Skip to content

Caching of Application Bundles

Appium's base driver provides a feature which enables caching of application builds provided, for example, as app capability value or to endpoints similar to the installApp one. This article explains common caching principles, so you could create more performant and efficient test suite execution strategies.

Why Caching Is Necessary

Mobile application bundles could reach hundreds of megabytes is size. This could become a serious performance issue if a test suite is executed, and it is necessary to fetch/extract the same application bundle for each test.

What Is Cached

Caching could be applied to application bundles generated by configureApp helper call. Inherited drivers can customize their caching logic by providing own onPostProcess (or both inDownload and onPostProcess) property definition, but the general rule of thumb is that we need to cache locally all application bundles need to be downloaded and/or extracted first before they could be actually installed on the device under test. On iOS, for example, these are .ipa or .zip compressed application bundles, or .aab on Android.

Caching of Remote Application Bundles

In order to validate whether an app bundle downloaded from the given URL could be (re)used from the cache the following steps are applied:

  1. The script checks if the given URL is already present in the cache. If yes then it tries to fetch previously remembered Last-Modified or ETag header values for it.
  2. If ETag value is present then it is put into If-None-Match request header. Else if Last-Modified header value is present then it is put into If-Modified-Since request header. Otherwise, no caching is applied.
  3. If the response status is equal to 304 then the previously cached binary is used, otherwise the cached entry is reset and refreshed.

Caching of Local Application Bundles

It only makes sense to cache application bundles if they need some preprocessing before being installed on the device under test. For example, on iOS .ipa bundles must be unzipped, because the system installer only works with .app folders.

  1. The script verifies if the given bundle path is already present in the cache. If the bundle was not in the cache yet then it gets preprocessed and added there.
  2. The script validates the hashsum of the bundle and compares it to the previously stored one. If hash sums don't match then the cached item gets deleted and the preprocessing of the bundle repeats.

How The Cache File System Is Configured

The cache where the base driver keeps all application bundles is located in the system temp folder. It is configured on per-process basis, so each test session initialized in scope of the same Appium server process takes advantages of it. It is a LRU Cache with the following limitations:

  • Max items: 1024. You may customize it by providing a new value to the APPIUM_APPS_CACHE_MAX_ITEMS environment variable. Do not set it to a lower number than the amount of apps in all parallel sessions per process.
  • Max time to live (TTL) for each entry: 24 hours. You may customize it by providing a new value to the APPIUM_APPS_CACHE_MAX_AGE environment variable. Do not set it to a lower number than the duration of a single session startup.
  • TTL is refreshed for each entry upon access


Note: The cache root folder is set up for automatic deletion on Appium process termination. This would only work if Appium server is killed with SIGINT or SIGTERM. If SIGKILL is used then no cache cleanup would be performed.