Whiskey is a powerful test runner for Node.js applications and a process orchestration framework which makes running integration tests with a lot of service / process dependencies easier.
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Whiskey is a powerful test runner for Node.js applications and a process orchestration framework which makes running integration tests with a lot of service / process dependencies easier.


  • Each test file runs isolated in a separate process
  • Support for running multiple tests in parallel in a single suite (--concurrency option)
  • Support for running multiple suites in parallel (--independent-tests option)
  • Support for a test initialization function which is run before running the tests in a test file
  • Support for a test file timeout
  • Per-test setUp / tearDown function support
  • Per-suite (test file) initialize / finalize function support
  • Per-session, or global, setUp / tearDown function support
  • Support for different test reporters (cli, tap)
  • Support for code coverage (cli reporter, html reporter)
  • Support for reporting variables which have leaked into a global scope
  • Nicely formatted reports (colors!)
  • Integration with node debugger
  • Support for generating Makefiles with different Whiskey targets


For changes please see CHANGES.md file.


Install it using npm:

npm install whiskey


whiskey [options] --tests "<test files>"

whiskey [options] --independent-tests "<test files>"

whiskey [options] --tests "<test files>"  --independent-tests "<test files>"

Available options

  • -t, --tests - Whitespace separated list of test suites to run sequentially
  • -T, --independent-tests - Whitespace separated list of test suites to run concurrently
  • -m, --max-suites NUMBER - The number of concurrently executing independent test suites (defaults to 5)
  • -ti, --test-init-file - A path to the initialization file which must export init function and it is called in a child process *before running the tests in each test file
  • -c, --chdir - An optional path to which the child process will chdir to before running the tests
  • -g, --global-setup-teardown STRING - Specifies the file containing the globalSetUp and globalTearDown procedures.
  • --timeout [NUMBER] - How long to wait for tests to complete before timing out
  • --failfast - Stop running the tests on a first failure or a timeout
  • --no-styles - Don't use styles and colors
  • --concurrency [NUMBER] - Maximum number of tests which will run in parallel (defaults to 1)
  • --quiet - Don't print stdout and stderr
  • --real-time - Print stdout and stderr as soon as it comes in
  • --test-reporter [cli,tap] - Which test reporter to use (defaults to cli)
  • --coverage - Use this option to enable the test coverage
  • --coverage-reporter [cli,html] - Which coverage reporter to use (defaults to cli)
  • --coverage-dir - Directory where the coverage HTML report is saved
  • --scope-leaks - Record which variables were leaked into a global scope
  • --scope-leaks-reporter [cli] - Which scope leak reporter to use (defaults to cli)
  • --debug NUMBER - Attach a debugger to a test process listening on the specified port number
  • --report-timing - Report each test run time
  • --dependencies STRING - Specify path to the dependencies file for the process runner. More information about the process runner can be found at PROCESS_RUNNER.md
  • --only-essential-dependencies - Only start dependencies required by the tests files which are ran. This option is only applicable if --dependencies option is used.

Note: When specifying multiple test a list with the test paths must be quoted, for example: whiskey --tests "tests/a.js tests/b.js tests/c.js"

A Note about setUp and tearDown

Presently, two kinds of setup and teardown procedures exist with Whiskey. setUp and tearDown work on a per-test basis; that is, Whiskey invokes setUp before running a test in a given Javascript file, called a suite and tearDown is invoked after a test run has finished. If you run multiple suites in parallel (e.g., via the -T/--independent-tests option), you'll get concurrent execution of setups and teardowns as well.

Sometimes, though, you need longer-lived environmental configurations, or you need safe resource sharing between entire batches of independently running tests. For these, you'll want to use globalSetUp and globalTearDown.

  • When do I use setUp / tearDown?
    • When a suite's runtime environment does not influence other running suites.
  • When do I use globalSetUp / globalTearDown ?
    • When a suite's runtime environment can potentially interfere with other, concurrently running suites.
    • Example: Attempting to run multiple suites in parallel which rely on a Cassandra schema being in place, and each attempting to reset the schema to a known state on a single Cassandra instance, you'll get Cassandra schema version errors. Using globalSetUp prevents this by running the schema reset code exactly once for all tests.

Test File Examples

A simple example (success):

var called = 0;

exports.test_async_one_equals_one = function(test, assert) {
  setTimeout(function() {
    assert.equal(1, 1);
  }, 1000);

exports.tearDown = function(test, assert) {
  assert.equal(called, 1);

A simple example (skipping a test):

var dbUp = false;

exports.test_query = function(test, assert) {
  if (!dbUp) {
    test.skip('Database is not up, skipping...');

  assert.equal(2, 1);

A simple example (failure):

exports.test_two_equals_one = function(test, assert) {
  assert.equal(2, 1);

A simple example using the optional BDD module:

var bdd = require('whiskey').bdd.init(exports);
var describe = bdd.describe;

describe('the bdd module', function(it) {
  it('supports it(), expect(), and toEqual()', function(expect) {

A simple example demonstrating how to use global setup and teardown functionality:

exports['globalSetUp'] = function(test, assert) {
  // Set up database schema here...
  // Push known data set to database here...

exports['globalTearDown'] = function(test, assert) {
  // Drop database here...

For more examples please check the example/ folder, and the test/run.sh script.

Build status

Build Status

Running Whiskey test suite

To run the Whiskey test suite, run the following command in the repository root directory.

npm test

If all the tests have sucessfully passed, the process should exit with a zero status code and you should see * * * Whiskey test suite PASSED. * * * message.


To contribute, fork the repository, create a branch with your changes and open a pull request.


If you want to debug your test, you can use the --debug option. This will cause Whiskey to start the test process with the V8 debugger functionality. You then need to manually connect to the debugger to control it (i.e. using node repl or node-inspector).

Whiskey will also by default set a breakpoint at the beginning of your test file.

Note: This option can only be used with a single test file. Further, you cannot use the --debug and --independent-tests options together. The semantics just don't make any sense. To debug a test, make sure you invoke it with --tests instead.


I use long-stack-straces module in my own code and all of the tests get reported as succeeded

Long stack traces modules intercepts the default Error object and throws a custom one. The problem with this is that Whiskey internally relies on attaching the test name to the Error object so it can figure out to which test the exception belongs. long-stack-traces throws a custom Error object and as a consequence test name attribute gets lost so Whiskey thinks your test didn't throw any exceptions.

The solution for this problem is to disable long-stack-trace module when running the tests. This shouldn't be a big deal, because Whiskey internally already uses long-stack-traces module which means that you will still get long stack traces in the exceptions which were thrown in your tests.

My test gets reported as "timeout" instead of "failure"

If your test gets reported as "timeout" instead of "failure" your test code most likely looks similar to the one below:

exports.test_failure = function(test, assert){
  setTimeout(function() {
    throw "blaaaaah";

The problem with this is that if you run tests in parallel (--concurrency > 1) and you don't use a custom assert object which gets passed to each test function, Whiskey can't figure out to which test the exception belongs. As a consequence, the test is reported as "timed out" and the exception is reported as "uncaught".

The solution for this problem is to run the tests in sequential mode (drop the --concurrency option).


Apache 2.0, for more info see LICENSE.