Open Source

Introducing "Headless"

The FiveUI distribution comes with a Java application called Headless that is designed to make automated testing with FiveUI easy.

Headless can take a collection of FiveUI rule sets and a target (a single web page, an entire website, or a filtered part of one) and automate running the rule sets on the target(s). Headless will then output a text or HTML based report summarizing the run.

"Headless runs" are specified using text based run description files that are written in JSON format. The exact form of these descriptions is given below. Headless supports two modes for automating FiveUI. In the first mode, Headless executes one FiveUI rule set per URL line in the run description and outputs a report indicating which rule sets passed or failed (and how) for each URL. In the second mode, Headless uses each URL line to specify a seed from which a web crawl is started. Parameters can be given to control the extent of the crawl.


Get the FiveUI Source Distribution

Headless is contained in the FiveUI source distribution. You can download the distribution from github at:

Alternatively, if you have git installed you can clone the repository:

git clone

In what follows, <FiveUI> refers to the directory where you have installed the FiveUI distribution.

Install External dependencies

You will need the following dependencies installed on your system in order to use Headless. All of the dependencies can be found and easily installed on most major platforms (Linux, Mac OS X, Windows). The dependencies are:

Install Maven

Headless is a maven managed Java project. The project's top-level directory is <FiveUI>/src/batchtools/headless. You'll need maven installed on your system to continue.

  • On debian based linux systems: sudo apt-get install maven
  • On Mac OS X: Maven 3.x comes pre-installed (OS X 10.7 or later)

Compile Headless

Once you have maven installed, you can compile the project. This will trigger the dependencies to be downloaded and installed in your local maven repository. (For a quick intro to using maven, see Maven in Five Minutes.)

$ mvn compile package -DskipTests

Get Firefox E.S.R.

In order to use Headless you also need a copy of Firefox 24 (the current extended support release or E.S.R.). More recent versions of Firefox may also work, but they are not supported for use with FiveUI. Download and install Firefox 24 here. Note that Firefox 24 can be installed along side existing alternate versions of firefox on your system or isolated to your user directory by simply moving it's installation directory.

Now that you've installed Firefox 24, it's time to tell Headless where the binary lives. For example, when I install Firefox 24 to ~/myapps/Firefox24 on a Mac OS X system, the firefox binary lives at


Locate your firefox binary and remember it for the next step.

Edit the run script

Edit variables at the start of <FiveUI>/src/batchtools/headless/bin/ to reflect your Firefox installation and FiveUI installation directory.

$ cd <FiveUI>/src/batchtools/headless/bin
$ cat
export FIVEUI_ROOT_PATH=$HOME/galois/FiveUI
export FIREFOX_BIN_PATH=/usr/bin/firefox

Invoke the script

The script can be invoked from the command line with options.

$ cd <FiveUI>/src/batchtools/headless/bin
$ ./ -h
usage: headless <input file 1> [<input file 2> ...]
 -h                      print this help message
 -o <outfile>            write output to file
 -r <report directory>   write HTML reports to given directory
 -v                      verbose output
 -vv                     VERY verbose output

Try one of the included example runs

Here we execute the example headless run located in <FiveUI>/exampleData/headlessRuns/basicRun.json.

First, create some directories for the reports to live in.

$ cd <FiveUI>/exampleData/headlessRuns
$ mkdir -p reports/basic

Now invoke the runHeadless script.

$ <FiveUI>/src/batchtools/headless/bin/ basicRun.json -v -o reports/basic.out -r reports/basic

You should see the Firefox browser open and load The FiveUI extension is now running rule sets on the page and collecting information for its report.

Linux users can hide the browser window from appearing at this point by running the script inside an X virtual frame buffer. See the following description of Xvfb for more.

After the run is complete you should see a text log of the run in reports/basic.out and an HTML summary report in reports/basic/summary.html.

Write your own run configuration.

A run configuration is a text file in JSON format that determines the behavior of a Headless run, in particular:

  • the location of rule set files
  • web crawl parameters
  • URLs to test (seeds for the crawl)

The format of a run configuration is as follows:

 * Comments
  'rulePath'  : '<path>',                         // path = the path where rule set files referenced below live.
                                                  // rulePath is relative to the run description file.
  'crawlType' : '<d> <n> <p> <pat>',              // d = crawl depth, n = max number of pages to retrieve.
                                                  // p = politeness delay (ms), pat = URL glob pattern
                                                  // (crawlType can also be 'none').
  'runs': [
  { 'url': '<url>', 'ruleSet': '<rule_file>' },   // Each line here corresponds to a separate webcrawl
  { 'url': '<url>', 'ruleSet': '<rule_file>' },   // and rule execution pass.
  ...                                             // Many URL lines may follow.


To run the project's unit tests and verify that things are working as they should on your installation and system, use the maven test target:

$ cd <FiveUI>/src/batchtools
$ mvn test