely slow at least on Windows.

Note

If the URI contains no path after the server address, the xmlrpclib module used by the Remote library will use /RPC2 path by default. In practice using http://127.0.0.1:8270 is thus identical to using http://127.0.0.1:8270/RPC2. Depending on the remote server this may or may not be a problem. No extra path is appended if the address has a path even if the path is just /. For example, neither http://127.0.0.1:8270/ nor http://127.0.0.1:8270/my/path will be modified.

Starting and stopping remote servers

Before the Remote library can be imported, the remote server providing the actual keywords must be started. If the server is started before launching the test execution, it is possible to use the normal Library setting like in the above example. Alternatively other keywords, for example from Process or SSH libraries, can start the server up, but then you may need to use Import Library keyword because the library is not available when the test execution starts.

How a remote server can be stopped depends on how it is implemented. Typically servers support the following methods:

  • Regardless of the library used, remote servers should provide Stop Remote Server keyword that can be easily used by executed tests.
  • Remote servers should have stop_remote_server method in their XML-RPC interface.
  • Hitting Ctrl-C on the console where the server is running should stop the server.
  • The server process can be terminated using tools provided by the operating system (e.g. kill).

Note

Servers may be configured so that users cannot stop it with Stop Remote Server keyword or stop_remote_server method.

4.2.3   Supported argument and return value types

Because the XML-RPC protocol does not support all possible object types, the values transferred between the Remote library and remote servers must be converted to compatible types. This applies to the keyword arguments the Remote library passes to remote servers and to the return values servers give back to the Remote library.

Both the Remote library and the Python remote server handle Python values according to the following rules. Other remote servers should behave similarly.

  • Strings, numbers and Boolean values are passed without modifications.
  • Python None is converted to an empty string.
  • All lists, tuples, and other iterable objects (except strings and dictionaries) are passed as lists so that their contents are converted recursively.
  • Dictionaries and other mappings are passed as dicts so that their keys are converted to strings and values converted to supported types recursively.
  • Returned dictionaries are converted to so called dot-accessible dicts that allow accessing keys as attributes using the extended variable syntax like ${result.key}. This works also with nested dictionaries like ${root.child.leaf}.
  • Strings containing bytes in the ASCII range that cannot be represented in XML (e.g. the null byte) are sent as Binary objects that internally use XML-RPC base64 data type. Received Binary objects are automatically converted to byte strings.
  • Other types are converted to strings.

Note

Prior to Robot Framework 2.8.3, only lists, tuples, and dictionaries were handled according to the above rules. General iterables and mappings were not supported. Additionally binary support is new in Robot Framework 2.8.4 and returning dot-accessible dictionaries new in Robot Framework 2.9.

4.2.4   Remote protocol

This section explains the protocol that is used between the Remote library and remote servers. This information is mainly targeted for people who want to create new remote servers. The provided Python and Ruby servers can also be used as examples.

The remote protocol is implemented on top of XML-RPC, which is a simple remote procedure call protocol using XML over HTTP. Most mainstream languages (Python, Java, C, Ruby, Perl, Javascript, PHP, ...) have a support for XML-RPC either built-in or as an extension.

Required methods

A remote server is an XML-RPC server that must have the same methods in its public interface as the dynamic library API has. Only get_keyword_names and run_keyword are actually required, but get_keyword_arguments, get_keyword_tags and get_keyword_documentation are also recommended. Notice that using the camelCase format like getKeywordNames in method names is not possible similarly as in the normal dynamic API. How the actual keywords are implemented is not relevant for the Remote library. Remote servers can either act as wrappers for the real test libraries, like the available generic remote servers do, or they can implement keywords themselves.

Remote servers should additionally have stop_remote_server method in their public interface to ease stopping them. They should also automatically expose this method as Stop Remote Server keyword to allow using it in the test data regardless of the test library. Allowing users to stop the server is not always desirable, and servers may support disabling this functionality somehow. The method, and also the exposed keyword, should return True or False depending on whether stopping is allowed or not. That makes it possible for external tools to know if stopping the server succeeded.

The Python remote server can be used as a reference implementation.

Getting remote keyword names and other information

The Remote library gets the list of keywords that a remote server provides by using the get_keyword_names method. Remote servers must implement this method and the method must return keyword names as a list of strings.

Remote servers can, and should, also implement get_keyword_arguments, get_keyword_tags and get_keyword_documentation methods to provide more information about the keywords. All these methods take the name of the keyword as an argument. Arguments must be returned as a list of strings in the same format as with dynamic libraries, tags as a list of strings, and documentation as a string.

Remote servers can also provide general library documentation to be used when generating documentation with the Libdoc tool.

Note

get_keyword_tags is new in Robot Framework 3.0.2. With earlier versions keyword tags can be embedded into the keyword documentation.

Executing remote keywords

When the Remote library wants the server to execute some keyword, it calls the remote server's run_keyword method and passes it the keyword name, a list of arguments, and possibly a dictionary of free keyword arguments. Base types can be used as arguments directly, but more complex types are converted to supported types.

The server must return results of the execution in a result dictionary (or map, depending on terminology) containing items explained in the following table. Notice that only the status entry is mandatory, others can be omitted if they are not applicable.

Entries in the remote result dictionary
Name Explanation
status Mandatory execution status. Either PASS or FAIL.
output Possible output to write into the log file. Must be given as a single string but can contain multiple messages and different log levels in format *INFO* First message\n*HTML* <b>2nd</b>\n*WARN* Another message. It is also possible to embed timestamps to the log messages like *INFO:1308435758660* Message with timestamp.
return Possible return value. Must be one of the supported types.
error Possible error message. Used only when the execution fails.
traceback Possible stack trace to write into the log file using DEBUG level when the execution fails.
continuable When set to True, or any value considered True in Python, the occurred failure is considered continuable. New in Robot Framework 2.8.4.
fatal Like continuable, but denotes that the occurred failure is fatal. Also new in Robot Framework 2.8.4.

Different argument syntaxes

The Remote library is a dynamic library, and in general it handles different argument syntaxes according to the same rules as any other dynamic library. This includes mandatory arguments, default values, varargs, as well as named argument syntax.

Also free keyword arguments (**kwargs) works mostly the same way as with other dynamic libraries. First of all, the get_keyword_arguments must return an argument specification that contains **kwargs exactly like with any other dynamic library. The main difference is that remote servers' run_keyword method must have optional third argument that gets the kwargs specified by the user. The third argument must be optional because, for backwards-compatibility reasons, the Remote library passes kwargs to the run_keyword method only when they have been used in the test data.

In practice run_keyword should look something like the following Python and Java examples, depending on how the language handles optional arguments.

def run_keyword(name, args, kwargs=None):
    # ...
public Map run_keyword(String name, List args) {
    // ...
}

public Map run_keyword(String name, List args, Map kwargs) {
    // ...
}

Note

Remote library supports **kwargs starting from Robot Framework 2.8.3.

4.3   Listener interface

Robot Framework has a listener interface that can be used to receive notifications about test execution. Example usages include external test monitors, sending a mail message when a test fails, and communicating with other systems. Listener API version 3 also makes it possible to modify tests and results during the test execution.

Listeners are classes or modules with certain special methods, and they can be implemented both with Python and Java. Listeners that monitor the whole test execution must be taken into use from the command line. In addition to that, test libraries can register listeners that receive notifications while that library is active.

