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Wednesday, 12 October 2022

11 hours ago

6 minutes read

  • Testing
  • React
  • Factories
  • Jest
  • RTL

How do I test React components?

There is no such thing as "a perfect way to do this or that" but we, software engineers, always try to find what suits us the best while always thinking of a way to improve it continuously. If you are curious to see how I like to handle component testing in react feel free to stick around! πŸš€

Tiago Sousa

Tiago Sousa

Software Engineer

Introductionlink

Following the well-known sentence there is no such thing as a dumb question I also like to say that there is no such thing as a perfect way to do this or that but I like to have kind of a "guide" of things that I like to do when tackling specific topics and testing react components is one of them.

With this article, I'm definitely not saying "stop doing the way that you are doing because it's wrong". It's more a point of view (POV), a potential solution to a problem and a way to share how I like to do things, which you can agree with or not.

How many times do you copy-paste? πŸ€”link

When bootstrapping projects is not that common but when you already have a solid boilerplate and starting point for your product development, how often do you copy-paste code? As with every decision in life, this approach of copy-pasting brings pros and cons which I like to see as tradeoffs.

One of the cons of this habit that becomes more and more frequent is that you are "skipping" the continuous improvements in your code base, as you feel that "if it worked like that previously I just need to copy it" πŸ‘€

But now you ask:

Tiago, how can we relate this what you just said to testing?

and I will answer you:

Testing is part of the development process and if you are doing this while developing features you will do it for your tests as well!

Which may lead you to future problems.

As Linus Torvalds uses to say Talk is cheap. Show me the code, so let's get into examples and actual code. For this article, we will use a simple <Profile /> component as a base so that I can share with you some of the approaches that I always keep in mind when talking about tests.

src/components/Profile/Profile.tsx

import React from 'react';
import { User } from '@type/User';
import { Container, Paragraph } from '@components';
const Profile = ({
user,
disabled = true,
}: ProfileProps) => {
return (
<Container as="section">
<Paragraph>{user.name}</Paragraph>
<Paragraph>{user.email}</Paragraph>
<Button disabled={disabled}>Edit</Button>
</Container>
);
};
type ProfileProps = {
user: User;
disabled?: boolean;
};
export default Profile;
copy

This component doesn't have any complexity, it receives a user and a disabled prop. The user prop will be used to render the name and email and the disabled prop will control if the button to edit the user should be enabled or not.

With that said, let's write a couple of tests for our component:

  • it should render successfully
  • it should render with the button disabled
  • should render with the button enabled

src/components/Profile/Profile.spec.tsx

import { MOCKED_USER as user } from '@/testUtils/mocks';
import { render } from '@testing-library/react';
describe('<Profile /> component', () => {
it('should render successfully', () => {
expect.assertions(3);
const { getByText, getByRole } = render(
<Profile user={user} disabled />,
);
expect(getByText(user.name)).toBeInTheDocument();
expect(getByText(user.email)).toBeInTheDocument();
expect(getByRole('button')).toBeInTheDocument();
});
it('should render with the button disabled', () => {
expect.assertions(1);
const { getByText, getByRole } = render(
<Profile user={user} disabled />,
);
expect(getByRole('button')).toBeDisabled();
});
it('should render with the button enabled', () => {
expect.assertions(1);
const { getByText, getByRole } = render(
<Profile user={user} disabled={false} />,
);
expect(getByRole('button')).not.toBeDisabled();
});
});
copy

Can you see anything wrong with the following tests? Theoretically everything works and the tests are returning

green

but unconsciously the first thing that you did was to have a look at your codebase and how do you and your team usually implement tests for this use case. After finding a similar test you just copy-pasted everything and just changed:

  • the component in react testing library render function
  • the data that you need to send to the component through props

Every component is crucial for the application so imagine that this component had like 30 tests... you would need to change the render function 30 times!

With that said, we reached the first thing that I like to do while testing react components which is Extract your render function!

