Running Siesta Tests In The Cloud With BrowserStack

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 19.50.45

The more tests we write, the more free time we have to improve the quality of our software. Without tests, it’s easy to end up constantly chasing the same bugs again and again after each refactoring. A logical step to improving the quality of a web based application is to make sure it works in all the various browsers out there. Normally you need to support old and sometimes obsolete operation systems, like Windows XP and browsers which require their own VM (IE7, 8, 9 etc). The number of platforms that we want to run our tests on is constantly growing.

One way to solve this requirement is to maintain your own farm of virtual machines with various OS/browser combinations. This can be tricky and will consume lots of your time and resources. Another more elegant way is to use services providing the same infrastructure in the cloud. Thanks to services such as BrowserStack it is now very simple.

This post describes the integration facilities that the upcoming Siesta release (and latest nightly build) provides to access the BrowserStack cloud testing infrastructure.


When registering in BrowserStack, you will receive a user name and an access key. You can find these in your BrowserStack account under the “Account -> Automate” section. Later in this guide we will refer to these as “BrowserStack username” and “BrowserStack access key”

Rapid testing

Assuming your local web server is configured to listen at host “localhost” on port 80, all you need to launch your test suite in the cloud is to sign up for the BrowserStack trial and run the following command:

__SIESTA_DIR__/bin/webdriver http://localhost/myproject/tests/harness.html –browserstack BS_USERNAME,BS_KEY –cap browser=firefox –cap os=windows –cap os_version=XP

That’s all, the only difference compared to a normal Siesta automated launch is the “–browserstack” option, which is a shortcut performing a few additional actions. We’ll examine what happens under the hood later in this guide.

Note how we specified the desired OS/browser combination using the “–cap” switch (it specifies a remote webdriver capability). For a full list of supported capabilities please refer to http://www.browserstack.com/automate/capabilities

If your web server listens on a different host or port, then the “–browserstack” option should look like:

–browserstack BS_USERNAME,BS_KEY,mylocalhost,8888

Under the hood

Let’s examine what happens under the hood when we use the “–browserstack” shortcut option. In fact, we don’t have to use this shortcut option and can perform all the steps listed below manually.

1) The first thing that happens is that Siesta establishes a local tunnel from your machine to the BrowserStack server, using the BrowserStack binaries.
You can do this step manually by using the batch file in the Siesta package:

__SIESTA_DIR__/bin/browserstacklocal BS_KEY,mylocalhost,myportnumber

When launched successfully, you should see the following text:

Verifying parameters

Starting local testing

You can now access your local server(s) in our remote browser: http://local:80

Press Ctrl-C to exit

2) The “–host” option is set to point to the BrowserStack server, based on your username and access key:


3) The browserstack specific capability “browserstack.local” is set to “true”

To sum up, instead of using the “–browserstack” shortcut option, we could launch the tunnel manually..:

__SIESTA_DIR__/bin/browserstacklocal BS_KEY,mylocalhost,myportnumber

…and specify the command as:

__SIESTA_DIR__/bin/webdriver http://localhost/myproject/tests/harness.html
–cap browser=firefox –cap os=windows –cap os_version=XP
–cap browserstack.local=true

For convenience, instead of setting the “–host” option manually, one can specify “–browserstack-user” and “–browserstack-key” options.

__SIESTA_DIR__/bin/webdriver http://localhost/myproject/tests/harness.html
–browserstack-user=BS_USERNAME –browserstack-key=BS_KEY
–cap browser=firefox –cap os=windows –cap os_version=XP
–cap browserstack.local=true


As you can see, thanks to the excellent BrowserStack infrastructure, launching your tests in the cloud is as easy as specifying one extra argument on the command line. The benefits of cloud testing are obvious – no need to waste time and resources setting up and maintaining your own VM farm, and additionally you can run your test suite in various browsers in parallel.

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