4.3.1   Taking listeners into use

Listeners are taken into use from the command line with the --listener option so that the name of the listener is given to it as an argument. The listener name is got from the name of the class or module implementing the listener interface, similarly as test library names are got from classes implementing them. The specified listeners must be in the same module search path where test libraries are searched from when they are imported. Other option is to give an absolute or a relative path to the listener file similarly as with test libraries. It is possible to take multiple listeners into use by using this option several times:

robot --listener MyListener tests.robot
robot --listener com.company.package.Listener tests.robot
robot --listener path/to/MyListener.py tests.robot
robot --listener module.Listener --listener AnotherListener tests.robot

It is also possible to give arguments to listener classes from the command line. Arguments are specified after the listener name (or path) using a colon (:) as a separator. If a listener is given as an absolute Windows path, the colon after the drive letter is not considered a separator. Starting from Robot Framework 2.8.7, it is possible to use a semicolon (;) as an alternative argument separator. This is useful if listener arguments themselves contain colons, but requires surrounding the whole value with quotes on UNIX-like operating systems:

robot --listener listener.py:arg1:arg2 tests.robot
robot --listener "listener.py;arg:with:colons" tests.robot
robot --listener C:\Path\Listener.py;D:\data;E:\extra tests.robot

4.3.2   Listener interface versions

There are two supported listener interface versions. Listener version 2 has been available since Robot Framework 2.1, and version 3 is supported by Robot Framework 3.0 and newer. A listener must have attribute ROBOT_LISTENER_API_VERSION with value 2 or 3, either as a string or as an integer, depending on which API version it uses. There has also been an older listener version 1, but it is not supported anymore by Robot Framework 3.0.

The main difference between listener versions 2 and 3 is that the former only gets information about the execution but cannot directly affect it. The latter interface gets data and result objects Robot Framework itself uses and is thus able to alter execution and change results. See listener examples for more information about what listeners can do.

Another difference between versions 2 and 3 is that the former supports both Python and Java but the latter supports only Python.

4.3.3   Listener interface methods

Robot Framework creates instances of listener classes when the test execution starts and uses listeners implemented as modules directly. During the test execution different listener methods are called when test suites, test cases and keywords start and end. Additional methods are called when a library or a resource or variable file is imported, when output files are ready, and finally when the whole test execution ends. A listener is not required to implement any official interface, and it only needs to have the methods it actually needs.

Listener versions 2 and 3 have mostly the same methods, but the arguments they accept are different. These methods and their arguments are explained in the following sections. All methods that have an underscore in their name have also camelCase alternative. For example, start_suite method can be used also with name startSuite.

Listener version 2

Listener methods in the API version 2 are listed in the following table. All methods related to test execution progress have the same signature method(name, attributes), where attributes is a dictionary containing details of the event. Listener methods are free to do whatever they want to do with the information they receive, but they cannot directly change it. If that is needed, listener version 3 can be used instead.

Methods in the listener API 2
Method Arguments Documentation
start_suite name, attributes

Called when a test suite starts.

Contents of the attribute dictionary:

  • id: Suite id. s1 for the top level suite, s1-s1 for its first child suite, s1-s2 for the second child, and so on. New in RF 2.8.5.
  • longname: Suite name including parent suites.
  • doc: Suite documentation.
  • metadata: Free test suite metadata as a dictionary/map.
  • source: An absolute path of the file/directory the suite was created from. New in RF 2.7.
  • suites: Names of the direct child suites this suite has as a list.
  • tests: Names of the tests this suite has as a list. Does not include tests of the possible child suites.
  • totaltests: The total number of tests in this suite. and all its sub-suites as an integer.
  • starttime: Suite execution start time.
end_suite name, attributes

Called when a test suite ends.

Contents of the attribute dictionary:

  • id: Same as in start_suite.
  • longname: Same as in start_suite.
  • doc: Same as in start_suite.
  • metadata: Same as in start_suite.
  • source: Same as in start_suite.
  • starttime: Same as in start_suite.
  • endtime: Suite execution end time.
  • elapsedtime: Total execution time in milliseconds as an integer
  • status: Suite status as string PASS or FAIL.
  • statistics: Suite statistics (number of passed and failed tests in the suite) as a string.
  • message: Error message if suite setup or teardown has failed, empty otherwise.
start_test name, attributes

Called when a test case starts.

Contents of the attribute dictionary:

  • id: Test id in format like s1-s2-t2, where the beginning is the parent suite id and the last part shows test index in that suite. New in RF 2.8.5.
  • longname: Test name including parent suites.
  • doc: Test documentation.
  • tags: Test tags as a list of strings.
  • critical: yes or no depending is test considered critical or not.
  • template: The name of the template used for the test. An empty string if the test not templated.
  • starttime: Test execution execution start time.
end_test name, attributes

Called when a test case ends.

Contents of the attribute dictionary:

  • id: Same as in start_test.
  • longname: Same as in start_test.
  • doc: Same as in start_test.
  • tags: Same as in start_test.
  • critical: Same as in start_test.
  • template: Same as in start_test.
  • starttime: Same as in start_test.
  • endtime: Test execution execution end time.
  • elapsedtime: Total execution time in milliseconds as an integer
  • status: Test status as string PASS or FAIL.
  • message: Status message. Normally an error message or an empty string.
start_keyword name, attributes

Called when a keyword starts.

name is the full keyword name containing possible library or resource name as a prefix. For example, MyLibrary.Example Keyword.

Contents of the attribute dictionary:

  • type: String Keyword for normal keywords, Setup or Teardown for the top level keyword used as setup/teardown, For for for loops, and For Item for individual for loop iterations. NOTE: Keyword type reporting was changed in RF 3.0. See issue #2248 for details.
  • kwname: Name of the keyword without library or resource prefix. New in RF 2.9.
  • libname: Name of the library or resource the keyword belongs to, or an empty string when the keyword is in a test case file. New in RF 2.9.
  • doc: Keyword documentation.
  • args: Keyword's arguments as a list of strings.
  • assign: A list of variable names that keyword's return value is assigned to. New in RF 2.9.
  • tags: Keyword tags as a list of strings. New in RF 3.0.
  • starttime: Keyword execution start time.
end_keyword name, attributes

Called when a keyword ends.

name is the full keyword name containing possible library or resource name as a prefix. For example, MyLibrary.Example Keyword.

Contents of the attribute dictionary:

  • type: Same as with start_keyword.
  • kwname: Same as with start_keyword.
  • libname: Same as with start_keyword.
  • doc: Same as with start_keyword.
  • args: Same as with start_keyword.
  • assign: Same as with start_keyword.
  • tags: Same as with start_keyword.
  • starttime: Same as with start_keyword.
  • endtime: Keyword execution end time.
  • elapsedtime: Total execution time in milliseconds as an integer
  • status: Keyword status as string PASS or FAIL.
log_message message

Called when an executed keyword writes a log message.

message is a dictionary with the following contents:

  • message: The content of the message.
  • level: Log level used in logging the message.
  • timestamp: Message creation time in format YYYY-MM-DD hh:mm:ss.mil.
  • html: String yes or no denoting whether the message should be interpreted as HTML or not.

Starting from RF 3.0, this method is not called if the message has level below the current threshold level.

message message

Called when the framework itself writes a syslog message.

message is a dictionary with the same contents as with log_message method.

library_import name, attributes

Called when a library has been imported.

name is the name of the imported library. If the library has been imported using the WITH NAME syntax, name is the specified alias.

Contents of the attribute dictionary:

  • args: Arguments passed to the library as a list.
  • originalname: The original library name when using the WITH NAME syntax, otherwise same as name.
  • source: An absolute path to the library source. None with libraries implemented with Java or if getting the source of the library failed for some reason.
  • importer: An absolute path to the file importing the library. None when BuiltIn is imported well as when using the Import Library keyword.

New in Robot Framework 2.9.

resource_import name, attributes

Called when a resource file has been imported.

name is the name of the imported resource file without the file extension.

Contents of the attribute dictionary:

  • source: An absolute path to the imported resource file.
  • importer: An absolute path to the file importing the resource file. None when using the Import Resource keyword.

