AppKitActor 0.0.1

AppKitActor 0.0.1

LangLanguage Obj-CObjective C
License MIT
ReleasedLast Release Dec 2014

Maintained by Unclaimed.

AppKitActor is an integration test framework for AppKit applications. It allows for easy automation of Mac OS X applications UI tests, helping developers check the state of UI elements and interact with NSWindows and NSViews.

It leverages the NSAccessibility to identify views and windows, check their state and interact with them. AppKitActor also uses undocumented Apple APIs, which should not be an issue for test builds but must not be included it in the production distributions.

AppKitActor is heavily inspired by KIF –a similar integration test framework for iOS. Similar concepts have been applied and even method names have tried to be kept consistent to make transition easier.


Flexible matchers

Match views, controls and windows by their accessibility traits, values or class. Matchers can be conbined using AND and OR operations to build complex conditions.

Containment aware

AppKitActor can narrow down view matching to identify only those views inside specific –or matching– windows and superviews.

Lenient on the UI's timing

Don't fill your test code with sleeps to allow time for AppKit to animate changes or react to actions. AppKitActor waits for a reasonable time –10 seconds– for the UI to match the expected check, interspersing time for the main thread to run and retries.

AppKitActor can verify both if a UI element exists or if it is absent.

Multiple window suport

Verify UI elements across multiple windows, including the Status Bar.

Xcode 5 integration

AppKitActor reports test failures seamlessly on Xcode 5. See how on Actor Macros.

Why not KIF?

KIF is an excellent framework for iOS, but it is not so easy to decouple it from UIKit.

  • The NSAccessibility API is very different from UIAccessibility. You get to appreciate the simplicity of UIView when you have to face.
  • AppKitActor needs to deal with far more widows at the same time in the screen.
  • NSControls have their responsibilities spread throughout themselves and their NSCells.

Adding AppKitActor to your project

AppKitActor is available through CocoaPods. To install it simply add the following lines to your Podfile indicating the appropriate target for your acceptance tests:

target 'Acceptance Tests', :exclusive => true do
    pod 'AppKitActor', '~> 0.1.0'

Using AppKitActor in your tests


Import the framework header file on your test files, or your acceptance test's target .pch.

 #import <AppKitActor/AppKitActor.h>

Actor Macros


Use the tester macro as an entry point to interact with the UI. The macro creates an AKAUITestActor instance that can be used to check and interact with windows and views. It also captures the location and current test case to report failures where they are meaningful.


Use the system macro as an entry point to interact with the application itself and the machine. The macro creates an AKASystemTestActor instance, and –like tester– captures the location and current test case to report failures where they are meaningful.

Checking for existence of views

Methods of family -waitForViewMatching: check for a view matching the given <AKAViewMatcher> definition in any window of the application.

id<AKAViewMatcher> viewMatcher = [AKAAccessibilityMatcher matcherWithHelp:@"This is a tooltip"];
[tester waitForViewMatching:viewMatcher];

Narrow the view to only that inside a given superview:

id<AKAViewMatcher> viewMatcher = [AKAAccessibilityMatcher matcherWithHelp:@"This is a tooltip"];
[tester waitForViewMatching:viewMatcher];

Alternatively, the match can be narrowed by providing the containing window:

[tester waitForViewMatching:viewMatcher inWindow:aWindow];

The containing window can even be defined as an <AKAWindowMatcher> itself, which makes testing far more flexible:

id<AKAWindowMatcher> windowMatcher = [AKANSWindowTitleMatcher matcherWithTitle:@"My Document"];
[tester waitForViewMatching:viewMatcher inWindowMatching:windowMatcher];

By default <AKAUITestActor> will try to locate the view every 0.1 second for a maximum of 10 seconds, pausing to let the main thread execute the UI code. If the maximum time allowed expires without the actor being able to locate the matching view, a failure is recorded and the test moves on. This failure will be reflected on Xcode, pointing to the line where the tester macro was used.

If a matching view is found, these methods will return the actual NSView (or NSControl) instance. If the match was actually performed on the internal NSCell, the containing control will be the one returned.

Checking for absence of views

Methods -waitForAbsenceOfWindowMatching:, -waitForAbsenceOfWindowMatching:inWindow:, -waitForAbsenceOfWindowMatching:inWindowMatching: and -waitForAbsenceOfWindowMatching:inView: will wait for a view to disappear from the UI for up to 10 seconds by default.


