Calabash VS Appium Which one is better

Calabash VS Appium: Which one is better?

Organizations are adopting a mobile-first approach. Most of the companies are developing mobile applications and web applications parallelly. Considering the mobile application testing, we have a lot of challenges and a lot of things to test. 

Test automation makes mobile testing faster. When it comes to mobile applications – Appium and Calabash are widely used for testing. Let’s understand which one is better by comparing Calabash vs Appium.

Overview: Calabash vs Appium

Both Appium and Calabash are open-source mobile test automation frameworks. Both are popular because of their unique features. Since both are community driven you may find difficulty in learning initially, however, once you understand them, it makes testing a lot easier.

Appium Overview


Appium is an open-source application that allows testing native, hybrid, and web-based mobile applications. It supports both iOS and Android mobile applications. It is completely platform-independent, which means write once and run them on any device. Appium supports many programming languages such as Java, JavaScript, Python, Ruby, and C#. Their renovated documentation site should help you quickly set up the framework. Appium’s large community support and frequent releases make it a robust choice for mobile application testing.

Calabash Overview


Calabash is open source initially developed by Microsoft, later it stopped the development and was handed over to the community. It supports both iOS and Android mobile platforms and domain-specific languages (DSL). You can easily write the tests in behavior-driven development (BDD) style using Calabash. Calabash is simple compared to other frameworks. However, limited community support and non-frequent releases might upset the testers. 

Prerequisites for using Calabash and Appium

Calabash and Appium framework setup need certain prerequisites. These are a set of tools that need to be present in your system before you start setting up a framework. Let’s understand them in detail.

Prerequisites for using Appium

Appium requires the following prerequisites.

  • Mac, Windows, or Linux operating system
  • Java Development Kit (JDK)
  • Android SDK Studio
  • Eclipse/IntelliJ or any supported IDE
  • TestNG
  • Appium Client Library
  • Selenium Server JAR
  • APK app info on Google Play
  • NodeJS library ( No installation required, shipped with Appium)
  • Appium Desktop Client

Prerequisites for using Calabash

The following are the prerequisites to setting up the Calabash

  • Mac, Windows, or Linux operating system
  • ruby 2.0.0 or higher
  • Java Development Kit (JDK)
  • Android SDK 
  • Ant library

Appium vs Calabash – Pros

Appium and Calabash both have unique features and they come with many advantages. Appium provides a lot of flexibility to testers and Calabash provides more simplicity. Let’s discuss the Pros of both frameworks.

Pros of Appium

  • Open source: Appium is an open-source tool, it saves a lot of costs as the organization doesn’t need to pay for the license.
  • Programming language support: Appium supports many programming languages such as Java, JavaScript, C#, Ruby, and Python. This helps testers choose their favourite and most skilled programming languages for the automation framework
  • Cross-platform testing: You can write the test once and run it on multiple platforms either iOS or Android.
  • Cloud-based testing support: Appium is supported by many cloud-based testing companies such as BrowserStack and SauceLabs. This helps organizations save their cost on infrastructure.
  • Hybrid application testing: If your application has both native and mobile browser support, Appium comes in handy as it supports different types of application testing.
  • Community support: Appium is backed by a large community, and your complex problems will be solved by community experts. 
  • Selenium-like framework: Appium has a lot of similarities with Selenium, testers who are already comfortable with Selenium, find it easy while using the Appium.
  • Integration to third-party applications: The Appium framework can be easily integrated with third-party tools. There are many community-driven plugins available for free, so it is easy to extend or customize the Appium framework.

Pros of Calabash

  • Open-Source: Calabash is an open-source framework, with no license fee required to use.
  • BDD support: It has very good support for BDD, you can write the tests in BDD syntax that increases the readability.
  • Multi-platform Support: Calabash can support both iOS and Android native applications with ease. 
  • Performance Testing: Calabash provides the capability to gauge the performance of mobile applications. This helps to understand the mobile application performance and reduce the performance bottlenecks.
  • Non-native app support: Calabash can be extended to test non-native mobile applications such as augmented reality or mobile gaming.
  • DevOps ecosystem support: It can be integrated into popular CI/CD tools

Drawbacks of Calabash and Appium

Appium and Calabash come with some disadvantages, these are important when you pick the right tool for mobile automation. Below are some drawbacks of Calabash and Appium

Drawbacks of Appium

Programming Knowledge: Appium requires one of the programming languages to build an efficient framework for mobile automation.

Setup Complexity: It is not a framework-ready tool, so testers need to spend time setting up the framework. For this, one needs in-depth technical knowledge.

Slow execution: Users reported that Appium becomes slow, especially during the complex mobile test automation execution

Limited support for hybrid applications: Though Appium supports hybrid applications, support is limited.

Image recognition complexity: Handling an image with an image recognition technique is very difficult in Appium, it can be handled through only customization, which requires a considerable amount of effort and time.

Drawbacks of Calabash

Lack of documentation:  Calabash documentation is very minimal. It is difficult to set up the automation framework. One needs to rely on external resources to set up.

Low community support: Calabash is not used by many, hence community support is very low. If you are stuck with some issues you might not get the answer quickly.

Coding proficiency:  Calabash requires a good level of programming knowledge to set up and write the test scripts.

Limited Parallel execution support: It supports parallel execution with certain restrictions so it may increase the test execution time.

Less activity on Git Hub:  Recently, there has been hardly any activity observed on Git Hub, which raises the trust concerns of those who are looking for long-term support.

In frequent releases: No frequent releases are observed for Calabash. 

What companies use Appium and Calabash?

Appium has roughly 6% market share in the QA industry. Appium is used by many major companies such as Intuit, Hitachi, Siemens, Airtel, etc. Appium is one of the best mobile testing tools in the Market.