New in Robot Framework 2.9.

variables_import name, attributes

Called when a variable file has been imported.

name is the name of the imported variable file with the file extension.

Contents of the attribute dictionary:

  • args: Arguments passed to the variable file as a list.
  • source: An absolute path to the imported variable file.
  • importer: An absolute path to the file importing the resource file. None when using the Import Variables keyword.

New in Robot Framework 2.9.

output_file path

Called when writing to an output file is ready.

path is an absolute path to the file.

log_file path

Called when writing to a log file is ready.

path is an absolute path to the file.

report_file path

Called when writing to a report file is ready.

path is an absolute path to the file.

xunit_file path

Called when writing to an xunit file is ready.

path is an absolute path to the file.

debug_file path

Called when writing to a debug file is ready.

path is an absolute path to the file.

close  

Called when the whole test execution ends.

With library listeners called when the library goes out of scope.

The available methods and their arguments are also shown in a formal Java interface specification below. Contents of the java.util.Map attributes are as in the table above. It should be remembered that a listener does not need to implement any explicit interface or have all these methods.

public interface RobotListenerInterface {
    public static final int ROBOT_LISTENER_API_VERSION = 2;
    void startSuite(String name, java.util.Map attributes);
    void endSuite(String name, java.util.Map attributes);
    void startTest(String name, java.util.Map attributes);
    void endTest(String name, java.util.Map attributes);
    void startKeyword(String name, java.util.Map attributes);
    void endKeyword(String name, java.util.Map attributes);
    void logMessage(java.util.Map message);
    void message(java.util.Map message);
    void outputFile(String path);
    void logFile(String path);
    void reportFile(String path);
    void debugFile(String path);
    void close();
}

Listener version 3

Listener version 3 has mostly the same methods as listener version 2 but arguments of the methods related to test execution are different. This API gets actual running and result model objects used by Robot Framework itself, and listeners can both directly query information they need and also change the model objects on the fly.

Listener version 3 was introduced in Robot Framework 3.0. At least initially it does not have all methods that the version 2 has. The main reason is that suitable model objects are not available internally. The close method and methods related to output files are called exactly same way in both versions.

Methods in the listener API 3
Method Arguments Documentation
start_suite data, result

Called when a test suite starts.

data and result are model objects representing the executed test suite and its execution results, respectively.

end_suite data, result

Called when a test suite ends.

Same arguments as with start_suite.

start_test data, result

Called when a test case starts.

data and result are model objects representing the executed test case and its execution results, respectively.

end_test data, result

Called when a test case ends.

Same arguments as with start_test.

start_keyword N/A Not implemented in RF 3.0.
end_keyword N/A Not implemented in RF 3.0.
log_message message

Called when an executed keyword writes a log message. message is a model object representing the logged message.

This method is not called if the message has level below the current threshold level.

message message

Called when the framework itself writes a syslog message.

message is same object as with log_message.

library_import N/A Not implemented in RF 3.0.
resource_import N/A Not implemented in RF 3.0.
variables_import N/A Not implemented in RF 3.0.
output_file path

Called when writing to an output file is ready.

path is an absolute path to the file.

log_file path

Called when writing to a log file is ready.

path is an absolute path to the file.

report_file path

Called when writing to a report file is ready.

path is an absolute path to the file.

xunit_file path

Called when writing to an xunit file is ready.

path is an absolute path to the file.

debug_file path

Called when writing to a debug file is ready.

path is an absolute path to the file.

close  

Called when the whole test execution ends.

With library listeners called when the library goes out of scope.

4.3.4   Listeners logging

Robot Framework offers a programmatic logging APIs that listeners can utilize. There are some limitations, however, and how different listener methods can log messages is explained in the table below.

How listener methods can log
Methods Explanation
start_keyword, end_keyword, log_message Messages are logged to the normal log file under the executed keyword.
start_suite, end_suite, start_test, end_test Messages are logged to the syslog. Warnings are shown also in the execution errors section of the normal log file.
message Messages are normally logged to the syslog. If this method is used while a keyword is executing, messages are logged to the normal log file.
Other methods Messages are only logged to the syslog.

Note

To avoid recursion, messages logged by listeners are not sent to listener methods log_message and message.

4.3.5   Listener examples

This section contains examples using the listener interface. There are first examples that just receive information from Robot Framework and then examples that modify executed tests and created results.

Getting information

The first example is implemented as Python module and uses the listener version 2.

"""Listener that stops execution if a test fails."""

ROBOT_LISTENER_API_VERSION = 2

def end_test(name, attrs):
    if attrs['status'] == 'FAIL':
        print 'Test "%s" failed: %s' % (name, attrs['message'])
        raw_input('Press enter to continue.')

If the above example would be saved to, for example, PauseExecution.py file, it could be used from the command line like this:

robot --listener path/to/PauseExecution.py tests.robot

The same example could also be implemented also using the newer listener version 3 and used exactly the same way from the command line.

"""Listener that stops execution if a test fails."""

ROBOT_LISTENER_API_VERSION = 3

def end_test(data, result):
    if not result.passed:
        print 'Test "%s" failed: %s' % (result.name, result.message)
        raw_input('Press enter to continue.')

The next example, which still uses Python, is slightly more complicated. It writes all the information it gets into a text file in a temporary directory without much formatting. The filename may be given from the command line, but also has a default value. Note that in real usage, the debug file functionality available through the command line option --debugfile is probably more useful than this example.

import os.path
import tempfile


class PythonListener:
    ROBOT_LISTENER_API_VERSION = 2

    def __init__(self, filename='listen.txt'):
        outpath = os.path.join(tempfile.gettempdir(), filename)
        self.outfile = open(outpath, 'w')

    def start_suite(self, name, attrs):
        self.outfile.write("%s '%s'\n" % (name, attrs['doc']))

    def start_test(self, name, attrs):
        tags = ' '.join(attrs['tags'])
        self.outfile.write("- %s '%s' [ %s ] :: " % (name, attrs['doc'], tags))

    def end_test(self, name, attrs):
        if attrs['status'] == 'PASS':
            self.outfile.write('PASS\n')
        else:
            self.outfile.write('FAIL: %s\n' % attrs['message'])

     def end_suite(self, name, attrs):
         self.outfile.write('%s\n%s\n' % (attrs['status'], attrs['message']))

     def close(self):
         self.outfile.close()

The following example implements the same functionality as the previous one, but uses Java instead of Python.

import java.io.*;
import java.util.Map;
import java.util.List;


public class JavaListener {
    public static final int ROBOT_LISTENER_API_VERSION = 2;
    public static final String DEFAULT_FILENAME = "listen_java.txt";
    private BufferedWriter outfile = null;

    public JavaListener() throws IOException {
        this(DEFAULT_FILENAME);
    }

    public JavaListener(String filename) throws IOException {
        String tmpdir = System.getProperty("java.io.tmpdir");
        String sep = System.getProperty("file.separator");
        String outpath = tmpdir + sep + filename;
        outfile = new BufferedWriter(new FileWriter(outpath));
    }

    public void startSuite(String name, Map attrs) throws IOException {
        outfile.write(name + " '" + attrs.get("doc") + "'\n");
    }

    public void startTest(String name, Map attrs) throws IOException {
        outfile.write("- " + name + " '" + attrs.get("doc") + "' [ ");
        List tags = (List)attrs.get("tags");
        for (int i=0; i < tags.size(); i++) {
           outfile.write(tags.get(i) + " ");
        }
        outfile.write(" ] :: ");
    }

    public void endTest(String name, Map attrs) throws IOException {
        String status = attrs.get("status").toString();
        if (status.equals("PASS")) {
            outfile.write("PASS\n");
        }
        else {
            outfile.write("FAIL: " + attrs.get("message") + "\n");
        }
    }

    public void endSuite(String name, Map attrs) throws IOException {
        outfile.write(attrs.get("status") + "\n" + attrs.get("message") + "\n");
    }

    public void close() throws IOException {
        outfile.close();
    }
}

Modifying execution and results

These examples illustrate how to modify the executed tests and suites as well as the execution results. All these examples require using the listener version 3.

