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Open Sourcing UI Automation Framework


Automation testing has reached mainstream and has become an essential part of the software development process. This is no different at DNN Corp. We have been early adopters of automation, and taking advantage of it for some time now. We are happy to announce the open sourcing of our internal UI Automation Testing Framework. Let’s start with understanding the basics of automation.

Types of Automation

Purist might disagree, but in general following are the types of automated testing:

Unit Test - This is the most basic type of testing, where the code within a method is tested separately - hence the word “unit” - testing one single component at a time. This requires the external calls made by the method to be mockable. Unfortunately, DNN Platform wasn’t written with this in mind, and therefore not much can be unit tested, which is why we created the other two frameworks - Integration and UI Automation. Nevertheless, there are still several classes and methods in the DNN Platform which are completely unit testable. More on this in a separate blog.

We also want to mention that unit testing can be performed both on C# as well as JavaScript code. Our unit tests are meant for C# only, but we are looking to add unit tests on our ReactJS based front end in the Persona Bar.

Integration Test - This has bigger testing scope, where testing can be done through the various layers of software - web API, business layer, database layer, etc. We’ll have dedicated blogs on this topic as well.

UI Automation Test - This is the most broader automation testing framework, where UI interactions (clicks, filling of text boxes, etc.) are automatically tested. The Selenium framework is widely used for this purpose, which is what our framework is based upon as well.

Introducing F#

We decided to write the UI Automation Testing Framework using F# (FSharp) .Net language as it was very easy for our QA Engineers to write tests. F# is a functional language and does not require lots of structure to get going. F# is otherwise a full fledged .Net language, and allows access to the entire .Net framework.

 Developers who are used to writing code in C# might find it challenging to understand F#, though it’s a great new language to learn :). We will be blogging about this in separate blogs in the very near future.


We are using Canopy to help build easier tests. Here is what they say about Canopy on their Website canopy is a web testing framework with one goal in mind, make UI testing simple: 

  • Solid stabilization layer built on top of Selenium. 
  • Death to "brittle, quirky, UI tests". 
  • Quick to learn. 
  • Even if you've never done UI Automation, and don't know F#. 
  • Clean, concise API. 
  • MIT License.


The repository is conveniently hosted on DNN's Github

The solution file

Open the FSharpFramework.sln in Visual Studio (VS). VS may prompt you to install F# if you haven’t already done it. Make sure you open VS with Administrative rights, or else you may get errors while running.


Nothing unusual, simply do Build > Build Configuration.


This MUST NOT be run on a production site, as it makes changes to a site, should only be run on test sites.

Configuration File

The framework uses a file - config.yaml as configuration. To start with simply update the SiteAlias to point to your local site. Optionally, you may specify SuperUser name and password, otherwise the default username and password is already specified.

Running Basic Verification Test (BVT)

Hit F5 to run. By default, the config.yaml file is configured to run the BVT. You can certainly run more tests. We’ll blog about this in the future. BVT consists of roughly 25 tests, and can usually finish in under 30 minutes.

DNN Version

The framework is tied to specific versions of DNN. At the time of writing, it’s tied to the upcoming release of DNN 9.2.0, which you can downloaded from our nightly builds.

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