Angular 5 testing made easy with shallow rendering and easy mocking.
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Angular 5 testing made easy with shallow rendering and easy mocking.

The problem

Testing in Angular is HARD. TestBed is powerful but it's use in component specs ends with lots of duplication.

Here's a standard TestBed spec for a component that uses a few other components, a directive and a pipe and handles click events:

describe('MyComponent', () => {
  beforeEach(async => {
    return TestBed.configureTestModule({
      imports: [
      declarations: [
        MyComponent, // <-- All I want to do is test this!!
        // We either must list all our dependencies here
        // -- OR --
        // Use NO_ERRORS_SCHEMA which allows any HTML to be used
        // even if it is invalid!
      providers: [
    }).compileComponents().then(() => {
      let myService = TestBed.get(MyService); // Not type safe
      spyOn(myService, 'foo').and.returnValue('mocked foo');
  it('renders a link with the provided label text', () => {
    const fixture = TestBed.createComponent(TestHostComponent);
    fixture.componentInstance.labelText = 'my text';
    const link = fixture.debugElement.query(By.css('a'));

    expect(a.nativeElement.innerText).toBe('my text');
  it('sends "foo" to bound click events', () => {
    const fixture = TestBed.createComponent(TestHostComponent);
    spyOn(fixture.componentInstance, 'handleClick');
    const myComponentElement = fixture.debugElement.query(By.directive(MyComponent));;

  template: `
    <my-component [linkText]="linkText" (click)="handleClick($event)">
class TestHostComponent {
  linkLabel: string;
  handleClick() {}

Whew!!! That was a lot of boilerplate. Here's just some of the issues:

  • Our TestBed module looks very similar if not identical to the NgModule I've probably already added MyComponent to. Total module duplication.
  • Since I've duplicated my module in my spec, I'm not actually sure the real module was setup correctly.
  • I've used REAL components and services in my spec which means I have not isolated the component I'm interested in testing.
    • This also means I have to follow, and provide all the dependencies of those real components to the TestBed module.
  • I had to create a TestHostComponent so I could pass bindings into my actual component.
  • My TestBed boilerplate code-length exceeded my actual test code-length.

The Solution

We should mock everything we can except for the component in test and that should be EASY. Our modules already define the environment in which our components live. They should be reused, not rebuilt in our specs.

Here's the same specs using shallow-render:

describe('MyComponent', () => {
  let shallow: Shallow<MyComponent>;
  beforeEach(() => {
    shallow = new Shallow(MyComponent, MyModule);

  it('renders a link with the provided label text', async () => {
    const {find} = await shallow.render(`<my-component linkText="my text"></my-component>`);
    const link = find('a');

    expect(link.nativeElement.innerText).toBe('my text');

  it('sends "foo" to bound click events', async () => {
    const {element, bindings} = await shallow.render(
      `<my-component (click)="handleClick($event)"></my-component>`,
      { bind: { handleClick: () => {} } }


Here's the difference:

  • Reuses (and verifies) MyModule contains your component and all its dependencies.
  • All components inside MyModule are mocked using the awesome ng-mocks library. This is what makes the rendering "shallow".
  • The tests have much less boilerplate which makes the specs easier to follow.
  • The HTML used to render the component is IN THE SPEC and easy to find.
    • This means specs now double examples of how to use your component.


Shallow class:

This class is used to setup your test module. It's constructor accepts two arguments:

  • testComponent - the component you wish to test
  • testModule - the Angular module that the testComponent belongs to

Behind the scenes, it breaks down the testModule into its' bare elements and mocks everything along the way. All your components, directives and pipes are run through ng-mocks. All your providers are mocked with a simple object {}.

Service or Injection Token Mocking

You have control over your provider mocks by using shallow.mock. For example, let's say your component uses FooService to get data:

class FooService {
  constructor(private _httpClient: HttpClient) {}
  async getFoo() {  
    return await this._httpClient.get<string>('').toPromise();
  async postFoo() {  
    return await<string>('').toPromise();

Shallow will automatically provide an empty mock for this service when you render your component. If your component calls the getFoo method, you'll need to provide a stub and return the data your component needs to pass your test. To prevent mistyping, all stubs are type-safe and must match the types on the service you're mocking.

shallow.mock(FooService, {getFoo: () => 'mocked foo get'});

Have multiple services? It's chain-able so you can stack them.

