A Simple JavaScript test framework from scratch

April 29, 2018 0 Comments

A Simple JavaScript test framework from scratch



Photo of the actual source code for this article

In this article, I build a simple JavaScript framework from scratch. The framework will then be used to unit test itself.

The goal is to be able to run this:

Let’s get started. The full source code is here and tests are here.

Create a new file called index.js. The entire source code will live inside here. Let’s start from describe.

The describe function signature is fn(description, callback). The first argument is simply a string describing the block, and the callback contains the actual test code to execute. It would be also be nice to print out the description when the test executes.

Relatively straightforward! Another nice part of this we can have arbitrarily nested describe blocks. For example:

Surprisingly simple. Moving on…

it is actually easier to implement than describe, at least for this example. Why? Let’s take a look at the function signature. The first argument is a message, and the second is the callback:

fn(description, callback)

… which is identical to describe. Let’s just go ahead and use describe!

Now we just need to implement expect(....).toBe(...).

Let’s start with expect. The function signature is as follows:


Since we want to chain .toBe, expect must return an object that has a toBe property that is a method.

Start of by defining the expect method:

Now we can type expect(1) . We just need an object with a toBe property, that does the comparison between the value passed to expect and the value passed to toBe.

The object returned by expect will contain at least one matcher, toBe, and possibly more in the future. It looks like this:

exp is the expected value, which is passed to expect. We need to pass it into matchers, to be able to make the comparison. toBe receives the assertion, which is what we expect to equal value passed to expect.

toBe is performing a strict comparison using =. This means toBe can only be used for primitives, such as String, Number and Boolean.

This is all we need to be able to run the example code from the start of the article! The full source code with example as follows, and can be pasted into a single index.js and run using node index.js.

I am exporting the methods at the bottom of the file, so I can require and test them.

As promised, we will test the framework using itself. I will write the tests in a file called index.test.js, which can be run using node index.test.js.

First, a test on describe.

describe… actually doesn’t do much. It simply console.log a value, and executes the callback. We could mock console.log and ensure it is called, but that isn’t very interesting. Let’s focus on making sure the callback is called.

We start of by requiring all the functions we will test (and need to write the tests). We simply declare a noop, or no operation function that increments a value each time is it called — this is how we will assert that describe is calling the callback.

Testing describe is now as simply as asserting executes has indeed increments, which reflects that the noop callback did indeed execute.

It just calls describe, and does nothing different, so testing is isn’t very interesting.

expect is also very straight forward. expect returns an object, with a toBe property that is a function.

toBe is as simple to test as everything else. It should return true for when primitives are equal, such as 1 = 1, and false for 1 === 2.

Writing false is exactly the same, so I won’t include it.

index.js, not including whitespace and exports , is less than 30 lines of code! This isn’t a very full featured framework by any means, but for just 30 lines, it’s relatively powerful. Adding more matchers as as simply as adding extra methods to matchers.

Building isEqual, isTruthy and are trivial. Add more advanced matchers like toHaveBeenCalled , and other test features like spies and mock functions are some improvements I’d like to implement, as well as better error handling and logger.

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