JavaScript testing

When it comes to JavaScript unit testing frameworks, Jest is a strong contender for the top spot. Originally created by Facebook for testing React applications, Jest has become one of the most popular choices for testing React components. Over time, its popularity has expanded, and it is now widely used for testing both front-end and back-end JavaScript applications.

In this article, we will delve into the details of Jest to help you get started with testing. Before diving into Jest, we will provide a brief overview of unit testing and its significance in ensuring software quality.

What is Jest?

Jest is an acclaimed testing framework for JavaScript that aims to offer developers a pleasant and uncomplicated testing experience. It is based on the Jasmine testing framework and is particularly well-suited for conducting unit tests on React and React Native applications.

The brainchild of Jest, Christoph Nakazawa, created this framework with the primary objective of facilitating and streamlining testing processes for large-scale web applications. Jest is highly customizable and encompasses an extensive array of tools and features, enabling developers to effortlessly write and execute tests for intricate web applications.

Important Features of Jest

  1. Remarkable Execution Speed: Jest is known for its exceptional execution speed, which significantly reduces the time required for running tests. This allows developers to streamline their testing processes and iterate faster during development.
  1. Efficient Watch Mode: Jest’s watch mode is highly efficient and enables developers to track changes in their codebase. It intelligently detects modified files and only re-runs the relevant tests, resulting in quicker feedback and improved development workflow.
  1. Pre-commit Hooks and Snapshot Testing: Jest offers pre-commit hooks, allowing developers to automatically run tests before committing their code changes. This practice helps catch potential issues early on and reduces the chances of introducing bugs into the codebase. Snapshot testing, a feature native to Jest, enables developers to capture and compare snapshots of components or data structures. This simplifies the process of verifying expected output and detecting unintended changes.
  1. Flexibility and Built-in Modules: Jest provides a high degree of flexibility through its built-in modules. These modules offer excellent support for plugins, eliminating the need to rely on external tools or libraries for specific testing tasks. Jest’s built-in capabilities cover a wide range of functionalities, making it a comprehensive solution for testing JavaScript applications.
  1. Seamless Migration: Jest offers a code mods module, which facilitates the migration of existing test projects to Jest. This module automatically converts test code from other testing frameworks into the Jest syntax, making the transition smoother and less time-consuming.
  1. Advanced Testing Features: Jest includes advanced features that enhance the testing process. Automatic module mocking allows developers to effortlessly mock dependencies, simplifying the testing of components that rely on external resources. Coverage thresholds enable developers to set specific criteria for test coverage and generate reports to ensure comprehensive testing. Mappers provide a mapping mechanism to transform code during testing, enabling seamless integration with tools like Babel or TypeScript.
  1. Support for Multiple Projects: Jest supports running multiple projects within a single runner, making it convenient for developers working on complex applications with multiple modules or microservices. This feature improves testing efficiency by allowing developers to manage and run tests for different projects simultaneously.
  1. User-Friendly with Comprehensive Documentation: Jest is widely praised for its user-friendly nature. It has a well-documented API and a wealth of resources, including guides, tutorials, and examples, which make it easy for developers to get started and leverage its features effectively. Additionally, Jest has strong community support, with active contributors and a vibrant ecosystem of plugins and extensions.

By offering these outstanding features, Jest has established itself as a top choice among developers who seek a comprehensive and efficient testing framework for their JavaScript applications.

Amazing Jest’s Characteristics:

  1. Zero Configuration: Jest aims to be a hassle-free testing solution for most JavaScript projects. With minimal or no adjustments required, you can simply install Jest as a project dependency and start writing tests immediately.
  1. Rich API: Jest offers a comprehensive and versatile API that caters to various testing needs. It provides a wide range of specific assertion types to address specific requirements during testing. Additionally, Jest is renowned for its well-documented API, making it easy for users to quickly grasp its functionalities and get started with testing.
  1. Isolation: Test isolation is crucial to ensuring that each test runs independently without interference from other tests. Jest executes tests in parallel, with each test running in its own process. This approach prevents tests from influencing each other’s results, and Jest serves as the orchestrator that collects and aggregates the test outcomes.
  1. Snapshots: Snapshots are a powerful feature in front-end testing provided by Jest. They allow you to verify the integrity of complex objects without writing extensive assertions for every property. With snapshot testing, you can create a baseline snapshot of an object, and Jest automatically compares subsequent snapshots against the baseline to detect any changes or regressions.

Mock in Jest

A mock in Jest serves as a testing tool that simplifies the examination of connections between different code components by substituting the actual implementation of a function. Instead, it captures information about the function’s calls and the arguments passed during those calls.

By defining the desired behavior within a mock, we can replace the original function’s implementation. This means that when the function is invoked during testing, the mock function executes in place of the original function.

