March 2012

Volume 27 Number 03

Coded UI - Test Automation Using Visual Studio 2010 Coded UI

By Raj Kamal | March 2012

You can use Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate or Visual Studio 2010 Premium to create automated tests of the user interface (UI) known as coded UI tests. These tests provide functional testing of the UI and validation of UI controls. Automated UI tests enable you to test that the UI is functioning correctly after code changes. Coded UI tests are quicker to run than manual tests, meaning that you can run them more frequently.

This article provides test automation guidance that helps you leverage the coded UI features of Visual Studio 2010 to foster a continuous, consistent and standard automation approach. Such an approach allows you to build, deploy and test, taking advantage of Visual Studio Lab Management features, which let automation testers reap the benefits of integrating with the build process for automatic build deployment, executing on VMs and reporting test automation results as part of Microsoft Test Manager (MTM).

Before walking you through an example that illustrates the coded UI automation process, let's cover some basics.

Test Automation Using Visual Studio 2010

Automating your tests is just one part of the test automation process. You also need to automate the build process and provide automatic installation and deployment. Automating each part of the test automation process eliminates the need to trigger automation manually because of build and deployment dependencies.

The automated build, deploy and test framework also enables you to find out the build quality at the earliest opportunity by publishing the test results for every run against a new build. You can choose to run only the test suites that are most important for your continuous builds, since too many tests can delay the completion of a build. Make sure that you run these tests for the current iteration.

Here are the steps in the build, deploy and test workflow:

  • Choose the virtual environment you want to use.
  • Select a snapshot for that environment to use as your starting point for deployment.
  • Select the build definition or the build to use to deploy your application.
  • Add scripts that will deploy the application from the drop folder.
  • Select the test suites, test configuration and test settings for your test run.

Figure1 shows the topology required for setting up the build, deploy and test environment using Visual Studio components such as Build Controller and Test Controller and a virtual environment for deployment and execution.

Requirements for setting up build, deploy and test environment using various Visual Studio components
Figure1  Requirements for setting up build, deploy and test environment using various Visual Studio components

To run unit or functional automation tests, you can create a set of environments that are managed Hyper-V images in MTM. Tests that are created at the start can be used as part of continuous integration. For daily builds, you want to run a minimal set of tests, such as Build Verification or Smoke tests. For weekly builds, you should run regression tests.

If you plan to run your automated tests using MTM, you must use a physical or virtual environment that contains a set of roles to run your tests from your test plan.

Coded UI Automation Example

In this example the basic functionality of Bing is tested using coded UI to automate the functional tests. The assumption is that the functional tests using MTM are already written.

Figure 2 shows a sample snapshot of the test cases in MTM. Notice in the Automation Status field that none of the tests are automated yet.  

A sample snapshot of test cases in MTM
Figure 2 A sample snapshot of test cases in MTM

Let's now go through the steps in the automation scope and planning process. Other parts of the automation development lifecycle are covered later in the article.

Automation Planning

Like project planning or test planning, automation planning is important to ensure that teams are not jumping into automation scripting without considering the relevant factors. These factors are critical for providing accurate estimates, deciding the right framework, choosing the right approach, enabling long-term automation maintenance and achieving early return on investment (ROI).

These are the factors in the automation planning process:

  • Identify and mark automatable test cases and common scenarios
  • Identify data-driven test cases
  • Identify shared steps that can be automated for reusability
  • Decide (and flag) the order of execution
  • Develop proof of concept
  • Perform automation estimation

Identify Automatable Test Cases and Common Scenarios

The first step in automation planning is to determine the test cases that are good automation candidates and the scenarios that can be converted into library methods for reuse. If the tests are dependent on each other, you must also plan the sequence of execution.

In MTM, you first identify the automatable tests and then mark them as Planned in the Automation Status field, as shown in Figure 3. Tests that are not automated yet or are not good candidates for automation are marked as Not Automated.

Planned and Not Automated candidates
Figure 3 Planned and Not Automated candidates

Identify Data-Driven Test Cases

Next, you identify any data-driven test cases. This information is required during automation design. Figure 4 shows an example of a data-driven test that involves searching multiple times for the list of values provided as test data.

