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Testing your Sails apps with Japa

Kelvin Omereshone

I had a TKYT session with Harminder Virk, the creator of both AdonisJS and Japa and I got intrigued at how Japa is API-first, simple to use and easily extensible to suit testing needs. I decided to see how it fairs in a Sails application and boy was I impressed.

I went ahead to create a Japa plugin called preset-sails that comes bundled with everything you will need to quickly setup testing with Japa in your Sails codebase.

In this article I will both show you how to use preset-sails in your Sails codebase. Let’s sails…

Using preset-sails

To use preset-sails, first run the below command in your Sails project directory to download both preset-sails and the Japa runner:

npm i @japa/runner @japa/preset-sails --save-dev

Next, let’s create a test environment in config/env. preset-sails expects you to have this environment and I think its a cool practice to have a seperate test environment. With that said, create test.js in config/env and add the following code:

module.exports = {
    port: 3333,
    hooks: {
        // Uncomment if you have the apianalytics hook and you don't want to see logs
        // from it during testing
        // apianalytics: false
    log: {
        level: 'error'
    models: {
        migrate: 'drop',
    datastores: {
      default: {
        adapter: 'sails-disk'

You can customize the above file to your preference. The above content is a safe minimal config for a testing environment.

Alright, following so far? Great! Next let’s create a tests directory in the root of the Sails codebase. In this directory create a bootstrap.js file. This will be the file we setup Japa and it’s also the entry point Japa will use when running our tests. Once you have created this file, add the following content:

const { processCliArgs, configure, run } = require('@japa/runner')
const { presetSails, assert, runFailedTests, specReporter, apiClient } = require('@japa/preset-sails')

    plugins: [presetSails(), assert(), runFailedTests(), apiClient('http://localhost:3333')],
    reporters: [specReporter()],
    importer: (filePath) => require(filePath),
    timeout: 50000,
    suites: [
            name: 'functional',
            files: ['tests/controllers/**/*.spec.js'],
            name: 'unit',
            files: ['tests/helpers/**/*.spec.js', 'tests/models/**/*.spec.js'],


I’d like to draw your attention to two things; you see the apiClient function we are passing to the plugins array? First, notice it takes a URL that corresponds with the port we set in config/env/test.js. Make sure they both correspond if you update any one of them.

Second, see the suites array? Notice we are defining two types of test suites: functional and unit and they both have corresponding globs to where Japa will look for those files.

The idea with the functional and unit suites is that you do functional testing on your controllers and unit test your models and helpers. You can change this convention by editing the files glob or adding more globs to suit your preference.

For now lets create the directories in which Japa will look for tests in. In the tests directory create the controllers/, helpers/ and models/ directories.

All right we are almost done. The last thing is to edit the script section of your package.json. Add a script to run Japa like so:

"scripts": {
    "test": "node tests/bootstrap.js"

And that’s it. Now when you run npm t or npm test, you will call the Japa runner which will use the config in bootstrap.js and then run all tests accordingly.

You can also choose to run your test suites separately by running either npm test functional or npm test unit to run functional or unit tests.

Your first test

So we’ve setup Japa but we don’t have any tests yet, let’s add both a functional and a unit test to see the testing workflow with Japa. Let’s start up with some unit test.

Unit testing

Let’s say you have a helper for generating slugs called generate-slug.js in your Sails app. Let’s test this helper.

Create a generate-slug.spec.js file in tests/helpers/. Add the following code to it:

const { test } = require('@japa/runner')'generate-slug helper', () => {
  test('returns expected slug', ({ assert } ) => {
      const slug = 'hello-world'
      const helperSlug = sails.helpers.generateSlug('hello world')
      assert.equal(helperSlug, slug)

Pretty neat right! Japa syntax will seemm familiar if you have written tests with either Jest or Mocha.

Notice the { assert }? We are destructuring something called the Test Context in Japa. You will come to appreciate the TestContext as we will use it to provide a helper when doing functional testing. Speaking about functional testing, let’s write one now!

Functional testing

Let’s test a controller that returns a course by its ID or slug. To do this create a get-course.spec.js file in tests/controllers/course.

Add the following code:

Note we are mirroring the file structure of the api/ folder in the Sails app.

const { test } = require('@japa/runner')'GET /screencasts/:courseIdOrSlug', () => {
  test('Return 404 when ID or slug is not specified', async ({ client, assert, route} ) => {
      const response = await client.get(route('course/get-course'))
      response.assertStatus(404), 'message')

  test('Return screencast by slug if it is published', async ({ client, assert, route } ) => {
            const course = await sails.helpers.vane('course', { published: true })
            const response = await client.get(route('course/get-course', { courseIdOrSlug: course.slug })).setup(() => {})
  , 'data')

  test('Return course by ID if it is published', async ({ client, assert, route } ) => {
      const course = await sails.helpers.vane('course', { published: true })
      const response = await client.get(route('course/get-course', { courseIdOrSlug: }))
      response.assertStatus(200), 'data')

  test('Returns 404 if course is not published', async ({ client, assert, route } ) => {
            const course = await sails.helpers.vane('course', { published: false })
            const response = await client.get(route('course/get-course', { courseIdOrSlug: })).setup(() => {})
  , 'message')

So the above is a more realistic test. Let me draw your attention to a couple of this.

Notice the client object being destructured from the context? That was injected by the apiClient plugin we passed to the plugins array in bootstrap.js You can read up on the apiClient in the Japa docs.

Next, notice the route function exposed in the Test Context, this is injected by the presetSails plugin we also passed in the plugins array. route is a helper that lets you pass in your actions and it will return the associated URL.

This is handy as you don’t have to remember the URLs of your routes and it acts as a safeguard in case you update the routes in routes.js if you are using the routes function, you don’t have to update the endpoint accross your tests. Pretty cool!

You can also pass an optional second argument which is used for interpolating routes params. In yhe example above, the endpoint in routes.js is courses/:courseIdOrSlug.

By passing the object with the value for courseIdOrSlug, the route function will interpolate the value and then return the route. Powerful!

Finally, you may have noticed the sails.helpers.vane('course', { published: true }) bit. We are using the captain-vane package which lets you create factories in your Sails application.


There you have it! you have now seen how you can setup and use Japa to power your functional and unit testing with the preset-sails plugin making it super easy. I use this setup personally in my codebase and I really like the workflow.

Let me know what you think on Twitter(@Dominus_Kelvin) and happy coding!