Test Automation & Continuous Integration with Salesforce DX

Meet the Salesforce Developer Experience, Salesforce DX

Salesforce DX provides you with an integrated, end-to-end lifecycle designed for high-performance agile development. Learn how to integrate the Salesforce DX with automation framework and Jenkins to automate testing and achieve continuous integration.

Before you get started

Ensure you have these things set up so you can follow the steps of this module:

If you’ve completed the App Development with Salesforce DX Trailhead module, likely you already have the tools you need to complete this module. If you’re unsure, we recommend heading over to Trailhead first.

What is Continuous Integration?

Continuous integration (CI) is a software development best practice. When using CI, all code that development teams produce is merged into a central repository, where an automated build can validate it. This practice helps development teams detect problems, identify bugs, and allows them to fix them before releasing changes to their customers.

CI is like an insurance policy. Would you risk driving around town without car insurance? No way! In today’s world of agile development, it’s easy to push changes to your orgs. With a CI system in place, even the smallest change is processed to ensure your system continues to work flawlessly. Early detection and fixes are key for happy software stakeholders.

So now you know that CI can help your company save money. Next, we’re going to walk you through the steps to set up CI with Salesforce DX.

Continuous Integration with Salesforce DX

When using automation, it is preferable to create a disposable environment (like a scratch org) to test specific code/changes instead of introducing these changes to a shared org. Salesforce CLI allows you to automate the creation of scratch orgs as part of your CI process. Another cool feature is that Salesforce CLI enables you to completely script all these tasks in the CI configuration file whether you are using org-based or package-based development.

What is a Salesforce scratch org?

A scratch org is a dedicated, fully configurable, and short-term Salesforce environment. 

It allows developers to emulate different Salesforce editions with different features and preferences playing a critical role in development productivity and collaboration. They can also be used as part of automation testing and the implementation of a full CI suite.

It is possible to share the scratch org configuration file with other team members, so everyone can have the same basic org.

Scratch orgs increase developer’s productivity and collaboration during the development process, and facilitate automated testing and continuous integration. You can use the CLI or IDE to open your scratch org in a browser without logging in.

Note: If you try to just install the Salesforce CLI and run Salesforce DX commands, you’ll find quite a few commands will first need you to authenticate into a Dev Hub. This functionality is what allows you and your team to create and manage scratch orgs.

What is a Salesforce Dev Hub?

A Dev Hub provides you and your team with the ability to create and manage scratch orgs. Scratch orgs are temporary Salesforce environments where you do the bulk development work in this new source-driven development paradigm.

To get started with scratch orgs, you choose an org to function as your Dev Hub. While you can enable Dev Hub in any paid org, it’s always best to practice somewhere other than production. Instead, go ahead and enable Dev Hub in a Developer Edition org or Trailhead Playground to use with this module.

  • Can be your Dev or Prod Org.
  • Used to manage/track Scratch Orgs.
  • Link Namespaces to your orgs.
  • Create and manage second-generation packages
  • Is disabled by default. Once enabled, can’t be disabled.

Understanding the Salesforce Development Process

Diagram of Salesforce development process: Org based vs. source/package development
  • Org based model, in which as the name indicates, orgs are the source of truth. Almost the same as the previous models but this time changes are developed and released through Ant migration, metadata API deploy and retrieve.
  • Source/Package development, which is SalesforceDX’s way of development, we are going to use the new scratch orgs in which changes are developed using Salesforce DX CLI (source push/pull commands) and are then released using Metadata API Deploy. In this case we switch from Org Based to Source based, this way our source of truth is going to be our VCS i.e github, bitbucket, assembla.

It is important to note that instead of the traditional Org based development model, where development is done in sandbox/developer orgs then source code is pulled from such orgs to be stored in the metadata API format, a package based development model is recommended using the Salesforce DX project and scratch orgs. 

That being said, moving away from the org-based development model doesn’t mean that you don’t need proper environment management, it’s just the developers’ org that are replaced with scratch orgs. Integration and QA testing is also done in scratch orgs while the validation, testing, and UAT continues to happen in their dedicated sandboxes. In this scenario we may still want to use DevPro Sandboxes to perform some types of testing like Load testing.

Let’s get started!