Modifying executed suites and tests

Changing what is executed requires modifying the model object containing the executed test suite or test case objects passed as the first argument to start_suite and start_test methods. This is illustrated by the example below that adds a new test to each executed test suite and a new keyword to each test.

ROBOT_LISTENER_API_VERSION = 3

def start_suite(suite, result):
    suite.tests.create(name='New test')

def start_test(test, result):
    test.keywords.create(name='Log', args=['Keyword added by listener!'])

Trying to modify execution in end_suite or end_test methods does not work, simply because that suite or test has already been executed. Trying to modify the name, documentation or other similar metadata of the current suite or test in start_suite or start_test method does not work either, because the corresponding result object has already been created. Only changes to child tests or keywords actually have an effect.

This API is very similar to the pre-run modifier API that can be used to modify suites and tests before the whole test execution starts. The main benefit of using the listener API is that modifications can be done dynamically based on execution results or otherwise. This allows, for example, interesting possibilities for model based testing.

Although the listener interface is not built on top of Robot Framework's internal visitor interface similarly as the pre-run modifier API, listeners can still use the visitors interface themselves. For example, the SelectEveryXthTest visitor used in pre-run modifier examples could be used like this:

from SelectEveryXthTest import SelectEveryXthTest

ROBOT_LISTENER_API_VERSION = 3

def start_suite(suite, result):
    selector = SelectEveryXthTest(x=2)
    suite.visit(selector)
Modifying results

Test execution results can be altered by modifying test suite and test case result objects passed as the second argument to start_suite and start_test methods, respectively, and by modifying the message object passed to the log_message method. This is demonstrated by the following listener that is implemented as a class.

class ResultModifier(object):
    ROBOT_LISTENER_API_VERSION = 3

    def __init__(self, max_seconds=10):
        self.max_milliseconds = float(max_seconds) * 1000

   def start_suite(self, data, suite):
       suite.doc = 'Documentation set by listener.'
       # Information about tests only available via data at this point.
       smoke_tests = [test for test in data.tests if 'smoke' in test.tags]
       suite.metadata['Smoke tests'] = len(smoke_tests)

    def end_test(self, data, test):
        if test.status == 'PASS' and test.elapsedtime > self.max_milliseconds:
            test.status = 'FAIL'
            test.message = 'Test execution took too long.'

    def log_message(self, msg):
        if msg.level == 'WARN' and not msg.html:
            msg.message = '<b style="font-size: 1.5em">%s</b>' % msg.message
            msg.html = True

A limitation is that modifying the name of the current test suite or test case is not possible because it has already been written to the output.xml file when listeners are called. Due to the same reason modifying already finished tests in the end_suite method has no effect either.

This API is very similar to the pre-Rebot modifier API that can be used to modify results before report and log are generated. The main difference is that listeners modify also the created output.xml file.

4.3.6   Test libraries as listeners

Sometimes it is useful also for test libraries to get notifications about test execution. This allows them, for example, to perform certain clean-up activities automatically when a test suite or the whole test execution ends.

Note

This functionality is new in Robot Framework 2.8.5.

Registering listener

A test library can register a listener by using ROBOT_LIBRARY_LISTENER attribute. The value of this attribute should be an instance of the listener to use. It may be a totally independent listener or the library itself can act as a listener. To avoid listener methods to be exposed as keywords in the latter case, it is possible to prefix them with an underscore. For example, instead of using end_suite or endSuite, it is possible to use _end_suite or _endSuite.

Following examples illustrates using an external listener as well as library acting as a listener itself:

import my.project.Listener;

public class JavaLibraryWithExternalListener {
    public static final Listener ROBOT_LIBRARY_LISTENER = new Listener();
    public static final String ROBOT_LIBRARY_SCOPE = "GLOBAL";
    public static final int ROBOT_LISTENER_API_VERSION = 2;

    // actual library code here ...
}
class PythonLibraryAsListenerItself(object):
    ROBOT_LIBRARY_SCOPE = 'TEST SUITE'
    ROBOT_LISTENER_API_VERSION = 2

    def __init__(self):
        self.ROBOT_LIBRARY_LISTENER = self

    def _end_suite(self, name, attrs):
        print 'Suite %s (%s) ending.' % (name, attrs['id'])

    # actual library code here ...

As the seconds example above already demonstrated, library listeners have to specify listener interface versions using ROBOT_LISTENER_API_VERSION attribute exactly like any other listener.

Starting from version 2.9, you can also provide any list like object of instances in the ROBOT_LIBRARY_LISTENER attribute. This will cause all instances of the list to be registered as listeners.

Called listener methods

Library's listener will get notifications about all events in suites where the library is imported. In practice this means that start_suite, end_suite, start_test, end_test, start_keyword, end_keyword, log_message, and message methods are called inside those suites.

If the library creates a new listener instance every time when the library itself is instantiated, the actual listener instance to use will change according to the test library scope. In addition to the previously listed listener methods, close method is called when the library goes out of the scope.

See Listener interface methods section above for more information about all these methods.

4.4   Extending the Robot Framework Jar

Adding additional test libraries or support code to the Robot Framework jar is quite straightforward using the jar command included in standard JDK installation. Python code must be placed in Lib directory inside the jar and Java code can be placed directly to the root of the jar, according to package structure.

For example, to add Python package mytestlib to the jar, first copy the mytestlib directory under a directory called Lib, then run following command in the directory containing Lib:

jar uf /path/to/robotframework-2.7.1.jar Lib

To add compiled java classes to the jar, you must have a directory structure corresponding to the Java package structure and add that recursively to the zip.

For example, to add class MyLib.class, in package org.test, the file must be in org/test/MyLib.class and you can execute:

jar uf /path/to/robotframework-2.7.1.jar org

5   Supporting Tools

5.1   Library documentation tool (Libdoc)

Libdoc is Robot Framework's built-in tool for generating keyword documentation for test libraries and resource files in HTML and XML formats. The former format is suitable for humans and the latter for RIDE and other tools. Libdoc also has few special commands to show library or resource information on the console.

Documentation can be created for:

Additionally it is possible to use XML spec created by Libdoc earlier as an input.

5.1.1   General usage

Synopsis

python -m robot.libdoc [options] library_or_resource output_file
python -m robot.libdoc [options] library_or_resource list|show|version [names]

Options

-f, --format <html|xml>
 Specifies whether to generate HTML or XML output. If this options is not used, the format is got from the extension of the output file.
-F, --docformat <robot|html|text|rest>
 Specifies the source documentation format. Possible values are Robot Framework's documentation format, HTML, plain text, and reStructuredText. Default value can be specified in test library source code and the initial default value is robot. New in Robot Framework 2.7.5.
-N, --name <newname>
 Sets the name of the documented library or resource.
-V, --version <newversion>
 Sets the version of the documented library or resource. The default value for test libraries is got from the source code.
-P, --pythonpath <path>
 Additional locations where to search for libraries and resources similarly as when running tests.
-E, --escape <what:with>
 Escapes characters which are problematic in console. what is the name of the character to escape and with is the string to escape it with. Available escapes are listed in the --help output.
-h, --help Prints this help.

Alternative execution

Although Libdoc is used only with Python in the synopsis above, it works also with Jython and IronPython. When documenting Java libraries, Jython is actually required.

