Robot terminology

Robot Framework is a generic and independent test automation framework. It has its own expandable test syntax, test runner and test reporting tools. Yet, because of its extensibility it's very pleasant to work with.

Robot is all about running test clauses called keywords (or, to be more exact, keyword calls with parameters). Every test case may contain one or more keywords, which are run sequentially -- usually until the first of them fails. Keyword arguments use two spaces as a separator. Keywords are separated from their arguments (and arguments from each other) using at least two spaces.

Keywords are defined in keyword libraries and as user keywords. Keyword libraries can be Python libraries or XML-RPC-services. User keywords are just lists of test clauses reusing existing keywords or other user keywords. User keywords are described in the test suite, or imported from resource files.

Test suites

Robot tests cases are written in test suites, which are plain text files, usually ending with .robot (or just .txt).


Advanced robot users may learn from the Robot Framework User Guide how to make hierarchical test suites.

Let's look into an example test suite in detail:

Each test suite may contain one to four different parts:

Is used to import available keyword libraries or resources (resources are plain text files like test suites, but without test cases) and define possible setup and teardown keywords.
Is used to define available robot variables with their default values, or override variables defined in imported resources.
Test Cases
Is used to define runnable tests cases, which are made of test clauses calling test keywords.
Is used to define new user keywords, which may re-use existing keywords from imported libraries or resource files.

Keywords libraries

By default, only keywords from built-in-library are available to be used in tests. Other keywords must be included by importing a keyword library in Settings part of test suite:

*** Settings ***

Force Tags  wip-not_in_docs

Library  String
Library  Selenium2Library

View the complete list of available keyword libraries shipped with Robot Framework or available as separate package.


Libraries may also be included in resource files, and then it's enough to import such resource file.

There's also a built-in-keyword Import Library for importing library in a middle of test case or keyword:

*** Test Cases ***

Test Import library keyword
    Import library  String

Remote keyword libraries

One of the available keyword libraries (shipped with Robot Framework) is special: Remote-library. Remote-library makes it possible to provide test keywords from an XML-RPC-service, for example, from a public Zope2-object. convention and helpers to enable customizable set of remote keywords in Python as a public portal-tool object called RobotRemote. These keywords can be imported with:

*** Settings ***

Resource  plone/app/robotframework/selenium.robot

Library  Remote  ${PLONE_URL}/RobotRemote

Remote-library approach provides the following benefits when testing Plone:

  • All test setup keywords can be implemented in Python, which makes their execution almost instant when compared to executing similar steps in Selenium (to make your Selenium tests as fast as possible only the really meaningful steps should be executed through Selenium).
  • Each keyword call is executed as a normal transaction in Plone, which makes all code behave normally as in real use.
  • When e.g. content creation (remote) keywords are called with autologin enabled, all actions are performed as the autologin user so author metadata etc is created correctly.

Resource files

Resource files provide a re-usable way to abstract your test suites. To put it simply, resources files are just like all the other .robot-files, but they should not contain *** Test Cases *** certain *** Settings *** commands (Suite Setup, Suite Teardown, Test Setup or Test Teardown).

Resource files are the perfect way to import common libraries (with Library command in `*** Settings ***), define global *** Variables *** and define re-usable common `*** Keywords ***`. Resource files are included in a test suite with Resource-command in `*** Settings ***:

*** Settings ***

Resource  plone/app/robotframework/keywords.robot
Resource  plone/app/robotframework/selenium.robot
Resource  plone/app/robotframework/saucelabs.robot

BDD-style tests

Robot support Gherkin-style tests by removing exact words given, when, then and and from the beginning of keyword to find a matching keyword.

For example, a clause Given I'm logged in as an admin:

*** Test Cases ***

Test something as logged in admin
    Given I'm logged in as an admin

will match to a keyword I'm logged in as an admin:

*** Keywords ***

I'm logged in as an admin
    Enable autologin as  Manager

There's a little bit more of BDD-style tests available in Robot Framework User Guide.