Let’s go through our preconditions:

  1. Install Salesforce DX – CLI (using NPM):
    • npm install sfdx-cli –global
    • sfdx –version
    • sfdx –help
    • sfdx force:auth:web:login -d -a DevHub (Used to login to your DevHub)
    • sfdx force:project:create -n MyProject –template standard (to create an standard clean SFDX project)
  2. Enable your DevHub:
    • Log into your Org.
    • Setup > Search Dev Hub
    • Enable Dev Hub!
    • Dev Hub available in: Developer, Enterprise, Performance, and Unlimited Editions.
  3. Start Creating Scratch Orgs:
    • Define your project-scratch-def.json file
    • sfdx force:org:create -f project-scratch-def.json –set default username (to create a scratch org based on your `definition` file.
    • sfdx force:org:list (to list all your linked dev hub and scratch orgs)
    • sfdx force:org:display (to display data of your scratch org)
    • sfdx force:source:push (to push code to the org)
    • sfdx force:source:pull (to pull code from the org)

Note: On project-scratch-def.json, probably the most important file to start with for scratch orgs it this. Here we can define what the shape of the scratch org is. Whether we want to enable chatter, or lightning or multi-currency, usually you login, go to setup and enable all those, here we can define all the different preferences and features we want on our scratch.

Jenkins Setup

Jenkins is an open-source, extensible automation server for implementing continuous integration and continuous delivery. You can easily integrate Salesforce DX into the Jenkins framework to automate Salesforce applications testing against scratch orgs.

To integrate Jenkins, we assume:

  • You are familiar with how Jenkins works. You can configure and use Jenkins in many ways. We focus on integrating Salesforce DX into Jenkins multibranch pipelines.
  • The computer in which the Jenkins server is running has access to your version control system and to the repository that contains your Salesforce application.

Before integrating your Dev Hub and scratch orgs into your existing Jenkins framework, configure your Jenkins environment. Our example assumes that you’re working in a package development model.

  1. In your Dev Hub org, create a connected app as described by the JWT-based authorization flow. This step includes obtaining or creating a private key and digital certificate.
    Make a note of your consumer key (sometimes called a client ID) when you save the connected app. You need the consumer key to set up your Jenkins environment. Also have available the private key file used to sign the digital certificate.
  2. On the computer that’s running the Jenkins server, do the following:
    • Download and install Salesforce CLI.
    • Set the following variables in your Jenkins environment by going to Credentials > Select your project folder > Global Credentials > Add New Credentials:
      1. HUB_ORG (DevHub username ID) – Kind: Secret Text
      2. CONNECTED_APP_CONSUMER_KEY – Kind: Secret Text
      3. JWT_KEY_FILE – Kind: Secret File  
      4. Repo access credentials (GitHub Username and Password)
    • The names for these environment variables are just suggestions. You can use any name as long as you specify it in the Jenkinsfile/Build process.
      You can also optionally set the SFDX_AUTOUPDATE_DISABLE variable to true to disable auto-update of Salesforce CLI. CLI auto-update can interfere with the execution of a Jenkins job.
  3. (Optional) Install the Custom Tools Plugin into your Jenkins console, and create a custom tool that references Salesforce CLI. The Jenkins walkthrough assumes that you created a custom tool named toolbelt in the /usr/local/bin directory, which is the directory in which Salesforce CLI is installed.

Jenkins Build

Now we have to specify on Jenkins the steps needed to build our project, create our scratch orgs and run our tests:

  • On your Jenkins project > Click Configure 
  • Add your repository credentials on Source Code Management section:
  • Set build triggers:
    • For CI, Jenkins should be triggered every time a change is merged to your branch (H / 5 * * * * means it will pull changes every 5 minutes)
  • Enable Xvfb so jenkins can run graphic interfaces (for UI tests):
  • Bind your previously created environment variables:
  • Set Custom tools (Salesforce DX previously installed).
  • Provide Node and NPM if needed.
  • Add a build step:
    • Execute Shell:
  • Add post-build steps if needed, we will use junit and allure reports on this:
  • Click Apply/Save button
  • Go to your project and click the Build Now button
    • It will start building your project following the steps you specified on the ‘Execute Shell’ window.
    • You can open the execution console and see the progress
    • If you added post build steps they will be executed accordingly.

That’s it!