  .mock(FooService, {getFoo: () => 'mocked foo get'})
  .mock(BarService, {getBar: () => 'mocked bar get'});

InjectionTokens work too. Stubs are double-checked against your token's interface to make sure you're using the correct types.

  .mock(FooService, {getFoo: () => 'mocked foo get'})
  .mock(BarService, {getBar: () => 'mocked bar get'});

If all your specs need the same mock, you can do this in your beforeEach block so you only need to do it once. Your individual specs may override the initial mocks if they need to.

let shallow: Shallow<MyComponent>;
beforeEach(() => {
  shallow = new Shallow(MyComponent, MyModule)
    .mock(FooService, {getFoo: () => 'mocked foo get'})
    .mock(BarService, {getBar: () => 'mocked bar get'});

it('uses the mock', async () => {
  const rendered = await shallow.render();
  // ...

it('can override previously defined mocks', async () => {
  const rendered = await shallow
    .mock(FooService, {getFoo: () => 'custom foo'})
Skip mocking with dontMock

Have a service/injection token/component/directive/pipe, etc that you don't want to be mocked? Use dontMock to bypass the automatic mocking of things in your module (or things imported by your module). *NOTE: Angular's coreModule and browserModule are never mocked by this process.

shallow.dontMock(FooService, FooComponent);

Tells Shallow to use the real FooService and FooComponent in your spec.

Skip mocking globally with neverMock

Some components/directives/pipes you may want to always use the real thing. You may choose to "never mock" in your Karma shim them for all specs.

in karma-test-shim (also notice neverMock is a static method on the class)

Shallow.neverMock(FooService, FooPipe);

Tells Shallow to always use the real FooService and FooPipe in all your specs.

Global mocks with alwaysMock

Sometimes you will have things that you're constantly re-mocking for a spec. You can setup global mocks for these things by using alwaysMock in your Karma shim and shallow will always provide your mock in modules that use the provider you specified. Note that doing alwaysMock is NOT a mock-once for all your specs solution. Use this feature sparingly, remember your specs should generally be self-contained as far as mock data goes. Using alwaysMock is just as bad as using global variables. TL;DR; Use sparingly or not-at-all.

in karma-test-shim (also notice alwaysMock is a static method on the class)

Shallow.alwaysMock(FooService, {
  getFoo: () => 'foo get',
  postFoo: () => 'foo post',
Global providers with alwaysProvide

There are some use cases when your Angular app provides something (usually a configuration) at the top-level of your application. These instance usually follow the forRoot pattern. For these cases, you may want your specs to have a similar environment setup where the 'root' providers are globally provided to all specs. This can be accomplished by using Shallow.alwaysProvide.

in karma-test-shim (also notice alwaysProvide is a static method on the class)


Now, all specs will receive a REAL MyGlobalService when requested for injection.

If you use the forRoot pattern, you may provide your root providers like so:


You may also provide a mocked version by chaining alwaysProvide with alwaysMock:

  .alwaysMock(MyGlobalService, {getSomeValue: () => 'Globally mocked value'});

Now, all specs will receive a MOCKED MyGlobalService when requested for injection.

Using Pipes with mockPipe

Angular pipes are a little special. They are used to transform data in your templates. By default, Shallow will mock all pipes to have no output. Your specs may want to provide mocks for these transforms to allow validation that a pipe received the correct input data.

shallow.mockPipe(MyPipe, input => `MyPipe: ${input}`);

Tells Shallow to have the MyPipe always perform the following action on input data. This lets you inspect your templates and controls for your Pipe's side-effects.

Rendering with render

Once you've completed your setup, the final step is rendering. Render takes two arguments:

  • html (optional) - This will be the HTML that exercises your component.
  • renderOptions (optional)
    • detectChanges: Defaults to true. Automatically run change detection after render.
    • bind (optional) - an object that provides your bindings to the html template (see more below).

NOTE: render returns a promise, async/await are your friends

Components come in different flavors, some have inputs, some have outputs, some transclude, some are entry components, etc.

Basic rendering with HTML

The simplest form of rendering uses a basic HTML template with simple inputs:

shallow.render('<my-component name="My Name"></my-component>');

This renders MyComponent and passes a single name input of "My Name".

