Frontend testing standards and style guidelines

There are two types of test suites you’ll encounter while developing frontend code at GitLab. We use Karma with Jasmine and Jest for JavaScript unit and integration testing, and RSpec feature tests with Capybara for e2e (end-to-end) integration testing.

Unit and feature tests need to be written for all new features. Most of the time, you should use RSpec for your feature tests.

Regression tests should be written for bug fixes to prevent them from recurring in the future.

See the Testing Standards and Style Guidelines page for more information on general testing practices at GitLab.

Vue.js testing

If you are looking for a guide on Vue component testing, you can jump right away to this section.

Jest

We have started to migrate frontend tests to the Jest testing framework (see also the corresponding epic).

Jest tests can be found in /spec/frontend and /ee/spec/frontend in EE.

Note:

Most examples have a Jest and Karma example. See the Karma examples only as explanation to what’s going on in the code, should you stumble over some usescases during your discovery. The Jest examples are the one you should follow.

Karma test suite

While GitLab is switching over to Jest you’ll still find Karma tests in our application. Karma is a test runner which uses Jasmine as its test framework. Jest also uses Jasmine as foundation, that’s why it’s looking quite similar.

Karma tests live in spec/javascripts/ and /ee/spec/javascripts in EE.

app/assets/javascripts/behaviors/autosize.js might have a corresponding spec/javascripts/behaviors/autosize_spec.js file.

Keep in mind that in a CI environment, these tests are run in a headless browser and you will not have access to certain APIs, such as Notification, which have to be stubbed.

When should I use Jest over Karma?

If you need to update an existing Karma test file (found in spec/javascripts), you do not need to migrate the whole spec to Jest. Simply updating the Karma spec to test your change is fine. It is probably more appropriate to migrate to Jest in a separate merge request.

If you create a new test file, it needs to be created in Jest. This will help support our migration and we think you’ll love using Jest.

As always, please use discretion. Jest solves a lot of issues we experienced in Karma and provides a better developer experience, however there are potentially unexpected issues which could arise (especially with testing against browser specific features).

Differences to Karma

  • Jest runs in a Node.js environment, not in a browser. Support for running Jest tests in a browser is planned.
  • Because Jest runs in a Node.js environment, it uses jsdom by default. See also its limitations below.
  • Jest does not have access to Webpack loaders or aliases. The aliases used by Jest are defined in its own config.
  • All calls to setTimeout and setInterval are mocked away. See also Jest Timer Mocks.
  • rewire is not required because Jest supports mocking modules. See also Manual Mocks.
  • No context object is passed to tests in Jest. This means sharing this.something between beforeEach() and it() for example does not work. Instead you should declare shared variables in the context that they are needed (via const / let).
  • The following will cause tests to fail in Jest:
    • Unmocked requests.
    • Unhandled Promise rejections.
    • Calls to console.warn, including warnings from libraries like Vue.

Limitations of jsdom

As mentioned above, Jest uses jsdom instead of a browser for running tests. This comes with a number of limitations, namely:

See also the issue for support running Jest tests in browsers.

Debugging Jest tests

Running yarn jest-debug will run Jest in debug mode, allowing you to debug/inspect as described in the Jest docs.

Timeout error

The default timeout for Jest is set in /spec/frontend/test_setup.js.

If your test exceeds that time, it will fail.

If you cannot improve the performance of the tests, you can increase the timeout for a specific test using setTestTimeout.

import { setTestTimeout } from 'helpers/timeout';

describe('Component', () => {
  it('does something amazing', () => {
    setTestTimeout(500);
    // ...
  });
});

Remember that the performance of each test depends on the environment.

What and how to test

Before jumping into more gritty details about Jest-specific workflows like mocks and spies, we should briefly cover what to test with Jest.

Don’t test the library

Libraries are an integral part of any JavaScript developer’s life. The general advice would be to not test library internals, but expect that the library knows what it’s supposed to do and has test coverage on its own. A general example could be something like this

import { convertToFahrenheit } from 'temperatureLibrary'

function getFahrenheit(celsius) {
  return convertToFahrenheit(celsius)
}

It does not make sense to test our getFahrenheit function because underneath it does nothing else but invoking the library function, and we can expect that one is working as intended. (Simplified, I know)

Let’s take a short look into Vue land. Vue is a critical part of the GitLab JavaScript codebase. When writing specs for Vue components, a common gotcha is to actually end up testing Vue provided functionality, because it appears to be the easiest thing to test. Here’s an example taken from our codebase.

