Documentation was sparse regarding how to run Robolectric unit tests on a local database file stored on your computer. So here is what I managed to find.

The Problem

Robolectric is a great framework for running Android unit tests without having to deploy the application to your device or to an emulator. As a result, this significantly speeds up unit testing during Android application development.

However, SQLite databases become tricky when you have a premade database on which you wish to operate and invoke tests. This is because Robolectric uses an “in-memory” database for all SQLite operations. This works great, if you are running database creation queries and building your tables directly within the testing environment. Otherwise, you may find yourself looking for a way to test on a premade database.

Don’t worry. If you want to use a pre-made database and run your tests on that SQLite file, Robolectric’s got your back.

The Solution

First, ensure that the Robolectric dependency in your pom.xml file is version 2.1 or later. Support for local disk-based SQLite testing was introduced in version 2.1.


Once you have that done, place a copy of your database file in the ${project_root}/src/test/resources directory.

When you compile your tests, files in this directory will get copied into an “output directory” containing all the compiled classes and files. On my machine, the directory is located at ${project_root}/target/test-classes. Thus, the file you place in the ${project_root}/src/test/resources directory will not be modified in any way. The copied file in the “output directory” will be modified. Any database operations performed in your unit tests will be operating on that “output directory” database file.

Now create a new Java test file. We’ll call ours

public class DaoTest {

    // This path is relative to ${project_root}/src/test/resources
    // This path is used in building the absolute path for the database
    private static final string DB_PATH = "/database/MyDbFile.db";
    // This will contain the absolute file path to the database
    private string dbPath;

    public void setUp() throws Exception {
        String path = getClass.getResource(DB_PATH).toURI().getPath();
        File dbFile = new File(path);
        dbPath = dbFile.getAbsolutePath();

        // Perform any other necessary set-up operations...

    public void tearDown() throws Exception {
        // Perform any necessary clean-up operations...

    public void testGet() throws Exception {
        SQLiteDatabase db =, null, OPEN_READWRITE);

        // Perform database operations...

        // Perform assertions on query results...


That’s it. It really is that simple!

dbPath will contain the absolute path to the database file in that “output directory.” From there, you can invoke SQLiteDatabase.openDatabase() and perform any necessary operations on the disk-based SQLite database file.