Data-driven test example
Figure 4 Data-driven test example

For more information about data-driven testing using coded UI, go to Mathew Aniyan's blog and

To find out how to use Microsoft Excel for test data, refer to

Identify the Shared Steps That Can Be Automated for Reusability

Shared steps launched with Visual Studio 2010 MTM. This feature helps you write modular and reusable test cases. Ensure that you identify the shared steps so that you can later convert them into reusable test methods inside your application-specific automation libraries to reduce your overall automation effort and redundancy. Figure 5 shows how shared steps appear in MTM.

Sample Shared Steps in MTM
Figure 5 Sample Shared Steps in MTM

Define the Order of Execution for Your Automated Tests

Ensure that you have defined the order of execution for the automated tests that have to be run. Figure 6 shows this configuration, leveraging the Order field.

Sample order of execution defined for automation scripts inside MTM
Figure 6 Sample order of execution defined for automation scripts inside MTM

Develop Proof of Concept

Once you know the scope of your project, you must ensure that Visual Studio coded UI testing supports your target application or technology by doing a proof of concept (POC) on key scenarios. In many cases custom controls and other components are not automatable or supported by coded UI out of the box, they need further customization, or they aren’t worth automating because of low ROI. The outcome of this activity should help you decide your automation design and framework. Make sure to mark the non-automatable test cases as out of scope for automation using the Automation Status field in MTM.

Your POC must address the following factors:                                                                                              

  • Do a feasibility study to ensure Visual Studio 2010 coded UI supports your application. Identify key scenarios of your application and ensure that Visual Studio 2010 coded UI supports them by coding a few scripts and checking the results.
  • Identify and track third-party or custom controls in your application. Ensure that you call out the tests that Visual Studio 2010 doesn’t support as out of scope for automation.
  • For testability, work with the development team to ensure that the properties of the objects are exposed and set appropriately for smooth automation. Working with the development team right from the design phase is crucial to making automation testing easier later in the cycle.

Perform Automation Estimation

The automation estimation will decide the success or failure of your automation project. Be aware that automation can take much more time than anticipated if the key tasks involved in the development of the automation lifecycle are not clearly thought through. Inaccurate estimation can result in less automation coverage and inability to obtain ROI that was promised to the stakeholders.

The following major activities in each phase of automation must be estimated.

Automation Initiation

  • Doing a tool/framework feasibility study
  • Developing a proof of concept

Framework Design/Implement

  • Designing and implementing various framework components
  • Testing the framework components and end-to-end testing
  • Training resources on the framework/tool
  • Setting up the environment

Script Development

  • Creating scripts
  • Debugging scripts
  • Reviewing scripts
  • Incorporating review comments

Script Execution

  • Setting up environment
  • Analysing the results

Your initial estimation should also include efforts in the following areas in addition to the automation design and execution effort:

  • Estimating automation planning time and tasks, including POC.
  • Estimating the environment preparation (installation, configuration).
  • Identifying the shared steps.
  • Writing reusable automation components (libraries).
  • Handling any third-party or custom controls in your application.
  • Reviewing code, including walkthroughs and compliance with the defined automation standards.
  • Dealing with automation reporting and analyzing results.

Once the scope, feasibility and estimates are clarified, you can move to the next logical step, which is creating your automation solution.

Creating Your Automation Solution

Whether you create a project from scratch or use an existing template, you need to add your project to source control for version management and change tracking. To create a new project using Visual Studio, in the New Project dialog box, just select Test and make sure that the Add to Source Control check box is checked.

Here are some recommendations that can help when you're using Team Foundation Server (TFS) for automation source control:

  • For the project check-in path, all application-specific and project-specific automation code should be maintained under the respective project node of the TFS being used for the projects.
  • The recommended source control path can be something similar to <Project-Node>/Main/Test/Test Automation or can follow your TFS folder structure.
  • Follow the standard and custom policies the project administrator enforces, such as entering “comment” every time you check in the code and checking in the code at the end of every day. For more information about configuring check-in notes, go to

For more on version control in Visual Studio 2010, go to

To open an existing test project and use it as a template, launch Visual Studio, go to File, open an existing project and browse to the CodedUISampleFramework template, which is available for download with this article. Then add it to source control and change the properties as needed for your new project.

