DEV Community

Stephanie Baltus
Stephanie Baltus

Posted on • Updated on

Testing with Kotlin and JUnit5

The problem

I've recently started coding backend and mobile stuff in kotlin, following a book, then starting a pet project, ...

In the meantime, I've also started to gain a lot of interest on Test Driven Development and found myself wondering "wow, how do I test in Kotlin ? which framework should I use?"

To learn further, I've deciced to start a serie of articles on this topic:

  • Basic testing in Kotlin with JUnit5 from the Java ecosystem (this article)
  • Basic testing in Kotlin with Kotest built for kotlin specificatlly (upcoming)
  • Mocking, stubbing and contract testing in Kotlin with JUnit5 and Kotest (upcoming)
  • A comparision of these two testing frameworks (mostly in term of features, usability, readability), this one might be a bit opinionated. (upcoming)

I'm a java-ist so my go-to test framework is JUnit, this is the sole reason why I'm starting by this one.


If you just want to jump in the code, please yourself

Basics on testing with JUnit5


For the Gradle users, here's the setup.

To be able to use the JUnit5 features, we must first add the dependencies:

Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Then we must specify we want to use JUnit to run the tests :

// For Gradle + Groovy 
tasks.test {
// For Gradle + Kotlin 
tasks.test {
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

The entire necessary configuration can be found here.

Note: I'm using gradle 7.3.3.

Tests execution and orchestration

Junit will consider as a test any function annotated with @Test, @RepeatedTest, @ParameterizedTest, @TestFactory, or @TestTemplate.

We also have annotation to help us wrap test execution:

  • @BeforeAll executed first, before the whole test suite. useful for instiantiating external dependencies for instance.
  • @BeforeEach executed after BeforeAll and before any test, useful when we need to ensure the state is clean before launching for example.
  • @AfterEach not surprisingly, executed after any test.
  • @AfterAll executed at the end of the test suite, for housekeeping purpose, pushing stats or whatever.

A very simple test

Now we're all set, time to code and test!

Let's say we have a useless class like this one :

class Dollar(val value: Int) {
    var amount: Int = 10

    operator fun times(multiplier: Int) {
        amount = value.times(multiplier)
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Obviously we want to test this class has the expected behavior, with a very basic test:

We'll need to first import the JUnit5 helpers :

import org.junit.jupiter.api.Assertions
import org.junit.jupiter.api.Test
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

And then we can create our test as follows:

fun `should multiply correctly`() {
    val five = Dollar(5)
    Assertions.assertEquals(10, five.amount)
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

We can now execute this, using our favorite IDE or the simple gradle command :

./gradlew test

A quick word on naming

Well, no strong rule here, but a test method should :

  • test one thing, and one thing only
  • have an explicit name so the expectation is clear

You may have notice that I'm using backtick here.

This is a Kotlin capability, identifier for variable and method can use them, and although there's nothing mandatory here, I find it clearer.

What about checking exceptions ?

Ok, now we don't want to multiply our dollar by zero, so we change our code a bit, to raise an exception if this occurs.

Let's write the test first:

fun `should throw exception when multiplying by 0`(){
    val one = Dollar(1)
    assertThrows<NoMoneyException> {
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Yep, it's just that easy, okay, this does not even compile, since the NoMoneyException class does not exists. Let's create it !

class NoMoneyException(message: String?) : Throwable(message) {
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

We then update our times operator :

operator fun times(multiplier: Int) : Dollar {
    if (multiplier == 0) {
        throw NoMoneyException("Can't multiply by zero")
    return Dollar(amount.times(multiplier))
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

You can run since and see the green test :)

Let's execute the same test with different inputs !

I think you'll agree, if we add more test cases, we'll be loosing readability and we'll duplicate the same test again and again.

Grouped assertions

Well there's a few great Kotlin assertions that comes with Junit, let's play with assertAll and a collection with a multiplier and the expected result.

fun `should multiply using stream`() {
    val five = Dollar(5)
    val inputs = arrayListOf(
        arrayListOf(2, 10),
        arrayListOf(3, 15),
        arrayListOf(10, 50)
        "should provide the expected result",
            .stream() // Remove this line and use the collection directly
            .map {
                { assertEquals(Dollar(it[1]).amount, five.times(it[0]).amount) }
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Parameterized tests

Well, I've used a lot of Table Driven Tests in golang, this is super helpful to write compact and repeatable tests.

