ActiveWeb promotes TDD/BDD approach to testing of web applications. At the heart, it uses JUnit as a testing framework, but it provides a number of test classes to be sub-classed for various purposes. ActiveWeb allows to do a full test of any web functionality during a regular build.

All test classes have a suffix Spec. This is a nod to RSpec, but also a good practice - think of these not as tests that assert values, but as specs, or specifications of behavior. The more you think of them as specifications/blueprints, the more you will think of writing them before actual implementations.

This page is not an exhaustive list of test APIs, but rather a directional guide and a set of how-to instructions


While ActiveWeb tests are written with the popular JUnit testing framework, traditionally expectations are written with JSpec

Database transaction management

The behavior of database transactions in ActiveWeb is identical to the DBSpec. class.


Database configuration is described on database configuration page. DBSpec class will look for connections configured with a method testing().


Specifically, line 4 configures a test connection to be used during the test. In case you work with multiple databases, you can configure more than one test connection. DBSpec will open all connections marked for tests.

ControllerSpec - test your controllers

org.javalite.activeweb.ControllerSpec is a super class for controller tests. This class is used by unit tests that test a single controller. Controllers are tested by simulating a web request to a controller (no physical network is involved, and no container initialized).

All APIs available to controllers in ControllerSpec are also available to all other controller and integration specs

Spec naming convention

Spec class name must be made of two words: 1. controller short class name and 2. Word Spec.

For example, if there is a controller:

then the spec will be called:

Note that the package name is the same for spec as it is for controller, since ActiveWeb will use reflection to determine the controller to be tested

Sending HTTP requests from specs

In a snippet above on line request()..., the method request() allows to simulate a call to a controller HelloController.

This line reads: Send GET request to HelloController, action index.

There are other methods for sending different HTTP methods:

  • post(action)
  • put(action)
  • delete(action)

Here ActiveWeb expects the following conventions:

  1. Controller name is deducted from the spec name, which leads it to search app.controllers.HelloController in this case.
  2. Methods get("action_name"), post("action_name") will translate to invoking corresponding actions in controller. Refer to Routing for definitions of actions and action methods.
  3. HTTP GET method will be simulated for controller.

Sending parameters with HTTP requests

This test is a little more complex, we are sending two parameters with the request, and also checking the value controller assigned to a view.

The above example can be simplified with a use of a params() method that takes an even number of names an values for parameters:

Generating views during testing

ActiveWeb allows you to generate a full HTML during tests, without starting containers or sending real HTTP requests over network. At the same time, controllers have no awareness that they are executed from tests.

Views are generated in tests by default:

Line request()... causes the framework to execute the controller, and pass all data from it to the view and the generate HTML as in a normal application flow.

Method responseContent() simply returns entire HTML generated by the view. Now, that you have the generated content, you can use variety of technologies in Java to test its structure (easier if you stick to XHTML in your templates), as well as content.

We simply test on line 5 that there exists a span with specific content merged by template from data passed in from controller.

Testing HTML content

The method responseContent() returns text generated as a single string. Your application may generate HTML, XML, JSON, or any other format. However, majority of modern application development deals with generating HTML, and ActiveWeb provides two convenience methods to validate structure and content of generated HTML:

Finding content of node

Use the text(cssSelector) method to find content of a node by CSS selectors.

Counting HTML elements

Sometimes you need to verify a number of nodes in HTML (expected number of specific elements generated on page).
Use the count(cssSelector) method to find nodes matching a CSS selector.

Implementation is based on the Open Source Project JSoup, which can be used in combination with the responseContent() directly for more sophisticated cases.

Mocking and testing

Mocking and testing of services is related to the concept of Dependency Injection and is described in Dependency Injection section.

Posting binary content

Sometimes you need to test a case when binary data is POSTed to a web application. This can be easily tested with the content() method:

Testing uploads

Simulating file upload can be done with the formItem() method:

Most methods chained after method request() are chained because they all return a special instance of RequestBuilder. This allows to call the same method more than once, including formItem() to simulate uploading of multiple files.

Testing downloads

Downloading files or streaming data from a controller to a browser is described here: Controllers: downloading of files.

Lets say you have a controller that streams out some CSV data like this:

Testing such a controller can be done in this manner:

Working with sessions

The session() method allows to setting objects into session before a test and also used to inspect objects in session after some action (execution of a controller)

Conversely, you could login by placing a User object into a session before executing a controller of interest.

Working with cookies

Cookies can be sent with a response using a cookie() method:

In this spec, we are sending one cookie with the request, but also are checking that HelloController sent another cookie to the client.

Great for TDD

ActiveWeb controller specs allow for true TDD, since they do not have a compiler dependency on controllers. You can describe full behavior of your controller before a controller class even exists. Simplest example:

In a code snippet above, a request with HTTP GET method is simulated to the GreeterController, index() action. Controller is expected to assign an object called message with value Hello, earthlings to a view.

It is easy to describe a controller behavior in a ControllerSpec, making it easy to practice real TDD.

DBControllerSpec - test controllers with DB connection

org.javalite.activeweb.DBControllerSpec class serves as a super class for controller tests requiring database connections. In effect, this class combines the logic of ControllerSpec and DBSpec. When it comes to naming convention of a controller to be tested, the functionality is identical that of ControllerSpec, but at the same time it will open a connection to DB before test and close after (will also roll back transaction)

IntegrationSpec - test multiple controllers together

While ControllerSpec and DBControllerSpec allow to test a single controller, the class IntegrationSpec allows to write entire scenarios for testing multiple controllers.


Lets decompose code snippet:

  • Line 4: a controller HomeController is executed with HTTP GET request which is dispatched to its action index()
  • Line 5: we verify that the response code of execution was 200
  • Line 6: controller GreeterController?s index() action is executed with HTTP GET and parameter name="Bob". Controller, provide us with that view?s output - usually HTML, but can be XML, JSON, whatever that view is producing.
  • Line 7: we examine the content of the produced view output.

Note that we can run this code in the absence of both controllers (of course it will fail).

Lets write a GreetingController (as being the most complicated of the two):

The corresponding view might look like:

and will be located in file:


DBIntegrationSpec - combines IntegrationSpec and DBSpec

org.javalite.activeweb.DBIntegrationSpec class serves as a super class for controller integration tests requiring database connections. In effect, this class combines the logic of IntegrationSpec and DBSpec. It will allow to write scenarios to test multiple controllers, but at the same time it will open a connection to DB before the test and will close after (will also roll back transaction).

AppIntegrationSpec - bootstraps ControllerFilters into test

org.javalite.activeweb.AppIntegrationSpec is a class that will bootstrap entire application, complete with ControllerFilters. The only difference of running your application under AppIntegrationSpec and running it live, is that the DBConnectionFilter is disabled, and instead database connection is provided exactly the same way as in DBSpec, DBControllerSpec or DBIntegrationSpec.

In other words, think of AppIntegrationSpec as the same with DBIntegrationSpec, but all filters will trigger as in a real application.

None of the IntegrationSpecs require the same naming convention as ControllerSpec or DBControllerSpec.

Testing Views

It is possible to test just a view template with ActiveWeb. There is a special class for that called ViewSpec. Here is an example of a template to be tested:

Template file name /person/show.ftl:

Name: ${name}

The view test might look something like this:

There is also a way to test for <@content for> output, inject mock or real services into custom tags, etc. In other words, one can write very stringent tests for views independent of the rest of the application, just as if views were first grade application components.

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