Test RequireJs Code in Testacular

Did you write your source code as JavaScript AMD modules in RequireJs? Do you want to test them in real browsers? Do you want the flexibility of using Mocha or Jasmine? This is the moment you've been waiting for.

Testacular is a "spetacular test runner for JavaScript" that was written to support the AngularJs project. It is valuable because it will run your tests in real browsers. This is important for front-end code that relies on browser globals such as window (eg, if you use jQuery) or that manipulates the DOM (which could vary browser to browser).

Client-side JavaScript testing is a somewhat crazy space. Some have even called it "insane" and taken drastically different routes than what follows. But we're gonna see if we can power through, and Testacular will help us get the job done.

RequireJs Modules

We wrote our source code using RequireJs-implemented AMD modules. This gives us:

  • Clean code organization

  • Namespaced code (not global)

  • Explicit dependency management

  • Source optimized via the RequireJs build

Unfortunately, it also makes our source a bit more tricky to test.

Testacular RequireJs Support

RequireJs support was just barely added to Testacular, so it only lives in the canary channel (master). To install with npm:

npm install -g testacular@canary

This will currently install version 0.5.2. This is the first version of Testacular with RequireJs support. So your package.json should include an entry like:

"testacular": ">=0.5.2"

If Testacular has moved to >=0.6.0, you can use the stable channel.

Configure Testacular For RequireJs

Directory Setup

For clarity in the example configuration files and test below, the directory structure upon which these are based looks like this:

        jquery.js #etc
        chai/ #etc

Initialize Testacular

Testacular comes with a nice utility for generating a config file (default name: 'testacular.conf.js') that it needs in order to run. In your terminal, type:

testacular init

This will give you a series of prompts for things such as paths to source and tests and which browsers to capture. These prompts do not include the option to add RequireJs support automatically, so you'll need to add those lines manually to your testacular.conf.js (see below). As of testacular 0.5.2, testacular init will prompt for usage of the RequireJs adapter.

Testacular Include

Testacular 0.5.1, while adding RequireJs support, has added a new concept of "included" to the files listed in your config. This is because RequireJs will balk about a the module not being loaded correctly (ie, loaded synchronously in the head tag of the runner). From the RequireJs docs:

"Be sure to load all scripts that call define() via the RequireJS API. Do not manually code script tags in HTML to load scripts that have define() calls in them."

RequireJs Shim

Not immediately apparent is the fact that the 'shim' config from RequireJs 2.x does not work from within Testacular. I haven't yet figured out why. For instance, I was constantly getting "'Backbone' is not defined" messages even though it was specified in the 'shim' config and required in the test. I could have been doing something wrong. My solution thus far has been to list each of the non-RequireJs modules and their dependencies in the 'files' attribute of testacular.conf.js.


The final point is that the RequireJs main module for your test runner should be the last file listed.

So, finally, here is the 'file' excerpt of testacular.conf.js:

files = [

  // !! libs required for test framework
  {pattern: 'node_modules/chai/chai.js', included: false},

  // !! put what used to be in your requirejs 'shim' config here

  // !! put all libs in requirejs 'paths' config here (included: false)
  {pattern: 'lib/**/*.js', included: false},

  // !! all src and test modules (included: false)
  {pattern: 'src/**/*', included: false},
  {pattern: 'test/**/*.test.js', included: false},

  // !! test main require module last

This config is awesome. It replaces an html test runner that you would otherwise have to build.

RequireJs Main Module

Just like any RequireJs project, you need a main module to bootstrap your tests. In the main module, you setup the require.config.

Testacular '/base' Directory

Testacular serves files under the '/base' directory. So, on the server, requests to files will be served up under 'http://localhost:9876/base/*'. The RequireJs config for baseUrl gives a starting context for modules that load with relative paths. When setting this value for the Testacular server, it will need to start with '/base'. I want my baseUrl to be at the root of my '/src' directory so relative requires in the source won't need to change. My baseUrl has the value of '/base/src'.

Require Each Test File

One of the things I hate is having to update a master list of all tests to run every time I add a test. Unfortunately, that's what I currently have. The test main module has to specifically require each of the test modules. I would love it if I could add a *.test.js file to the test directory and just have it run the next time the tests run.

Asynchronously Run Testacular

Because the RequireJs require statements are asynchronous, Testacular needs to wait until they're done (the code is loaded and ready) before it starts the tests.

The main-test.js file ends up looking like this:


  // !! Testacular serves files from '/base'
  baseUrl: '/base/src',
  paths: {
    require: '../lib/require',
    text: '../lib/text'
}, ['../test/MyModule.test'], function() {

RequireJs Test in Testacular

All the setup thus far has been in preparation for the code to follow. The test can now be setup as a RequireJs module. It can require the source code under test. It can use Mocha (or whatever framework there is a Testacular adapter for).

I will also use Chai in order to get the 'should' BDD-style assertions. Note that by using RequireJs and running in the browser, we can't just require('chai'). It has to be required using the asynchronous callback to avoid this error:

Uncaught Error: Module name "../node_modules/chai/chai" has not been loaded yet for context: _. Use require()

And finally, should() must be invoked to be available in the test.

So, a simple test will look like:

define(['../node_modules/chai/chai', 'MyModule'],
  function(chai, MyModule) {

  var assert = chai.assert,
    expect = chai.expect,
    should = chai.should();

  describe('MyModule', function () {
    describe('#initialize()', function () {
      it('should be a stinkin object', function () {
        var yippee = new MyModule();

Run the Tests in Testacular

There are a couple options set in testacular.conf.js that will describe how your tests can be run:

  • singleRun - Start Testacular server, capture browsers, run all tests, shutdown server

  • autoWatch - Have the server run tests every time a source or test file changes (and requires you to turn off singleRun)

To start the Testacular server:

testacular start

Finally, if your Testacular server is already running and you want to kick off the tests, type:

testacular run

Now to Test

Thank you to Vojta Jina and the rest of the AngularJs crew and other contributors for making an awesome test runner. I'm very happy that RequireJs support was added. Vojta has also provided an end-to-end example with code on Github.

How do you see that we could improve this configuration or testing process?

Now to test some sweet code!