How does this sentence translate into code? Let's see πŸ‘‡

src/components/Profile/Profile.spec.tsx

import { render as rtlRender } from '@testing-library/react';
import { MOCKED_USER as user } from '@/testUtils/mocks';
import Profile, { ProfileProps } from './Profile';
const render = (props: Partial<ProfileProps> = {}) => rtlRender(
<Profile user={user} disabled {...props} />,
);
describe('<Profile /> component', () => {
it('should render successfully', () => {
expect.assertions(3);
const { getByText, getByRole } = render();
expect(getByText(user.name)).toBeInTheDocument();
expect(getByText(user.email)).toBeInTheDocument();
expect(getByRole('button')).toBeInTheDocument();
});
it('should render with the button disabled', () => {
expect.assertions(1);
const { getByText, getByRole } = render();
expect(getByRole('button')).toBeDisabled();
});
it('should render with the button enabled', () => {
expect.assertions(1);
const { getByText, getByRole } = render({
disabled: false,
});
expect(getByRole('button')).not.toBeDisabled();
});
});
copy

With this approach you get a lot of advantages namely:

  • Adaptability: if the props for the component changes just need to change in the render method
  • Consistency: your component will always have default values
  • Scalability: you can overwrite every single prop for a specific use case
  • Readability: you will have less boilerplate and all the props will be correctly typed

This is pretty nice but give me a use case where this will come in handy... Sure!

Imagine that now your component needs to receive articles and render them... Let's start with the component changes:

src/components/Profile/Profile.tsx

import React from 'react';
import { User } from '@type/User';
import { Article } from '@type/Article';
import { Container, Paragraph } from '@components';
const Profile = ({ user, articles, disabled = true, }: ProfileProps) => {
return (
<Container as="section">
<Paragraph>{user.name}</Paragraph>
<Paragraph>{user.email}</Paragraph>
<Button disabled={disabled}>Edit</Button>
{articles?.map((article) => <Paragraph>{article.name}</Paragraph>)}
</Container>
);
};
export type ProfileProps = {
user: User;
articles: Article[];
disabled?: boolean;
};
export default Profile;
copy

Well, that was super easy ... I just needed to receive the article prop, render the articles inside the component and declare the prop in the type.

But what about the test? Testing also becomes easy with the help of the render function. You just add a default value for the articles prop in the render function and write your tests! Of course, if you need you can just overwrite the props value for a specific use case!

src/components/Profile/Profile.spec.tsx

import { render as rtlRender } from '@testing-library/react';
import { MOCKED_USER as user, MOCKED_ARTICLES as articles } from '@/testUtils/mocks';
import Profile, { ProfileProps } from './Profile';
const render = (props: Partial<ProfileProps> = {}) => rtlRender(
<Profile
user={user}
articles={articles}
disabled
{...props}
/>,
);
describe('<Profile /> component', () => {
...
it('should render the articles', () => {
expect.assertions(articles.length);
const { getByText } = render();
articles.forEach(({ name }) => expect(getByText(name)).toBeInTheDocument());
});
it('should not render the articles', () => {
expect.assertions(articles.length);
const { getByText } = render({
articles: [],
});
articles.forEach(({ name }) => expect(getByText(name)).not.toBeInTheDocument());
});
});
copy

Overwrite your props πŸ”₯link

We already saw how can we overwrite props but I want to show you another example! πŸ‘€

Imagine that our <Profile /> component accepts an onButtonClick prop that should work as a callback to the parent component in order to allow the parent to handle the click event how he wants, how can we achieve this? Well, if you are used to work with react the changes in the component are pretty simple, let's see:

src/components/Profile/Profile.tsx

import React from 'react';
import { User } from '@type/User';
import { Article } from '@type/Article';
import { Container, Paragraph } from '@components';
const Profile = ({ user, articles, disabled = true, onButtonClick, }: ProfileProps) => {
return (
<Container as="section">
<Paragraph>{user.name}</Paragraph>
<Paragraph>{user.email}</Paragraph>
<Button
disabled={disabled}
onClick={onButtonClick}
>
Edit
</Button>
{articles?.map((article) => <Paragraph>{article.name}</Paragraph>)}
</Container>
);
};
export type ProfileProps = {
user: User;
articles: Article[];
disabled?: boolean;
onButtonClick: React.MouseEventHandler<HTMLButtonElement>;
};
export default Profile;
copy

Since we added a new functionality we have to adapt our test suit and with our extracted render function the changes are really small and minimal! We just need to add a default value to the prop πŸ”₯

src/components/Profile/Profile.spec.tsx

...
const render = (props: Partial<ProfileProps> = {}) => rtlRender(
<Profile
user={user}
articles={articles}
disabled
onButtonClick={jest.fn()}
{...props}
/>,
);
describe('<Profile /> component', () => {
...
});
copy

But what about the test that ensures that the function is called when the button is clicked? Since we defined a default value for the onButtonClick as a jest.fn() we don't have a variable to use as a reference in our test so we can't assert anything unless we create a pointer to jest.fn().

