This guide is on using BrowserStack to run UI Tests on cloud devices.

I don’t recommend using BrowserStack, unless you need:

  • UI Testing with cloud devices
  • Want the same stack for testing across all platforms (Android, iOS, Web)
  • Probably a dedicated QA engineer

If you are an indie..

If you don’t need all of the above, and is just an indie, focusing on iOS, then keep it simple.

For UI Testing, use XCUITest framework and add test cases to the project in Xcode. Make use of the UI recorder.

Run on as many simulators.

Integrate to your CI tool eg. travis.

Ok, so you want BrowserStack..

But if you are still here, ok, I have some guide for you, because the ecosystem is just too complicated. Many things are never explained.

BrowserStack documentation is terrible. They will guide you on how to set up with Appium, that’s all.

BrowserStack main contribution is their cloud devices, aka the capabilities you can use.

It’s all about Appium

You need to understand Appium, know the goals, and how they achieve it.

  • You test on the same compiled app you ship to App Store
  • Appium use vendor supplied framework eg XCUITest under the hood
  • WebDriver API wraps the hood, providing a REST + JSON API to drive the tests
  • WebDriver is the same protocol as Selenium
  • Extend WebDriver for mobile automation
  • Appium is open source

Appium has a server-client architecture.

BrowserStack simply runs the server part. as client

You need to use a client and write the tests, and is one such client. There are others.

Let’s look at the JS code that uses webdriver.

it('should show do something', () => {
return browser
  .then(visible => {

Each of the API called from browser is WebDriver’s API.


In the code, we illustrated 2 ways you can refer to UI elements.

Using accessibility identifer such as ~some-accessibility-id is the preferred way.

Because Xpath is not stable on Appium!

Note: Don’t use the old UIAutomation framework selector.

Appium Inspector

You can easily find the Xpath by using the Appium Desktop Inspector app.

  1. Start Server
  2. Start Inspector Session
  3. Create and save a capability
  4. One of the capability you must add is app which points to your IPA file eg /Users/junda/Library/Developer/Xcode/DerivedData/MyApp-avrefqcpyqccstgkxgaottezlrvt/Build/Products/Debug-iphonesimulator/
  5. Start Session
  6. Xcode simulator will run and you can inspect!




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