A Java doctest library. Perfect for testing and documenting restful webservices and more...
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DocTester Build Status

DocTester is a Java Testing Framework. DocTester tests and generates documentation at the same time. Built on top of JUnit. Works as simple drop-in for your build process.

An example says more than a thousand words.

When your test class extends DocTester you get some useful commands like:

  • sayNextSection(): A new headline for your test.
  • say(): Some fluent text wrapped inside a paragraph.
  • sayAndMakeRequest: Make a request and write the documentation of the whole request / response cycle to the html file.
  • sayAndAssertThat(): Creates a green bar with a text.

And in reality this would be used in the following manner:

public void testMyApi() {

	String articlesUrl = "/api/articles.json";

	sayNextSection("Retrieving articles for a user (Json)");

	say("Retrieving all articles of a user is a GET request to " + articlesUrl);

	Response response = sayAndMakeRequest(

	ArticlesDto articlesDto = response.payloadAsJson(ArticlesDto.class);

	sayAndAssertThat("We get back all 3 articles of that user ", 3, equalTo(articlesDto.articles.size()));


This in turn generates the following output:

A screenshot of the generated html output

By default the resulting html is generated into src/target/site/doctester/

There is an integration test that uses all of doctester. Check out for a more comprehensive example:


In-depth description of the problem we solve

You are developing a state of the art restful webservice. That webservce offers several endpoints that deliver Json entities via different payloads, query parameters and response codes.

You of course not only have the working implementation, but also some integration tests running on a server and being tested by a unit test.

And then you also have some documentation - right? About the entities, the endpoints, query parameters, the variable parts, Json payload definitions, response codes - in short: All the information a 3rd party developer needs to use your webservice.

But then you improve and change your webservice. You do of course adjust the tests, but somehow your documentation gets worse and worse. Outdated and even wrong.

Not a nice prospect.

Our solution

DocTester allows you to write tests and documentation at the same time! By doing so you make sure that your documentation is always in sync with the current webservice. No more defunct documentation.

In fact DocTester is just an add-on for JUnit that gives you some additional methods to create a html file and cleanly document all important parameters of a webservice call into that file.

Documentation is created when your run your tests. That also means that your documentation is always in sync with your webservice. Horray!

Some specs

DocTester is heavily inspired by python doctests and also the Devbliss doctest library. However, DocTester is quite different to the alternatives.

  • DocTests are just plain old Java JUnit tests.
  • Hamcrest for unit testing. Keeps DocTester Api slick and simple.
  • Webservice client with fluent interface for testing Json and Xml interfaces.
  • Simple - only a few classes.
  • Uses Bootstrap for styling
  • Works with Arquillian / JBoss 6.1EAP, JBehave, Ninja, simple servlet setups and probably any test setup your throw it at.

What DocTester generates

Once your ran your testcase that extends DocTester you can find two files inside directory target/site/doctester. One file is named after your test.

For instance the doctest of class com.mycompany.ApiControllerDocTest will be written to a file target/site/doctester/com.mycompany.ApiControllerDocTest.html.

The second file named index.html contains a listing of all DocTests you executed. This comes in handy if you want to publish your DocTests on a website. You can simply point the users to the index.html and they have access to all DocTester documentation of your project.

The Api of DocTester and what it means

The basic idiom of DocTester is say. If you write DocTests always have in mind that you are not writing a traditional test, but documentation for the user. Therefore your tests should depict a typical usecase. Getting data, querying and interface, posting data and so on.

Always use natural language inside your say commands.

And a bonus tip: Please actually read the documentation DocTester generates. It should make sense and should really help to understand your application and your interface.

sayNextSection(String string)

Renders a headline with html formatting <h1> to your page.

say(String string)

Renders a paragraph with html formatting <p> to your page.

say(String string)

Renders a paragraph with html formatting <p> to your page.

sayRaw(String string)

Renders the provided string directly into the document. Nice if you want to render supercustom html.


This is a typical Hamcrest assert. Simply add a message and use any matchers like

sayAndAssertThat("We get back all 3 articles of that user ", 3, equalTo(articlesDto.articles.size()));.

The big difference between a DocTester assert and a Hamcrest assert is that DocTester renders a green box with the message.