With JUnit, we can achieve the same with Parameterized tests.

Parameterized tests makes tests more readable and avoid duplicates, but don't take my word for it, let's code !

First, we'll need to add a new dependency :

Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Now let's replace our previous example and use a CsvSource with the multiplier and the expected value :

@ParameterizedTest(name = "multiply {0} by 5 should return {1}")
    "2, 10",
    "3, 15",
    "10, 50",
fun `should multiply correctly`(multiplier: Int, expected: Int ){
    val five = Dollar(5)
    Assertions.assertEquals(Dollar(expected).amount, five.times(multiplier).amount)
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

So basically, we :

  • add the @ParameterizedTest annotation and optionnally define a name,
  • add the annotation for the the type of argument source we want to provide (@CsvSource here) with the related test cases
  • enjoy !

You may have noticed the name of the test? Well, this little trick makes our test super explicit and easier to debug, see for yourself :
test label

With that, you can directly see which testcase fails, see for yourself:
Parameterized tests output

I don't know about you, but I personnally find it more readable than the group assertions.

For more info about customizing the display name, see this part of the JUnit documentation.

Another nice thing, is that we can use several types of arguments as inputs:

  • ValueSource allows to pass a list of arguments of primitive types, String and Class: useful for a testing a single argument. See an example here
  • CsvSource as show-cased here, we can pass an unlimited list of arguments as a string representing a CSV input
  • CsvFileSource same as the previous file, except we use a CSV file. See an example here
  • EnumSource lets you run the same test for each constant (or a selected set) of a given ENUM. See an example here
  • MethodSource this one is super powerful, we can basically have anything we want as input source (say a JSON or a Parquet file), process it with the MethodSource and use it to execute our tests. See an example here
  • ArgumentSource this one goes even further than MethodSource. With a new class, implementing the ArgumentProvider interface, you can generate input data. See an example here

We also have a bit of syntaxic sugar with @NullSource, @EmptySource and @NullAndEmptySource.

Be careful when using BeforeEach and "parameterized" or "repeated" tests

Each item of a parameterized or repeated test suite is considered as a single test.

Therefore, whatever is defined in BeforeEach will be executed before each occurence of the test source.

Say we define a BeforeEach as follows :

fun initEach() {
    println("hello I'm a test")
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

After executing should multiply correctly which have 3 rows in its CsvSource, we'll have the following output:

hello I'm a test
hello I'm a test
hello I'm a test
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Do we really want to execute this test ?

JUnit comes with multiple way to decide whether a test sould be executed or not, depending of the context.

First we can totally disable a test or a class, by adding the @Disabled annotation.

In addition, we can programmatically define condition execution depending on:

  • the Operating System, using @EnabledOnOs, @DisabledOnOs and the OS Enum:
@EnabledOnOs(OS.MAC, OS.LINUX)
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode
  • the JRE, with @EnabledOnJre, @EnabledForJreRange, @DisabledOnJre, @DisabledForJreRange and the  JRE Enum:
@EnabledForJreRange(min = JRE.JAVA_11, max = JRE.JAVA_16)
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode
  • system properties, with @EnabledIfSystemProperty and @DisabledIfSystemProperty
@EnabledIfSystemProperty(named = "os.arch", matches = ".*64.*")
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode
  • one or multiple environment variable(s), @EnabledIfEnvironmentVariable, @EnabledIfEnvironmentVariables, @DisabledIfEnvironmentVariable and @DisabledIfEnvironmentVariable:
@EnabledIfEnvironmentVariable(named = "EXEC_ENV", matches = ".*ci.*")
@EnabledIfEnvironmentVariable(named = "DEBUG", matches = "enabled")
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Note that the two singular annotations are repeatable.

  • a custom condition*, using @EnabledIf and @DisabledIf with a method name or its FQN (if the method is not in the same class) as string:
fun `something to test`(){}

private fun execAlways(): Boolean {
    return true
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode


That's it for this first part, covering the basics on testing Kotlin code with JUnit, we can already check a lot of things with :

  • grouped assertions
  • exception check
  • parameterized tests
  • conditional tests

I hope you'll find this useful, you can find the full test implementation here.

Top comments (1)

ejfuhr profile image
E. J. Fuhr

Great examples! Especially with @Enabled... and parameterization