In the synopsis Libdoc is executed as an installed module (python -m robot.libdoc). In addition to that, it can be run also as a script:

python path/robot/libdoc.py [options] arguments

Executing as a script can be useful if you have done manual installation or otherwise just have the robot directory with the source code somewhere in your system.

Specifying library or resource file

Python libraries and dynamic libraries with name or path

When documenting libraries implemented with Python or that use the dynamic library API, it is possible to specify the library either by using just the library name or path to the library source code. In the former case the library is searched using the module search path and its name must be in the same format as in Robot Framework test data.

If these libraries require arguments when they are imported, the arguments must be catenated with the library name or path using two colons like MyLibrary::arg1::arg2. If arguments change what keywords the library provides or otherwise alter its documentation, it might be a good idea to use --name option to also change the library name accordingly.

Java libraries with path

A Java test library implemented using the static library API can be specified by giving the path to the source code file containing the library implementation. Additionally, tools.jar, which is part of the Java JDK distribution, must be found from CLASSPATH when Libdoc is executed. Notice that generating documentation for Java libraries works only with Jython.

Resource files with path

Resource files must always be specified using a path. If the path does not exist, resource files are also searched from all directories in the module search path similarly as when executing test cases.

Generating documentation

When generating documentation in HTML or XML format, the output file must be specified as the second argument after the library/resource name or path. Output format is got automatically from the extension but can also be set using the --format option.

Examples:

python -m robot.libdoc OperatingSystem OperatingSystem.html
python -m robot.libdoc --name MyLibrary Remote::http://10.0.0.42:8270 MyLibrary.xml
python -m robot.libdoc test/resource.html doc/resource_doc.html
jython -m robot.libdoc --version 1.0 MyJavaLibrary.java MyJavaLibrary.html
jython -m robot.libdoc my.organization.DynamicJavaLibrary my.organization.DynamicJavaLibrary.xml

Viewing information on console

Libdoc has three special commands to show information on the console. These commands are used instead of the name of the output file, and they can also take additional arguments.

list
List names of the keywords the library/resource contains. Can be limited to show only certain keywords by passing optional patterns as arguments. Keyword is listed if its name contains given pattern.
show
Show library/resource documentation. Can be limited to show only certain keywords by passing names as arguments. Keyword is shown if its name matches any given name. Special argument intro will show only the library introduction and importing sections.
version
Show library version

Optional patterns given to list and show are case and space insensitive. Both also accept * and ? as wildcards.

Examples:

python -m robot.libdoc Dialogs list
python -m robot.libdoc Selenium2Library list browser
python -m robot.libdoc Remote::10.0.0.42:8270 show
python -m robot.libdoc Dialogs show PauseExecution execute*
python -m robot.libdoc Selenium2Library show intro
python -m robot.libdoc Selenium2Library version

5.1.2   Writing documentation

This section discusses writing documentation for Python and Java based test libraries that use the static library API as well as for dynamic libraries and resource files. Creating test libraries and resource files is described in more details elsewhere in the User Guide.

Python libraries

The documentation for Python libraries that use the static library API is written simply as doc strings for the library class or module and for methods implementing keywords. The first line of the method documentation is considered as a short documentation for the keyword (used, for example, as a tool tip in links in the generated HTML documentation), and it should thus be as describing as possible, but not too long.

The simple example below illustrates how to write the documentation in general, and there is a bit longer example at the end of this chapter containing also an example of the generated documentation.

class ExampleLib:
    """Library for demo purposes.

    This library is only used in an example and it doesn't do anything useful.
    """

    def my_keyword(self):
        """Does nothing."""
        pass

    def your_keyword(self, arg):
        """Takes one argument and *does nothing* with it.

        Examples:
        | Your Keyword | xxx |
        | Your Keyword | yyy |
        """
        pass

Tip

If you want to use non-ASCII charactes in the documentation of Python libraries, you must either use UTF-8 as your source code encoding or create docstrings as Unicode.

For more information on Python documentation strings, see PEP-257.

Java libraries

Documentation for Java libraries that use the static library API is written as normal Javadoc comments for the library class and methods. In this case Libdoc actually uses the Javadoc tool internally, and thus tools.jar containing it must be in CLASSPATH. This jar file is part of the normal Java SDK distribution and ought to be found from bin directory under the Java SDK installation.

The following simple example has exactly same documentation (and functionality) than the earlier Python example.

/**
 * Library for demo purposes.
 *
 * This library is only used in an example and it doesn't do anything useful.
 */
public class ExampleLib {

    /**
     * Does nothing.
     */
    public void myKeyword() {
    }

    /**
     * Takes one argument and *does nothing* with it.
     *
     * Examples:
     * | Your Keyword | xxx |
     * | Your Keyword | yyy |
     */
    public void yourKeyword(String arg) {
    }
}

Dynamic libraries

To be able to generate meaningful documentation for dynamic libraries, the libraries must return keyword argument names and documentation using get_keyword_arguments and get_keyword_documentation methods (or using their camelCase variants getKeywordArguments and getKeywordDocumentation). Libraries can also support general library documentation via special __intro__ and __init__ values to the get_keyword_documentation method.

See the Dynamic library API section for more information about how to create these methods.

Importing section

A separate section about how the library is imported is created based on its initialization methods. For a Python library, if it has an __init__ method that takes arguments in addition to self, its documentation and arguments are shown. For a Java library, if it has a public constructor that accepts arguments, all its public constructors are shown.

class TestLibrary:

    def __init__(self, mode='default')
        """Creates new TestLibrary. `mode` argument is used to determine mode."""
        self.mode = mode

    def some_keyword(self, arg):
        """Does something based on given `arg`.

        What is done depends on the `mode` specified when `importing` the library.
        """
        if self.mode == 'secret':
             # ...

Resource file documentation

Keywords in resource files can have documentation using [Documentation] setting, and this documentation is also used by Libdoc. First line of the documentation (until the first implicit newline or explicit \n) is considered to be the short documentation similarly as with test libraries.

Also the resource file itself can have Documentation in the Setting table for documenting the whole resource file.

Possible variables in resource files can not be documented.

*** Settings ***
Documentation    Resource file for demo purposes.
...              This resource is only used in an example and it doesn't do anything useful.

*** Keywords ***
My Keyword
    [Documentation]   Does nothing
    No Operation

Your Keyword
    [Arguments]  ${arg}
    [Documentation]   Takes one argument and *does nothing* with it.
    ...
    ...    Examples:
    ...    | Your Keyword | xxx |
    ...    | Your Keyword | yyy |
    No Operation

5.1.3   Documentation syntax

Libdoc supports documentation in Robot Framework's own documentation syntax, HTML, plain text, and reStructuredText. The format to use can be specified in test library source code using ROBOT_LIBRARY_DOC_FORMAT attribute or given from the command line using --docformat (-F) option. In both cases the possible case-insensitive values are ROBOT (default), HTML, TEXT and reST.

Robot Framework's own documentation format is the default and generally recommended format. Other formats are especially useful when using existing code with existing documentation in test libraries. Support for other formats was added in Robot Framework 2.7.5.

Robot Framework documentation syntax

Most important features in Robot Framework's documentation syntax are formatting using *bold* and _italic_, custom links and automatic conversion of URLs to links, and the possibility to create tables and pre-formatted text blocks (useful for examples) simply with pipe character. If documentation gets longer, support for section titles (new in Robot Framework 2.7.5) can also be handy.

Some of the most important formatting features are illustrated in the example below. Notice that since this is the default format, there is no need to use ROBOT_LIBRARY_DOC_FORMAT attribute nor give the format from the command line.

"""Example library in Robot Framework format.

- Formatting with *bold* and _italic_.
- URLs like http://example.com are turned to links.
- Custom links like [http://robotframework.org|Robot Framework] are supported.
- Linking to `My Keyword` works.
"""

def my_keyword():
    """Nothing more to see here."""

