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Xamarin Announces New UI Testing Product

Today Xamarin Inc., at its first Evolve Conference in Austin, Texas, announced a new product called Xamarin Test Cloud. Xamarin Test Cloud is an automated, cross-platform UI testing service that gives mobile developers access to hundreds of mobile devices, which are hosted in the cloud by Xamarin. Also announced at the conference was Xamarin's acquisition of LessPainful, the company that created the Calabash mobile UI testing automation framework upon which Xamarin Test Cloud is based.

"Testing is a significant, but time-consuming and difficult, part of the mobile development process. Developers need a simpler and easier way to test across the hundreds of devices and multiple platforms out there," said Nat Friedman, CEO and cofounder of Xamarin, in a press release accompanying the announcement.

Xamarin Test Cloud provides that simpler testing experience by giving developers access to a lab of real, non-jailbroken iOS and Android mobile devices, which are hosted by Xamarin and made available in the cloud. Developers upload their mobile app to the Xamarin Test Cloud service directly from Visual Studio, Xamarin Studio or one of the supported continuous integration (CI) systems (supported systems include Team Foundation Server [TFS], TeamCity and Jenkins). Once the app is uploaded, the developer is presented with a dropdown list of devices and can select those on which he wishes to run tests. Then the Xamarin Test Cloud App Explorer "systematically exercises every screen and control in your app without you having to write a single test," according to Xamarin's product information slides.

Following the automated testing, Xamarin Test Cloud delivers a results-view page to the developer showing which tests passed or failed on each device. Developers can click on those devices with errors to view a more-detailed error log.

In a pre-release briefing, Friedman noted that Xamarin Test Cloud not only simplifies the testing process, but also makes it more robust. He explained that Xamarin Test Cloud uses object-based UI testing, which provides a stronger method for defining proper UI behavior than methods used by other UI testing tools (such as testing based on image recognition or gesture recording). Object-based testing also allows for "cross-platform test cases that adapt automatically as the UI changes," according to the Xamarin Test Cloud press release, which allows "tests [to] continue working even if changes are made to the app UI."

Xamarin Test Cloud will be available in Q3 2013, with support for Windows Phone devices to be added at a later date. The service will have tiered pricing based on usage hours. Xamarin is currently accepting beta testers on a first-come, first-serve basis; developers can learn more and sign up for the beta program at xamarin.com/test-cloud.

About the Author

Katrina Carrasco is the associate group managing editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group. She can be reached at kcarrasco@1105media.com.

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