Robot Framework is a programming language

Working on a large project (~200 web developers) with Robot Framework (RF) for ~3 month, I consider the notion of „framework“ in Robot Framework a bit misleading. Robot Framework is more than a framework, it’s also a programming language. In this article I don’t want to bash Robot Framework as a testautomation language, even if I don’t feel comfortable with its strange syntax. I want to show that Robot Framework is a programming language and draw some conclusions.

RF has its own syntax
RF has variables (with different scopes)
You create them like this:

${hi} = 	Set Variable 	Hello, world!
${hi} = 	Set Test Variable 	Hello, world!
${hi} = 	Set Suite Variable 	Hello, world!
${hi} = 	Set Global Variable 	Hello, world!

BuiltIn-Library Documentation

RF has functions
In RF they are called keywords.
You create them like this:

Return One Value 	[Arguments] 	${arg} 	  	 
	Do Something 	${arg} 	  	 
	${value} = 	Get Some Value 	  	 
	[Return] 	${value}

User Guide

RF has conditional statements
It looks like this:

${result} = 	Run Keyword If 	${rc} == 0 	Zero return value 		
... 	ELSE IF 	0 < ${rc} < 42 	Normal return value 		
... 	ELSE IF 	${rc} < 0 	Negative return value 	${rc} 	arg2
... 	ELSE 	Abnormal return value 	${rc}

BuiltIn-Library Documentation

RF has loops
And they look like that:

Run my hobbies
    :FOR 	${index} 	IN RANGE 	1 	11 	
    \    Watch TV
    \    Plague your neighbor
    \    Play with your dog	  	 

User Guide

RF has its own IDE
It’s called RIDE and it has some bugs.

RF has its own libraries
Look e.g. in the Selenium2Library
You’ll see, that the naming has nothing in common with what you’re used to from the WebDriver API.

… and RF has its own gotchas and bugs
Because the testcase-timeout produces a flaky bug in the reporting engine, I had to implement a timeout on my own … loop … sleep … boilerplate …


  • Test automation is programming. Robot Framework is a programming language. And you have to spend time on learning it.
  • I haven’t found any advantages over Java/TestNG yet (after 3 month working full-time with it).
  • Think of the Java web-devs in your project/scrum team. Do they want to read/maintain test scripts in a foreign programming language?
  • The skill-combination of Robot-Framework and browser-automation is seldom (In XING (leeding business network platform in Germany) you find the skill-combination „Selenium AND Robot Framework“ with 12 people. But the skill-combination „Selenium AND Java“ you find at 1000 people.
    • So think of stuffing your project: it is easier to find a pro with Java skills than with Robot Framework skills.
    • So think of the size of the community for support, advancing the tools, articles, …

If you are an adventurer, try it with Robot Framework.
If you like to install Robot Framework on .NET, find an instruction here

For more information on Robot Framework read: