Test setTimeout With Jasmine

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Code that utilizes setTimeout or setInterval becomes asynchronous. Jasmine has some nice helpers to make your test synchronous again.

Jasmine

Code Using setTimeout

Any Javascript code that wants to delay certain actions or give intervals between actions will use setTimeout or setInterval respectively. There are also libraries that create some niceties for working in these situations, notably underscore’s _.throttle and _.debounce functions. Underneath all of these higher-level functions, they’re using the native setTimeout construct, so the same strategies will apply. In your source, you end up with something like this:

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$(document).on 'keyup', '.autocomplete-field', _.debounce(autocomplete, 500)

This code binds a keyup event listener on a contrived .autocomplete-field. Of course, we don’t want to do an expensive autocomplete lookup on every keypress. So, we’ll slow it down a bit with _.debounce.

Testing Asynchronous Code in Jasmine

Now we go to test it in Jasmine (failing):

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  describe 'Autocomplete Field', ->

    it 'calls autocomplete when typing', ->
      called = false
      autocomplete = ->
        called = true

      keyup = $.Event('keyup')
      $('.autocomplete-field').trigger keyup
      called.should.be.true

In this test, or autocomplete spy will never be called, thus called will never be true. There are a few ways to fix this.

Mocking the Jasmine Clock

One way to fix the test is to remove _.debounce from our source code. That would make the test pass. The other is to setup our Jasmine to handle the setTimeout used in _.debounce. Let’s do the latter, and raise our fists to the sky in triumph over our testing foe (winning):

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  describe 'Autocomplete Field', ->

    beforeEach ->
      jasmine.Clock.useMock()

    it 'calls autocomplete when typing', ->
      called = false
      autocomplete = ->
        called = true

      keyup = $.Event('keyup')
      $('.autocomplete-field').trigger keyup
      jasmine.Clock.tick 501
      called.should.be.true

The needed code is simple to add. Use jasmine.Clock.useMock() to setup the fake ticker. Then call tick() on it whenever you want your test to simulate time massage.

The cool thing is that this does not slow down your tests. You could set the clock tick to be 50100000 or some crazy number, and it will still execute as fast as your single JavaScript thread will let you.

Boom. Another testing hurdle cleared. Sometimes it’s harder to write the test than the code.

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