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SST - Web Test Framework

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Apache License, Version 2.0


Copyright (c) 2011-2013 Canonical Ltd.

Automated Testing with Python

SST (selenium-simple-test) is a web test framework that uses Python to generate functional browser-based tests.

Tests are made up of scripts, created by composing actions that drive a browser and assert conditions. You have the flexibilty of the full Python language, along with a convenient set of functions to simplify web testing.

SST consists of:

  • user actions and assertions (API) in Python

  • test case loader (generates/compiles scripts to unittest cases)

  • console test runner

  • data parameterization/injection

  • selectable output reports

  • selectable browsers

  • headless (xvfb) mode

  • screenshots on errors

Test output is displayed to the console and optionally saved as JUnit-compatible XML for compatibility with CI systems.


SST can be installed from PyPI using pip:

pip install -U sst

For example, on an Ubuntu/Debian system, you could Install SST (system-wide) like this:

$ sudo apt-get install python-pip xvfb
$ sudo pip install -U sst

or with a virtualenv:

$ sudo apt-get install python-virtualenv xvfb
$ virtualenv ENV
$ source ENV/bin/activate
(ENV)$ pip install sst
  • note: xvfb is only needed if you want to run SST in headless mode

Example SST test script

a sample test case in SST:

from sst.actions import *


Running a test with SST

Create a Python script (.py) file, and add your test code.

Then call your test script from the command line, using sst-run:

$ sst-run mytest
  • note: you don’t add the .py extension to your test invocation

Actions reference (sst.actions)

Test scripts perform actions in the browser as if they were a user. SST provides a set of “actions” (functions) for use in your tests. These actions are defined in the following API:

Command line options for sst-run

Usage: sst-run <options> [testname]

  • Calling sst-run with testname(s) as arguments will just run those tests. The testnames should not include ‘.py’ at the end of the filename.

  • You may optionally create a data file for data-driven testing. Create a ‘^’ delimited txt data file with the same name as the test, plus the ‘.csv’ extension. This will run a test using each row in the data file (1st row of data file is variable name mapping)


-h, --help                show this help message and exit
-d DIR_NAME               directory of test case files
-r REPORT_FORMAT          report type: xml
-b BROWSER_TYPE           select webdriver (Firefox, Chrome, PhantomJS, etc)
-j                        disable javascript in browser
-m SHARED_MODULES         directory for shared modules
-q                        output less debugging info during test run
-V                        print version info and exit
-s                        save screenshots on failures
-x                        run browser in headless xserver (Xvfb)
--failfast                stop test execution after first failure
--debug                   drop into debugger on test fail or error
--with-flags=WITH_FLAGS   comma separated list of flags to run tests with
--disable-flag-skips      run all tests, disable skipping tests due to flags
--extended-tracebacks     add extra information (page source) to failure reports
--collect-only            collect/print cases without running tests
--test                    run selftests (acceptance tests with django server)

Organizing tests

For logical organization of tests, you can use directories in your filesystem. SST will recursively walk your directory tree and gather all tests for execution.

For example, a simple test setup might look like:


and you would call this from the command line:

$ sst-run -d mytests

A more complex setup might look like:


and you would still call this from the command like:

$ sst-run -d mytests

SST will find all of the tests in subdirectories (including symlinks) and execute them. SST won’t look in directories starting with an underscore. This allows you to put Python packages/modules directly in your test directories if you want. A better option is to use the shared directory.

Using sst in unittest test suites

sst uses unittest test cases internally to wrap the execution of the script and taking care of starting and stopping the browser. If you prefer to integrate some sst tests into an existing unittest test suite you can use SSTTestCase from

from sst.actions import *
from sst import runtests

class TestUbuntu(runtests.SSTTestCase):

    def test_ubuntu_home_page(self):

So, with the above in a file name you can run the test with (for example):

python -m unittest

sst-run provides an headless xserver via the -x option. SSTTestCase provides the same feature (sharing the same implementation) via two class attributes.

xserver_headless when set to True will start an headless server for each test (and stop it after the test). If you want to share the same server across several tests, set xvfb. You’re then responsible for starting and stopping this server (see src/sst/ for details or src/sst/tests/ for examples.

Shared directory

SST allows you to have a directory called shared in the top level directory of your tests, which is added to sys.path. Here you can keep helper modules used by all your tests. sst-run will not run Python files in the shared directory as tests.

By default SST looks in the test directory you specify to find shared, alternatively you can specify a different directory using the -m command line argument to sst-run.

If there is no shared directory in the test directory, then sst-run will walk up from the test directory to the current directory looking for one. This allows you to run tests just from a subdirectory without having to explicitly specify where the shared directory is.

sst.config module

Inside tests you can import the sst.config module to know various things about the current test environment. The sst.config module has the following information:

from sst import config

# is javascript disabled?

# which browser is being used?

# full path to the shared directory

# full path to the results directory

# flags for the current test run

# A per test cache. A dictionary that is cleared at the start of each test.

Disabling Javascript

If you need to disable Javascript for an individual test you can do it by putting the following at the start of the test:


Development on Ubuntu/Debian

  • SST is primarily being developed on Linux, specifically Ubuntu. It should work fine on other platforms, but any issues (or even better - patches) should be reported on the Launchpad project.

  • Get a copy of SST Trunk, create and activate a virtualenv, install requirements, and run examples/self-tests from the dev branch:

    $ sudo apt-get install bzr python-virtualenv xvfb
    $ bzr branch lp:selenium-simple-test
    $ cd selenium-simple-test
    $ virtualenv ENV
    $ source ENV/bin/activate
    (ENV)$ pip install -r requirements.txt
    (ENV)$ ./sst-run -d examples
  • (optional) Install test dependencies and run SST’s internal unit tests:

    (ENV)$ pip install mock nose pep8
    (ENV)$ nosetests --match ^test_.* --exclude="ENV|testproject|selftests"
  • (optional) Install django and run SST’s internal test application with acceptance tests

    (ENV)$ pip install django (ENV)$ ./sst-run –test -x

  • Launchpad Project

  • Browse the Source (Trunk)

  • To manually setup dependencies, SST uses the following non-stdlib packages:

    • selenium

    • testtools

    • django (optional - needed for internal self-tests only)

Running the examples

SST source code repository and package download contain some trivial example scripts.

You can run them from your local sst directory like this:

$ ./sst-run -d examples

Running the self-tests

SST source code repository and package download contain a set of self-tests based on an included test Django project.

You can run the suite of self-tests (and the test Django server) from your local branch like this:

$ ./sst-run --test

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