The following folder structure is used for the template project in this example:

  • Config: Includes all the application configuration details and playback settings, as shown here:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
    <add key ="URL" value=""/>
    <add key="Test" value="Test Value"/>

For more on application settings, refer to

  • Library: All the libraries, including application level, data access, exceptions and utilities, go here.
  • Resources: All the keys/strings (e.g., SearchTimeOut, WaitForReadyTimeOut settings and so on) that need to be globally defined can be added here, rather than hard-coding their values. The resource file key SearchTimeOut is used here to set playback settings rather than hard-coding each setting:
/// <summary>
/// Set the SearchTimeOut Playback Option
/// <summary>
public static void SetThinkSearchTimeOut()
    Playback.PlaybackSettings.SearchTimeOut = 
  • Scripts:  Store the test and components such as Test Initialize and Test Cleanup in these .cs files.
  • Test Data: Contains the .CSV or .XML test data files for the data-driven automation test.
  • UI Maps: Contains the test object repository along with any test methods or assertions.
  • Main Class file: One class that acts as a single point interface to all the test methods and contains instantiations of the UI maps.

Designing and Developing Your Automation Framework

The most important phase of automation lifecycle development involves designing the automation framework. If you don’t spend time up front to come up with a good design, you’ll face a lot of rework later. Even if you're eager to start scripting, don't skimp on this phase. You need to spend a good deal of effort in coming up with a design/framework that suits your project requirements before your write your automation tests. This design/framework then serves as a guiding light for team members to follow a standard and consistent automation approach.

This section goes over the automation framework design for coded UI projects using the CodedUISampleFramework template project. Figure 7 illustrates the proposed architecture, which is designed in three tiers for maintaining automated testing that promotes high modularity and maximum reuse with minimum maintenance effort in the longer run.

Proposed three-tier automation architecture
Figure 7 Proposed three-tier automation architecture

Follow the steps in the following paragraphs to design your automation framework.

If you have created a project from scratch, add multiple UI Map files. In the template project, there are already two UI Map files. For managing object repositories, there are two scenarios: a single UI Map file and multiple UI Map files. By default, only one UI Map file is created per project, which is appropriate for a small project.

For large applications, using multiple UI Map files is recommended. Using multiple UI Map files can provide the following benefits:

  • Each map can be associated with a logical subset of the application, making changes easier to manage.
  • Each tester can work on a section of the application and check in the code without interfering with other testers working on other sections of the application.
  • Additions to the application UI can be scaled incrementally with minimal effect on tests for other parts of the UI. For information on testing a large application with multiple UI Map files, refer to

After you add a UIMap file, the Visual Studio window minimizes and the Coded UI Test Builder dialog box is displayed, which can be used to record steps or add specific object properties to your UI Map file.

Open the UI Map .cs files to add user-friendly names to the constructor, as shown here:

#region Constructor
public HomepageUI()
    searchText = BingBrowser.BingHomepage.SearchEdit;
    searchSubmit = BingBrowser.BingHomepage.SearchButton;

Now go to the Main Class file (Bing.cs in the example) and instantiate each multi UI Map file, as shown in Figure 8.

Figure 8 Instantiating each multi UI Map file

namespace CodedUISampleFramework
    public class BING
        private static HomepageUI homepageUI;
        private static SearchResultsUI searchResultsUI;
        public static HomepageUI HomepageUI
                if (homepageUI == null)
                    return new HomepageUI();
                return homepageUI;
            set { BING.homepageUI = value; }
        public static SearchResultsUI SearchResultsUI
                if (searchResultsUI == null)
                    return new SearchResultsUI();
                return searchResultsUI;
            set { BING.searchResultsUI = value; }

The UI Test Editor is a handy new feature in Feature Pack 2 that makes it easier to manage your object repository. To find out about the Coded UI Test Editor, refer to

Next you need to add libraries to your project or create and add them if necessary. You need to manage two library types: application functional libraries using multiple UI Map files, and common library and helper classes. For the example in this article, the libraries for Bing are already created.

For application functional libraries using multiple UI Map files, you must ensure that common functionalities you identify in the planning phase are automated as reusable methods. These methods are then invoked from your coded UI test methods. You create functional libraries the same as you would functional modules for your application.

For common libraries and helper classes, first ensure that common operations related to database connections, Excel data access (read/write), XML parsing and string/date manipulations are referenced from the common library repository and shared across the projects. Don't rewrite them from scratch for every project.

All common libraries need to be browsed and added to the automation solution as References through the Add Reference dialog box.

