Keywords and libraries in Robot Framework: An in-depth exploration

Robot Framework is a popular open-source test automation framework, and keywords and libraries are two essential elements that make it powerful and flexible. By understanding how to use them effectively, you can streamline your test automation process, improve test quality, and save time and effort. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into keywords and libraries in Robot Framework, exploring their functionality, best practices, and advanced techniques.


Robot Framework is an open-source test automation framework that allows you to create and execute automated tests for web, mobile, and desktop applications. It provides a simple, yet powerful syntax for test cases, along with a wide range of libraries and tools for various testing tasks.

One of the key advantages of Robot Framework is its flexibility and extensibility, which comes from its support for keywords and libraries. Keywords are the basic building blocks of test cases, representing individual test steps or actions. Libraries, on the other hand, are collections of keywords that provide specific functionality for testing different types of applications or systems.

In this article, we’ll explore the role of keywords and libraries in Robot Framework, looking at how to create and use them, how to organize them effectively, and best practices for optimizing test automation with Robot Framework.

Keywords in Robot Framework

Keywords are the basic building blocks of test cases in Robot Framework. They represent individual test steps or actions, such as clicking a button, entering text into a field, or verifying the contents of a web page. Keywords can be simple, consisting of a single action, or complex, involving multiple actions and conditional logic.

Robot Framework provides a rich set of built-in keywords, covering a wide range of actions for testing web, mobile, and desktop applications. For example, some of the most commonly used keywords include “Click Button,” “Input Text,” “Verify Text,” “Open Browser,” “Close Browser,” and “Run Keyword If.”

In addition to built-in keywords, Robot Framework allows you to create your own custom keywords, using a simple, yet powerful syntax. Custom keywords can be defined in a separate file, called a resource file, which can be imported into test cases or other resource files.

Creating custom keywords in Robot Framework is easy and flexible, allowing you to reuse code and simplify test case creation. For example, you might create a custom keyword for logging into a web application, which would involve entering a username and password and clicking a login button. By defining this keyword once in a resource file, you can use it in multiple test cases, without duplicating the code.

Libraries in Robot Framework

Libraries are collections of related keywords that provide specific functionality for testing different types of applications or systems. Robot Framework provides a wide range of built-in libraries, covering common testing tasks, such as web testing, database testing, and API testing.

Some of the most commonly used libraries in Robot Framework include the SeleniumLibrary, which provides keywords for testing web applications using the Selenium WebDriver; the RequestsLibrary, which provides keywords for testing RESTful APIs; and the DatabaseLibrary, which provides keywords for testing databases.

In addition to built-in libraries, Robot Framework allows you to create your own custom libraries, which can be used to extend the framework’s functionality and support custom testing tasks. Custom libraries can be implemented in various programming languages, such as Python, Java, or C#.

Creating custom libraries in Robot Framework requires some programming skills, but it provides a high degree of flexibility and customization. For example, you might create a custom library for testing a proprietary API or a specific type of database which would provide keywords tailored to the specific needs of your application or system.

Custom libraries can be imported into Robot Framework test cases and resource files, just like built-in libraries. This allows you to take advantage of the full power and flexibility of Robot Framework, while still maintaining a high level of customization and control over your test automation.

Organizing Keywords and Libraries

As your test automation project grows and becomes more complex, it’s important to organize your keywords and libraries effectively. This can help you to improve test case readability and maintainability, as well as avoid duplicating code or functionality.

One common approach to organizing keywords and libraries in Robot Framework is to use a modular structure, which involves separating keywords and libraries into smaller, more manageable units. This can be achieved by creating resource files for different types of tests or applications, and then importing these files into higher-level resource files or test suites.

For example, you might create a resource file for testing a specific web application, which would contain all the relevant keywords and libraries for that application. You could then import this file into a higher-level resource file or test suite, along with other resource files for testing other applications or systems.

Another approach to organizing keywords and libraries in Robot Framework is to use tags, which are labels that can be applied to keywords, test cases, or test suites. Tags can be used to group related keywords or test cases together, or to filter and select specific test cases based on their tags.

For example, you might apply a “Web” tag to all keywords and test cases related to web testing, and a “Mobile” tag to all keywords and test cases related to mobile testing. You could then use these tags to select and run specific test cases, depending on the type of testing you need to perform.

Best Practices for Keyword and Library Creation

To get the most out of Robot Framework’s keywords and libraries, it’s important to follow some best practices for their creation and use. These practices can help you to write better, more maintainable tests, and avoid common pitfalls and errors.

One best practice for keyword creation is to use descriptive, readable names for your keywords, that accurately reflect their purpose and functionality. This can help you to write more readable test cases, and make it easier to understand and debug them later on.

Another best practice for keyword creation is to write keywords that are as independent and reusable as possible. This means avoiding hard-coded values or assumptions, and making your keywords adaptable to different testing scenarios or applications.

Similarly, when creating libraries, it’s important to design them in a modular and reusable way, that allows them to be easily extended or customized. This can help you to avoid duplicating code or functionality, and make it easier to maintain your test automation over time.

Another best practice for library creation is to write clear and concise documentation for your keywords and libraries, that explains their purpose, inputs, outputs, and usage. This can help other members of your team to understand and use your code more effectively, and avoid confusion or errors.

Advanced Techniques for Keyword and Library Creation

Finally, to take your Robot Framework test automation to the next level, it’s important to explore some advanced techniques and tools for keyword and library creation. These techniques can help you to write more powerful, flexible, and efficient tests, and automate complex or repetitive testing tasks.

When it comes to creating keywords and libraries, there are a few advanced techniques that can be useful for organizing and managing large collections of information. Here are a few of them:

  1. Use a thesaurus: A thesaurus can be a valuable tool for creating keywords that accurately describe the content of a document. It can help you identify synonyms and related terms that can be used to expand your search results.
  2. Use controlled vocabularies: Controlled vocabularies are predefined sets of terms that can be used to describe specific concepts or topics. They can help ensure that all documents are consistently described using the same terminology, which can improve search results and facilitate more accurate retrieval of information.
  3. Use metadata: Metadata is descriptive information that is used to describe a document or resource. By using metadata to describe your documents, you can provide additional context that can help users find the information they need more easily.
  4. Use hierarchies: Organizing your documents into a hierarchical structure can help users navigate your library more easily. This can be especially useful if you have a large number of documents that cover a wide range of topics.
  5. Use tags: Tags are descriptive labels that can be applied to documents to help users find related content. They can be especially useful for organizing documents that cover a variety of topics, as users can easily find other documents that are tagged with the same label.
  6. Use machine learning: Machine learning algorithms can be used to automatically categorize documents based on their content. This can be especially useful if you have a large collection of documents that need to be categorized, as it can save time and ensure consistency in how documents are described.

Overall, the key to creating effective keyword and library structures is to carefully consider the needs of your users and to use a combination of techniques to provide them with the most relevant and useful information possible.


In conclusion, Robot Framework is a powerful and easy-to-use test automation tool that can help you create and run test cases for your web applications. In this article, we have covered the installation and setup of Robot Framework, including the prerequisites you need to have in place, how to install Robot Framework using pip, and how to set up your environment for test automation using Robot Framework and SeleniumLibrary.

Remember that the key to success with test automation is to start small and build on your successes. Start with simple test cases and gradually add more complexity as you become more comfortable with the tool. With Robot Framework, you can quickly create test cases and run them on multiple browsers, making it an ideal tool for web application testing.

We hope that this article has been helpful in getting you started with Robot Framework, and we wish you success in your test automation journey!


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