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Jest tips & tricks

Since 2017, I have only used Jest for JavaScript application testing. And while Vitest does look exciting, I think that it’s safe to say that Jest will be around for a good while longer.

Here are some of tips and tricks that I’ve learned that make working with Jest a little better. The headings are organized alphabetically for ease of reference.

Aliases

Jest’s global test method has an it alias that you might find useful. There is usually a standard in the codebase where I’m working, but I’ve found that tests can read a little more naturally with the alias:

test("When a user is logged in, ...", () => {});
it("Logs an event on interaction", () => {});

expect

There are a lot of matcher functions that are good to know, so I’ll only list a few here.

One of the most useful matchers (and hardest to remember) is expect.objectContaining(). This allows you to assert that certain properties/values are present on the object without needing to mock all of them.

expect(mockFn).toHaveBeenCalledWith(
  expect.objectContaining({
    example: true,
  })
);

Another handy matcher is not(), which gives you a simple way to negate any matcher:

expect(sum).not.toBe(0);
expect(typeof readableTime).not.toBe("number");

I do recommend skimming the Jest docs for expect occasionally to pick up some new matcher that might help in your next test.

Flags

The Jest CLI has a number of flags that can be used to change the way that Jest runs. Here are some of the ones that I find most helpful:

Selective runs

When working in a large test file, it’s nice to run only the cases that you care about. Sometimes that means selecting a specific test or block, and other times that means skipping anything that isn’t necessary at the moment.

To just run a specific test, you can use the only() method on the global describe/test methods. This will ensure that only that code is run:

test.only("This test will run", () => {});
test("This test will not", () => {});

To omit a test from the run, you can similarly use the skip() method:

test("This test will run", () => {});
test.skip("This test will not", () => {});

For a smaller change to skip tests, you can add an x to the front of for the same behavior:

test("This test will run", () => {});
xtest("This test will not", () => {});

If you’re going to use this, I’d recommend a linter rule to prevent you from committing skipped tests.


I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other tips and tricks that you have found helpful.

Happy testing!



About the author

Sean McPherson is a software engineer for Khan Academy who specializes in web and mobile app development. He lives with his wife, sons, and dog in Pittsburgh, PA.