Continuous Testing with Selenium and JBehave using Page Objects


Since Mike‘s inception we have always sought to automate as much of our testing as possible. For some time now we have been using Selenium for our functional/acceptance tests, and thus far have been very happy with this approach. Initially, we decided to use Selenese-style tests, as we felt this would enable non-programmers to help maintain and extend the coverage of our tests. Someone with a basic grasp of markup and enough ability to make small re-factorings to the HTML code generated by Selenium IDE. However, as the range of features provided by our platform has started to grow we have found that we are doing a lot of ctrl+c and ctrl+v of the Selenese scripts, and generally violating our DRY principles. After some internal debate, we finally settled on a new approach that adopts Behaviour Driven Development (BDD) techniques. This works nicely with our Agile, User Story based approach to development and (as you might expect) our advanced internal practices when using Continuous Integration for our own purposes.

BDD Framework Selection

The Mike codebase is predominately Java, so it seemed sensible to choose a Java-based BDD framework. We could have opted for something like the Ruby rockstars fave Cucumber, which is a now well-established, but in the end decided upon JBehave. It got our vote for a number of reasons:

  • It’s an active project, with regular production releases.
  • It’s ‘maven-ized’ and you can bind a handy JBehave plugin to appropriate life-cycle phases
  • It provides a web testing sub-component that gives you a nice, simple abstraction for Selenium
  • Scenarios can be defined in plain-text, just like Cucumber
  • It integrates into an IDE just like any other xUnit-based testing framework (right Click > Run As > JUnit Test)

The plain-text scenarios were of particular interest, as they allow non-programmers to continue to author test flows for each story. On the downside, it does mean that only developers can provide the implementation of these scenarios. But overall, it provides a good fit for our team profile.

An Example

I’ll walk through an example of a simple JBehave BDD-style scenario, that seeks to test that perennial fave – the Java Petstore web application:

 Scenario: Successful Login

 Given the user opens the home page
 When the user clicks the enter store link
 Then the store front page should be displayed
 When the user clicks the sign in link
 Then the store login page should be displayed
 When the user enters username j2ee
 And the user enters password j2ee
 And the user clicks the login button
 Then the store front page should be displayed for user ABC

This combination of ‘Given’, ‘When’ and ‘Then’ maps very nicely to a test context, event and expected outcome for each of the various pathways through a User Story.

So now that we have our scenario, stored in a text file name ‘login_scenarios’, using JBehave we need to create two additional classes. These are:

  1. a trivial subclass of org.jbehave.scenario.Scenario whose name maps to the associated text file (
  2. a subclass of org.jbehave.web.selenium.SeleniumSteps ( that provides an implementation for each of the ‘Given’, ‘When’ and ‘Then’ statements.

For example:

 @Given("the user opens the home page")
 public void theUserOpensTheHomePage(){
 	homePage = new HomePage(selenium, runner);"/jpetstore");

Notice how JBehave uses simple annotations to map the scenario elements to Java methods. You’ll probably also notice the use of a ‘page’ object in the method body, which performs the actual heavy-lifting of the tests. In addition, the methods in the JBehave-provided base class SeleniumSteps can be overridden as required. For example, override createSelenium() if you need to provide a custom instance of Selenium with an alternative configuration.

Page Objects

Within a web application UI there are areas that our tests interact with. Using the Page Object pattern allows us to intuitively model these pages as objects within the test code. This massively reduces the amount of duplicated code and means that if the UI changes, the fixes need only be applied in one place. This means we get our DRY testing mojo back after our experiences with copy ‘n’ pasted Selenese markup. To make things even simpler, its a good idea to create an abstract base ( class that exposes a series of useful methods to its concrete children. Here’s an example of a class that represents the login page of our demo Java petstore app.

 public class StoreLoginPage extends Page {

	public StoreLoginPage(Selenium selenium, ConditionRunner runner) {
		super(selenium, runner);
	public void verifyPage() {
		textIsVisible("Please enter your username and password.");
	public void verifyPresenceOfInvalidCredentialsErrorMessage(){
		textIsVisible("Invalid username or password. Signon failed.");
	public void typeUsername(String username){
		type("//input[@name='username']", username);
	public void typePassword(String password){
		type("//input[@name='password']", password);
	public StoreFrontPage clickLoginButton(){
		return new StoreFrontPage(selenium, runner);

Once these page classes are wired into our SeleniumSteps subclasses, we can use the action (open, click, type etc) or verification style methods to drive the tests.

