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jQuery and testing – JSUnit, QUnit, JsSpec [Introduction]

November 12th, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

I had been writing a jQuery parser and then realised once I had spiked it that I hadn’t actually written any tests. So, these are some results from a spike in unit testing a jQuery plugin.

Some background, the plugin is a results viewer from an xml feed from storyq. So, I have run some tests and have results. Now I want to see them in html format. The plugin merely transforms the xml to be displayed using the treeview plugin. I wanted to avoid handing in a json feed formatted specifically for the treeview. I wanted all this to happen client side.

The tests have two aspects:

  • xml loading and parsing into an object
  • rendering the object into a tree (at that point treeview takes over)

    In short, I want to test the code underlying this call that returns the feed before populating an <ul id="tree"> element:
    url: 'tests/data/results-01.xml',   
    success: function(feed) {

      $("#tree").treeview(); //populate the tree

Problem for any framework: sequencing

Let’s take a look at what I want as test code. In this code, I want to populate data with the feed variable returned in the success callback. The test can then check for values. Take a look at the code below. When I run the code, I should (ideally) see the sequence of alerts: loaded, start test, end test. Of course, I don’t. I see start start test, end test, loaded as the sequence. That should be obvious that the callback success hasn’t been called as yet: javascript is run sequentially. Okay, nothing here is surprising. I laboured this point because any of the frameworks must deal with this problem.

var data = {};

jQuery(function() {
      url: '../../xml/results-01.xml', 
      success: function(feed) {
        data = feed;

function testXML2Object() {
  alert('start test')
  assertEquals(data, {"result"}, "Assume that result is a real/correct object");
  alert('end test')     

Frameworks looked at

I looked at three frameworks for xml loading and parsing:


  • In short, QUnit and JsSpec are both as easy as the other. JSUnit seems now to be too heavy given what we now have.
  • QUnit is a TDD framework is used by jQuery itself. I suspect it might survive longer. There are no setup/teardown phases.
  • JsSpec is a BDD framework and doesn’t use jQuery at all but can easily be used with JQuery plugins. There are good setup/teardown phases for tests and suites.
  • Your choice between the two is likely to be your preference between TDD or BDD. It probably depends upon which boundaries you want to test and how you want to go about specifying.

What I didn’t do:

  • integration with a CI system
  • cross-browser testing
  • test with selenium or watir
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