What Is WPF UI Testing and Why Should It Be Automated

Anna Thorsen

Automation Expert

Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) is a common framework used by developers to build applications for a Windows Operating System (OS). The problem is, automating the testing of these applications isn’t as straightforward as you would think.

So what solutions exist for businesses who are trying to automate their WPF applications?

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What is WPF?

WPF is one of the largest technologies used to build desktop applications. It is a next generation UI Framework built by Windows, and a subsystem of the .NET framework (version 3.0 and above). Simply put, it is a UI framework for building desktop applications on Windows.

WPF allows you to create applications with lots of elements, meaning that developers can create a UI with a better experience for the end user.

Examples of applications built on WPF include any client applications that are built on a Windows OS. Visual studio is the most commonly used development environment for building WPF applications.

An example of a WPF application could be an internally built desktop application to solve custom requirements in an enterprise. For example, a CRM application or customer database.

Testing WPF UI Applications - what you need to know

Testing WPF applications can be challenging. This is because WPF can not be tested using traditional test automation techniques.

UI Automation frameworks

When testing your WPF application, it is possible to use Microsoft's own UI Automation framework. This framework provides full functionality on supported Windows OS that run on a .NET framework.

There are also other options available for creating a more fluent framework by using open-source code solutions like TestStack.White.

The problem is, automating testing using either of these frameworks requires a dedicated and experienced developer to build and maintain. While this is an option for some businesses, others cannot justify the use of such an expensive resource on an automation project that yields little ROI.

This is because the time spent building and maintaining these code-based frameworks often outweighs the initial investment.

Manually testing your WPF application

Manual testing is another option, but this takes a lot of resources to be able to test an application well. The risk of not identifying a critical bug is therefore much higher.

Regression testing manually is also a big pain point for the average manual tester.

Read more: How to Regression Test Faster

Setting them to work, for example, on hundreds of forms to ensure that basic elements are functioning is a tedious and time-consuming task that is better spent automating.

Maintaining the quality of your application

For businesses that use their WPF-based applications as part of a larger ecosystem of connected technologies on web and desktop, it is paramount that critical bugs are not left unseen.

Identifying these errors using a coded UI framework takes time and expensive developer resources, and manually testing your WPF application is a tedious process that is prone to human error.

However, there do exist UI automation solutions that make testing easy and maintainable. With codeless UI automation, testers don’t need an understanding of C# or XAML, nor do they have to be expert programmers to build or maintain test automation.

What to look for in a WPF Automated UI Testing solution

While there are many automation solutions available for testing, it is important to take your requirements into consideration when choosing a solution.

If you are like most businesses, the biggest challenge you are facing in regard to test automation is a lack of time and expert testers who understand the system under test coupled with strong programming knowledge.

So, which requirements should you consider when searching for alternative test automation tools? And will they help to solve resource and time bottlenecks that are preventing you from moving your test automation?

  • Visual - Is the tool visual, giving anyone a good overview of your test suite?
  • Collaborative - Can anyone on a DevOps team work on the software?
  • Code-free - Can anyone understand and set up a test case?
  • Cross-technology - Does the platform work across all web, desktop and mobile applications and technologies?
  • Support - Does the tool have strong customer support to help you when you need it?
  • Troubleshooting - Is it easy to capture why a test has failed?

Codeless UI automation of WPF applications

  • Automate across applications - Leapwork is a UI testing tool for web and desktop applications. It can be used across technologies from desktop applications, in-house or cloud-based applications, or web applications in desktop browsers.
  • Easy to adopt - With the shortest learning curve on the market, enterprises can create UI automated tests in complex environments. Whether you’re a technical tester or a business expert, you can create your first test case in minutes.
  • Streamline maintenance - Easily maintain your automation cases without having to write a single line of code. With hyper-visual debugging, testers can get to the root of an error quickly, without scouring through scripted test cases.

Learn more about testing desktop applications in our on-demand desktop automation webinar. In this webinar, you will learn how to overcome common barriers to desktop automation and view a live demonstration of no-code desktop automation in action.

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