Adding Unit Tests for Services in loklak search

In Loklak search, it can be tricky to write tests for services as these services are customizable and not fixed. Therefore, we need to test every query parameter of the URL. Moreover, we need to test if service is parsing data in a correct manner and returns only data of type ApiResponse.

In this blog here, we are going to see how to build different components for unit testing services. We will be going to test Search service in loklak search which makes Jsonp request to get the response from the loklak search.json API which are displayed as feeds on loklak search. We need to test if the service handles the response in a correct way and if the request parameters are exactly according to customization.

Service to test

Search service in loklak search is one of the most important component in the loklak search. SearchService is a class with a method fetchQuery() which takes parameter and sets up URL parameters for the search.json API of loklak. Now, it makes a JSONP request and maps the API response. The Method fetchQuery() can be called from other components with parameters query and lastRecord to get the response from the server based on a certain search query and the last record to implement pagination feature in loklak search. Now as the data is retrieved, a callback function is called to access the response returned by the API. Now, the response received from the server is parsed to JSON format data to extract data from the response easily.

export class SearchService {
private static readonly apiUrl: URL = new URL(‘’);
private static maximum_records_fetch = 20;
private static minified_results = true;
private static source = ‘all’;
private static fields = ‘created_at,screen_name,mentions,hashtags’;
private static limit = 10;
private static timezoneOffset: string = new Date().getTimezoneOffset().toString();constructor(
private jsonp: Jsonp
) { }// TODO: make the searchParams as configureable model rather than this approach.
public fetchQuery(query: string, lastRecord = 0): Observable<ApiResponse> {
const searchParams = new URLSearchParams();
searchParams.set(‘q’, query);
searchParams.set(‘callback’, ‘JSONP_CALLBACK’);
searchParams.set(‘minified’, SearchService.minified_results.toString());
searchParams.set(‘source’, SearchService.source);
searchParams.set(‘maximumRecords’, SearchService.maximum_records_fetch.toString());
searchParams.set(‘timezoneOffset’, SearchService.timezoneOffset);
searchParams.set(‘startRecord’, (lastRecord + 1).toString());
searchParams.set(‘fields’, SearchService.fields);
searchParams.set(‘limit’, SearchService.limit.toString());
return this.jsonp.get(SearchService.apiUrl.toString(), { search: searchParams })
.map(this.extractData)}private extractData(res: Response): ApiResponse {
try {
return <ApiResponse>res.json();
} catch (error) {

Testing the service

  • Create a mock backend to assure that we are not making any Jsonp request. We need to use Mock Jsonp provider for this. This provider sets up MockBackend and wires up all the dependencies to override the Request Options used by the JSONP request.

const mockJsonpProvider = {
provide: Jsonp,
deps: [MockBackend, BaseRequestOptions],
useFactory: (backend: MockBackend, defaultOptions: BaseRequestOptions) => {
return new Jsonp(backend, defaultOptions);


  • Now, we need to configure the testing module to isolate service from other dependencies. With this, we can instantiate services manually. We have to use TestBed for unit testing and provide all necessary imports/providers for creating and testing services in the unit test.

describe(‘Service: Search’, () => {
let service: SearchService = null;
let backend: MockBackend = null;
beforeEach(() => {
providers: [


  • Now, we will inject Service (to be tested) and MockBackend into the Testing module. As all the dependencies are injected, we can now initiate the connections and start testing the service.

beforeEach(inject([SearchService, MockBackend], (searchService: SearchService, mockBackend: MockBackend) => {
service = searchService;
backend = mockBackend;


  • We will be using it() block to mention about what property/feature we are going to test in the block. All the tests will be included in this block. One of the most important part is to induce callback function done which will close the connection as soon the testing is over.

it(‘should call the search api and return the search results’, (done)=>{
// test goes here


  • Now, we will create a connection to the MockBackend and subscribe to this connection. We need to configure ResponseOptions so that mock response is JSONified and returned when the request is made.  Now, the MockBackend is set up and we can proceed to make assertions and test the service.

const result = MockResponse;
backend.connections.subscribe((connection: MockConnection) => {
const options = new ResponseOptions({
body: JSON.stringify(result)
connection.mockRespond(new Response(options));


  • We can now add test by using expect() block to check if the assertion is true or false. We will now test:
    • Request method: We will be testing if the request method used by the connection created is GET.

    • Request Url: We will be testing if all the URL Search Parameters are correct and according to what we provide as a parameter to the method fetchQuery().

`` +
`?q=${query}` +
`&callback=JSONP_CALLBACK` +
`&minified=true&source=all` +
`&maximumRecords=20&timezoneOffset=${timezoneOffset}` +
`&startRecord=${lastRecord + 1}` +


  • Response:  Now, we need to call the service to make a request to the backend and subscribe to the response returned. Next, we will make an assertion to check if the response returned and parsed by the service is equal the Mock Response that should be returned. At the end, we need to call the callback function done() to close the connection.