// Component
{
  computed: {
    hasMetricTypes() {
      return this.metricTypes.length;
    },
}

and here’s the corresponding spec

 describe('computed', () => {
    describe('hasMetricTypes', () => {
      it('returns true if metricTypes exist', () => {
        factory({ metricTypes });
        expect(wrapper.vm.hasMetricTypes).toBe(2);
      });

      it('returns true if no metricTypes exist', () => {
        factory();
        expect(wrapper.vm.hasMetricTypes).toBe(0);
      });
    });
});

Testing the hasMetricTypes computed prop would seem like a given, but to test if the computed property is returning the length of metricTypes, is testing the Vue library itself. There is no value in this, besides it adding to the test suite. Better is to test it in the way the user interacts with it. Probably through the template.

Keep an eye out for these kinds of tests, as they just make updating logic more fragile and tedious than it needs to be. This is also true for other libraries.

Some more examples can be found in the Frontend unit tests section

Don’t test your mock

Another common gotcha is that the specs end up verifying the mock is working. If you are using mocks, the mock should support the test, but not be the target of the test.

Bad:

const spy = jest.spyOn(idGenerator, 'create')
spy.mockImplementation = () = '1234'

expect(idGenerator.create()).toBe('1234')

Good:

const spy = jest.spyOn(idGenerator, 'create')
spy.mockImplementation = () = '1234'

// Actually focusing on the logic of your component and just leverage the controllable mocks output
expect(wrapper.find('div').html()).toBe('<div id="1234">...</div>')

Follow the user

The line between unit and integration tests can be quite blurry in a component heavy world. The most important guideline to give is the following:

  • Write clean unit tests if there is actual value in testing a complex piece of logic in isolation to prevent it from breaking in the future
  • Otherwise, try to write your specs as close to the user’s flow as possible

For example, it’s better to use the generated markup to trigger a button click and validate the markup changed accordingly than to call a method manually and verify data structures or computed properties. There’s always the chance of accidentally breaking the user flow, while the tests pass and provide a false sense of security.

Common practices

Following you’ll find some general common practices you will find as part of our testsuite. Should you stumble over something not following this guide, ideally fix it right away. 🎉

How to query DOM elements

When it comes to querying DOM elements in your tests, it is best to uniquely target the element, without adding additional attributes specifically for testing purposes. Sometimes this cannot be done feasibly. In these cases, adding test attributes to simplify the selectors might be the best option.

Preferentially, in component testing with @vue/test-utils, you should query for child components using the component itself. This helps enforce that specific behavior can be covered by that component’s individual unit tests. Otherwise, try to use:

Examples:

it('exists', () => {
    wrapper.find(FooComponent);
    wrapper.find('input[name=foo]');
    wrapper.find('[data-testid="foo"]');
    wrapper.find({ ref: 'foo'});
    wrapper.find('.js-foo');
});

It is not recommended that you add .js-* classes just for testing purposes. Only do this if there are no other feasible options available.

Do not use a .qa-* class or data-qa-selector attribute for any tests other than QA end-to-end testing.

Naming unit tests

When writing describe test blocks to test specific functions/methods, please use the method name as the describe block name.

// Good
describe('methodName', () => {
  it('passes', () => {
    expect(true).toEqual(true);
  });
});

// Bad
describe('#methodName', () => {
  it('passes', () => {
    expect(true).toEqual(true);
  });
});

// Bad
describe('.methodName', () => {
  it('passes', () => {
    expect(true).toEqual(true);
  });
});

Testing promises

When testing Promises you should always make sure that the test is asynchronous and rejections are handled. It’s now possible to use the async/await syntax in the test suite:

it('tests a promise', async () => {
  const users = await fetchUsers()
  expect(users.length).toBe(42)
});

it('tests a promise rejection', async () => {
  expect.assertions(1);
  try {
    await user.getUserName(1);
  } catch (e) {
    expect(e).toEqual({
      error: 'User with 1 not found.',
    });
  }
});