Calabash has a nearly 1% market share in the QA industry. Calabash users are considerably low. It is used by service organizations such as Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant, Snovasys, etc. Many companies are not using Calabash as there are very less improvements in recent days, and no frequent releases are observed.

What tools integrate with Appium and Calabash?

When it comes to automation framework, extensibility and customization play a major role. If the framework supports a high degree of customization, then it would be easy to support edge case scenarios or scenarios specific to your organization. Integration with third-party tools is part of customization and extensibility.

Appium wins the integration race by supporting all major tools integration with ease. Appium can be integrated with cloud-based testing tools like BrowserStack, Sauce labs, and defect management tools such as Jira. It can also be integrated with DevOps or CI/CD tools such as Jenkins. TeamCity, AzureDevOps, etc. Furthermore, the Appium framework can be customized to use the TestNG capabilities. 

Calabash supports integration with only a few tools such as CI/CD tools like Jenkins, TeamCity, etc. and it can be integrated with Defect management tools like Jira. Though other tools can be integrated with Calabash it requires a good amount of technical knowledge and a lot of complexity involved.

Testing Apps with – Calabash vs Appium

Calabash app testing starts with the installation of required dependencies which we discussed during the pre-requisite section, once the framework is set up you can start writing the tests in BDD. BDD uses Gherkin syntax and it will be stored in a feature file. Use the Calabash console to launch the emulator with AUT packages. Using the query syntax in the console you can find the locator. Once test scripts are ready and emulators are launched, test scripts can be executed using the terminal with the ‘Calabash-android run” command.

Appium provides many different programming language options, based on the programming languages of your choice, and the types of applications (iOS or Android) setup may slightly differ. Once your installation is completed, you are ready to write the test scripts. If you are using the Java language, install all required dependencies using the maven. Appium provides UI-based locator options, using which you can write test cases in Java. Once test cases are ready, use the terminal or interface to execute the test.

Appium vs Calabash- Top Comparison

Though we have gone through the multiple features and limitations, it may be difficult to choose when you are in search of the right tool. Let’s compare Calabash vs Appium feature-wise to understand them clearly.

Appium supports many languages but Calabash is Ruby!

Appium supports many different languages such as Java, C#, Python, Javascript, etc. This helps testers choose the programming languages based on their expertise. However, Calabash supports only Ruby.

Appium doesn’t need building but Calabash needs to build an iOS app

Appium can interact with mobile applications directly irrespective of iOS or Android apps once you complete the setup. But Calabash can only interact with Android applications directly. iOS application in Calabash needs to build them from the source by targeting the test server.

Appium uses a Selenium server but Calabash uses a Calabash server

Appium uses a Selenium-like server called Appium Server, which is developed by the Selenium webdriver development team. It uses the Rest API specification to communicate with the client. Calabash uses its server called Calabash server. Internally Calabash uses the HTTP and JSON protocol to communicate with clients.

Appium has an inspector but Calabash has a console

Appium uses an easy way to inspect the element. You can launch the application and use the in-built inspect option to construct the Xpath or other locators. However, in Calabash you need to do all these using the console-based tool that is Calabash console. It is an interactive console that uses queries to locate the elements.

Appium can be BDD but Calabash has built-in BDD

Appium supports both TDD and BDD approach, it is up to the tester or organization which approach they choose. However, Calabash enforces the BDD or Gherkin syntaxes for its testing. Calabash also provides pre-defined BDD steps to make your life easy.

Appium is a single project but Calabash has two

Appium is once installed you can use the same project for both iOS and Android, but Calabash separates Calabash Android and Calabash iOS. This means Calabash has common platform functions and some platform-specific functionalities.

Appium can drive browsers but Calabash supports webView

Appium allows you to create an instance of a browser which is Chrome and you can perform many tests using the simulator or emulator. Calabash supports web-view which is similar to a browser but there may be some usage-wise limitations

Alternative Tool for Calabash and Appium

Alternative Tool for Calabash and Appium

We have discussed Calabash and Appium in detail, both frameworks require a good amount of programming knowledge. The most complex part of Appium and Calabash is the framework setup. Furthermore, Appium supports multiple programming languages but requires coding. If your organization is facing a shortage of technical resources you will not be able to share them across the projects as it requires technical experts. To solve this, organizations are looking for alternative tools that make everyone’s life easier. One of the best alternative solutions is Testsigma. It is an AI-driven tool that supports all different types of testing.

Testsigma doesn’t need any technical skills to develop the framework. Upload your mobile app package, record your test, and execute it on different devices. Furthermore, all the infrastructure setup is taken care of by Testsigma. It helps to share the resources across the different teams and anyone can contribute to the mobile automation testing.

Appium and Calabash are two different frameworks used for mobile application testing. Appium is widely used for iOS and Android application testing. Calabash has a lower community base compared to Appium. Calabash’s popularity decreased after Microsoft stopped contributing. As both frameworks require strong programming knowledge, organizations are looking for alternatives that don’t require coding knowledge to automate the mobile application. Testsigma is the most popular tool for mobile testing, which doesn’t require any coding knowledge, and no prior framework setup is required. As it is a SaaS-based tool test artifacts can be accessed from anywhere.

Frequently Asked Questions

What languages are supported by Calabash?

Calabash supports only Ruby language.

Which is better, detox or Appium?

Appium is better for Black box testing automation and it has broader language support. Detox is most preferred for Grey box testing, it provides the features to access the internals of the application.

Both Appium and Calabash have good features for mobile test automation. However, considering the active development, frequent releases, and, Git hub activity, the future of Calabash is unknown. Hence Appium is recommended.

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