HTML documentation syntax

When using HTML format, you can create documentation pretty much freely using any syntax. The main drawback is that HTML markup is not that human friendly, and that can make the documentation in the source code hard to maintain and read. Documentation in HTML format is used by Libdoc directly without any transformation or escaping. The special syntax for linking to keywords using syntax like `My Keyword` is supported, however.

Example below contains the same formatting examples as the previous example. Now ROBOT_LIBRARY_DOC_FORMAT attribute must be used or format given on the command line like --docformat HTML.

"""Example library in HTML format.

<ul>
  <li>Formatting with <b>bold</b> and <i>italic</i>.
  <li>URLs are not turned to links automatically.
  <li>Custom links like <a href="http://www.w3.org/html">HTML</a> are supported.
  <li>Linking to `My Keyword` works.
</ul>
"""
ROBOT_LIBRARY_DOC_FORMAT = 'HTML'

def my_keyword():
    """Nothing more to see here."""

Plain text documentation syntax

When the plain text format is used, Libdoc uses the documentation as-is. Newlines and other whitespace are preserved except for indentation, and HTML special characters (<>&) escaped. The only formatting done is turning URLs into clickable links and supporting internal linking like `My Keyword`.

"""Example library in plain text format.

- Formatting is not supported.
- URLs like http://example.com are turned to links.
- Custom links are not supported.
- Linking to `My Keyword` works.
"""
ROBOT_LIBRARY_DOC_FORMAT = 'text'

def my_keyword():
    """Nothing more to see here."""

reStructuredText documentation syntax

reStructuredText is simple yet powerful markup syntax used widely in Python projects (including this User Guide) and elsewhere. The main limitation is that you need to have the docutils module installed to be able to generate documentation using it. Because backtick characters have special meaning in reStructuredText, linking to keywords requires them to be escaped like \`My Keyword\`.

One of the nice features that reStructured supports is the ability to mark code blocks that can be syntax highlighted. The code block syntax has always worked with Robot Framework, but they are highlighted only in RF 3.0.1 and newer. Syntax highlight requires additional Pygments module and supports all the languages that Pygments supports.

"""Example library in reStructuredText format.

- Formatting with **bold** and *italic*.
- URLs like http://example.com are turned to links.
- Custom links like reStructuredText__ are supported.
- Linking to \`My Keyword\` works but requires backtics to be escaped.

__ http://docutils.sourceforge.net

.. code:: robotframework

    *** Test Cases ***
    Example
        My keyword    # How cool is this!!?!!?!1!!
"""
ROBOT_LIBRARY_DOC_FORMAT = 'reST'

def my_keyword():
    """Nothing more to see here."""

5.1.4   Internal linking

Libdoc supports internal linking to keywords and different sections in the documentation. Linking is done by surrounding the target name with backtick characters like `target`. Target names are case-insensitive and possible targets are explained in the subsequent sections.

There is no error or warning if a link target is not found, but instead Libdoc just formats the text in italics. Earlier this formatting was recommended to be used when referring to keyword arguments, but that was problematic because it could accidentally create internal links. Nowadays it is recommended to use inline code style with double backticks like ``argument`` instead. The old formatting of single backticks may even be removed in the future in favor of giving an error when a link target is not found.

In addition to the examples in the following sections, internal linking and argument formatting is shown also in the longer example at the end of this chapter.

Linking to keywords

All keywords the library have automatically create link targets and they can be linked using syntax `Keyword Name`. This is illustrated with the example below where both keywords have links to each others.

def keyword(log_level="INFO"):
    """Does something and logs the output using the given level.

    Valid values for log level` are "INFO" (default) "DEBUG" and "TRACE".

    See also `Another Keyword`.
    """
    # ...

def another_keyword(argument, log_level="INFO"):
    """Does something with the given argument else and logs the output.

    See `Keyword` for information about valid log levels.
    """
    # ...

Note

When using reStructuredText documentation syntax, backticks must be escaped like \`Keyword Name\`.

Linking to automatic sections

The documentation generated by Libdoc always contains sections for overall library introduction, shortcuts to keywords, and for actual keywords. If a library itself takes arguments, there is also separate importing section.

All these sections act as targets that can be linked, and the possible target names are listed in the table below. Using these targets is shown in the example of the next section.

Automatic section link targets
Section Target
Introduction `introduction` and `library introduction`
Importing `importing` and `library importing`
Shortcuts `shortcuts` (New in Robot Framework 2.7.5.)
Keywords `keywords` (New in Robot Framework 2.7.5.)

Linking to custom sections

Starting from version 2.7.5, Robot Framework's documentation syntax supports custom section titles, and the titles used in the library or resource file introduction automatically create link targets. The example below illustrates linking both to automatic and custom sections:

"""Library for Libdoc demonstration purposes.

This library does not do anything useful.

= My section  =

We do have a custom section in the documentation, though.
"""

def keyword():
    """Does nothing.

    See `introduction` for more information and `My section` to test how
    linking to custom sections works.
    """
    pass

Note

Linking to custom sections works only when using Robot Framework documentation syntax.

Note

Prior to Robot Framework 2.8, only the first level section titles were linkable.

5.1.5   Representing arguments

Libdoc handles keywords' arguments automatically so that arguments specified for methods in libraries or user keywords in resource files are listed in a separate column. User keyword arguments are shown without ${} or @{} to make arguments look the same regardless where keywords originated from.

Regardless how keywords are actually implemented, Libdoc shows arguments similarly as when creating keywords in Python. This formatting is explained more thoroughly in the table below.

How Libdoc represents arguments
Arguments Now represented Examples
No arguments Empty column.  
One or more argument List of strings containing argument names.
one_argument
a1, a2, a3
Default values for arguments Default values separated from names with =.
arg=default value
a, b=1, c=2
Variable number of arguments (varargs) Last (or second last with kwargs) argument has * before its name.
*varargs
a, b=42, *rest
Free keyword arguments (kwargs) Last arguments has ** before its name.
**kwargs
a, b=42, **kws
*varargs, **kwargs

When referring to arguments in keyword documentation, it is recommended to use inline code style like ``argument``.

5.1.6   Libdoc example

The following example illustrates how to use the most important documentation formatting possibilities, internal linking, and so on. Click here to see how the generated documentation looks like.

class LoggingLibrary:
    """Library for logging messages.

    = Table of contents =

    - `Usage`
    - `Valid log levels`
    - `Examples`
    - `Importing`
    - `Shortcuts`
    - `Keywords`

    = Usage =

    This library has several keyword, for example `Log Message`, for logging
    messages. In reality the library is used only for _Libdoc_ demonstration
    purposes.

    = Valid log levels =

    Valid log levels are ``INFO``, ``DEBUG``, and ``TRACE``. The default log
    level can be set during `importing`.

    = Examples =

    Notice how keywords are linked from examples.

    | `Log Message`      | My message    |                |               |
    | `Log Two Messages` | My message    | Second message | level=DEBUG   |
    | `Log Messages`     | First message | Second message | Third message |
    """
    ROBOT_LIBRARY_VERSION = '0.1'

    def __init__(self, default_level='INFO'):
        """The default log level can be given at library import time.

        See `Valid log levels` section for information about available log
        levels.

        Examples:

        | =Setting= |     =Value=    | =Value= |          =Comment=         |
        | Library   | LoggingLibrary |         | # Use default level (INFO) |
        | Library   | LoggingLibrary | DEBUG   | # Use the given level      |
        """
        self.default_level = self._verify_level(default_level)

    def _verify_level(self, level):
        level = level.upper()
        if level not in ['INFO', 'DEBUG', 'TRACE']:
            raise RuntimeError("Invalid log level'%s'. Valid levels are "
                               "'INFO', 'DEBUG', and 'TRACE'")
        return level

    def log_message(self, message, level=None):
        """Writes given message to the log file using the specified log level.