We could create that variable at the beginning of the test suite but it will only be used once so let's just take leverage from the render function that we extracted previously and overwrite the prop for this single test!

src/components/Profile/Profile.spec.tsx

import { fireEvent, render as rtlRender } from '@testing-library/react';
import { MOCKED_USER as user, MOCKED_ARTICLES as articles } from '@/testUtils/mocks';
import Profile, { ProfileProps } from './Profile';
const render = (props: Partial<ProfileProps> = {}) => rtlRender(
<Profile
user={user}
articles={articles}
disabled
onButtonClick={jest.fn()}
{...props}
/>,
);
);
describe('<Profile /> component', () => {
...
it('should call onButtonClick when button clicked', () => {
expect.assertions(1);
const onButtonClick = jest.fn();
const { getByRole } = render({
onButtonClick,
disabled: false,
});
fireEvent.click(getByRole('button'));
expect(onButtonClick).toHaveBeenCalled();
});
});
copy

Fake your props!link

How do you usually pass data through your components when you are dealing with testing? I already saw a couple of ways to do this like:

  • create an object directly in the test case πŸ˜΅β€πŸ’«
  • create a json file and import that file directly into the test 🫀
  • create an object within a utility folder and use it when needed 😐

Every single of these approaches can also bring you serious problems.

If you create an object in every test case you will have to edit every single test file if the object changes, imagine this for an entity like a user which is used so many times across applications!

If you create a json file and use that file in every test you will not have support for typescript when you import the file but you will have a single source of truth for your entity's data.

Creating an object with default values is the best option so far but it has a disadvantage if you hardcode the data. Your data will be always the same every time that you run the tests which will not help you catch edge cases!

Using the same object with hardcoded values will bring you too much predictability in the output and behavior of your test but until now this is the best option that we have so far so let's see how can we implement it.

src/testUtils/mocks.ts

export const MOCKED_USER: User = {
id: 1,
name: 'Tiago Sousa',
email: '[email protected]',
username: 'tiagomichaelsousa',
};
export const MOCKED_ARTICLES: Articles[] = [
{
id: 1,
name: 'Quick Preview β€” cloudmobility Hackathon',
slug: 'articles/quick-preview-cloudmobility-hackathon',
},
{
id: 2,
name: '1 on 1 with Laravel package development',
slug: 'articles/1-on-1-with-laravel-package-development',
},
];
copy

As we said before, we have a single source regarding our data which will help us if any of the entities change but we are also creating data predictability across all our tests!

Data predictability in tests it's a problem! I'm saying this with a lot of certainty because I already found implementation flaws by using random data for every test case when testing an application that I would probably not find if I was using hardcoded data. At the time if my tests were using always the same values I wouldn't be able to find the bug when I was developing the future and the application would be deployed to production!

Another problem that I can point out with this mocked data as constants is if the Article data structure changes we will have to change every single object inside the MOCKED_ARTICLES variable.

This definitely doesn't scale so let's try to find a better way to handle this!

What I like to do is to create Factories for my models. These factories will export an object that will contain two functions, the create() and createMany().

These functions will both call another function that will return an object based on the entity representation, correctly typed. This approach will also allow you to overwrite the parameters for a specific use case by accepting data within the parameters of the function.

It's also at the factory level that I like to solve the problem regarding the data predictability by using fakerjs to randomly generate data based on a specific datatype.

But what does a factory looks like for an entity like a User? Let's have a look πŸ‘€

src/utils/factories/user.ts

import { User } from '@/types/user';
import { faker } from '@faker-js/faker';
import range from '@/utils/range';
const user = (data: Partial<User> = {}): User => ({
id: faker.datatype.number(),
name: faker.name.fullName(),
email: faker.internet.email(),
username: faker.internet.userName(),
...data,
});
const UserFactory = {
create: (data: Partial<User> = {}): User => user({ ...data }),
createMany: (
count = 2,
data: Partial<User>[] = [],
) => range(1, count).map((_, index) => user(data[index])),
};
export default UserFactory;
copy

NOTE:

range() is a custom function but you can use the one from lodash πŸš€

Now that we already have our factories ready let's see what are the requested changes in our tests, shall we? πŸ‘€ Theoretically, we would just need to update our imports by removing the objects defined in the @/testUtils/mocks and replace them with our factories!