.fetchQuery(query, lastRecord)
.subscribe((res) => {


Adding Unit Tests for Services in loklak search

Adding Unit Test for Reducer in loklak search

Ngrx/store components are an integral part of the loklak search. All the components are dependent on how the data is received from the reducers. Reducer is like a client-side database which stores up all the data received from the API response. It is responsible for changing the state of the application. Reducers also supplies data to the Angular components from the central Store. If correct data is not received by the components, the application would crash. Therefore, we need to test if the reducer is storing the data in a correct way and changes the state of the application as expected.

Reducer also stores the current state properties which are fetched from the APIs. We need to check if reducers store the data in a correct way and if the data is received from the reducer when called from the angular components.

In this blog, I would explain how to build up different components for unit testing reducers.

Reducer to test

This reducer is used for store the data from suggest.json API from the loklak server.The data received from the server is further classified into three properties which can be used by the components to show up auto- suggestions related to current search query.

  • metadata: – This property stores the metadata from API suggestion response.
  • entities: – This property stores the array of suggestions corresponding to the particular query received from the server.
  • valid: – This is a boolean which keeps a check if the suggestions are valid or not.

We also have two actions corresponding to this reducer. These actions, when called, changes the state properties which , further, supplies data to the components in a more classified manner. Moreover, state properties also causes change in the UI of the component according to the action dispatched.

  • SUGGEST_COMPLETE_SUCCESS: – This action is called when the data is received successfully from the server.
  • SUGGEST_COMPLETE_FAIL: – This action is called when the retrieving data from the server fails.

export interface State {
metadata: SuggestMetadata;
entities: SuggestResults[];
valid: boolean;
}export const initialState: State = {
metadata: null,
entities: [],
valid: true
};export function reducer(state: State = initialState, action: suggestAction.Actions): State {
switch (action.type) {
case suggestAction.ActionTypes.SUGGEST_COMPLETE_SUCCESS: {
const suggestResponse = action.payload;return {
metadata: suggestResponse.suggest_metadata,
entities: suggestResponse.queries,
valid: true
}case suggestAction.ActionTypes.SUGGEST_COMPLETE_FAIL: {
return Object.assign({}, state, {
valid: false
}default: {
return state;

Unit tests for reducers

  • Import all the actions, reducers and mocks

import * as fromSuggestionResponse from ‘./suggest-response’;
import * as suggestAction from ‘../actions/suggest’;
import { SuggestResponse } from ‘../models/api-suggest’;
import { MockSuggestResponse } from ‘../shared/mocks/suggestResponse.mock’;


  • Next, we are going to test if the undefined action doesn’t a cause change in the state and returns the initial state properties. We will be creating an action by const action = {} as any;  and call the reducer by const result = fromSuggestionResponse.reducer(undefined, action);. Now we will be making assertions with expect() block to check if the result is equal to initialState and all the initial state properties are returned

describe(‘SuggestReducer’, () => {
describe(‘undefined action’, () => {
it(‘should return the default state’, () => {
const action = {} as any;const result = fromSuggestionResponse.reducer(undefined, action);


  • Now, we are going to test SUGGEST_COMPLETE_SUCCESS and SUGGEST_COMPLETE_FAIL action and check if reducers change only the assigned state properties corresponding to the action in a correct way.  Here, we will be creating action as assigned to the const action variable in the code below. Our next step would be to create a new state object with expected new state properties as assigned to variable const expectedResult below. Now, we would be calling reducer and make an assertion if the individual state properties of the result returned from the reducer (by calling reducer) is equal to the state properties of the expectedResult (Mock state result created to test).

describe(‘SUGGEST_COMPLETE_SUCCESS’, () => {
it(‘should add suggest response to the state’, () => {
const ResponseAction = new suggestAction.SuggestCompleteSuccessAction(MockSuggestResponse);
const expectedResult: fromSuggestionResponse.State = {
metadata: MockSuggestResponse.suggest_metadata,
entities: MockSuggestResponse.queries,
valid: true
};const result = fromSuggestionResponse.reducer(fromSuggestionResponse.initialState, ResponseAction);
});describe(‘SUGGEST_COMPLETE_FAIL’, () => {
it(‘should set valid to true’, () => {
const action = new suggestAction.SuggestCompleteFailAction();
const result = fromSuggestionResponse.reducer(fromSuggestionResponse.initialState, action);expect(result.valid).toBe(false);


Adding Unit Test for Reducer in loklak search

Best Practices when writing Tests for loklak Server

Why do we write unit-tests? We write them to ensure that developers’ implementation doesn’t change the behaviour of parts of the project. If there is a change in the behaviour, unit-tests throw errors. This keep developers in ease during integration of the software and ensure lower chances of unexpected bugs.

