Get your testing feet wet with Jest

If you’ve never written a test before or usually turned off by the complexities of setting up and having to write verbose tests, Jest may be up your alley.

Getting started with Jest

Installing Jest to a new or existing project is easy. Simply install it with NPM and then…

npm install jest --save-dev

…add these two scripts to your package.json.

  "scripts": {
    "test": "jest",
    "test:watch": "npm test -- --watch"

You can run your tests with npm run test or have Jest watch for changes in your code and run the tests with each change using npm run test:watch.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, we need to actually write a test for Jest to test against.

Writing your first Jest test

For Jest to run your tests, they need to live inside a __tests__ folder (this doesn’t have to be at root level and you can have more than one too) or your files need to end in .test.js.

Here I define and export a function called sum, it takes two arguments and adds them together.


function sum(a, b) {
  return a + b;

export default sum;

And here’s the test. Fairly straight forward looking right? We define a test, tell Jest what function to run and what we expect the outcome to be.


import sum from './sum';

test('should add two numbers together', () => {
  expect(sum(5, 5)).toBe(10);

Note in the above example I’m importing my sum function but where are test and expect coming from? These are in the global namespace when the tests are run by Jest.

Now if you run npm run test you shall see Jest’s rather nice output.

> jest

 PASS  ./sum.test.js
  ✓ should add two numbers together (3ms)

Test Suites: 1 passed, 1 total
Tests:       1 passed, 1 total
Snapshots:   0 total
Time:        1.116s
Ran all test suites.

At a basic level, that’s all there is to it. Of course there are other types of tests and the like but this should be enough to get you going.

If you’ve taken a likening to Jest you can read up on the it on the official website.

Writing more than one test?

Well fear not, Jest still has the common describe and it blocks that you may see in other frameworks that help separate out your tests.

import sum from './sum';

describe('sum', () => {

  it('should add two numbers together', () => {
    expect(sum(5, 5)).toBe(10);

  it('should handle adding negative numbers', () => {
    expect(sum(10, -5)).toBe(5);



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