Similar methods are available to verify the existence or absence of windows: -waitForWindowMatching: and -waitForAbsenceOfWindowMatching:. The former will return the matched window, if successful.


Through a tester –which creates a AKAUITestActor– actions can be performed on matching views.


Methods -clickOnViewMatching:, -clickOnViewMatching:inWindow:, -clickOnViewMatching:inWindowMatching:, -clickOnViewMatching:inView: will send a click event to the matching view. Clicks can also be performed through a more directed method -clickOnView: if the NSView instance itself is available.

To perform the click event:

  • NSControl instances will receive a -performClick: message with nil sender.
  • If supported by the view, the accessibility action NSAccessibilityPressAction will be performed on it.
  • Otherwise, fake left mouse button events located at the center of the view will be send through -mouseDown: and -mouseUp:, in order.


Methods -typeText:onControlMatching:, -typeText:onControlMatching:inWindow:, -typeText:onControlMatching:inWindowMatching: and -typeText:onControlMatching:inView: will attempt to set accessibility value NSAccessibilityValueAttribute with the provided text. These methods will wait until the string value has changed on the control, registering a failure if the verification times out.

Text can also be set through the more directed method -typeText:onControl:.

Incrementing and Decrementing

Incrementing and decrementing are actions typically available on NSSteppers.

Methods -incrementControlMatching:, -incrementControlMatching:inWindow:, -incrementControlMatching:inWindowMatching:, -incrementControlMatching:inView: and -incrementControl: will increment the control's value. To do so, it attempts to locate the element that responds to NSAccessibilityIncrementButtonAttribute and click on it. A failure will be registered if not found.

Methods -decrementControlMatching:, -decrementControlMatching:inWindow:, -decrementControlMatching:inWindowMatching:, -decrementControlMatching:inView: and -decrementControl: will decrement the control's value. To do so, it attempts to locate the element that responds to NSAccessibilityDecrementButtonAttribute and click on it. A failure will be registered if not found.


There are two different kinds of matchers: ones targetting NSView and others targetting NSWindow elements.

Operation matchers

Operation matchers of the same kind using operation classes AKAANDMatcher and AKAORMatcher. Operation classes themselves are agnostic and can behave both as <AKAViewMatcher> and <AKAWindowMatcher>. A runtime error will rise if matchers of different kinds are mixed in the same operation.


Matches views or windows validated by all submatchers. One or more.


Matches views or windows validated by at least one of its submatchers.

View matchers


Matches any NSView instance.


Matches NSButton instances, filtering by:

  • Any occurrence.
  • An button with a given title.


Matches a NSControl instance, given its enabled or disabled state.


Matches NSImageView instances, filtering by:

  • Any occurrence.
  • An image view displaying an image with a given name.


Matches NSTextField instances, filtering by:

  • A text field with a given placeholder text.
  • A text field with a given string value.
  • A static (non-editable) text field with a given string value. Useful to detect labels.


Matches NSView instances, given its hidden or visible state.

Window matchers


Matches NSPanel instances, typically used for alert windows.


Matches NSStatusBarWindow instances.
Beware: this matcher checks for a private Apple class that represents the application's status bar.


Matches NSWindow instances, filtered by a given title.

Agnostic matchers


Matches any kind of accessibility attribute value on an NSView or NSWindow instance, and behave both as <AKAViewMatcher> and <AKAWindowMatcher>. Accessibility attribute values are listed in AppKit header file NSAccessibility.h [^1].

Convenience creation methods are provided for matchers filtering by:

  • Accessibility description, when explictely provided.
  • Help string, the most natural way to provide it is through the view's tool tip.
  • Title, useful for buttons.
  • Value, useful for stateful controls.

[^1]:Mind that NSAccessibility is far less standard thatn UIAccessibility on iOS. See Apple's NSAccessibility documentation for details.


To be documented shortly.

Extending the framework

To be documented shortly.


AppKit was first written inside an app I was developing at Karumi. In the recent years I have grown up to be convinced by TDD, and started to actively used it both on server backends and iOS applications. Unfortunately I could not find a solution as easy as KIF was for iOS to help me with my acceptance tests.

Collaboration is more than welcome. Please, help us get the testing culture going on Mac apps!

Miguel Lara – [email protected]
Go Karumi