After setting up the tests in Loklak Server, we were able to check whether there is any error or not in the test. Test failures didn’t mention the error and the exact test case at which they failed. It was YoutubeScraperTest that brought some of the best practices in the project. We modified the tests according to it.

The following are some of the best practices in 5 points that we shall follow while writing unit tests:

  1. Assert the assertions

There are many assert methods which we can use like assertNull, assertEquals etc. But we should use one which describes the error well (being more descriptive) so that developer’s effort is reduced while debugging.

Using these assertions related preferences help in getting to the exact errors on test fails, thus helping in easier debugging of the code.

Some examples can be:-

  • Using assertThat() over assertTrue

assertThat() give more descriptive errors over assertTrue(). Like:-

When assertTrue() is used:

java.lang.AssertionError: Expected: is <true> but: was <false> at org.loklak.harvester.TwitterScraperTest.testSimpleSearch( at sun.reflect.NativeMethodAccessorImpl.invoke0(Native Method) at org.hamcr.......... 


When assertThat() is used:

Expected: is <true>
     but: was <false>
at org.loklak.harvester.TwitterScraperTest.testSimpleSearch(
        at sun.reflect.NativeMethodAccessorImpl.invoke0(Native Method)
    at org.hamcr...........


NOTE:- In many cases, assertThat() is preferred over other assert method (read this), but in some cases other methods are used to give better descriptive output (like in next examples)

  • Using assertEquals() over assertThat()

For assertThat()


Expected: is "ar photo #test #car"

but: was "car photo #test #car"

at org.hamcrest.MatcherAssert.assertThat(

at org.junit.Assert.assertThat(Ass........


For assertEquals()

org.junit.ComparisonFailure: expected:<[c]ar photo #test #car ...> but was:<[]ar photo #test #car ...>

at org.junit.Assert.assertEquals(

at org.junit.Assert.assertEquals(

at org.loklak.harvester.Twitter.........


We can clearly see that second example gives better error description than the first one.(An SO link)

  1. One Test per Behaviour

Each test shall be independent of other with none having mutual dependencies. It shall test only a specific behaviour of the module that is tested.

Have a look of this snippet. This test checks the method that creates the twitter url by comparing the output url method with the expected output url.


public void testPrepareSearchURL() {

    String url;

    String[] query = {

        "fossasia", "from:loklak_test",

        "spacex since:2017-04-03 until:2017-04-05"


    String[] filter = {"video", "image", "video,image", "abc,video"};

    String[] out_url = {




    // checking simple urls

    for (int i = 0; i < query.length; i++) {

        url = TwitterScraper.prepareSearchURL(query[i], "");

        //compare urls with urls created

        assertThat(out_url[i], is(url));




This unit-test tests whether the method-under-test is able to create twitter link according to query or not.

  1. Selecting test cases for the test

We shall remember that testing is a very costly task in terms of processing. It takes time to execute. That is why, we need to keep the test cases precise and limited. In loklak server, most of the tests are based on connection to the respective websites and this step is very costly. That is why, in implementation, we must use least number of test cases so that all possible corner cases are covered.

  1. Test names

Descriptive test names that are short but give hint about their task which are very helpful. A comment describing what it does is a plus point. The following example is from YoutubeScraperTest. I added this point to my ‘best practices queue’ after reviewing the code (when this module was in review process).


* When try parse video from input stream should check that video parsed.

* @throws IOException if some problem with open stream for reading data.



public void whenTryParseVideoFromInputStreamShouldCheckThatJSONObjectGood() throws IOException {

    //Some tests related to method



AND the last one, accessing methods

This point shall be kept in mind. In loklak server, there are some tests that use Reflection API to access private and protected methods. This is the best example for reflection API.

In general, such changes to access specifiers are not allowed, that is why we shall resolve this issue with the help of:-

  •  Setters and Getters (if available, use it or else create them)
  •  Else use Reflection

If the getter methods are not available, using Reflection API will be the last resort to access the private and protected members of the class. Hereunder is a simple example of how a private method can be accessed using Reflection:

void getPrivateMethod() throws Exception {

    A ret = new A();

    Class<?> clazz = ret.getClass();

    Method method = clazz.getDeclaredMethod("changeValue", Integer.TYPE);


    System.out.println(method.invoke(ret, 2)); 
    //set null if method is static



I should end here. Try applying these practices, go through the links and get sync with these ‘Best Practices’ 🙂


Best Practices when writing Tests for loklak Server

Writing Simple Unit-Tests with JUnit

In the Loklak Server project, we use a number of automation tools like the build testing tool ‘TravisCI’, automated code reviewing tool ‘Codacy’, and ‘Gemnasium’. We are also using JUnit, a java-based unit-testing framework for writing automated Unit-Tests for java projects. It can be used to test methods to check their behaviour whenever there is any change in implementation. These unit-tests are handy and are coded specifically for the project. In the Loklak Server project it is used to test the web-scrapers. Generally JUnit is used to check if there is no change in behaviour of the methods, but in this project, it also helps in keeping check if the website code has been modified, affecting the data that is scraped.