Now you need to ensure that any common helper classes that are technology specific (e.g., Windows Presentation Foundation, Windows Communication Foundation, SharePoint, Silverlight or .NET Framework) are referenced in your solution.

All common code and libraries need to be maintained at a centralized node that is accessible (read-only) to all the projects and applications included for reusability. Only the automation group member has add/edit permission on this node to control the change.

The libaries created for and referenced in the example in this article are shown in Figure 9. The libraries are based on the shared steps and scenarios identified in the automation planning process.

Libraries referenced in the article's example
Figure 9 Libraries referenced in the article's example

The code in Figure 10 shows an example of the application-specific library methods used in the solution.

Figure 10 Application-specific library methods

/// <summary>
/// Enter the search text in Search Edit
/// </summary>
/// <param name="searchText">The text to be Searched in Bing</param>
public static void EnterSearchText(string searchText)
    BING.HomepageUI.searchText.Text = searchText;
/// <summary>
/// Click on the Search Submit button
/// </summary>
public static void SubmitSearch()

Figure 11is an example of common and utilities-based methods.

Figure 11 Common and utilities-based methods

/// <summary>
/// Navigate to specified URL
/// </summary>
/// <param name="urlString">The url to navigate</param>
public static void Navigate(string urlString)
    browser.NavigateToUrl(new System.Uri(urlString));
/// <summary>
/// Launch and Navigate to specified URL
/// </summary>
/// <param name="urlString">Teh url to navigate</param>
public static void LaunchAndNavigate(string urlString)

The next step is to add the coded UI scripts and test methods to your project. You automate your automatable test cases as coded UI test methods using the application libraries, utilities and UI Maps defined earlier.

First, set the test context, which provides information about and functionality for the current test run:

private static TestContext bingTestContext;
public static TestContext BingTestContext
    get { return BingScriptsBase.bingTestContext; }
    set { BingScriptsBase.bingTestContext = value;}

Second, perform a test initialize. Use the following code before running each test, for tasks such as instantiating UI Map files, setting TestContext for logging and the like.

#region TestInitialize
//Use TestInitialize to run code before running each test
public virtual void MyTestInitialize()
    BING.HomepageUI = new HomepageUI();
    BING.SearchResultsUI = new SearchResultsUI();
    BingTestContext = testContextInstance;

Third, add your Test Methods, as shown in Figure 12.

 Figure 12 Adding test methods

[Description("This test is to test that the search string is displayed in the second page")]
public void SearchText()
   BingScriptsBase.BingTestContext.WriteLine("Test Start");
   Homepage.EnterSearchText("Bill Gates"); //Not recommended to Hardcode values in scripts    
   //Not recommended to use Static Wait Statements as given below 
   //Not recommended to Hardcode values in scripts 
      "Text", "Bill Gates", 15000);
   BingScriptsBase.BingTestContext.WriteLine("Test Stop");

Certain elements are not recommended, such as using a static playback interval or hard-coding test data. In the next section you'll find out how to handle these instances.

Finally, you need to perform test cleanup. Run code similar to the following after each step.

#region TestCleanup
//Use TestCleanup to run code after each test has run
public virtual void MyTestCleanup()
    BING.HomepageUI = new HomepageUI();
    BING.SearchResultsUI = new SearchResultsUI();

Now it’s time to add assertions and checkpoints. For validation in coded UI testing, you need to use Assertions. There are two ways to create assertions: using Coded UI Test Recorder (CUIT) or coding.

Obviously, creating assertions with CUIT is faster than coding them by hand. CUIT, shown in Figure 13, comes in the box with coded UI. It’s simple to use: Just add the comparator and comparison value you want to use and click OK.

Coded UI Test Recorder
Figure 13 Coded UI Test Recorder

You can also create assertions by writing your own code and capturing properties against expected values to validate at run time. Here’s an example:

Verify.WaitForControlPropertyEqual(BING.SearchResultsUI.searchText, "Text", "Bill Gates", 15000);

Here a Verify method in the utility waits for the control property to be equal to some text value for a certain period of time, returning PASS if found or FAIL if not.

public static void WaitForControlPropertyEqual(UITestControl control, 
    string property, string expectedValue, int millisecondsTimeout)
        expectedValue, millisecondsTimeout),
        string.Format("Expected : {0} Actual : {1}", 
        expectedValue, control.GetProperty(property)));

Next you must ensure that every variable is parameterized by passing the test data to each test, using the data-driven capabilities of Visual Studio 2010. As shown in Figure 14, you can right-click the coded UI test and select Properties to view the test’s properties.