You can also work with Promise chains. In this case, you can make use of the done callback and done.fail in case an error occurred. Following are some examples:

// Good
it('tests a promise', done => {
  promise
    .then(data => {
      expect(data).toBe(asExpected);
    })
    .then(done)
    .catch(done.fail);
});

// Good
it('tests a promise rejection', done => {
  promise
    .then(done.fail)
    .catch(error => {
      expect(error).toBe(expectedError);
    })
    .then(done)
    .catch(done.fail);
});

// Bad (missing done callback)
it('tests a promise', () => {
  promise.then(data => {
    expect(data).toBe(asExpected);
  });
});

// Bad (missing catch)
it('tests a promise', done => {
  promise
    .then(data => {
      expect(data).toBe(asExpected);
    })
    .then(done);
});

// Bad (use done.fail in asynchronous tests)
it('tests a promise', done => {
  promise
    .then(data => {
      expect(data).toBe(asExpected);
    })
    .then(done)
    .catch(fail);
});

// Bad (missing catch)
it('tests a promise rejection', done => {
  promise
    .catch(error => {
      expect(error).toBe(expectedError);
    })
    .then(done);
});

Manipulating Time

Sometimes we have to test time-sensitive code. For example, recurring events that run every X amount of seconds or similar. Here you’ll find some strategies to deal with that:

setTimeout() / setInterval() in application

If the application itself is waiting for some time, mock await the waiting. In Jest this is already done by default (see also Jest Timer Mocks). In Karma you can use the Jasmine mock clock.

const doSomethingLater = () => {
  setTimeout(() => {
    // do something
  }, 4000);
};

in Jest:

it('does something', () => {
  doSomethingLater();
  jest.runAllTimers();

  expect(something).toBe('done');
});

in Karma:

it('does something', () => {
  jasmine.clock().install();

  doSomethingLater();
  jasmine.clock().tick(4000);

  expect(something).toBe('done');
  jasmine.clock().uninstall();
});

Waiting in tests

Sometimes a test needs to wait for something to happen in the application before it continues. Avoid using setTimeout because it makes the reason for waiting unclear and if used within Karma with a time larger than zero it will slow down our test suite. Instead use one of the following approaches.

Promises and Ajax calls

Register handler functions to wait for the Promise to be resolved.

const askTheServer = () => {
  return axios
    .get('/endpoint')
    .then(response => {
      // do something
    })
    .catch(error => {
      // do something else
    });
};

in Jest:

it('waits for an Ajax call', async () => {
  await askTheServer()
  expect(something).toBe('done');
});

in Karma:

it('waits for an Ajax call', done => {
  askTheServer()
    .then(() => {
      expect(something).toBe('done');
    })
    .then(done)
    .catch(done.fail);
});

If you are not able to register handlers to the Promise, for example because it is executed in a synchronous Vue life cycle hook, please take a look at the waitFor helpers or you can flush all pending Promises:

in Jest:

it('waits for an Ajax call', () => {
  synchronousFunction();
  jest.runAllTicks();

  expect(something).toBe('done');
});

Vue rendering

To wait until a Vue component is re-rendered, use either of the equivalent Vue.nextTick() or vm.$nextTick().

in Jest:

it('renders something', () => {
  wrapper.setProps({ value: 'new value' });

  return wrapper.vm.$nextTick().then(() => {
    expect(wrapper.text()).toBe('new value');
  });
});

in Karma:

it('renders something', done => {
  wrapper.setProps({ value: 'new value' });

  wrapper.vm
    .$nextTick()
    .then(() => {
      expect(wrapper.text()).toBe('new value');
    })
    .then(done)
    .catch(done.fail);
});

Events

If the application triggers an event that you need to wait for in your test, register an event handler which contains the assertions:

it('waits for an event', done => {
  eventHub.$once('someEvent', eventHandler);

  someFunction();

  function eventHandler() {
    expect(something).toBe('done');
    done();
  }
});

In Jest you can also use a Promise for this:

it('waits for an event', () => {
  const eventTriggered = new Promise(resolve => eventHub.$once('someEvent', resolve));

  someFunction();

  return eventTriggered.then(() => {
    expect(something).toBe('done');
  });
});

Ensuring that tests are isolated

Tests are normally architected in a pattern which requires a recurring setup and breakdown of the component under test. This is done by making use of the beforeEach and afterEach hooks.