Let’s start with basics, first by setting up, writing a simple Unit-Tests and then Test-Runners. Here we will refer how unit tests have been implemented in Loklak Server to familiarize with the JUnit Framework.


Setting up JUnit with gradle is easy, You have to do just 2 things:-

1) Add JUnit dependency in build.gradle

Dependencies {

. . .

. . .<other compile groups>. . .

compile group: 'com.twitter', name: 'jsr166e', version: '1.1.0'

compile group: 'com.vividsolutions', name: 'jts', version: '1.13'

compile group: 'junit', name: 'junit', version: '4.12'

compile group: 'org.apache.logging.log4j', name: 'log4j-1.2-api', version: '2.6.2'

compile group: 'org.apache.logging.log4j', name: 'log4j-api', version: '2.6.2'

. . .

. . .



2) Add source for ‘test’ task from where tests are built (like here).

Save all tests in test directory and keep its internal directory structure identical to src directory structure. Now set the path in build.gradle so that they can be compiled. = ['test']


Writing Unit-Tests

In JUnit FrameWork a Unit-Test is a method that tests a particular behaviour of a section of code. Test methods are identified by annotation @Test.

Unit-Test implements methods of source files to test their behaviour. This can be done by fetching the output and comparing it with expected outputs.

The following test tests if twitter url that is created is valid or not that is to be scraped.


 * This unit-test tests twitter url creation



public void testPrepareSearchURL() {

String url;

String[] query = {"fossasia", "from:loklak_test",

"spacex since:2017-04-03 until:2017-04-05"};

String[] filter = {"video", "image", "video,image", "abc,video"};

String[] out_url = {



"and other output url strings to be matched…..."


// checking simple urls

for (int i = 0; i < query.length; i++) {

url = TwitterScraper.prepareSearchURL(query[i], "");

//compare urls with urls created

assertThat(out_url[i], is(url));


// checking urls having filters

for (int i = 0; i < filter.length; i++) {

url = TwitterScraper.prepareSearchURL(query[0], filter[i]);

//compare urls with urls created

assertThat(out_url[i+3], is(url));




Testing the implementation of code is useless as it will either make code more difficult to change or tests useless  . So be cautious while writing tests and keep difference between Implementation and Behaviour in mind.

This is the perfect example for a simple Unit-Test. As we see there are some points, which needs to be observed like:-

1) There is a annotation @Test .

2) Input array of query which is fed to the method TwitterScraper.prepareSearchURL() .

3) Array of urls out_url[], which are the expected urls to output.

4) asserThat() to compare the expected url (in array out_url[]) and the output url (in variable ‘url’).

NOTE: assertEquals() could also be used here, but we prefer to use assert methods to get error message that is readable (We will discuss about this some time later)

And the TestRunner

When we are working on a project, It is not feasible to run tests using gradle as they are first built  (else verified whether tests are build-ready) and then executed. gradle test shall be used only for building and testing the tests. For testing the project, one shall set-up TestRunner. It allows to run specific set of tests, one wants to run.

TestRunners are built once using gradle (with other tests) and can be run whenever you want. Also it is easy to stack up the test classes you want to run in SuiteClasses and @RunWith to run SuiteClasses with the TestRunner.

In loklak server, TestRunner runs the web-scraper tests. They are used by developers to test the changes they have made.

This is a sample TestRunner, code link here .

package org.loklak;

// Library classes imported

import org.junit.runner.RunWith;

import org.junit.runners.Suite;

// Source files to be tested

import org.loklak.harvester.TwitterScraperTest;

import org.loklak.harvester.YoutubeScraperTest;


* TestRunner for harvesters







public class TestRunner {



You can also add TestRunners for different sections of the project. Like here it is initialized only to test harvesters.

To run the TestRunner

Add classpath of the jar file of the project and run ‘JUnitCore’ with TestRunner to get output on terminal.

java -classpath .:build/libs/<yourProject>.jar:build/classes/test org.junit.runner.JUnitCore org.loklak.TestRunner

In the project we have set up a shell script to run the tests.

Few points

1) Build the project and tests separately. Build tests only when changed as they take time to be built and executed.

2) Whenever you are done with the coding part, run the tests using TestRunner.

3) Write unit-tests whenever you add a new feature to the project to keep it up-to-date.

Now lets end up here.

So for now, Code it, Test it and Repeat.


Writing Simple Unit-Tests with JUnit