Unemployed project - Testing Typescript

Setting up Typescript unit testing in Visual Studio with Chutzpah.

The next set of tasks on my todo list have to do with winnowing the user's log list. I want to add keyword search, filter by specific week, and probably some kind of pagination or demand loading too. I'm still debating what and how much to do on the server side, but either way I will need to add even more Javascript logic to the front end to support these features.

Before moving forward on the design and creating even more untested Javascript code though I decided to spend some time today getting JS testing setup. It turned out to be a lot more complicated than when I setup for example CoffeeScript testing in the past. I did eventually get something working, but I ran into quite a few snags along the way.

I found a tool called Chutzpah that provides integration with Visual Studio in the form of two addons: a test runner, and a context menu. The tutorials I could find were all old, and the project's docs seemed to be outdated in places too, but I can confirm it does work with VS2015 SP2.

The first problem I had getting Chutzpah working was entirely Visual Studio's fault. To keep my main project clean I would have liked to put the JS testing code in the separate testing subproject I already made for my C# tests. For whatever reason though VS does not allow creation of arbitrary file types in a project. Instead I am limited to the file types VS thinks are relevant to my project. In the case of my testing project I am limited to only C# file types and a few config file types.

I actually got quite a ways down the road creating everything manually in the file system, but I was still going to have a problem tying my Typescript build into my testing project. Since it felt like I was fighting my way upstream I instead decided to move everything into a test subdirectory of my main project's scripts directory. VS was much more accomodating in the context of an Asp.net project too.

My next problem had to do with lack of relevant examples. As far as I can tell no one has ever successfully setup Chutzpah in a Asp.net Core project. All I found were stand-alone Javascript examples and a few unresolved questions regarding Asp.net > v4 setup. Without something like RequireJS, and with your dependencies living so far from your code, it wasn't clear how to get everything hooked up.

The flaws and omissions in the official documentation didn't help either. To start note that you do not need to install Chutzpah Nuget package, or PhantomJS, or Jasmine (the testing framework I chose). the addons takes care of all the essential setup.

One very important piece of information that was missing from the documentation was where to put the chutzpah.json configuration file. I assumed it would be placed in the same folder as my source files, just like in all the samples, and then it would be registered using the run tests context menu. In fact in order for Chutzpah to do anything you need to have the chutzpah.json file in the root of the project (were your project.json file is).

The first place I was mislead by the docs was concerning the need for and construction of an HTML file as a test harness. When using VS at least there is no need for any harness file.

Next was the guidance on building Typescript files for testing. The method referenced in the docs and used in the samples is to create a batch file to compile your sources. Again, with a working VS Typescript setup this is totally unnecessary.

Once I got all that sorted I had two failures in quick succession: first test discovery ran on my entire project (finding dozens of tests in my wwwroot/lib folder), then (after discarding a bunch of things that hadn't worked) test discovery found nothing at all.

I spent a lot of time reading, and thinking, and tweaking my configs, but in the end what helped me sort out my problems was a somewhat-hidden debug setting. If in VS you check the Chutzpah options (Tools > Options > Chutzpah) there is an Enable Tracing setting, and at the bottom of the dialog you'll see the description: "Saves a trace of the Chutzpah execution to "%temp%\chutzpah.log". After enabling tracing and checking the log I could see exactly where my config was broken.

While fixing my config I:

  • pathed to the wrong root directory
  • caused an exception in Chutzpah path resolution code
  • included all my tests twice

Through all that the only hint that anything was wrong was the trace log. IMO trace output should be enabled by default, and should output to the VS output window.

Here is my final working config:

  "Framework": "jasmine",
  "Compile": {
    "Extensions": [".ts"],
    "ExtensionsWithNoOutput": [".d.ts"],
    "Mode": "External",
    "UseSourceMaps": true
  "References": [
      "Includes": [ "*/scripts/*.ts",
        "*/wwwroot/lib/moment/moment.js" ],
      "Excludes": [ "*/scripts/*/*.d.ts" ]
  "Tests": [
    { "Includes": [ "*/scripts/test/*.ts" ],
      "Excludes": ["*/scripts/test/*.d.ts", "*/wwwroot/*"] }

Things to note:

  • paths start with */, without this none of my paths resolved
  • compile.Mode is set to External, because VS builds my code
  • my libraries are manually included, because I don't like the comment method

Now I can write my tests in Typescript and they all show up in the Test Explorer. Thankfully the tests also run much quicker than the C# tests.

Edit - Note about suspending

After writing all that I just finished coding some new tests and found none of my tests populated in the Test Explorer. Closing and re-starting VS fixed the problem thankfully. My guess is that the Node server Chutzpah runs in the background didn't survive closing the lid on my laptop.

This is inconvenient for me because I almost never restart my laptop. I've had my current session going for days, suspending and resuming dozens of times. Windows stability sure has come a long way!