If you followed all the steps you should be able to run your Salesforce DX Project, Automation framework, and Jenkins to automate testing and achieve Continuous Integration!

Learn more about Salesforce development from our team, or check out our testing services.

Selenium Automation in Salesforce

Lightning and its components have more auto-generated code than other apps, this usually makes the development in Salesforce easier, faster, and more stable! Keep reading and learn more about Selenium Salesforce Automation.

From an automation perspective, this makes things harder and forces us to be more creative when finding locators and interacting with apps. Some things like the ID’s auto-generation and the possibility of multiple attributes with almost the same code makes us rethink the way we locate the WebElement.

In order to select these elements, we need to use all that is in our hands. To do so, we need to understand more about locators.

In general, deciding on which kind of locator is better is like debating whether winter or summer is better. You will have people going for CSS and other people going for Xpath.

The important thing here is understanding when to use each and how to use them in the best way.


Most people consider that CSS is better because the operation of finding an element with CSS is faster than Xpath and most of the time it’s easier to read.

Ten years ago the difference in time was a couple milliseconds, but nowadays with the processors we have, it’s just a fraction of a millisecond.


Xpath is the most powerful method. For example, it allows us to go forward and backward in the HTML, lets us search for the text of an element and it’s easier to find a sibling with it.

Unfortunately, there is a bigger learning curve so people tend to fear it.

So, which one should I use to automate Salesforce tests?

It depends on many things. For example:

Is your team already using one of them?
In most cases, the priority is going to be maintainability, so try to keep using what your team has already been using.

Are the elements you are trying to find complex and hard to identify?
In this case, Xpath can be a good choice as we need as much power as we can.

Both of these are things to consider when deciding between CSS and Xpath

How to find a CSS locator:

In browser:
Right click -> Inspect Element ->Console

There are two ways to look for elements, we can use a single $ symbol or use it twice, like $.

When using the single $ symbol, we are looking for the first element that meets the criteria that we specify.
When using the $, we are looking for the list of elements that meet the criteria.

I recommend to always use the $ so we can see the full list of elements that meet these criteria. Be aware that our locator is pointing to multiple elements because this could cause issues in our automation.

Search for element type (button, div, a, span, etc):

Search for attribute (src, title, placeholder)

Example: $(“[title='Users']”)

Search for id:

Example: $(“#username”)

Search for class:

Example: $(“.slds-clearfix.slds-card.detail-panel-root”)
Also: $(“[class=’slds-clearfix slds-card detail-panel-root’]”)

If you want to select a class just for one of the classes you can do something like this:


Also you can use the wildcard: $(“[class*=‘detail-panel-root’]”)

Select the child of a specific element:


$("parentElement childElement")
$(".test-id__field-label-container span")

How to find an Xpath locator:

In browser:
Right click -> Inspect Element -> command+f

Search for element type (button, div, a, span, etc):

Search for attribute (src, title, placeholder)

Example: //span[@title=’Users’]

Search for class:


Example: //div[@class=’slds-clearfix slds-card detail-panel-root’]

Search for an element with a partial attribute (contains):


Example: //div[contains(@title,’123′)]

Search for element’s text:
//elementType[text()=’Text you are looking for‘]


Example: //span[text()=’Status’]

Search for an immediate child:


Example: //div[@id=’test’]/span

Search for a grandchild or any other descendant:


Example: //div[@id=’test’]//a

Search for a sibling:

Process Name

//span[text()='Process Name']/following-sibling::div/input

Why is it I can find an element in the Developer Tools, but Selenium can’t?

Generally this happens for two reasons:

  1. There are multiple tabs open and Selenium is looking into the wrong one. 

We can fix it executing the following line in our test:


I.E: driver.switchTo().window(driver.getWindowHandles().toArray()[0].toString());

  1. The element you are looking for is inside an iframe. 

You can verify if it’s in an iframe or not by right clicking on the element you are trying to find and then click in the Console tab. Then you will see if the dropdown is in top ( the default content) or if it’s in an iframe.

If you are in an iframe, you have to switch to it in your test in order to interact with its elements. To do this, you can use the following code:


I.E: driver.switchTo().frame(driver.findElement(By.cssSelector(“iframe”)));

Learn more from our team about developing on the Salesforce Platform, or check out our Salesforce custom development services.