View your test properties
Figure 14 View your test properties

To make this a data-driven test, you first have to create a data source for the test to draw from. On the Data Connection String property, click the ellipses button to start the New Test Data Source Wizard.

As shown in Figure 15, there are three options for creating a data source:

  • Database allows you to connect to a database or an Excel spreadsheet.
  • CSV File allows you to use a comma-delimited file.
  • XML File allows you to use an XML file.

Options for creating a data source
Figure 15 Options for creating a data source

When you add a data source, a Data Source attribute is added to the coded UI Test, as follows:

    "|DataDirectory|\\data.csv", "data#csv", 
    DeploymentItem("data.csv"), TestMethod]

Let’s look at one of the data-driven tests from the example in this article. Here is a method in the data access library (Utilities) to read the data from data sources using the test context:

namespace CodedUISampleFramework.Library
    public class Data
        public static string GetValue(string columnName)
            return (string)BingScriptsBase.BingTestContext.DataRow[columnName];

Another method that is part of the application library returns the data from the data source and inputs the same to the application, using the above data access library method:

/// <summary>
/// This method enters Search Text and executes iteratively on the available values
/// </summary>
/// <param name="searchText">The current text used for search</param>
public static void EnterSearchText(out string searchText)
    searchText = Data.GetValue("SearchText");
    BING.HomepageUI.searchText.Text = searchText;       

Next, as shown in Figure 16, the data source, which is stored in .CSV format, is tested.

Testing the data source
Figure 16 Testing the data source

Finally, the data-driven test method in Figure 17 shows the code to consume the data source defined earlier.

Figure 17 Sample data-driven test method

#region Scripts
[Description("This test will search many search strings")]
[TestProperty("TestcaseID", "12341")]
  "SearchData#csv", DataAccessMethod.Sequential), 
public void SearchTextMany()
    string searchText = null;
    Homepage.EnterSearchText(out searchText);

Once your automation test candidates are designed and developed and your scripts are written and debugged, you need to run them in a batch or as part of a suite. There are various way to do this and factors to keep in mind, as you’ll see in next section.

Automation Execution and Deployment

To prepare for automation execution and deployment, ensure that you have configured your test settings to capture logs, code coverage, test impact and the like. You also need to keep in mind that your script should be able to successfully run in multiple environments, for example, test to the user acceptance test (UAT).

After automation design and debugging is completed, you can run and deploy your automation scripts using the following steps: configuring test settings, deploying the test to multiple environments and grouping and classifying your test methods.

Configuring Test Settings

Configuring test settings involves two steps. First, you must select appropriate data diagnostics for code coverage, event log, test impact and so on, as shown in Figure 18.  

Selecting data diagnostics
Figure 18 Selecting data diagnostics

Next, you must define other settings, such as Roles, Test Timeouts, Setup and Cleanup Scripts, as shown in Figure 19.

Defining settings
Figure 19 Defining settings

Deploying Your Test to Multiple Environments

The next challenge is deploying to different environments. You need to run the same test across multiple environments to ensure that everything still works correctly. The sequence to follow is development, testing and UAT at every stage.

For example, say you want to run these tests after each deployment to each environment. In the example in this article, each environment has a different URL, username and password, so the following code is used:

public UIMap()
    // Bind the parameters using Environment Variables.
    string testServer =
    string testUserName =
    string testUserPassword =

For more on running the same test in different environments, go to

Grouping and Classifying Test Methods

In this step you group and classify test methods using various parameters. This lets you run groups of tests based on their assigned categories without the requirement to maintain test lists, as shown here:

[Description("This test will Verify Related Searches for a Search Condition")]
[TestProperty("TestcaseID", "12344")]
public void VerifyRelatedSearchesLinks()

Now go to Test View and filter and view your tests by setting the parameters shown in Figure 20.

Setting parameters in Test View
Figure 20 Setting parameters in Test View

Executing at the Command Line: MSTest.exe

MSTest.exe is the command-line utility used to run tests. This application has several options that you can use to customize your test runs. You can specify these options in any order on the MSTest.exe command line. Here’s an example:

mstest /testcontainer:"C:\TestProject2\generictest1.generic" 

For more on MSTest.exe command-line options, refer to

Coding Standards and Best Practices

You have now completed your brief tour of the automation development lifecycle, from automation planning through automation execution and deployment. Don’t forget that automation scripts are code. As with any code, to ensure high-quality automation code, you need to adhere to coding standards and follow best practices. Automation tests must be readable and easy to troubleshoot as well as optimized for long-term maintainability.