Example

  let wrapper;

  beforeEach(() => {
    wrapper = mount(Component);
  });

  afterEach(() => {
    wrapper.destroy();
  });

When looking at this initially you’d suspect that the component is setup before each test and then broken down afterwards, providing isolation between tests.

This is however not entirely true as the destroy method does not remove everything which has been mutated on the wrapper object. For functional components, destroy only removes the rendered DOM elements from the document.

In order to ensure that a clean wrapper object and DOM are being used in each test, the breakdown of the component should rather be performed as follows:

  afterEach(() => {
    wrapper.destroy();
    wrapper = null;
  });

See also the Vue Test Utils documentation on destroy.

Factories

TBU

Mocking Strategies with Jest

Stubbing and Mocking

Jasmine provides stubbing and mocking capabilities. There are some subtle differences in how to use it within Karma and Jest.

Stubs or spies are often used synonymously. In Jest it’s quite easy thanks to the .spyOn method. Official docs The more challenging part are mocks, which can be used for functions or even dependencies.

Manual module mocks

Manual mocks are used to mock modules across the entire Jest environment. This is a very powerful testing tool that helps simplify unit testing by mocking out modules which cannot be easily consumned in our test environment.

WARNING: Do not use manual mocks if a mock should not be consistently applied in every spec (i.e. it’s only needed by a few specs). Instead, consider using jest.mock(..) (or a similar mocking function) in the relevant spec file.

Where should I put manual mocks?

Jest supports manual module mocks by placing a mock in a __mocks__/ directory next to the source module (e.g. app/assets/javascripts/ide/__mocks__). Don’t do this. We want to keep all of our test-related code in one place (the spec/ folder).

If a manual mock is needed for a node_modules package, please use the spec/frontend/__mocks__ folder. Here’s an example of a Jest mock for the package monaco-editor.

If a manual mock is needed for a CE module, please place it in spec/frontend/mocks/ce.

  • Files in spec/frontend/mocks/ce will mock the corresponding CE module from app/assets/javascripts, mirroring the source module’s path.
    • Example: spec/frontend/mocks/ce/lib/utils/axios_utils will mock the module ~/lib/utils/axios_utils.
  • We don’t support mocking EE modules yet.
  • If a mock is found for which a source module doesn’t exist, the test suite will fail. ‘Virtual’ mocks, or mocks that don’t have a 1-to-1 association with a source module, are not supported yet.

Manual mock examples

  • mocks/axios_utils - This mock is helpful because we don’t want any unmocked requests to pass any tests. Also, we are able to inject some test helpers such as axios.waitForAll.
  • __mocks__/mousetrap/index.js - This mock is helpful because the module itself uses amd format which webpack understands, but is incompatible with the jest environment. This mock doesn’t remove any behavior, only provides a nice es6 compatible wrapper.
  • __mocks__/monaco-editor/index.js - This mock is helpful because the monaco package is completely incompatible in a Jest environment. In fact, webpack requires a special loader to make it work. This mock simply makes this package consumable by Jest.

Keep mocks light

Global mocks introduce magic and technically can reduce test coverage. When mocking is deemed profitable:

  • Keep the mock short and focused.
  • Please leave a top-level comment in the mock on why it is necessary.

Additional mocking techniques

Please consult the official Jest docs for a full overview of the available mocking features.

Running Frontend Tests

For running the frontend tests, you need the following commands:

  • rake frontend:fixtures (re-)generates fixtures.
  • yarn test executes the tests.
  • yarn jest executes only the Jest tests.

As long as the fixtures don’t change, yarn test is sufficient (and saves you some time).

Live testing and focused testing – Jest

While you work on a testsuite, you may want to run these specs in watch mode, so they rerun automatically on every save.