Maven Magic

As mentioned earlier, we selected JBehave in part because of its Maven integration. There is plug-in you can configure to execute the tests during the required phase:


Obviously, there are some additional services that we need when these scenarios are executed – the app must be deployed and available along with a running selenium server. In the petstore example, the Maven cargo and selenium plugins are used for these purposes. Have a look at the full unexpurgated pom.xml to see how they are configured.

Running The Example

Prerequisites are a Subversion client, Maven 2.2.x, Java 1.6.x and Firefox installed. Localhost ports 8080 and 4444 need to be unoccupied too.

Check out the project:

~$ svn co jpetstore
~$ cd jpetstore

Run the Maven build:

~$ mvn clean install -Pmikeci,run-functional-tests,run-on-desktop

Et voila, this should build the JPetstore web app, deploy it to Jetty, start Selenium and run two JBehave scenarios against it. You could use this example to bootstrap your own JBehave/Selenium implementation and get started with BDD in no time at all.


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11 Responses to “Continuous Testing with Selenium and JBehave using Page Objects”

  1. sapporo Says:

    Nice article.

    May I ask why you’re using cargo to run jetty instead of the jetty maven plugin?

    • Adam Leggett Says:

      Thanks for the comment, glad you like the article. For the purposes of this simple example, the jetty plugin would have been absolutely fine too. But, IMHO because Cargo offers a nice container abstraction, it does give you the option to take essentially the same config and apply it to say, Tomcat. We use Jetty for our local dev environments, but Tomcat in our test and production envs.

  2. wytten Says:

    Good stuff.

  3. Timo Meinen Says:

    Hi Adam,

    thank you for your article. We are using Page Objects in our functional tests, too. But I like the combination with JBehave. I will give it a try.

    Also nice: Writing your tests with Scala and ScalaTest, which also uses BDD.

    I just got a problem running the selenium tests on a headless Hudson server. Firefox will not start, correctly. Is the xvfb configuration working for you? Are you running your servers headlessly? Sometimes it works with the xvfb option -ac, but I have no idea, what the reason is.


    • Adam Leggett Says:

      Hi Timo. Thanks for the positive feedback.
      Xvfb can be a little tricky to setup correctly for use with selenium. I guess it largely depends on how you have configured your CI environment. One thing you could try is to either set your DISPLAY env variable to something like :99 or in the pom (for the xvfb goal configuration) specify <display>:99</display>. More info is available here, although you may have checked that out already.

      What error do you get?

  4. links for 2010-05-11 « pabloidz Says:

    […] Continuous Testing with Selenium and JBehave using Page Objects Mike CI blogs (tags: bdd jbehave) […]

  5. Mike Says:

    Hi Mike,

    If we would like to use your hosted service does the java project of ours need to be in a specified structure , I mean the java project structure what should it adhere to, eclipse project structure ?

    Do we have to provide you the ant script files or will your service generate it for us?


    • Adam Leggett Says:

      Our service will support pretty much any structure when you provide your own Ant build file, Maven pom file or Rakefile with your project.

      If you don’t have a build file, and your project is Eclipse-based, take a look at our knowledge base here, to see how we can help.

      Alternatively, you could use our Maven archetype to generate a skeleton project.

      Finally, we do have some sample projects you can use to get started using our service risk-free, in no time.

      Hope this helps.

  6. Continuous Integration for Agile Project Managers (Part 3) « Mike CI blogs Says:

    […] For the more technically-minded amongst you, I’ve already blogged in some detailed about how we use Selenium on Mike and included an example project that can be checked out from Google […]

  7. Continuous Integration for Agile Project Managers (Part 3) | Answer Consulting Says:

    […] tests. For the more technically-minded amongst you, I’ve already blogged in some detailed about how we use Selenium on Mike and included an example project that can be checked out from Google […]

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