The following recommendations will help guide you through your code automation. Every member of the team is responsible for sticking to best practices throughout the automation development lifecycle.

Object Synchronization

Object synchronization points make scripts more resilient and robust. You need to consider two factors with object synchronization: waiting for control options and dealing with static delay.

When waiting for control options, you insert synchronization points by waiting for the object to be ready and enabled before trying to perform any critical action, such as WaitForControlReady(),WaitForControlExist().

The second approach is static delay. While you should use WaitForControl options as much as possible, in some unavoidable cases you must hard-code wait/sleep and use the Playback.Wait() API instead of the Thread.Sleep() API.

Exceptions and Error Handling

Ensure that you use the exception handling feature that C# provides in all your scripts—that is, be sure to use try, catch and finally. Try encloses the statements that might throw an exception, catch handles an exception if one exists, and finally can be used for any cleanup process.


Here is some sample logging code:

public void CodedUITestMethod1()

If you check the test result window, you should see output that looks like Figure 21.

Test result output
Figure 21 Test result output

Each statement that represents different logging options in Visual Studio, shown in the sample logging code in Figure 21, has the following advantages and disadvantages.


Advantage: Shows up properly in a separate section in test result.

Disadvantage: You’ll have to pass TestContext around from your main test class to other classes (like UI Map class in coded UI Test) to use it.

Recommendation: Prefer this over other methods for tracing in test code.


Advantage: Shows up in the Visual Studio Output window during debugging.

Disadvantage: The message here could be lost among other trace messages from other components (or product code).

Recommendation: Use it in your product code but avoid in test code. Using Trace.WriteLine is a good way to separate messages from product code and those from test code. You can use Trace.WriteLine in scenarios where either TestContext isn’t present or you want to determine the sequence of operation between test and product code.


Debug.WriteLIne has the same advantage and disadvantage as Trace.WriteLine, except that it shows up only for the debug build

Console.WriteLine and Console.Error.WriteLine

Although they work, these alternatives are tricky. The test harness redirects the standard output and standard error to capture the output\error from your product code, not to trace. You should avoid using these unless you really know what you’re doing. In short, use TestContext.WriteLine wherever possible.

Naming Conventions

When you create a method, use a meaningful name instead of the default name. A meaningful name helps identify the purpose of the method. In the application being tested, also use meaningful names for the UI controls. Customized control names are more user friendly than automatically generated ones.


Use extensive and meaningful comments in your code. Remember that the code you write will be around for a long time and has to be understood, extended and debugged by others who don’t have the entire context you had when you originally developed the code. Unless your comments are complete and substantive, even you will be hard-pressed to understand the code a few weeks or months later.

Startup and Cleanup Scripts

Using code, create a test in your test project. In the test class, create methods with the [TestInitialize] and [TestCleanup] attributes. These attributes will be run before and after each test method.

If you want to run any piece of code before and after all tests in the test class, create static methods with the [ClassInitialize] and [ClassCleanup] attributes.

To run any piece of code before and after all tests in the assembly, create static methods with the [AssemblyInitialize] and [AssemblyCleanup] attributes.

The Do’s and Don’ts of UI Automation

UI automation can be a tricky business. To help you get the best results, follow the advice, guidance and best practices for writing coded UI tests in the following Do and Don't lists. The information in these lists comes from various forums.


