Testing Applications with Xnee

Is your clicking finger sore from testing your GUI program? Script your regression tests with Xnee.
What to Synchronize

Although synchronization is needed, finding the right data to use for synchronization may be difficult. Xnee solves this with plugin files that specify what should be recorded for a range of applications. These plugins are named after the applications they are intended to test. If you want to test a browser you've written, it would be a good idea to use the Galeon plugin. Sometimes, though, no plugins are suitable for your program, and you need to find the right protocol data to synchronize. The following example hopefully makes it easier for you in the future. We chose gnumeric as a program for which the right options need to be found. First, launch gnumeric. Then start Xnee in a terminal emulator with the following options:

xnee  --delivered-event-range \
EnterNotify-MappingNotify --human-printout \
--loops 1000

This generates a lot of useless events that fill the screen, so stop Xnee. Filter out those useless events by excluding them when setting ranges:

xnee --delivered-event-range \
EnterNotify-KeymapNotify,VisibilityNotify- \
MappingNotify --human-printout  --loops -1

This looks better. Now, start recording a session with Xnee with the following options:

@cx:xnee  --delivered-event-range \
EnterNotify-KeymapNotify, \
VisibilityNotify-CirculateRequest, \
SelectionClear-MappingNotify --loops \
1000 --out session1.xnr

Type some stuff into the gnumeric spreadsheet and use the menus to insert today's date or other input. When you're done, go to the terminal and press Ctrl-C to stop recording. It is now time to replay your session. Set gnumeric in the same state it was in when you recorded. Launch Xnee in replay mode like this:

xnee  --replay -f session1.xnr

Xnee sometimes pauses when replaying the session. This happens if the protocol data isn't sent in the same order as it was recorded. Xnee pauses execution for a while in order to wait for the expected data (as read from file) to be sent by the server. Eventually, a timeout expires and Xnee tries to continue. If Xnee can't synchronize between the recorded data traffic and the data traffic as sent when replaying, it bails out.

Xnee supports giving record options through plugins. When you have found the settings for your applications, save them in a plugin file. The syntax of a plugin file is similar to the command-line options. The easiest way to crate a new plugin is to copy an old one, fill in your settings and then rename it to some appropriate name. Xnee is distributed with plugins for different clients. If you want to send a plugin file for your application to Xnee, please do. The Xnee home page has instructions for how to contribute.

If you have a program that creates windows for user feedback, you have to make sure these windows pop up at the same location. Xnee records all device events with coordinates referring to the root window, not the window that was created.

To ease recording, make scripts that start Xnee with the right settings for a specific purpose. You can add a launcher to your panel or add a menu item to your window manager menu.


Xnee has seen a lot of activity lately, mainly due to feedback from Xnee users. We hope you consider Xnee for your project. Happy testing and happy hacking.

Henrik Sandklef lives in Gothenburg (Sweden) with his wife and daughters. He spends most of his time awake with his family, cooking, hacking and evaluating GNU software, and occasionally, he tries to play football. You can reach him at hesa@gnu.org.



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how to log mouse clicks

diana's picture


How can i record mouse clicks in addition to mouse motions with cnee?

i am using this command but it it is only recording mouse motions:

$cnee --record --mouse --events-to-record -1 --device-event-range ButtonPress-MotionNotify



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