Custom test slice with Spring Boot 1.4

Engineering | Stéphane Nicoll | August 30, 2016 | ...

Spring Boot 1.4 includes a major overhaul of testing support and one of these features is test slicing. I'd like to take the opportunity in this blog post to further explain what it is and how you can easily create your own slices.

Test slicing is about segmenting the ApplicationContext that is created for your test. Typically, if you want to test a controller using MockMvc, surely you don't want to bother with the data layer. Instead you'd probably want to mock the service that your controller uses and validate that all the web-related interaction works as expected. This can be summarized in the example below:

public class UserVehicleControllerTests {

    private MockMvc mvc;

    private UserVehicleService userVehicleService;

    public void testExample() throws Exception {
                .willReturn(new VehicleDetails("Honda", "Civic"));
                .andExpect(status().isOk()).andExpect(content().string("Honda Civic"));


@WebMvcTest is the web test slice in Spring Boot 1.4. When it is present, you instruct Spring Boot that a web environment is required and that only the specified controller(s) should be instantiated. Because it knows about the nature of the test, it can take additional smart decisions for you (e.g. auto-configure MockMvc so that all that's left is to inject it). Also, your controller has a dependency towards UserVehicleService so starting the context would lead to a failure because the ApplicationContext doesn't know about it (remember, only the web infrastructure and UserVehicleController are known). @MockBean is used here to register a UserVehicleService mock so that it can be transparently injected in the controller.

Let's now have a look to the implementation to better understand how Spring Boot manages this for you. Our first stop is @WebMvcTest (removing @Target and friends for brievety):

@OverrideAutoConfiguration(enabled = false)
public @interface WebMvcTest { ... }

This declaration can be split in 3 areas:

  • Auto-configuration customizations
  • Classpath scanning tuning
  • Test bootstrap

Auto-configuration customizations

Spring Boot 1.4 now defines a spring-boot-test-autoconfigure module that provides a collection of test-related auto-configurations. These auto-configurations are composable and can help you crafting your own infrastructure easily.

Back to @WebMvcTest, the first thing we want to do is to disable the default auto-configuration: OverrideAutoConfiguration does that. Because the default auto-configuration is now disabled, you have to opt-in for the relevant auto-configurations you want to include. The three AutoConfigure annotations do that for us: they make sure that a web environment is available, MockMvc is configured and a no-op cache manager is available. Let's have a look to an excerpt of AutoconfigureMockMvc:

public @interface AutoConfigureMockMvc {

    boolean addFilters() default true;

    boolean webClientEnabled() default true;


@ImportAutoConfiguration is an annotation that lists the auto-configurations that should be included. Alternatively, you can provide the list in META-INF/spring.factories using the fully qualified name of the annotation for the key. This is what's defined for AutoConfigureMockMvc:


You get the idea: each annotation brings some auto-configurations and you can compose them any way you want. You'll notice that WebMvcTest has also a ImportAutoConfiguration but there's no entry in spring.factories for it. Spring Boot will scan all spring.factories in the classpath and merge the content if necessary. If a module of yours wants to add additional behaviour to @WebMvcTest (or @AutoConfigureMockMvc), all that's required is to create a META-INF/spring.factories and register additional auto-configuration classes. You can also use @AutoconfigureBefore and @AutoconfigureAfter to order them.

Test auto-configurations are configurable as usual: the @PropertyMapping annotation at class-level maps the attributes of the annotation to the Environment so that the auto-configuration code can extract the value and adapt the configuration accordingly. We can see the webClientEnabled attribute above is transparently used in the auto-configuration:

@ConditionalOnProperty(prefix = "spring.test.mockmvc.webclient", 
        name = "enabled", matchIfMissing = true)
public class MockMvcWebClientAutoConfiguration { ... }

Classpath scanning tuning

TypeExcludeFilters is a way to tune classpath scanning. In the case of @WebMvcTest we're only going to include certain web-related components and ignore all the rest. This is quite powerful as you can use classpath scanning the usual way and only include what's required for your slice.

Test bootstrap

Finally, the new test bootstrap makes sure to identify the @SpringBootApplication annotated class in your project (unless one is specified). This is a nice default as you don't have to specify it anymore and classpath scanning will be right by default.

Creating your own slice

Based on this knowledge, creating your own slice is actually pretty easy. An example of such slice could be a new DataJdbcTest, a slice similar to DataJpaTest that only configures JdbcTemplate and does not use JPA. If you want to play with the code right the way, check the github repository for more details.

Our first step is to create @AutoconfigureDataJdbc

package com.example.test.autoconfigure.jdbc;

import java.lang.annotation.*;
import org.springframework.boot.autoconfigure.ImportAutoConfiguration;

public @interface AutoconfigureDataJdbc {

and register the relevant auto-configurations to apply when this annotation is present. Again, create a META-INF/spring.factories resource:


Once that reusable infrastructure is in place, you can create your test slice and simply specify that you need a database and jdbc:

@OverrideAutoConfiguration(enabled = false)
public @interface DataJdbcTest { }

DataJdbcTypeExcludeFilter makes sure to exclude all your other services as such test shouldn't require any of your beans by default. It could be improve to allow services to be defined as a parameter of the annotation, pretty much like WebMvcTest adds specified controller(s).

Once you've done that, you only need to add your annotation and your JdbcTemplate is auto-configured for you with a test database:

public class DataJdbcSampleTests {

    private JdbcTemplate jdbcTemplate;



Spring Boot 1.4 brings auto-configuration to your tests and allows you to easily compose your own test annotations. In this article we've seen how WebMvcTest works and how you could create your own "jdbc" slice. We're actually considering adding that annotation in the next release so please keep the feedback coming!

Get the Spring newsletter

Thank you!

Get ahead

VMware offers training and certification to turbo-charge your progress.

Learn more

Get support

Spring Runtime offers support and binaries for OpenJDK™, Spring, and Apache Tomcat® in one simple subscription.

Learn more

Upcoming events

Check out all the upcoming events in the Spring community.

View all