Employing mocks in Jest aids in isolating specific functionalities of a function or module, streamlining the testing process. Through mocking dependencies, we can assess how our code behaves under certain conditions without actually invoking external resources.

Limitations of Jest

Learning Jest can pose challenges for developers who are accustomed to using other testing libraries. Since Jest has its own distinct features, functions, and syntax, it may take time for developers to become familiar with it. This can result in a slower learning curve and initial difficulties when writing Jest tests.

Another potential limitation of Jest is its compatibility with integrated development environments (IDEs). It may not be fully supported by all IDEs, which means that developers relying on features like IntelliSense and auto-import may not have access to them. This can be a significant disadvantage for developers who rely on these features to streamline their workflow.

Developers who require a wide range of libraries and tools for testing their code may find that Jest does not offer the same level of support as other testing frameworks.

Additionally, the auto-mocking feature in Jest can make it slower compared to other testing libraries. Jest automatically generates mock versions of dependencies, which can take time to set up and execute.

To overcome some of these limitations, using digital experience testing such as LambdaTest, can be beneficial. LambdaTest allows you to perform Jest testing on a larger scale by automating cross-browser testing across 3000+ browsers. This scalability in test execution leads to improved test coverage and product quality.

LambdaTest provides comprehensive Jest tutorials that will help you develop a better functional understanding of the Jest framework. By running your first Jest test script on the LambdaTest cloud, you can kick-start automation testing using Jest without worrying about the challenges of Jest infrastructure.

Tips to enhance your JavaScript Testing

1.     Organize your test suite in a dedicated file

To establish a well-structured test suite, it is recommended to create a separate file where you can configure and set up globals and shared code. In order to achieve this, you can use the jest.config.js file in your project. As you begin, you may encounter code that needs to be shared among different test files. To address this requirement, it is beneficial to establish a global configuration file.

2.     Utilize the beforeEach and afterEach hooks to establish common code for your test cases and reset all mocks after running the tests.

Once you have defined the test blocks and described what will be tested, the next step is to configure your test cases. However, you may encounter scenarios where you need to repeatedly set up mocks or invoke functions, resulting in code duplication. Fortunately, Jest offers a pair of setup hooks that allow you to extract common functionality from your test cases.

3.     Strike the right balance when deciding which functionality should be replicated in your mocks

Jest provides a powerful capability to achieve comprehensive test coverage of your code, potentially reaching 100% coverage. However, it’s essential to know which aspects should remain as-is.

Striking the right balance between reimplementing functionality in mocks and utilizing the original code is crucial for efficient and effective testing. Replicating complex or critical behaviors in mocks can enable you to isolate and control specific scenarios, facilitating more precise testing. On the other hand, relying too heavily on mock implementations may result in incomplete or inaccurate testing, as they might not accurately reflect the behavior of the actual code.

4.     When the getInstance method does not help in testing lifecycle hooks

When it comes to testing components that use setState and its associated lifecycle hooks, the getInstance method provided by testing frameworks like Jest is often adequate. It allows us to access the component instance and test its lifecycle methods. However, there are scenarios where components rely on props rather than the state in their lifecycle hooks. In such cases, we need to adopt alternative strategies to ensure comprehensive testing.

One such scenario is testing the implementation of a shouldComponentUpdate hook in a component that uses props. To tackle this situation, we can leverage the update API provided by react-test-renderer, which allows us to simulate prop updates and observe the resulting behavior.

By using the update API, we can create a test environment where we programmatically modify the props of the component and assert the expected outcomes. This enables us to evaluate how the component responds to prop changes and verify whether the shouldComponentUpdate hook is correctly implemented.

By manipulating the props through the update API and subsequently asserting the component’s behavior, we can effectively test the logic encapsulated within the shouldComponentUpdate hook, ensuring that it accurately determines whether a re-render should occur based on prop changes.

5.     Ensure the determinism of your tests

To maintain reliable and consistent test results, it is crucial to ensure that your tests are independent of each other. Each test case should be self-contained and capable of passing on its own, without relying on the outcome or side effects of other tests.

Avoiding dependencies between tests is essential for test determinism. This means that the execution or success of one test should not affect the outcome of another. By adhering to this principle, you can confidently interpret test failures and isolate issues to specific test cases, facilitating debugging and troubleshooting.


Jest is an exceptional JavaScript testing framework that is purpose-built to ensure the accuracy and reliability of JavaScript codebases. It provides developers with a user-friendly, intuitive, and feature-packed API that greatly simplifies the process of writing tests while delivering prompt and precise results.

By embracing tips and tricks for JavaScript testing with Jest, developers can effectively validate their JavaScript codebases with confidence and efficiency, fostering the development of robust and reliable applications.

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