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Version: 11.0.x

Headless Platform


The headless platform in AvaloniaUI provides the capability to run Avalonia applications without a visible graphical user interface (GUI). This allows for testing and automation scenarios on systems that lack a graphical environment, such as servers or continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) environments.

By utilizing the headless platform, you can perform UI testing, execute application scenarios, and validate functionality in a headless environment, saving time and resources compared to manual testing.

Getting Started

While the Headless platform can be initialized without any dependencies, for convenience, we have created integration packages for common unit testing platforms:

Simulating User Input

As the headless platform doesn't have any real input, every event needs to be raised from the unit test. The Avalonia.Headless package is shipped with a number of helper methods that can be used:

Window.KeyPress(Key key, RawInputModifiers modifiers, PhysicalKey physicalKey, string? keySymbol)

Window.KeyPressQwerty(PhysicalKey physicalKey, RawInputModifiers modifiers)

Simulates a keyboard press on the headless window/toplevel.

Window.KeyRelease(Key key, RawInputModifiers modifiers, PhysicalKey physicalKey, string? keySymbol)

Window.KeyReleaseQwerty(PhysicalKey physicalKey, RawInputModifiers modifiers)

Simulates a keyboard release on the headless window/toplevel.

Window.KeyTextInput(string text)

Simulates a text input event on the headless window/toplevel.


This event is independent of KeyPress and KeyRelease. If you need to simulate text input to a TextBox or a similar control, please use KeyTextInput.

Window.MouseDown(Point point, MouseButton button, RawInputModifiers modifiers)

Simulates a mouse down event on the headless window/toplevel.


In the headless platform, there is a single mouse pointer. There are no helper methods for touch or pen input.

Window.MouseMove(Point point, MouseButton button, RawInputModifiers modifiers)

Simulates a mouse move event on the headless window/toplevel.

Window.MouseUp(Point point, MouseButton button, RawInputModifiers modifiers)

Simulates a mouse up event on the headless window/toplevel.

Window.MouseWheel(Point point, Vector delta, RawInputModifiers modifiers)

Simulates a mouse wheel event on the headless window/toplevel.

Window.DragDrop(Point point, RawDragEventType type, DataObject data, DragDropEffects effects, RawInputModifiers modifiers)

Simulates a drag and drop target event on the headless window/toplevel. This event simulates a user moving files from another app to the current app.

A simple button click test is a typical example where these methods can be used:

// Create window and button:
var button = new Button
HorizontalAlignment = HorizontalAlignment.Stretch,
VerticalAlignment = VerticalAlignment.Stretch
var window = new Window
Width = 100,
Height = 100,
Content = button

// Subscribe to the button click event:
var buttonClicked = false;
button.Click += (_, _) => buttonClicked = true;

// Show the window:

// Simulate mouse events with a click (mouse down + up):
window.MouseDown(new Point(50, 50), MouseButton.Left);
window.MouseUp(new Point(50, 50), MouseButton.Left);

// Assert that the button was clicked:

Just like in any other Avalonia application, it's also possible to raise events directly. For example, with button click button.RaiseEvent(new RoutedEventArgs(Button.ClickEvent)). This can be more convenient for most use cases but lacks some flexibility with input parameters. RaiseEvent will trigger the click event on the button but a bound command will not be executed. If you need to test a button command you can use button.Focus() together with window.KeyReleaseQwerty(PhysicalKey.Space, RawInputModifiers.None).

Capturing the Last Rendered Frame

By default, the Headless platform doesn't render anything and instead has a fake/headless drawing backend enabled. However, it is possible to enable the Skia renderer and use it to capture the last rendered frame, which can be compared with an expected image or used in another way.

To enable the Skia renderer, adjust the AppBuilder code as follows:

public static AppBuilder BuildAvaloniaApp() => AppBuilder.Configure<TestApplication>()
.UseSkia() // enable Skia renderer
.UseHeadless(new AvaloniaHeadlessPlatformOptions
UseHeadlessDrawing = false // disable headless drawing

With the real renderer enabled, you can use the Window.CaptureRenderedFrame helper method:

var window = new Window
Content = new TextBlock
Text = "Hello World"

var frame = window.CaptureRenderedFrame();

The CaptureRenderedFrame method returns a WriteableBitmap, allowing you to lock it and read pixel data that can be compared in memory.

Simulating User Delay

In real UI applications, there is always some delay between user interactions, which gives the operating system time to run various tasks in the application. These tasks are often delayed and might include operations such as window resize, which on most platforms (including Headless), is asynchronous.

This delay can result in unexpected behavior when some operations have not yet executed.

Obvious solution would be to add Task.Delay between these operations, but a more efficient option in Avalonia would be to use the Dispatcher API, which allows flushing the jobs queue directly:

var window = new Window();

window.Width = 100;
window.Height = 100;


Assert.AreEqual(new Size(100, 100), window.ClientSize);

Additionally, the headless platform provides a method to force the render timer to tick, which can be useful in some scenarios:


All input helper methods and CaptureRenderedFrame internally use these user delay methods, so there is no need to run them twice!