You can of course skip using DocTesters sayAndAssert and simply use the regular assertThat.

But sometimes it is just nice to assert something important visually.

sayAndMakeRequest(Request request)

This method executes a request via a headless browser. You can configure the Request yourself by providing url, path, query parameters and payload.

The cool thing is that DocTester automatically generates a nice box that will document the request (headers, cookies etc) and the response (headers, payload...).

This means users of your Api can easily see what is going on and what they can expect from your Api.

sayAndMakeRequest has a little cousin called makeRequest which works exactly the same way, but does not document anything. Sometimes handy when you want to do stuff you don't want to document all the time like logging into your Api for instance.

Some examples.

Performing a GET request:

//Let's assume we want to list all user via our Api.
Response response = sayAndMakeRequest(

Users users = response.payloadAs(Users.class);

Performing a GET request with query parameters:

//Let's assume we want to list all user via our Api
// and add a query parameter:
Response response = sayAndMakeRequest(
			.addQueryParameter("search", "Bob Mossley"));

Users users = response.payloadAs(Users.class);

Performing a POST request:

// Let's say we want to create a new user:
User user = new User("username");

Response response = sayAndMakeRequest(

The Api should be fluent and your IDE will help you to discover how you can modify requests and inspect responses.


There are more methods, and you can easily find out more about them via code completion and JavaDocs in your favorite IDE.

Some more information

You usually should extend DocTester and overwrite at least testServerUrl().

public Url testServerUrl() {

	return Url.host("http://localhost:xxxx");

That way you can use nice chaining when assembling your calls via makeRequest(...) and sayAndMakeRequest(...).

Please find more information in chapter advanced integration.

Advanced integration

If you are integrating DocTester into your project it often makes sense to wrap DocTester.java inside another class.

Especially if you are using the integrated testbrowser to test an Api. In that case this allows you to overwrite testServerUrl() to get the actual url of the server under test.

Basic library dependencies

Because DocTester is a library we do not specify any hard dependencies to libraries by default.

In general you'll need to configure and satisfy least the following dependencies:

  • DocTester itself uses SLF4J.
  • Some Apache components use Log4J.
  • JUnit
  • Doctester itself.

It dependes what you want to achieve. A really basic setup would just tell use a Console based logger for SLF4J and add a Log4J implementation that will use that logger.

The following example will get you started. But in general DocTester is not intrusive. Simply configure it the way it fits your project:






Arquillian / JBoss integration

The key is to run the Arquillian test as client side test via @RunAsClient. You can then map the server url into your test via @ArquillianResource

public abstract class ArquillianDocTester extends DocTester {
	private URL baseUrl;

	public org.doctester.testbrowser.Url testServerUrl() {
		try {
				return Url.host(baseUrl.toURI().toString());
		} catch (URISyntaxException ex) {
				throw new IllegalStateException(
					"Something is wrong with the Uri Arquillian provides us for this JBoss.", ex);

Customizing the html generated by DocTester via css

You can easily brand the css generated by DocTester. All css of DocTester is built with Bootstrap. You can add your branding by adding a file /src/test/resources/org/doctester/custom_doctester_stylesheet.css to your project.

For instance the following css adds a logo and changes the color of the headline in the header:

body {
	background-repeat: no-repeat;
	background-image: url(data:image/png;base64,iVC);
	background-attachment: fixed;
	background-position: 10px 55px;

a.navbar-brand {
	color: #F39300 !important; 

How to contribute

Great you want to contribute!!

Contributing to DocTester is really simple. Well. There are some rules that you should follow:

  • Make sure your feature is well tested.
  • Make sure your feature is well documented (Javadoc).
  • Make sure documentation is updated
  • Make sure you are following the code style below.
  • Add your changes to changelog.md and your name to team.md.

Then send us a pull request and you become a happy member of the DocTester family :)

Code style

  • Default Sun Java / Eclipse code style
  • If you change only tiny things only reformat stuff you actually changed. Otherwise reviewing is really hard.
  • We use 4 spaces as one tab.
  • All files are UTF-8.

Making a release

Making a Doctester release

  1. Preliminary
  • Make sure changelog.md is updated
  1. Release to central maven repo

And back to develop:

  • git checkout develop