Jacob Stoebel

Mocks with Sinon.js

My nightlife app app makes use of a few external services in production. This presents some tricky problems when we are trying to test the code. Do I really want my test suite to have to hit the Yelp api during tests? Common advice is that we want to create a dependable, consistent testing environment. This means that we shouldn't be hitting external services during tests. So what do we do. Enter mocks! I wrote a bit about mocks in earlier post but I wanted to take a minute to dive in a little deeper with some examples in sinon and mockery:

Mocking an external service

Sinon makes creating a mock straight forward enough. We create a mock object to pretend to be a real object. We can dictate its behavior and make assertions on how it was called. This is straight from the documentation.

"test should call all subscribers when exceptions": function () {
    var myAPI = { method: function () {} };
    var spy = sinon.spy();
    var mock = sinon.mock(myAPI);
    PubSub.subscribe("message", myAPI.method);
    PubSub.subscribe("message", spy);
    PubSub.publishSync("message", undefined);

What happens though when the thing we want to mock is imported into another module. We can't change production code to suite our tests, so what do we do? The solution I reached for was Mockery. Mockery lets you change what happens when you require a module. Rather than pulling in the module in question it instead will pull in your mock object. Here's an example from my project. I have this function that makes a request to the yelp api:

const fetchBars = (token, location) => {
  // token (str): the yelp access token
  // return: a promise containing bars in the area
  const yelp = require('yelp-fusion');
  return yelp.client(token)
    location: location,
    categories: 'bars',

And here is my test code:

// the yelp api returns a promise containing your data. we're setting up 
    // our own promise containing something similar.
    const resultsSuccess = new Promise((resolve, reject) => {
        jsonBody: {
          businesses: sampleData,
    it('succeeds on first try', (done) => {
      // this will be the mock object that replaces the yelp api
      const yelpMock = {
        client: function() {
          return {
              search: sinon.stub().returns(resultsSuccess),
      // here's where the magic happens. This will cause all _future_ calls to 
      // `require('yelp-fusion')` to pull in our mock. They key there is 
      // future calls. Make sure you register the mock before the `require`ing 
      // happens
      mockery.registerMock('yelp-fusion', yelpMock);
        .then((resp) => {
    }); // end test

Great! The one confusing part I had with this solution was that I had to require the yelp api inside my function. The more common approach with ES6 is to use import at the top of the module. The problem with that is that The controller file is executed when my routes file pulls it into my express router all of which happens before I'm able to run my test code. If anyone has a better solution than function level require I would love to hear it but for now this is the best solution I've got.