        The message to log and the log level to use are defined using
        ``message`` and ``level`` arguments, respectively.

        If no log level is given, the default level given during `library
        importing` is used.
        """
        level = self._verify_level(level) if level else self.default_level
        print "*%s* %s" % (level, message)

    def log_two_messages(self, message1, message2, level=None):
        """Writes given messages to the log file using the specified log level.

        See `Log Message` keyword for more information.
        """
        self.log_message(message1, level)
        self.log_message(message2, level)

    def log_messages(self, *messages):
        """Logs given messages using the log level set during `importing`.

        See also `Log Message` and `Log Two Messages`.
        """
        for msg in messages:
            self.log_message(msg)

All standard libraries have documentation generated by Libdoc and their documentation (and source code) act as a more realistic examples.

5.2   Test data documentation tool (Testdoc)

Testdoc is Robot Framework's built-in tool for generating high level documentation based on test cases. The created documentation is in HTML format and it includes name, documentation and other metadata of each test suite and test case, as well as the top-level keywords and their arguments.

5.2.1   General usage

Synopsis

python -m robot.testdoc [options] data_sources output_file

Options

-T, --title <title>
 Set the title of the generated documentation. Underscores in the title are converted to spaces. The default title is the name of the top level suite.
-N, --name <name>
 Override the name of the top level test suite.
-D, --doc <doc>
 Override the documentation of the top level test suite.
-M, --metadata <name:value>
 Set/override free metadata of the top level test suite.
-G, --settag <tag>
 Set given tag(s) to all test cases.
-t, --test <name>
 Include tests by name.
-s, --suite <name>
 Include suites by name.
-i, --include <tag>
 Include tests by tags.
-e, --exclude <tag>
 Exclude tests by tags.
-A, --argumentfile <path>
 Text file to read more arguments from. Works exactly like argument files when running tests. New in Robot Framework 3.0.2.
-h, --help Print this help in the console.

All options except --title have exactly the same semantics as same options have when executing test cases.

5.2.2   Generating documentation

Data can be given as a single file, directory, or as multiple files and directories. In all these cases, the last argument must be the file where to write the output.

Testdoc works with all interpreters supported by Robot Framework (Python, Jython and IronPython). It can be executed as an installed module like python -m robot.testdoc or as a script like python path/robot/testdoc.py.

Examples:

python -m robot.testdoc my_test.html testdoc.html
jython -m robot.testdoc --name smoke_tests --include smoke path/to/my_tests smoke.html
ipy path/to/robot/testdoc.py first_suite.txt second_suite.txt output.html

5.3   Test data clean-up tool (Tidy)

Tidy is Robot Framework's built-in a tool for cleaning up and changing the format of Robot Framework test data files.

The output is written into the standard output stream by default, but an optional output file can be given starting from Robot Framework 2.7.5. Files can also be modified in-place using --inplace or --recursive options.

5.3.1   General usage

Synopsis

python -m robot.tidy [options] inputfile
python -m robot.tidy [options] inputfile [outputfile]
python -m robot.tidy --inplace [options] inputfile [more input files]
python -m robot.tidy --recursive [options] directory

Options

-i, --inplace

Tidy given file(s) so that original file(s) are overwritten (or removed, if the format is changed). When this option is used, it is possible to give multiple input files. Examples:

python -m robot.tidy --inplace tests.html
python -m robot.tidy --inplace --format txt *.html
-r, --recursive
 Process given directory recursively. Files in the directory are processed in place similarly as when --inplace option is used.
-f, --format <robot|txt|html|tsv>
 Output file format. If the output file is given explicitly, the default value is got from its extension. Otherwise the format is not changed.
-p, --use-pipes
 Use a pipe character (|) as a cell separator in the txt format.
-s, --spacecount <number>
 The number of spaces between cells in the txt format. New in Robot Framework 2.7.3.
-l, --lineseparator <native|windows|unix>
 

Line separator to use in outputs. The default is 'native'.

  • native: use operating system's native line separators
  • windows: use Windows line separators (CRLF)
  • unix: use Unix line separators (LF)

New in Robot Framework 2.7.6.

-h, --help Show this help.

Alternative execution

Although Tidy is used only with Python in the synopsis above, it works also with Jython and IronPython. In the synopsis Tidy is executed as an installed module (python -m robot.tidy), but it can be run also as a script:

python path/robot/tidy.py [options] arguments

Executing as a script can be useful if you have done manual installation or otherwise just have the robot directory with the source code somewhere in your system.

Output encoding

All output files are written using UTF-8 encoding. Outputs written to the console use the current console encoding.

5.3.2   Cleaning up test data

Test case files created with HTML editors or written by hand can be normalized using Tidy. Tidy always writes consistent headers, consistent order for settings, and consistent amount of whitespace between cells and tables.

Examples:

python -m robot.tidy messed_up_tests.html cleaned_tests.html
python -m robot.tidy --inplace tests.txt

5.3.3   Changing test data format

Robot Framework supports test data in HTML, TSV and TXT formats and Tidy makes changing between the formats trivial. Input format is always determined based on the extension of the input file. Output format can be set using the --format option, and the default value is got from the extension of the possible output file.

Examples:

python -m robot.tidy tests.html tests.txt
python -m robot.tidy --format txt --inplace tests.html
python -m robot.tidy --format tsv --recursive mytests

5.4   External tools

There are plenty of external tools that can be used with Robot Framework. These tools include test data editor RIDE, extensions for various IDEs and text editors, plugins to continuous integration systems and build tools, and so on.

These tools are developed as separate projects independently from Robot Framework itself. For a list of the available tools see http://robotframework.org/#tools.

Note

Some supporting tools used to be distributed with Robot Framework itself. Nowadays all those tools are also available separately and they were removed both from the repository and source distribution in Robot Framework 2.8.6.

6   Appendices

6.1   All available settings in test data

6.1.1   Setting table

The Setting table is used to import test libraries, resource files and variable files and to define metadata for test suites and test cases. It can be included in test case files and resource files. Note that in a resource file, a Setting table can only include settings for importing libraries, resources, and variables.

Settings available in the Setting table
Name Description
Library Used for importing libraries.
Resource Used for taking resource files into use.
Variables Used for taking variable files into use.
Documentation Used for specifying a test suite or resource file documentation.
Metadata Used for setting free test suite metadata.
Suite Setup Used for specifying the suite setup.
Suite Teardown Used for specifying the suite teardown.
Force Tags Used for specifying forced values for tags when tagging test cases.
Default Tags Used for specifying default values for tags when tagging test cases.
Test Setup Used for specifying a default test setup.
Test Teardown Used for specifying a default test teardown.
Test Template Used for specifying a default template keyword for test cases.
Test Timeout Used for specifying a default test case timeout.

Note

All setting names can optionally include a colon at the end, for example Documentation:. This can make reading the settings easier especially when using the plain text format.

6.1.2   Test Case table

The settings in the Test Case table are always specific to the test case for which they are defined. Some of these settings override the default values defined in the Settings table.

Settings available in the Test Case table
Name Description
[Documentation] Used for specifying a test case documentation.
[Tags] Used for tagging test cases.
[Setup] Used for specifying a test setup.
[Teardown] Used for specifying a test teardown.
[Template] Used for specifying a template keyword.
[Timeout] Used for specifying a test case timeout.

6.1.3   Keyword table

Settings in the Keyword table are specific to the user keyword for which they are defined.

Settings available in the Keyword table
Name Description
[Documentation] Used for specifying a user keyword documentation.
[Tags] Used for specifying user keyword tags.
[Arguments] Used for specifying user keyword arguments.
[Return] Used for specifying user keyword return values.
[Teardown] Used for specifying user keyword teardown.
[Timeout] Used for specifying a user keyword timeout.