# Watch and rerun all specs matching the name icon
yarn jest --watch icon

# Watch and rerun one specifc file
yarn jest --watch path/to/spec/file.spec.js

You can also run some focused tests without the --watch flag

# Run specific jest file
yarn jest ./path/to/local_spec.js
# Run specific jest folder
yarn jest ./path/to/folder/
# Run all jest files which path contain term
yarn jest term

Live testing and focused testing – Karma

Karma allows something similar, but it’s way more costly.

Running Karma with yarn run karma-start will compile the JavaScript assets and run a server at http://localhost:9876/ where it will automatically run the tests on any browser which connects to it. You can enter that url on multiple browsers at once to have it run the tests on each in parallel.

While Karma is running, any changes you make will instantly trigger a recompile and retest of the entire test suite, so you can see instantly if you’ve broken a test with your changes. You can use Jasmine focused or excluded tests (with fdescribe or xdescribe) to get Karma to run only the tests you want while you’re working on a specific feature, but make sure to remove these directives when you commit your code.

It is also possible to only run Karma on specific folders or files by filtering the run tests via the argument --filter-spec or short -f:

# Run all files
yarn karma-start
# Run specific spec files
yarn karma-start --filter-spec profile/account/components/update_username_spec.js
# Run specific spec folder
yarn karma-start --filter-spec profile/account/components/
# Run all specs which path contain vue_shared or vie
yarn karma-start -f vue_shared -f vue_mr_widget

You can also use glob syntax to match files. Remember to put quotes around the glob otherwise your shell may split it into multiple arguments:

# Run all specs named `file_spec` within the IDE subdirectory
yarn karma -f 'spec/javascripts/ide/**/file_spec.js'

Frontend test fixtures

Code that is added to HAML templates (in app/views/) or makes Ajax requests to the backend has tests that require HTML or JSON from the backend. Fixtures for these tests are located at:

  • spec/frontend/fixtures/, for running tests in CE.
  • ee/spec/frontend/fixtures/, for running tests in EE.

Fixture files in:

  • The Karma test suite are served by jasmine-jquery.
  • Jest use spec/frontend/helpers/fixtures.js.

The following are examples of tests that work for both Karma and Jest:

it('makes a request', () => {
  const responseBody = getJSONFixture('some/fixture.json'); // loads spec/frontend/fixtures/some/fixture.json
  axiosMock.onGet(endpoint).reply(200, responseBody);

  myButton.click();

  // ...
});

it('uses some HTML element', () => {
  loadFixtures('some/page.html'); // loads spec/frontend/fixtures/some/page.html and adds it to the DOM

  const element = document.getElementById('#my-id');

  // ...
});

HTML and JSON fixtures are generated from backend views and controllers using RSpec (see spec/frontend/fixtures/*.rb).

For each fixture, the content of the response variable is stored in the output file. This variable gets automatically set if the test is marked as type: :request or type: :controller. Fixtures are regenerated using the bin/rake frontend:fixtures command but you can also generate them individually, for example bin/rspec spec/frontend/fixtures/merge_requests.rb. When creating a new fixture, it often makes sense to take a look at the corresponding tests for the endpoint in (ee/)spec/controllers/ or (ee/)spec/requests/.

Data-driven tests

Similar to RSpec’s parameterized tests, Jest supports data-driven tests for:

These can be useful for reducing repetition within tests. Each option can take an array of data values or a tagged template literal.

For example:

// function to test
const icon = status => status ? 'pipeline-passed' : 'pipeline-failed'
const message = status => status ? 'pipeline-passed' : 'pipeline-failed'

// test with array block
it.each([
    [false, 'pipeline-failed'],
    [true, 'pipeline-passed']
])('icon with %s will return %s',
 (status, icon) => {
    expect(renderPipeline(status)).toEqual(icon)
 }
);
// test suite with tagged template literal block
describe.each`
    status   | icon                 | message
    ${false} | ${'pipeline-failed'} | ${'Pipeline failed - boo-urns'}
    ${true}  | ${'pipeline-passed'} | ${'Pipeline succeeded - win!'}
`('pipeline component', ({ status, icon, message }) => {
    it(`returns icon ${icon} with status ${status}`, () => {
        expect(icon(status)).toEqual(message)
    })

    it(`returns message ${message} with status ${status}`, () => {
        expect(message(status)).toEqual(message)
    })
});

Gotchas

RSpec errors due to JavaScript

By default RSpec unit tests will not run JavaScript in the headless browser and will simply rely on inspecting the HTML generated by rails.

