Testing in Android with mock UI components

As described in an earlier post, Android is not friendly to mocking frameworks or mock-style testing.  If you want to test any class in your application that deals with the Android API, it’s best to run your tests through the emulator, accessing real Android classes.  It’s unfortunate because you’re not just testing your application.  You’re also testing Android.  Anyway, here’s a way to mock a UI component.

If you’re just starting, here are a couple notes to keep you on the right track.

  • Android is bundled with JUnit 3.  Don’t try using an updated JUnit library or another testing framework.  The Android jar doesn’t contain any functional code, so all test cases have to be run in the emulator, which uses JUnit 3.  The test framework that will work best is in the Android API.
  • If you need basic implementations of Android classes, try to avoid mocking them.


In my latest test, I needed a TextView so that I could call the simplest method, setText(String).  I’ll describe how I got one.

Don’t bother with the android.test.mock package.  It just contains implementations of classes that throw UnsupportedOperationExceptions.  There isn’t anything there that I have yet found useful.

  1. In the test case, instead of extending TestCase, extend at InstrumentationTestCase or, if necessary, one of its subclasses.  It’ll set up most of the stuff that’s available in an Activity and make it available to your test case.
    public class AnAndroidTest extends InstrumentationTestCase {
  2. Create a mock implementation of TextView or the class you need.
    public class MockTextView extends TextView {
      public MockTextView(final Context context) {
  3. The TextView constructor needs a real Context object because it will call methods on it.  The context is difficult to mock because parts of it are private to Android.  Since the Android JAR is just an API and doesn’t have any functional code, you couldn’t even see the methods if you tried.  They only exist in the VM in the emulator.  AFAIK, if you can’t see a method, you can’t mock it.  That’s why your test case extends InstrumentationTestCase.  Put this in it.
    final TextView textView = new MockTextView(this.getInstrumentation().getContext());

Now write the test case.  The text view is real and has a fully functional context, so the emulator will have everything it needs to support your test case.

Posted in Android by Connor Garvey at June 1st, 2009.
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