We want to make sure that our desktop applications run fine at 150% and 200% dpi scaling (a Windows setting). Currently, we change the setting manually and run the application to check everything works and, foremost, looks fine.

What are your best practices in this field, and do you automate such a check in any way?

Your process sounds fine. If you were to add automation to the process, I would suggest making a list of all the pages/screens/controls that need to be exercised. Have the auto-script exercise each of these at a human-readable speed while eyeballing the results. I also suggest having a pause button so the tester can pause when tired. This is an auto-assist method that ensures you don't miss any areas. It also allows for some flexibility in the UI if you are more interested in whether or not everything shows without overlapping or clipping as opposed to pixel-perfect placement.

If pixel-perfect placement is mission critical you might want to consider a tool like Sikuli from http://www.sikulix.com. This open source tool automates anything onscreen by image recognition. It is capable of comparing images and determining a pass/fail based on a percentage match to a reference image. The gotchas are that Sikuli is resolution and display size-dependent so it works best if the test is written and run on the same machine. Also note that the machine has to be unlocked during the test run, which can be a security issue unless the machine is physically inaccessible.

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