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Contract Testing

Use Pact to test your code’s API

In IBM Garage Method, one of the Develop practices is contract-driven testing. Pact automates contract testing and enables it to be added to a continuous integration pipeline. The environment’s CI pipeline (Jenkins, Tekton, etc.) includes a Pact stage. Simply by building your app using the CI pipeline, your code’s contract gets tested, just open the Pact UI to browse the results.

What is contract testing

Contract testing is a testing discipline that ensures two applications (a consumer and a provider) have a shared understanding of the interactions or the contract between them.

The Pact framework has been selected for the provided tool set. Pact is a consumer-driven contract testing framework. More details can be found here - Pact overview. The framework has been built into the Starter Kits and a Pact Broker instance is provisioned in the cluster along with the other tools.

In consumer-driven contract testing it is the consumer who defines the contract in terms of the expected interactions, the data structure, and the expected responses. That contract can then be used on the consumer-side to mock the interactions and validate the consumer behavior. More importantly, the contract can be shared with the provider of the interaction so that the provider’s responses can be validated to ensure the consumer’s expectations are met.

In the Pact framework, the contract is called a pact. A pact consists of one or more interactions. Each interaction has the following structure:

Given a *state* of {state}
*upon receiving* a {description} request
*with request* parameters
- HTTP method
- path
- headers
- body

where:

  • {state} is an optional string that describes the initial state. This value can be used by the provider during testing to make sure the preconditions are met
  • {description} is a unique description of the interaction
  • the request parameters can contain any values that describe the interaction
  • the response contains the relevant information for the consumer. The response values can be exact values or using matchers for type, regular expressions, etc

Consumer

Using the Pact framework libraries in conjunction with the unit testing framework on the consumer, the pact for the interaction between the consumer and provider is generated and validated. As part of the pact test setup, a Pact server is started and configured with the expected interactions. All of the consumer service invocations are directed at the Pact server which provides mock responses based on the interactions defined by the pact. At the end of the test, if all the interactions completed successfully a file containing the pact definition is generated.

The following diagram gives an overview of the consumer interactions: Pact consumer interactions

An example pact test on a Typescript consumer using the jest testing framework is provided below. It has been broken into several parts.

Pact server config

At the beginning of the test file, the pact server is configured and started in the beforeAll() block. The afterAll() block finalizes the pacts by writing them out to a file and stopping the pact server.

const port = 1234;
const baseUrl = `http://localhost:${port}`;
let pact: Pact;
beforeAll(() => {
pact = new Pact({
consumer: consumerName,
provider: providerName,
logLevel: 'error',
port,

Setup the service

Next, an instance of the component that will be tested is loaded and configured with the pact server host and port as the base url used for the interactions. In this example, the consumer is using the typescript-ioc library to inject the baseUrl config value into the service.

let service: SampleApi;
beforeAll(() => {
Container
.bind(MyServiceConfig)
.provider({get: () => ({baseUrl})});
service = Container.get(SampleService);
});

Define and test the interaction

For each interaction with the provider, a test similar to the one provided below is created. In it, the Pact framework is used to define the interaction. The addInteraction() publishes the interaction to the Pact server so that it can be used to provide a mock response when the request is made.

The mock response is then used to validate the behavior of the component that is being tested. The example below is simple and passes the provider response directly through the service api but in more sophisticated examples the value would be transformed.

describe('given createWidget()', () => {
context('when called with valid request', () => {
const widgetRequest = {...};
const widgetResponse = {...};
beforeEach(() => {
return pact.addInteraction({
uponReceiving: 'a valid widget request',
withRequest: {

Provider

The provider uses the Pact framework to verify the running server against the pact, either one started locally as part of the test or another instance running elsewhere. The interactions in the pact are sent to the provider by a mock consumer in the Pact framework and the results are verified against the expected results defined by the pact.

As an optional configuration for the verification process, an endpoint can be provided that handles the state information in the pact in order to ensure the preconditions for the test are met. (E.g. state=“given an empty database”). In order for these tests to be repeatable, it is often advisable to stand up a clean backend to run the pact tests when the tests start and tear it down when the tests are completed. For example, if a provider interacts with a Cloudant database point the test provider at a new database instance for the tests.

The following diagram shows the interactions for the pact provider: Pact provider interactions

Pact Broker

One of the underpinning requirements of the pact verification process is the ability to make the pact files generated by the consumer available to the provider. When the pact verification is run in an automated pipeline this is difficult without an intermediary. Within the Pact framework, the Pact Broker provides the facility for consumers and providers to share the pact definitions with minimal dependencies between the systems.

Additionally, the Pact Broker provides a place to define webhooks to trigger the provider build process when the pact definition changes and a way record and visualise the results of the verification process. The high-level interaction is shown below: Pact broker interactions

Starter Kits

The Starter Kits have been built with the frameworks necessary to generate and publish pacts for api consumers and verify against pacts and publish the results for api providers. The pipelines will do all the publishing and verification against Pact Broker if an instance of Pact Broker has been configured within the cluster.

  • You can review you pact contracts using the Pact Dashboard.app

  • Use the Developer Dashboard to open the Pact dashboard