  • Ensure that each recorded method acts on a single page, form or dialog box. Create a new test method for each new page, form or dialog box.
  • Use CUIT whenever possible.
  • Explicitly set focus to the window on which the test case is expected to input data.
  • When possible, limit each recorded method to fewer than 10 actions. This modular approach makes it easier to replace a method if the UI changes.
  • Create a separate UIMap file for each module being tested in the application.
  • If you’re creating assertions by coding with the API, create a method for each assertion in the part of the UIMap class that is in the UIMap.cs file. Call this method from your test method to execute the assertion.
  • Capture screen shots for failures. They will help you in debugging.
  • Leave the UI in a known state after a test case is done executing. For example, close the wizard even if the test case is to test the first screen of the wizard by cancelling out of the wizard after the first screen.
  • Validate that the object being created using the UI against the one being stored in the back-end system.
  • Log before, not after, you do something.
  • In code reviews for test cases or in new framework automation support, review the log messages to make sure what the test did is clear from just the log.
  • Log the origin of messages. If the framework logs, say that it logged; if the test case logged, say that.
  • Have two assertion modes that are configurable: fail instantly and delay assertion of failure until the test has completed.  
  • Log nonfatal exceptions so as not to abort a test, bubble fatal exceptions up to the test and let the exception assert failure.
  • Log every valid UI operation being performed in the test case.
  • Use resource files for all data required to be entered in the UI.
  • Use refactoring, which implies removing a block of code that is being used repeatedly throughout the program into a single function. Refactoring helps in code reuse, makes the code cleaner and improves readability. 
  • Use class constructors in meaningful ways. In any class, avoid unnecessary overloading of constructors and minimize the amount of work done in a constructor. Use constructors mainly for initializing members. It is always good practice to have accessory methods (get/set) to expose member variables and also to initialize them.
  • With strings, use Compare () instead of "==" or "Equals ()"; that is, use so you don't have to worry about NullPointerException. With Equals(), you have to make sure that the object that calls Equals() is not null. 
  • Use list<class name> instead of arrays. Arrays are not type safe, so it is advisable to use the inherent .NET 2.0 collection objects such as IList<T> and ICollections<T>. They provide additional type checking during compile time.               
  • Use “this.” Whenever you use a member variable of a class, put “this” in front of the variable to improve readability and avoid conflicts when the parameter and member variable names are the same.  
  • Use .NET attributes for test cases. These attributes provide a mechanism to enable sending additional data to the test code during run time. They also help in keeping information associated with the test case in the code itself.


  • Don’t modify the UIMap.designer.cs file directly. If you do this, the changes to the file will be overwritten.
  • Don’t log multiple times.
  • Don’t sleep after every UI operation.
  • Don’t give unusually long timeouts for every major operation.
  • Don’t fail immediately after an unexpected screen.
  • Don’t relaunch the UI application for every test case because this process is too time consuming.
  • Don’t ever hard-code strings in test cases. This includes control IDs, menu paths and so on. Even control IDs and menu paths change over time.
  • Don’t use too many parameters in a method or a function. Numerous parameters indicate a lack of abstraction. To avoid passing too many individual parameters to a method or function, encapsulate the parameters in a separate class or structure.
  • Don’t write lengthy functions. If a function is longer than a page, break it into smaller functions. If the code has a switch statement or straight-line code with no loop back, a longer function is acceptable. In almost all other cases, however, you should simplify the code by splitting it into multiple functions.

Additional Resources

Table 1 provides some links that will help you get started with coded UI.

Table 1 Coded UI Links

Online Help Testing the User Interface with Automated UI Tests
Forum Visual Studio UI Automation Testing (includes CodedUI)
Product Overview Coded UI Test
Webcasts and Videos Functional UI Testing
Visual Studio Team System 2010: Manual Test To Coded UI Test
Guidance and References Best Practices for Coded UI Tests
Coded UI Test Bloggers Anutthara Bharadwaj
Gautam Goenka
Balachander G. Subramaniam
Rubel Singhal
Rituparna Paul
Team Blog
What’s new in Beta2 What’s new for testers doing UI automation


Table 2 shows the details of each UI framework supported as well as their differences, known issues and workarounds.

Table 2 Resources for Coded UI Frameworks

Web IE Plugin Part 1
IE Plugin Part 2
UI Test Framework Firefox support
Winforms Winforms Plugin Part 1
Winforms Plugin Part 2

WPF Plugin Part 1
WPF Plugin Part 2

Calendar support:

SharePoint  UI Test Framework SharePoint support
MFC/Win32  UI Test Framework MFC support


Raj Kamal is a test consultant at Microsoft specializing in different types of testing techniques, test automation and testability in domains such as manufacturing, healthcare and higher education. He holds an APICS certification in Supply Chain Management, is QAI(CSTE) and ISTQB certified, and has a master's degree in Computer Applications. You can reach him at His blog and passion:

A special thank you goes to reviewers Viswanathan V A Vidyanathapuram Ananda Narayanan, Monty Pattan and Harish Reddy Kothapalli.