6.2   All command line options

This appendix lists all the command line options that are available when executing test cases and when post-processing outputs. Also environment variables affecting execution and post-processing are listed.

6.2.1   Command line options for test execution

-F, --extension <value>
 Parse only these files when executing a directory.
-N, --name <name>
 Sets the name of the top-level test suite.
-D, --doc <document>
 Sets the documentation of the top-level test suite.
-M, --metadata <name:value>
 Sets free metadata for the top level test suite.
-G, --settag <tag>
 Sets the tag(s) to all executed test cases.
-t, --test <name>
 Selects the test cases by name.
-s, --suite <name>
 Selects the test suites by name.
-R, --rerunfailed <file>
 Selects failed tests from an earlier output file to be re-executed.
-S, --rerunfailedsuites <file>
 Selects failed test suites from an earlier output file to be re-executed.
-i, --include <tag>
 Selects the test cases by tag.
-e, --exclude <tag>
 Selects the test cases by tag.
-c, --critical <tag>
 Tests that have the given tag are considered critical.
-n, --noncritical <tag>
 Tests that have the given tag are not critical.
-v, --variable <name:value>
 Sets individual variables.
-V, --variablefile <path:args>
 Sets variables using variable files.
-d, --outputdir <dir>
 Defines where to create output files.
-o, --output <file>
 Sets the path to the generated output file.
-l, --log <file>
 Sets the path to the generated log file.
-r, --report <file>
 Sets the path to the generated report file.
-x, --xunit <file>
 Sets the path to the generated xUnit compatible result file.
--xunitskipnoncritical
 Mark non-critical tests on xUnit compatible result file as skipped.
-b, --debugfile <file>
 A debug file that is written during execution.
-T, --timestampoutputs
 Adds a timestamp to all output files.
--splitlog Split log file into smaller pieces that open in browser transparently.
--logtitle <title>
 Sets a title for the generated test log.
--reporttitle <title>
 Sets a title for the generated test report.
--reportbackground <colors>
 Sets background colors of the generated report.
-L, --loglevel <level>
 Sets the threshold level for logging. Optionally the default visible log level can be given separated with a colon (:).
--suitestatlevel <level>
 Defines how many levels to show in the Statistics by Suite table in outputs.
--tagstatinclude <tag>
 Includes only these tags in the Statistics by Tag table.
--tagstatexclude <tag>
 Excludes these tags from the Statistics by Tag table.
--tagstatcombine <tags:title>
 Creates combined statistics based on tags.
--tagdoc <pattern:doc>
 Adds documentation to the specified tags.
--tagstatlink <pattern:link:title>
 Adds external links to the Statistics by Tag table.
--removekeywords <all|passed|name:pattern|tag:pattern|for|wuks>
 Removes keyword data from the generated log file.
--flattenkeywords <for|foritem|name:pattern|tag:pattern>
 Flattens keywords in the generated log file.
--listener <name:args>
 Sets a listener for monitoring test execution.
--warnonskippedfiles
 Show a warning when an invalid file is skipped.
--nostatusrc Sets the return code to zero regardless of failures in test cases. Error codes are returned normally.
--runemptysuite
 Executes tests also if the selected test suites are empty.
--dryrun In the dry run mode tests are run without executing keywords originating from test libraries. Useful for validating test data syntax.
-X, --exitonfailure
 Stops test execution if any critical test fails.
--exitonerror Stops test execution if any error occurs when parsing test data, importing libraries, and so on.
--skipteardownonexit
 Skips teardowns is test execution is prematurely stopped.
--prerunmodifier <name:args>
 Activate programmatic modification of test data.
--prerebotmodifier <name:args>
 Activate programmatic modification of results.
--randomize <all|suites|tests|none>
 Randomizes test execution order.
--console <verbose|dotted|quiet|none>
 Console output type.
--dotted Shortcut for --console dotted.
--quiet Shortcut for --console quiet.
-W, --consolewidth <width>
 Sets the width of the console output.
-C, --consolecolors <auto|on|ansi|off>
 Specifies are colors used on the console.
-K, --consolemarkers <auto|on|off>
 Show markers on the console when top level keywords in a test case end.
-P, --pythonpath <path>
 Additional locations to add to the module search path.
-E, --escape <what:with>
 Escapes characters that are problematic in the console.
-A, --argumentfile <path>
 A text file to read more arguments from.
-h, --help Prints usage instructions.
--version Prints the version information.

6.2.2   Command line options for post-processing outputs

-R, --merge Changes result combining behavior to merging.
-N, --name <name>
 Sets the name of the top level test suite.
-D, --doc <document>
 Sets the documentation of the top-level test suite.
-M, --metadata <name:value>
 Sets free metadata for the top-level test suite.
-G, --settag <tag>
 Sets the tag(s) to all processed test cases.
-t, --test <name>
 Selects the test cases by name.
-s, --suite <name>
 Selects the test suites by name.
-i, --include <tag>
 Selects the test cases by tag.
-e, --exclude <tag>
 Selects the test cases by tag.
-c, --critical <tag>
 Tests that have the given tag are considered critical.
-n, --noncritical <tag>
 Tests that have the given tag are not critical.
-d, --outputdir <dir>
 Defines where to create output files.
-o, --output <file>
 Sets the path to the generated output file.
-l, --log <file>
 Sets the path to the generated log file.
-r, --report <file>
 Sets the path to the generated report file.
-x, --xunit <file>
 Sets the path to the generated xUnit compatible result file.
--xunitskipnoncritical
 Mark non-critical tests on xUnit compatible result file as skipped.
-T, --timestampoutputs
 Adds a timestamp to all output files.
--splitlog Split log file into smaller pieces that open in browser transparently.
--logtitle <title>
 Sets a title for the generated test log.
--reporttitle <title>
 Sets a title for the generated test report.
--reportbackground <colors>
 Sets background colors of the generated report.
-L, --loglevel <level>
 Sets the threshold level to select log messages. Optionally the default visible log level can be given separated with a colon (:).
--suitestatlevel <level>
 Defines how many levels to show in the Statistics by Suite table in outputs.
--tagstatinclude <tag>
 Includes only these tags in the Statistics by Tag table.
--tagstatexclude <tag>
 Excludes these tags from the Statistics by Tag table.
--tagstatcombine <tags:title>
 Creates combined statistics based on tags.
--tagdoc <pattern:doc>
 Adds documentation to the specified tags.
--tagstatlink <pattern:link:title>
 Adds external links to the Statistics by Tag table.
--removekeywords <all|passed|name:pattern|tag:pattern|for|wuks>
 Removes keyword data from the generated outputs.
--flattenkeywords <for|foritem|name:pattern|tag:pattern>
 Flattens keywords in the generated outputs.
--starttime <timestamp>
 Sets the starting time of test execution when creating reports.
--endtime <timestamp>
 Sets the ending time of test execution when creating reports.
--nostatusrc Sets the return code to zero regardless of failures in test cases. Error codes are returned normally.
--processemptysuite
 Processes output files even if files contain empty test suites.
--prerebotmodifier <name:args>
 Activate programmatic modification of results.
-C, --consolecolors <auto|on|ansi|off>
 Specifies are colors used on the console.
-P, --pythonpath <path>
 Additional locations to add to the module search path.
-E, --escape <what:with>
 Escapes characters that are problematic in the console.
-A, --argumentfile <path>
 A text file to read more arguments from.
-h, --help Prints usage instructions.
--version Prints the version information.

6.2.3   Environment variables for execution and post-processing

ROBOT_OPTIONS and REBOT_OPTIONS
Space separated list of default options to be placed in