HTML templates with complex input bindings

Some components require complex types as their inputs:

  '<my-component [person]="testPerson"></my-component>',
  {bind: {testPerson: {firstName: 'Brandon', lastName: 'Domingue'}}}

Notice we pass in the bind render option and hand it a testPerson object. This will render the component and pass the testPerson into the component's person input property.

Entry Components

Entry components in Angular don't have selectors. They can't take inputs. You can render these with shallow too. Just omit the HTML template or pass in the entry component class.

shallow.render(MyComponent); // Must be the shallow testComponent
// -- or --
shallow.render(); // Automatically renders the testComponent

Rendering and Querying

A Rendering is returned from the shallow.render() method call.

Property Description type or return type
instance Instance of the rendered TestComponent
element The DebugElement of the rendered TestComponent
TestBed Easy access to TestBed
fixture The TestBed fixture from rendering the component
bindings The bindings object used in your render (if any)
find(CSS/Directive/Component) Finds elements by CSS or Directive/Component QueryMatch<DebugElement>
findComponent(Component) Finds and returns all matches for a Component QueryMatch<TComponent>
findDirective(Directive) Finds and returns all matches for a Directive QueryMatch<TDirective>
get(Token/Provider) Type-safe version of TestBed.get TProvider

destructuring properties off of a rendering

Note that ALL of these methods and properties can be destructured from the rendering which allows for some syntactic flexibility when rendering.

For example:

  const rendering = await shallow.render();
  const label = rendering.find('label');

is the same as the destructured version

  const {find} = await shallow.render();
  const label = find('label');

find => QueryMatch<DebugElement>

find(CSSSelector | Directive | Component) => QueryMatch<DebugElement>

Accepts a CSS selector, Component class or Directive class and returns all the resulting DebugElements wrapped in a QueryMatch object.

const {find} = await shallow.render('<my-component name="foo"></my-component');
const result = find('my-component'); // Find all elements that match this css selector

// Expect a single result like so:
// For single results, you can use it like any flat DebugElement

You may also pass in the Component class of the thing you are querying for:

find(MyComponent); // Finds all instances of MyComponent

findComponent => QueryMatch<TComponent>

findComponent(Component) => QueryMatch<TComponent>

findComponent differs from find in that it will return the instances of the component, not the DebugElement returned by find. The returned instance(s) are wrapped in a QueryMatch object.

const {findComponent} = await shallow.render('<my-component name="foo"></my-component>');
const result = findComponent(MyComponent);


findDirective => QueryMatch<TDirective>

findDirective(Directive) => QueryMatch<TDirective>

findDirective is similar to findComponent except it returns directive instances wrapped in a QueryMatch object.

const {findDirective} = await shallow.render('<div myDirective="foo"/>');
const result = findDirective(MyDirective);


get => provider instance

get(ProvidedClass | InjectionToken) => QueryMatch<TProvider>

This is a type-safe version of TestBed.get().

const {get} = await shallow.render();
const service = get(MyService); // Returns an instance of MyService (or the mock if it's mocked) from the injector


You may also use get to pull service instances and add more mocks/spys on them AFTER rendering. (This is usually done before rendering by using shallow.mock() but sometimes you need to alter mocks after the initial rendering. I recommend a type-safe mocking library like ts-mocks to do your mocking.

const {get, find} = await shallow
  .mock(MyService, {getFoo: () => 'FIRST FOO'})
const service = get(MyService);
new Mock(service).extend({getFoo: () => 'SECOND FOO'}); // <-- Using ts-mocks here to re-mock a method
find('button').triggerEventHandler('click', {});
const responseLabel = find('label');

expect(responseLabel.nativeElement.innerText).toBe('SECOND FOO');

QueryMatch objects

Queries return a special QueryMatch object. This object is a mash-up of a single object that may be used when the query yields a single result, or an array of objects for when your query yields multiple results.

This lets us use the same object semantically in our tests.

If you expect a single item in your response just use it like a single item:

const match = find('foo');

If your query found multiple items, and you try to use the match as if it were a single item, Shallow will throw an error letting you know multiple items were found when you expected only one.

If you expect multiple items, use Array methods on the matches:

const matches = find('foo');
matches.forEach(match => { 

Need more examples?

Check out the examples folder for more specific use cases including: