Robot Framework and RIDE – To Go

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The Robot Framework is a mature tool to implement automated tests. With the help of the GUI application RIDE (= Robot IDE) and supported by its keyword-driven approach even less technical oriented people can start implementing testcases quite quickly.

Often this starts with an evaluation period – for example prototyping some tests – to prove that the Robot Framework is the right tool for a given use case. First demonstrations can typically be given using ones own laptop, but soon the installation on the computer of some other users is required. On the one hand side to try out certain things right away and on the other side because the application under test is typically only accessible via the intranet of the customer. And this is where the pain is, because quite often users do not have administrative rights to perform any installations on their computers. Hopefully this pain can be eased a bit in the following :-).

Both, the Robot Framework and RIDE, are implemented in Python. This is of course no problem as such, but it requires a local installation of Python. Using the Windows-Installer this could be done quickly, but it might already fail due to missing permissions on the local machine. In addition then the Robot Framework and RIDE requires some installation as well.

For the test execution as such only the Robot Framework is required. For this there is nowadays a pure Java installation possible, which can be done without the need to install the Python package or explicitly installing the Robot Framework as this comes as a single JAR-file.

Problem solved? Unfortunetly not! Because now we would like to use RIDE and this one still forceful requires Python. And not only this. As it is using libraries from the Robot Framework we also must have a local Robot Installation again. Thus we again end up with an installation stack that seems quite daunting.

But luckily there is Portable Python, which is the basis for the following solution of our installation problems:

  • First of all we perform a full local installation of everything we need (Python, Robot Framework, RIDE, Robot-Libraries). Of course quite often this is anyway already existing.
  • Now Portable Python must be installed to some USB-Stick.
  • And now – in a brute force attempt – we simply copy all the folders – and only the folders – from our local directory “C:Python26″ (or the corresponding one) into the directory “PortablePython_1.1_py2.6.1App” on the stick. Answer the question whether any files should be overwritten for all files with no.

That’s it. On the stick there is now a fully working version of the Robot Framework including RIDE. Of course it makes sense – especially when using a lot of test-libraries written in Java – to follow in addition the procedure described here to have the Robot Framework functionality in one JAR-file (as mentioned already). This JAR-file can then be easily checked-in to a version control system and is thus then centrally available for all users.

One final tip regarding the startup of RIDE. It might be that starting this application using a double-click does still not working if administrative rights are missing. But the following apporach using the command line should always work:

Once you have a ready-made version of the Robot Frameworks and RIDE on some USB-Stick it can be easily copied to any machine and makes it very easy to start going with the Robot Framework. And just in case my “stick-version” also contains a local installation of Java. You never know ;-).


Thomas Jaspers

Thomas Jaspers

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