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Spring MVC Test with HtmlUnit

In my previous post I introduced Spring Test MVC HtmlUnit and explained the motivation behind the project. In this post I will describe how to use Spring MVC Test with HtmlUnit.

Updating Dependencies

Before you use the project, you must ensure to update your dependencies. Instructions for both Maven and Gradle can be found on the site documentation.

Using HtmlUnit

Now that we have the correct dependencies, we can use HtmlUnit in our unit tests. Our example assumes you already have JUnit as a dependency. If you have not added it, please update your classpath accordingly. The complete code sample for using HtmlUnit and Spring MVC Test can be found in MockMvcHtmlUnitCreateMessageTest.

Creating MockMvc

In order to use HtmlUnit and Spring MVC Test we must first create a MockMvc instance. There is plenty of documentation on how to create a MockMvc instance, but we will review how to create a MockMvc instance very quickly in this section.

The first step is to create a new JUnit class that is annotated as shown below:

@ContextConfiguration(classes = {WebMvcConfig.class, MockDataConfig.class})
public class MockMvcHtmlUnitCreateMessageTest {

  private WebApplicationContext context;

  • @RunWith(SpringJUnit4ClassRunner.class) allows Spring to perform dependency injection on our MockMvcHtmlUnitCreateMessageTest. This is why our @Autowired annotations will be honored.
  • @ContextConfiguration tells Spring what configuration to load. You will notice that we are loading a mock instance of our data tier to improve the performance of our tests. If we wanted, we could optionally run the tests against a real database. However, this has the disadvantages we mentioned previously.
  • @WebAppConfiguration indicates to SpringJUnit4ClassRunner that it should create a WebApplicationContext rather than a ApplicationContext.

Next we need to create our MockMvc instance from the context. An example of how to do this has been provided below:

public void setup() {
  MockMvc mockMvc = MockMvcBuilders.webAppContextSetup(context).build();

Of course this is just one way to create a MockMvc instance. We could have decided to add a Servlet Filter, use a Standalone setup, etc. The important thing is that we need an instance of MockMvc. For additional information on creating a MockMvc instance refer to the Spring MVC Test documentation.

Initializing HtmlUnit

Now that we have created the MockMvc instance, we need to create an HtmlUnit WebClient. We use the MockMvcWebConnection to ensure that HtmlUnit utilizes the MockMvc instance we created in the previous step.

private WebClient webClient;

public void setup() {
  MockMvc mockMvc = MockMvcBuilders.webAppContextSetup(context).build();

  webClient = new WebClient();
  webClient.setWebConnection(new MockMvcWebConnection(mockMvc));

Using HtmlUnit

Now we can use HtmlUnit as we normally would, but without the need to deploy our application. For example, we can request the view to create a message with the following:

HtmlPage createMsgFormPage = 

NOTE The first path segment, /mail, after the host is treated as the context root. A context root of / is not currently supported See spring-test-mvc-htmlunit/issues/20 to get updates about this.

We can then fill out the form and submit it to create a message.

HtmlForm form = createMsgFormPage.getHtmlElementById("messageForm");
HtmlTextInput summaryInput = createMsgFormPage.getHtmlElementById("summary");
summaryInput.setValueAttribute("Spring Rocks");
HtmlTextArea textInput = createMsgFormPage.getHtmlElementById("text");
textInput.setText("In case you didn't know, Spring Rocks!");
HtmlSubmitInput submit = 
    form.getOneHtmlElementByAttribute("input", "type", "submit");
HtmlPage newMessagePage =;

Finally, we can verify that a new message was created successfully

String id = newMessagePage.getHtmlElementById("id").getTextContent();
String summary = newMessagePage.getHtmlElementById("summary").getTextContent();
assertThat(summary).isEqualTo("Spring Rocks");
String text = newMessagePage.getHtmlElementById("text").getTextContent();
assertThat(text).isEqualTo("In case you didn't know, Spring Rocks!");

This improves on our MockMvc test in a number of ways. First we no longer have to explicitly verify our form and then create a request that looks like the form. Instead, we request the form, fill it out, and submit it. This reduces the overhead significantly.

Another important factor is that HtmlUnit uses Mozilla Rhino engine to evaluate JavaScript on your pages. This means, that we can verify our JavaScript methods as well!

For the complete example, please refer to MockMvcHtmlUnitCreateMessageTest. Refer to the HtmlUnit documentation for additional information about using HtmlUnit.

But there’s more…

HtmlUnit drastically increases our productivity and the scope of our tests. However, we can still improve our tests by adding a higher level of abstraction. In our next post, we will see how we can use WebDriver with MockMvc to make our test code more reusable.

Feedback please!

If you have feedback on this blog series or the Spring Test MVC HtmlUnit, I encourage you to reach out via github issues or ping me on twitter @rob_winch. Of course the best feedback comes in the form of contributions.

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