Skip to content

Managing Appium Drivers and Plugins

To do anything useful with Appium, you need to have at least one Driver installed, otherwise Appium won't know how to automate anything. There is an entire Ecosystem of drivers and plugins out there!

This guide helps explain how to manage these drivers and plugins. There are two basic strategies: using Appium's extension CLI interface, or managing extensions yourself in an npm-based project.

Note: Alternative package managers are not supported by Appium at the time of this writing.

Using Appium's Extension CLI

With Appium's Extension CLI, you let Appium manage drivers and plugins for you. You will use CLI commands to tell Appium which extensions you would like to install, update, or remove. Here's an example of how you might install a driver using the CLI:

appium driver install xcuitest

This command will install the latest version of the XCUITest Driver. The Extension CLI comes with a variety of commands and parameters; see the documentation for that command for all the specifics.

The all-important question when Appium is managing your extensions for you is: where are they installed? Appium manages extensions in a directory specified by the APPIUM_HOME environment variable. You can set that variable to anything you like, and Appium will manage its extensions there. You can therefore also use the APPIUM_HOME environment variable to manage different sets of extensions, for example if you want to have the same driver installed at conflicting versions:

APPIUM_HOME=/path/to/home1 appium driver install [email protected]
APPIUM_HOME=/path/to/home2 appium driver install [email protected]

Running these commands will result in two separate APPIUM_HOME directories being created and populated with the corresponding version of the XCUITest driver. You can then use the same environment variables to direct Appium which version to use on launch:

APPIUM_HOME=/path/to/home1 appium  # use xcuitest driver 4.11.1
APPIUM_HOME=/path/to/home2 appium  # use xcuitest driver 4.11.2

You don't need to set APPIUM_HOME if you don't want to! By default, Appium will set APPIUM_HOME to the directory .appium in your user home directory.

These installed packages will be managed by extensions.yaml in $APPIUM_HOME/node_modules/.cache/appium/extensions.yaml.

Do-It-Yourself with npm

Because Appium and Appium drivers are Node.js programs, if you are integrating your Appium scripts into your own Node.js project, there is an alternative way to manage drivers and plugins: via npm, like any other dependency. Basically, whenever you run Appium, if you have not explicitly set APPIUM_HOME, it will:

  1. Try to determine whether the current directory is inside an npm package.
  2. If so, it will check whether appium is a dependency (dev, prod, or peer) in the project's package.json
  3. If so, unless you have specified APPIUM_HOME in your environment, Appium will ignore load drivers and plugins defined in that package.json file instead.

This means you are freely able to add Appium drivers and plugins as regular package dependencies or dev dependencies. For example, if your project has a package.json which includes the following:

  "devDependencies": {
    "appium": "^2.0.0",
    "appium-xcuitest-driver": "^4.11.1"

Then, if you run npx appium inside your project, Appium will detect that it is a dependency of the project, and will load the XCUITest driver which is also listed as a dev dependency for the project.

This strategy is only recommended if you are already using npm for your project. Otherwise, it is recommended that you use Appium's Extension CLI and, if necessary, adjust APPIUM_HOME to change the location of stored extensions.