If an integration test depends on JavaScript to run correctly, you need to make sure the spec is configured to enable JavaScript when the tests are run. If you don’t do this you’ll see vague error messages from the spec runner.

To enable a JavaScript driver in an rspec test, add :js to the individual spec or the context block containing multiple specs that need JavaScript enabled:

# For one spec
it 'presents information about abuse report', :js do
  # assertions...
end

describe "Admin::AbuseReports", :js do
  it 'presents information about abuse report' do
    # assertions...
  end
  it 'shows buttons for adding to abuse report' do
    # assertions...
  end
end

Overview of Frontend Testing Levels

Main information on frontend testing levels can be found in the Testing Levels page.

Tests relevant for frontend development can be found at the following places:

  • spec/javascripts/, for Karma tests
  • spec/frontend/, for Jest tests
  • spec/features/, for RSpec tests

RSpec runs complete feature tests, while the Jest and Karma directories contain frontend unit tests, frontend component tests, and frontend integration tests.

All tests in spec/javascripts/ will eventually be migrated to spec/frontend/ (see also #52483).

Before May 2018, features/ also contained feature tests run by Spinach. These tests were removed from the codebase in May 2018 (#23036).

See also Notes on testing Vue components.

Test helpers

Vuex Helper: testAction

We have a helper available to make testing actions easier, as per official documentation:

testAction(
  actions.actionName, // action
  { }, // params to be passed to action
  state, // state
  [
    { type: types.MUTATION},
    { type: types.MUTATION_1, payload: {}},
  ], // mutations committed
  [
    { type: 'actionName', payload: {}},
    { type: 'actionName1', payload: {}},
  ] // actions dispatched
  done,
);

Check an example in spec/javascripts/ide/stores/actions_spec.jsspec/javascripts/ide/stores/actions_spec.js.

Vue Helper: mountComponent

To make mounting a Vue component easier and more readable, we have a few helpers available in spec/helpers/vue_mount_component_helper:

  • createComponentWithStore
  • mountComponentWithStore

Examples of usage:

beforeEach(() => {
  vm = createComponentWithStore(Component, store);

  vm.$store.state.currentBranchId = 'master';

  vm.$mount();
});
beforeEach(() => {
  vm = mountComponentWithStore(Component, {
    el: '#dummy-element',
    store,
    props: { badge },
  });
});

Don’t forget to clean up:

afterEach(() => {
  vm.$destroy();
});

Wait until axios requests finish

The axios utils mock module located in spec/frontend/mocks/ce/lib/utils/axios_utils.js contains two helper methods for Jest tests that spawn HTTP requests. These are very useful if you don’t have a handle to the request’s Promise, for example when a Vue component does a request as part of its life cycle.

  • waitFor(url, callback): Runs callback after a request to url finishes (either successfully or unsuccessfully).
  • waitForAll(callback): Runs callback once all pending requests have finished. If no requests are pending, runs callback on the next tick.

Both functions run callback on the next tick after the requests finish (using setImmediate()), to allow any .then() or .catch() handlers to run.

Testing with older browsers

Some regressions only affect a specific browser version. We can install and test in particular browsers with either Firefox or Browserstack using the following steps:

Browserstack

Browserstack allows you to test more than 1200 mobile devices and browsers. You can use it directly through the live app or you can install the chrome extension for easy access. You can find the credentials on 1Password, under frontendteam@gitlab.com.

Firefox

macOS

You can download any older version of Firefox from the releases FTP server, https://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/firefox/releases/:

  1. From the website, select a version, in this case 50.0.1.
  2. Go to the mac folder.
  3. Select your preferred language, you will find the dmg package inside, download it.
  4. Drag and drop the application to any other folder but the Applications folder.
  5. Rename the application to something like Firefox_Old.
  6. Move the application to the Applications folder.
  7. Open up a terminal and run /Applications/Firefox_Old.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox-bin -profilemanager to create a new profile specific to that Firefox version.
  8. Once the profile has been created, quit the app, and run it again like normal. You now have a working older Firefox version.

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