Automating Hybrid Apps

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One of the core principles of Appium is that you shouldn’t have to change your app to test it. In line with that methodology, it is possible to test hybrid apps the same way you can with Selenium for web apps. There is a bit of technical complexity required so that Appium knows whether you want to automate the native aspects of the app or the web views. But, thankfully, we can stay within the Selenium WebDriver protocol for everything.

Once the test is in a web view context the command set that is available is the full Selenium WebDriver API.

Entering the web view context

Here are the steps required to talk to a web view in your Appium test:

  • Navigate to a portion of your app where a web view is active
  • Retrieve the currently available contexts
  • This returns a list of contexts we can access, like ‘NATIVE_APP’ or ‘WEBVIEW_1’
  • Set the context with the id of the context you want to access
  • This puts your Appium session into a mode where all commands are interpreted as being intended for automating the web view, rather than the native portion of the app. For example, if you run getElementByTagName, it will operate on the DOM of the web view, rather than return native elements. Of course, certain WebDriver methods only make sense in one context or another, so in the wrong context you will receive an error message.
  • To stop automating in the web view context and go back to automating the native portion of the app, simply set the context again with the native context id (generally ‘NATIVE_APP’) to leave the web context and once again access the native commands.

Automatically entering the web view context on session start – If your application begins in a web view, and you do not want to automate the native application before entering it, you can have Appium automatically enter the web view context on session initialization by setting the autoWebview desired capability to true.

Examples in Java

// assuming we have a set of capabilities

driver = new AppiumDriver(new URL(“”), capabilities);

Set<String> contextNames = driver.getContextHandles();

for (String contextName : contextNames) {

System.out.println(contextName); //prints out something like NATIVE_APP \n WEBVIEW_1


driver.context(contextNames.toArray()[1]); // set context to WEBVIEW_1

//do some web testing

String myText = driver.findElement(By.cssSelector(“.green_button”)).click();


// do more native testing if we want


Automating hybrid Android apps

Appium comes with built-in hybrid support via Chromedriver, which allow the automation of any Chrome-backed Android web views. Appium also uses Selendroid under the hood for webview support on devices older than 4.4. (in which case you will need to specify “automationName”: “selendroid” as a desired capability).

There is an additional step necessary within your app build, unfortunately. As described in the Android remote debugging docs it is necessary to set to true the setWebContentsDebuggingEnabled property on the android.webkit.WebView element.

Once you have set your desired capabilities and started an Appium session, follow the generalized instructions above.

Automating hybrid iOS apps

To interact with a web view Appium establishes a connection using a custom remote debugger. When executing against a simulator this connection is established directly as the simulator and the Appium server are on the same machine. Appium can automate WkWebView and UIWebView elements. Unfortunately, it is not currently able to handle SafariViewController elements.

Once you’ve set your desired capabilities and started an Appium session, follow the generalized instructions above.

Execution against an iOS real device – When executing against an iOS real device Appium is unable to access the web view directly. Therefore the connection has to be established through the USB cable. To establish this connection we use the ios-webkit-debugger-proxy.

Now you can start an Appium test session and follow the generalized instructions above.

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