Automating Gestures

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Blog image - automating gestures

How to use touch actions in Appium

Up until now we have looked into basic Appium automation, such as finding and clicking on a button or typing text into a text field. However, “real world” mobile applications are more sophisticated and contain many complex UI elements that require user interactions such as double tap, long press, swipe left/right, pull up/down and even multi-touch actions.

Appium supports the following gestures:

  • Tap on an element.
  • Tap on x, y coordinates.
  • Press an element for a particular duration.
  • Press x, y coordinates for a particular duration.
  • Horizontal swipe: Using start and end percentage of the screen height and width.
  • Vertical swipe: Using start and end percentage of the screen height and width.
  • Drag(Swipe) one element to another element.
  • Multitouch for an element.

Appium supports these gestures using the TouchActions class.

TouchAction touchAction = new TouchAction(driver);

Some of the supported methods are:

Method NamePurpose
Press(PointOption pressOptions)Press action on the screen.
LongPress(LongPressOptions longPressOptions)Press and hold the at the center of an element until the context menu event has fired.
Tap(PointOption tapOptions)Tap on a position.
MoveTo(PointOption moveToOptions)Moves current touch to a new position.
Moves current touch to a new position.
perform()Perform this chain of actions on the performsTouchActions.

Official Appium API docs: Click Here.!

Before exploring each mentioned action we need to understand the significance of perform() as it plays a vital role. The Appium client simply records all the instructions and actions on the client side and stores the intermediate values in a local data structure. The perform() method is used to send all actions to the appium server – ss soon as perform() is called, the intermediate actions and instructions are converted to JSON and sent to the appium server, and then actual action is being performed. So for any gesture code the last method called would be perform()

Note: This is a common omission during development, forgetting to call perform() and wondering why your test isn’t working!

Appium fully supports native applications. So if the application is designed natively for the platform (iOS or Android), then you can easily find the unique selectors for automation, but there are case when you use cross-platform development technologies such as react native, ionic or xamarin framework. In this instance, sometime elements are not present for a particular screen or even a whole application.

For example, most of games are coded using the Unity3D platform rather than native coding, so there would not be a single element that can be located by any tool or even by the appium inspector. However we are not talking about game automation right now.

The main takeaway here is that if you are not able to get the selector for any element for any reason then only one survival option remains. Which is to get the x, y coordinates for that element.

NOTE: Please remember that you can only click on that element using appium.

Now the question is how can you get the x,y coordinate?

  • It depends…
  • Because you can get the Pointer location in Android but you can not get it in iOS devices.

Getting the pointer location in Android:

  1. Move to Settings > Developer options
  2. Enable the Pointer location.
  3. Now move to any application for which you need the coordinates of a particular location. Tap on the location and you will get the coordinations for that place at top of the screen.
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Figure-1: Enable the Pointer location.
Appium eBook
Figure-2: Get coordinates.

Getting the pointer location in iOS:

iOS does not support the pointer location and there aren’t even any third party apps or tools which come to the rescue. Therefore you need to calculate it using screen resolution and a little bit of prediction. In case you don’t get success at first, you can use trial and error to get the needed location.

Now let’s look into each gesture one by one:

1. Tap on element

  • Method: tap(TapOptions tapOptions)
  • Usage: It is the simplest action, as the name suggests it will simply click/tap on a particular location. It is a combination of press() and release()
  • Example:
TouchAction touchAction = new TouchAction(driver);

NOTE: Here you can also put the wait along with the tap action, for example:

new TouchAction(driver)					        

2. Tap on x, y coordinates:

  • Method: tap(PointOption pointOptions)
  • Usage: It is used to tap on a particular x,y coordinate point.
  • Example:
 TouchAction touchAction = new TouchAction(driver);
 touchAction.tap(PointOption.point(1280, 1013))

NOTE: Similar like Tap on element you can put the wait along with the tap action, for example:

 new TouchAction(driver)

3. Press an element for a particular duration.

  • Method: press(PointOption pressOptions)
  • Usage: It is used to apply the press action. After the press action you also need to release so that the state would be in press mode. You do so by calling the release() function after calling press().
  • Example:
 TouchAction touchAction = new TouchAction(driver);

4. Press x, y coordinates for a particular duration.

  • Method: press(PointOption pressOptions)
  • Usage: It is used to apply the press action. After the press action you also need to release so that the state would be in press mode. You do so by calling the release() function after calling press().
  • Example:
TouchAction touchAction = new TouchAction(driver);,y))

Automating Swipe Actions in Appium

Before we look into the Horizontal swipe let’s understand how we can automate swipe actions generally.

Swiping is a combination of tapping + moving actions. Appium does not provide a direct method for swiping, so you need to combine a few methods in order to achieve swiping. For example if you want to perform swiping then first you have to press on a particular point and then specify the particular amount of time during which you want to perform the swiping action and at last you to move to another point – and don’t forget to call the release method which used to release all the actions. So it’s actually simple: first press -> wait(duration of swiping) -> move to (moveTo()) particular location.

You might be thinking why can’t we directly use moveTo() ?

If you recall, using the press method requires you to eventually call the release method. So we are basically mimicking a swipe by entering the press state, moving to a location, and THEN releasing.

Swiping can have an up/down/right/left direction so you need to apply the right logic and have to provide the x, y coordinates for the press() and moveTo() methods.

And also please note these appium methods to get the device screen measurements:

Figure-3: Screen Measurements.
int heightOfScreen = driver.manage().window().getSize().getHeight();
int widthOfScreen = driver.manage().window().getSize().getWidth();
int middleHeightOfScreen = heightOfScreen/2;
// To get 50% of width
int x = widthOfScreen * 0.5;
// To get 50% of height
int y = heightOfScreen * 0.5;

Here Width → X and Height → Y coordinates.

