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Testing Single-File Vue Components in Node

Vue is a progressive framework for building user interfaces in JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. One of its most unique features is that it allows you to combine the JavaScript (logic), HTML (template), and CSS (style) for a single component into a single .vue file.

One of the benefits of writing universal JavaScript is that you can test all of your code, front-end and back-end, together in node without having to spin up browser processes. Unfortunately, .vue files don’t quite fit this pattern. Until now.

I just published version 1.0.0 of vue-node, a require hook for loading single-file vue components in node. What follows is an example of how to use vue-node with AVA, a popular node testing framework.

Let’s do this!

First, make sure you have vue-node and browser-env installed as development dependencies. If you are running an environment with vue-loader and webpack@2 then you will already have all required peer dependencies:

npm i -D vue-node browser-env

Now create a setup file called test/helpers/setup.js. Putting it in the test/helpers directory will let AVA know that this file is not a test.

const browserEnv = require('browser-env');
const hook = require('vue-node');
const { join } = require('path');

// Setup a fake browser environment
browserEnv();
// Pass an absolute path to your webpack configuration to the hook function.
hook(join(__dirname, 'webpack.config.test.js'));

Now you can configure AVA to require this file in all test processes. In package.json:

{
  "ava": {
    "require": [
      "./test/helpers/setup.js"
    ]
  }
}

Now you can require / import .vue files and test like you would in a browser! If you need to test DOM updates, I recommend using the p-immediate package from npm along with async / await.

import Vue from 'vue';
import test from 'ava';
import nextTick from 'p-immediate';
import TestComponent from './test.vue';

test('renders the correct message', async (t) => {
  const Constructor = Vue.extend(TestComponent);
  const vm = new Constructor().$mount();
  t.is(vm.$el.querySelector('h1').textContent, 'Hello, World!');
  // Update
  vm.setName('Foo');
  await nextTick();
  t.is(vm.$el.querySelector('h1').textContent, 'Hello, Foo!');
});

There are more examples in the test directory of vue-node.

How does this work?

Node allows developers to hook require to load files that aren’t JavaScript or JSON. Unfortunately, require hooks have to be synchronous. Using vue-loader on the other hand, is inherently asynchronous. vue-node works by synchronously running webpack in a separate process and collecting the output to pass to node’s module compilation system. The compilation is done completely in memory without writing to the filesystem. It also modifies your webpack configuration to automatically build for node and commonjs with all dependencies of your component externalized. This means that the built component modules are as small as possible with dependency resolution left up to node.

Why not just test in browsers using Karma?

Unit testing in web browsers is a very heavy process with many tradeoffs. Configuration and tooling is tricky as is getting browsers to run in CI. I personally like saving browsers for end-to-end testing with things like Nightwatch.js.

What if I use vueify?

I am personally more familiar with webpack than browserify, so for the time being this will only work in combination with webpack. I will gladly accept a pull request to implement browserify functionality.

Don’t .vue files violate the principle of separation of concerns?

No. For the same reason React doesn’t violate that very same principle for putting angle brackets in your JavaScript. Separation of technologies is often confused with separation of concerns. Far from separating your concerns, using separate files just spreads out your concerns and makes them hard to manage.

What now?

Use vue-node in your projects and submit issues and pull requests. I would love to see the Vue community embrace headless testing in node just like the React community has. Feel free to leave any questions or feedback in the comments section below.

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