src/components/Profile/Profile.spec.tsx

import { fireEvent, render as rtlRender } from '@testing-library/react';
import Profile, { ProfileProps } from './Profile';
- import { MOCKED_USER as user, MOCKED_ARTICLES as articles } from '@/testUtils/mocks'; + import UserFactory from '@/utils/factories/user'; + import ArticleFactory from '@/utils/factories/article';
+ const user = UserFactory.create(); + const articles = ArticleFactory.createMany();
const render = (props: Partial<ProfileProps> = {}) => rtlRender(
<Profile user={user} articles={articles} disabled onButtonClick={jest.fn()} {...props} />, );
describe('<Profile /> component', () => {
it('should render successfully', () => { expect.assertions(3);
const { getByText, getByRole } = render();
expect(getByText(user.name)).toBeInTheDocument(); expect(getByText(user.email)).toBeInTheDocument(); expect(getByRole('button')).toBeInTheDocument(); }); it('should render with the button disabled', () => { const { getByText, getByRole } = render();
expect(getByText(user.name)).toBeInTheDocument(); expect(getByText(user.email)).toBeInTheDocument(); expect(getByRole('button')).toBeDisabled(); });
it('should render with the button enabled', () => { const { getByText, getByRole } = render({ disabled: false, });
expect(getByText(user.name)).toBeInTheDocument(); expect(getByText(user.email)).toBeInTheDocument(); expect(getByRole('button')).not.toBeDisabled(); });
it('should render the articles', () => { expect.assertions(articles.length);
const { getByText } = render();
articles.forEach(({ name }) => expect(getByText(name)).toBeInTheDocument()); });
it('should not render the articles', () => { expect.assertions(articles.length);
const { getByText } = render({ articles: [], });
articles.forEach(({ name }) => expect(getByText(name)).not.toBeInTheDocument()); });
it('should call onButtonClick when button clicked', () => { expect.assertions(1);
const onButtonClick = jest.fn();
const { getByRole } = render({ onButtonClick, disabled: false, });
fireEvent.click(getByRole('button'));
expect(onButtonClick).toHaveBeenCalled(); }); });
copy

How adaptable, scalable and readable are our tests now?! But it doesn't finish here! We can do more things πŸš€

Imagine that for a specific test suite or event test case you need to ensure that your factories have specific values... We can overwrite in both cases! Let's see how πŸ‘€

src/components/Profile/Profile.spec.tsx

...
/*
Here we can define the default values for the test suite
We will have a user called Tiago and two articles named Article 1 and Article 2
each time that we access the user and articles const
*/
const user = UserFactory.create({ name: 'Tiago' });
const articles = ArticleFactory.createMany(2, [
{ name: 'Article 1' },
{ name: 'Article 2' }
]);
describe('<Profile /> component', () => {
...
it('allows to overwrite values at the test suite level', () => {
expect.assertions(3);
const { getByText } = render();
expect('Tiago').toBeInTheDocument();
expect('Article 1').toBeInTheDocument();
expect('Article 2').toBeInTheDocument();
});
/*
For this test let's overwrite both the user and article
and assert that those values are defined
*/
it('allows to overwrite values at the test case level', () => {
expect.assertions(3);
const overwrittenUser = UserFactory.create({ name: 'Tiago Sousa' });
const overwrittenArticles = ArticleFactory.createMany(2, [
{ name: 'Article 1 - Test Case Level' },
{ name: 'Article 2 - Test Case Level' }
]);
const { getByText } = render({
user: overwrittenUser,
articles: overwrittenArticles,
});
expect('Tiago Sousa').toBeInTheDocument();
expect('Article 1 - Test Case Level').toBeInTheDocument();
expect('Article 2 - Test Case Level').toBeInTheDocument();
});
});
copy

And that's it! You have full control of your tests suites!

Conclusionslink

This is just a POV (point of view) on how I like to test react components!

In my opinion, this approach is really scalable, adaptable, readable and gives you consistency by relying on mocked data (factories) for your component props that are different every time that you run your suite!

But of course, in the same way that I like to share my POV and how I handle things, I also like to see other's POV! So, if you have any comments, suggestions, potential improvements on this approach or even an article that you wrote about this topic feel free to share it in the comments below πŸ‘‡ It would be much appreciated! πŸ™

I hope you found this article interesting, feel free to share it with your colleagues or friends, because you know... Sharing is caring!

Also, if you enjoy working at a large scale on projects with global impact and if you enjoy a challenge, please reach out to us at xgeeks! We're always looking for talented people to join our team πŸ™Œ

Tiago Sousa

Written by Tiago Sousa

Hey there, my name is Tiago Sousa and I'm a Fullstack Engineer currently working at xgeeks. I'm a technology enthusiast and I try to explore new things to keep myself always updated. My motto is definitely "Sharing is caring" and that's exactly why you are currently reading this!

Interested in collaborating with me?

Let's Talk
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