Now let’s look into each swiping type.

5. Horizontal swipe: Using start and end percentage of the screen height and width.

  • Method and Usage: As we discussed above there is no particular method for Horizontal swipe, and you need to perform the combination of press()->wait()->moveTo(). The moveTo() method is new to us – it is used to move to particular location. Its syntax is: moveTo(PointOption pressOptions)The secret to moveTo lies in the coordinates – you need to mention the starting and ending x,y coordinates in such a way that swiping can done from left → right OR right → left direction. Note that when we say swipe right, we mean moving the content from right to left, but the physical gesture is is moving to the left. See figure 4 below for clarification.Example: Let say we want to swipe right on the screen, so in practice you need to press on the right side and, without taking your finger off of the device, move your finger to left side. So we need to move from in the Right to Left direction in order to make the Right Swipe.Referring to figure 4 below, we have the swiping UI element placed on the screen from location (0,360) to (1080, 780). Now in order to attempt swipe in the right direction you have to first press anywhere in swipe area, for example let’s say (972, 500), and now without taking away the press action you need to move to left side suppose (108, 500) [Please note that Y coordinate is constant as we just need to change the X coordinates for swiping]. At that point we have achieved the swipe and now we can able to release the action and at last call the perform method to send all commands to the Appium server to perform on the UI.
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Figure-4: Swiping in action.

This is just one scenario for achieving a swipe gesture. Ideally first we need to make a decision as to what is the “right side of the screen”. We do this by considering 90% of the screen width. For example, if the screen resolution is 1920 x 1080, 1080 is the width of Screen and 90% of that width would equals to 972, so we have got our X coordinate for what we consider the “Right” side. In a similar manner we will need the X coordinate for the Left side and this time we can consider 10% of the width which would give us an X coordinate of about 108. So we have got X coordinates for Left and Right direction. For the Y coordinate we can choose any value as long as it falls in the swiping area – for example, let’s say our swiping area is between (0, 360) to (1080, 780), so you can choose any value for the Y coordinate in between 360 to 780.

NOTE: It is important that the Y coordinate have same value because we are focusing on only swiping (not scrolling) so only the X coordinate will change during the process and Y will remain constant. Ideally you should choose the half height of swiping area for Y coordinate.

Finally, you can perform the swipe gesture:

TouchAction swipe = new TouchAction(driver)

Same way if you want to swipe in the left direction you have to first press on the left side and move to the right side.

NOTE: This method works in a similar way on Android and iOS but the location differs according to Mobile device being used (given the swipe is dependent on coordinates which is dependent on screen resolution). Moreover on the iOS side you can’t find the location directly so you will need to use a trial and error approach.

6. Vertical swipe(scroll): Using start and end percentage of the screen height and width.

  • Usage: Scroll is the same as swipe but the direction is different. In swiping we are dealing with horizontal direction where as in scrolling we are dealing with vertical direction – but the rest of the logic will remain the same.Scrolling can done in the up → down OR down → up direction.Example: Let’s look at scrolling Down. On a mobile device in order to scroll down on screen we swipe in the “down to up” direction. It’s actually 3 steps we need to complete:
  1. Find the swiping area.
    • Starting point = (0,360)
    • Starting point = (0,360)
  1. Mark the scrolling points (We will use the height from scrolling area only. As per below image, the scrolling area is starting from approximately 30% of the screen height and ending at the end of the screen).
    • Down area point:
      1. X = Middle of Screen= 0.5 x 1080 = 540 (This will be same for starting and ending location)
      2. Y = 95% height of Screen = 0.95 x 1920 = 1824.
      3. Location = (540,1824)
    • Up area point:
      1. X = Middle of Screen=540
      2. Y = 35% height of Screen = 0.35 x 1920 = 672(Percentage value must be >30%).
      3. Location = (540,672)
  1. Perform scroll action using Appium.
TouchAction swipe = new TouchAction(driver)
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Figure-5: Scrolling in action.

Scroll up will work the same but with different location points.

7. Drag(Swipe) one element to an another element.

  • Dragging one element to another element is one kind of swiping action.But here location in coordinates would not matter as we have both of the elements(1. Element which needs to be dragged, 2. Element upon which another element will be dragged).
TouchAction swipe = new TouchAction(driver)

8. MultiTouch.

As the name suggests it means multiple touches happening at the same time.For example on iOS if you want to move to the Main screen, you need to use 5 fingers and do a swipe.Multi Touch is handled by MultiTouchAction class. It has a add(TouchActions touchActions) method so in which we need to pass a TouchActions object.So let say you want to press on 5 different points at a time then first you need to create 5 TouchActions, but here the important thing is we are not having a perform method at the end. We just need to call the release method for the TouchAction object, and then pass those values into the add method of the MultiTouchAction class.You can perform Multi Touch for:

  1. Multiple touches at a time.
TouchAction touchActionOne = new TouchAction();, 100));
TouchAction touchActionTwo = new TouchAction();, 200));
MultiTouchAction action = new MultiTouchAction();
  • OR if you want to perform multi touch on particular elements then use below code snippet.
TouchAction touchAction1 = new TouchAction(driver)
TouchAction touchAction2 = new TouchAction(driver)
MultiTouchAction action = new MultiTouchAction();
  1. Swiping using multiple fingers

NOTE: As mentioned earlier only MultiTouchAction should call the perform() method at the end. For TouchActions perform() method should not be called otherwise instructions will be sent to Appium server and the click will happen before the Multi Touch action.In this chapter we have looked into the most used scenarios in the Appium world. These methods all work on both Android and iOS.More details about all the different TouchAction methods can be found on the official appium docs.

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