Advanced WPF desktop automation

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Post summary: In this series of posts I’ll expand the examples and ideas started in Automation of WPF applications series.

Telerik Testing Framework and TestStack White are powerful tools for desktop automation. You can automate almost everything with a combination of those frameworks. This series of posts will give more details how to automate more complex applications.


Code samples are located in GitHub SampleAppPlus repository. Telerik Testing Framework requires installation as it copies lots of assemblies in GAC.

SampleAppPlusThere is SampleAppPlus which is actually a dummy application with only one purpose to be used to demonstrate automation principles. With this application, you can upload an image file. Once uploaded image is visualized. The image path is listed in a table. The image path is also visualized as an image in a custom control in the bottom of the main window. The user is able to add more text which is added to the table as long as editing already existing text. Add and edit are reflected on custom image element.


  • Page objects inheritance of similar windows
  • Working with WinForms grid
  • Windows themes and XamlPath
  • Read dependency property
  • NTestsRunner in action
  • Extension methods
  • Memory usage

Page objects inheritance

It is common to have similar windows in an application. Each window is modeled as page object in automation code. If windows are also similar in terms of internal structure it is efficient to re-use similar part and avoid duplications. Re-use is achieved with inheritance. Given SampleAppPlus application has very similar windows for adding and editing text. Code examples show how to optimize your effort and re-use what is possible to be re-used. More details can be found in Advanced WPF automation – page objects inheritance post.

Working with WinForms grid

As mentioned before Telerik Testing Framework is not very good with WinForms elements. This is the main reason to use TestStack White. It is not very likely to have WinForms elements in WPF application but in order to complete the big picture I’ve added such grid in a SampleAppPlus application. Code examples show how to manage WinForms grid. More details can be found in Advanced WPF automation – working with WinForms grid post.

Windows themes and XamlPath

In given examples elements are located with exact XamlPath find expression. This approach has a serious problem related to Windows themes. For complex user interfaces, XamlPath could be different on a different theme. Windows Classic theme sometimes produces different XamlPath in comparison with standard Windows themes. Yes, it is no more available from Windows 8 but Server editions are working only with Windows Classic theme. So one and the same tests could have differences. I couldn’t find a way to automatically detect which is current theme. The solution is to have different XamlPath for both standard and classic themes. Once you have it you can switch them manually with some configuration or you can try to automate the switch by locating element for which you know is different and save variable based on its location result.

Read dependency property

A dependency property is a way in C# to extend the standard provided functionality. It can happen in a real application that developers use such functionality. Given SampleAppPlus application has a special element with dependency property. Code examples show how to extract property value and use it in your tests. More details can be found in Advanced WPF automation – read dependency property post.

NTestsRunner in action

I’ve introduced NTestsRunner which is a custom way for running functional automated tests. Code samples show how to use it and create good tests that are run only with this tool.

Extension methods

Extension methods are one extremely good feature of .NET framework. I personally like them very much. I assume everyone writing code in C# is aware of them. Still, in code examples show how they can be used.

Memory usage

Memory is not a problem on small projects. But when the number of tests continue to grow it actually becomes a problem. More details can be found in Advanced WPF automation – memory usage post.

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