Yet another JS code coverage tool that computes statement, line, function and branch coverage with module loader hooks to transparently add coverage when running tests. Supports all JS coverage use cases including unit tests, server side functional tests and browser tests. Built for scale.
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Istanbul - a JS code coverage tool written in JS Build Status


  • All-javascript instrumentation library that tracks statement, branch, and function coverage and reverse-engineers line coverage with 100% fidelity.
  • Module loader hooks to instrument code on the fly
  • Command line tools to run node unit tests "with coverage turned on" and no cooperation whatsoever from the test runner
  • HTML and LCOV reporting.
  • Ability to use as middleware when serving JS files that need to be tested on the browser.
  • Can be used on the command line as well as a library
  • Based on the awesome esprima parser and the equally awesome escodegen code generator
  • Well-tested on node 0.4.x, 0.6.x, 0.8.x and the browser (instrumentation library only)


$ npm install -g istanbul

Getting started

The best way to see it in action is to run node unit tests. Say you have a test script test.js that runs all tests for your node project without coverage.


$ cd /path/to/your/source/root
$ istanbul cover test.js

and this should produce a coverage.json, and lcov-report/*html under ./coverage

Sample of code coverage reports produced by this tool (for this tool!):

Use cases

Supports the following use cases and more

  • transparent coverage of nodejs unit tests
  • ability to use in an npm test script for conditional coverage
  • instrumentation of files in batch mode for browser tests (using yeti for example)
  • Server side code coverage for nodejs by embedding it as custom middleware

The command line

$ istanbul help

gives you detailed help on all commands.

Usage: istanbul help

Available commands are:

          checks overall coverage against thresholds from coverage JSON
          files. Exits 1 if thresholds are not met, 0 otherwise

  cover   transparently adds coverage information to a node command. Saves
          coverage.json and reports at the end of execution

  help    shows help

          instruments a file or a directory tree and writes the
          instrumented code to the desired output location

  report  writes reports for coverage JSON objects produced in a previous

  test    cover a node command only when npm_config_coverage is set. Use in
          an `npm test` script for conditional coverage

Command names can be abbreviated as long as the abbreviation is unambiguous

The cover command

$ istanbul cover my-test-script.js -- my test args
# note the -- between the command name and the arguments to be passed

The cover command can be used to get a coverage object and reports for any arbitrary node script. By default, coverage information is written under ./coverage - this can be changed using command-line options.

The test command

The test command has almost the same behavior as the cover command, except that it skips coverage unless the npm_config_coverage environment variable is set.

This helps you set up conditional coverage for tests. In this case you would have a package.json that looks as follows.

    "name": "my-awesome-lib",
    "version": "1.0",
    "script": {
        "test": "istanbul test my-test-file.js"


$ npm test # will run tests without coverage


$ npm test --coverage # will run tests with coverage

Note: This needs node 0.6 or better to work. npm for node 0.4.x does not support the --coverage flag.

The instrument command

Instruments a single JS file or an entire directory tree and produces an output directory tree with instrumented code. This should not be required for running node unit tests but is useful for tests to be run on the browser (using yeti for example).

The report command

Writes reports using coverage*.json files as the source of coverage information. Reports are available in the following formats:

  • html - produces a bunch of HTML files with annotated source code
  • lcovonly - produces an file
  • lcov - produces html + lcov files. This is the default format
  • cobertura - produces a cobertura-coverage.xml file for easy Hudson integration
  • text-summary - produces a compact text summary of coverage, typically to console
  • text - produces a detailed text table with coverage for all files

Additional report formats may be plugged in at the library level.

Library usage

All the features of istanbul can be accessed as a library using its public API


v0.1.25Allow for relative paths in the YUI loader hook
v0.1.24Add lcov summaries. Fixes issue #20
v0.1.23Add ability to save a baseline coverage file for the instrument command. Fixes issue #19
v0.1.22Add signature attribute to cobertura method tags to fix NPE by the Hudson publisher
v0.1.21Add cobertura XML report format; exprimental for now
v0.1.20Fix HTML/ lcov report interface to be more customizable for middleware needs
v0.1.19make all hooking non-destructive in that already loaded modules are never reloaded. Add self-test mode so that already loaded istanbul modules can be unloaded prior to hooking.
v0.1.18Add option to hook in non-destructive mode; i.e. the require cache is not unloaded when hooking
v0.1.17Export some more objects; undocumented for now
v0.1.16Fix npm keywords for istanbul which expects an array of strings but was being fed a single string with keywords instead
v0.1.15Add the 'check-coverage' command so that Istanbul can be used as a posttest script to enforce minimum coverage
v0.1.14Expose the experimental YUI load hook in the interface
v0.1.13Internal jshint cleanup, no features or fixes
v0.1.12Give npm the README that was getting inadvertently excluded
v0.1.11Merge pull request #14 for HTML tweaks. Thanks @davglass. Add @davglass and @nowamasa as contributors in `package.json`
v0.1.10Fix to issue #12. Do not install `uncaughtException` handler and pass input error back to CLI using a callback as opposed to throwing.
v0.1.9Attempt to create reporting directory again just before writing coverage in addition to initial creation
v0.1.8Fix issue #11.
v0.1.7Add text summary and detailed reporting available as --print [summary|detail|both|none]. summary is the default if nothing specified.
v0.1.6Handle backslashes in the file path correctly in emitted code. Fixes #9. Thanks to @nowamasa for bug report and fix
v0.1.5make object-utils.js work on a browser as-is
v0.1.4partial fix for issue #4; add titles to missing coverage spans, remove negative margin for missing if/else indicators
v0.1.3Set the environment variable running_under_istanbul to 1 when that is the case. This allows test runners that use istanbul as a library to back off on using it when set.
v0.1.2HTML reporting cosmetics. Reports now show syntax-colored JS using `prettify`. Summary tables no longer wrap in awkward places.
v0.1.1Fixes issue #1. HTML reports use sources embedded inside the file coverage objects if found rather than reading from the filesystem
v0.1.0Initial version


istanbul is licensed under the BSD License.

Third-party libraries

The following third-party libraries are used by this module:

Inspired by

  • YUI test coverage - - the grand-daddy of JS coverage tools. Istanbul has been specifically designed to offer an alternative to this library with an easy migration path.
  • cover: - the inspiration for the cover command, modeled after the run command in that tool. The coverage methodology used by istanbul is quite different, however

Shout out to

  • mfncooper - for great brainstorming discussions
  • reid, davglass, the YUI dudes, for interesting conversations, encouragement, support and gentle pressure to get it done :)

Why the funky name?

Since all the good ones are taken. Comes from the loose association of ideas across coverage, carpet-area coverage, the country that makes good carpets and so on...