How to write blazing fast Vue unit tests

How to write blazing fast Vue unit tests
How to write blazing fast Vue unit tests

Tape is the fastest framework for unit testing Vue components.

In this article, we’ll see how to write Vue unit tests with Tape and Vue Test Utils.

This tutorial is for users familiar with unit testing. If you’re new to unit testing check out unit testing Vue components for beginners.

What is Tape?

Tape is a bare bones unit test framework that outputs the test report in TAP (Test Anything Protocol) format.

It’s got a simple API to assert that your JavaScript and Vue components are behaving correctly.

Why Tape?

A couple weeks ago I ran some performance tests on different testing frameworks. I wanted to find out which framework was the fastest for testing Vue SFCs (Single File Components).

I added Tape for completeness sake, and was shocked to find it was the fastest performing framework.

To run tests in Tape, we need to do some setup. Let’s dive right in.

Bootstrapping the project

I’ve made a simple starter project to start with. Git clone the project into a directory:

git clone

cd into it and install the dependencies:

cd jest-vue-starter && npm install

Run the dev server as npm run dev to check out the app.

It’s pretty simple. The the main point of this tutorial is to see how to set up Tape and Vue, not to write complex tests.

Setting up Tape and Vue Test Utils

First thing to do is install Tape and Vue Test Utils:

npm install --save-dev tape [email protected]

Vue Test Utils is in beta, so we need to request the version explicitly

Vue Test Utils needs a browser environment to run. That doesn’t mean we need to run the tests in a browser (thank God!).

We can use JSDOM to set up a browser environment in Node. It adds global variables like document and window to Node.

JSDOM is a bit of a pain to setup. Luckily some enterprising node developer made a wrapper library called browser-env.

npm install --save-dev browser-env

We need to run browser-env before the tests. Tape lets us define files to run before the tests, we’ll do that in a sec.

Vue SFCs need to be compiled before they’re tested. We can use **require-hooks** to run WebPack on files when they’re required in Node. It’s a simple setup.

First, install require-extension-hooks and its variants:

npm install --save-dev require-extension-hooks require-extension-hooks-babel require-extension-hooks-vue

Let’s make that setup file I spoke about earlier. Create a test directory, and add a setup.js file. The final path will be test/setup.js.

const hooks = require('require-extension-hooks')

// Setup browser environment

// Setup vue files to be processed by `require-extension-hooks-vue`
// Setup vue and js files to be processed by `require-extension-hooks-babel`
hooks(['vue', 'js']).plugin('babel').push()

We’re nearly there. Crazy stuff.

Let’s write a smoke test in Tape. Create a new file called List.spec.js in the test directory. Full path test/List.spec.js. Copy the test below into the file:

import test from 'tape'
import { shallow } from 'vue-test-utils'
import List from '../../src/components/List.vue'

test('List.vue renders', t => {
  const wrapper = shallow(List)
  t.equal(typeof wrapper, 'object')

What’s going on there? We define a test, and get a t object in the callback. The t object contains assertion methods. It also has a plan method . We need to tell Tape how many tests it should expect.

Now we need a script to run the tests. Open the package.json and add this script:

"unit": "tape ./test/specs/*.spec.js -r ./test/setup.js"

This tells tape to run all .spec files in test/specs. The -r tells Tape to require or run test/setup before running our tests.

Run the unit tests:

npm run unit

Yay, we have a passing test. But hoo boy—that’s some ugly test output ☹️

Remember I mentioned TAP earlier? This is TAP in it’s naked glory. Pretty ugly right? Don’t worry, we can prettify it.

Install tap-spec:

npm install --save-dev tap-spec

We can pipe our TAP output from Tape. Edit the unit script to pipe the output to tap-spec:

"unit": "tape ./test/specs/*.spec.js -r ./test/setup.js | tap-spec"

And run the tests again:

npm run unit

Much better 👌

Writing tests with Tape and Vue Test Utils

Let’s write some tests then. Since we’re using Vue Test Utils, the tests are pretty readable.

In List.spec.js, we’re going to write a test that passes an items array to List. We’ll use the [shallow]( method from Vue Test Utils to shallow mount the component. shallow returns a wrapper containing the mounted component. We can use [findAll]( to search the render tree for<li> tags, and check how many there are.

Copy the test from below into test/specs/List.spec.js.

import test from 'tape'
import { shallow } from 'vue-test-utils'
import List from '../../src/components/List'

test('List.vue renders a <li> for each item in props.items', t => {
  const items = ['', '']
  const wrapper = shallow(List, {
    propsData: { items }
  const msg = 'li length matches items.length'
  t.equal(wrapper.findAll('li').length, items.length, msg)

Watch the tests pass with npm run unit. Notice we have a custom error message for out t.equals assertion. The default messages aren’t very readable, so it’s better to add our own.

Now add a new file test/specs/MessageToggle.spec.js. In here we’ll write a test for, you guessed it, MessageToggle.vue.

We’re going to write two tests now. One will check the <p> tag renders a default message. We’ll use shallow again to get a wrapper containing the mounted component, and use the text method to return the text inside the <p> tag.

The second test is similar. We’ll assert that the message changes when the toggle-message button is pressed. To do that, we can use the [trigger]( method.

Copy the code below into test/specs/MessageToggle.spec.js:

import test from 'tape'
import { shallow } from 'vue-test-utils'
import MessageToggle from '../../src/components/MessageToggle'

test('MessageToggle.vue renders default message', t => {
  const wrapper = shallow(MessageToggle)
  t.equal(wrapper.find('p').text(), 'default message', 'has a default message')

test('MessageToggle.vue renders default message', t => {
  const wrapper = shallow(MessageToggle)
  const button = wrapper.find('#toggle-message')
  const p = wrapper.find('p')
  t.equal(p.text(), 'message', 'toggles <p> text to "message"')
  t.equal(p.text(), 'toggled message', 'toggles <p> text to "toggled message"')

Run the tests again with npm run unit. Woop—green tests 🙌

Pros and cons of Tape

Now we’ve added some tests, let’s look at the pros and cons of using Tape.


  • It’s fast Like really fast 🚀
  • It’s simple You can read the source code to
  • It uses TAP
    Because TAP is a standard, there are lots of programs that work directly with TAP
    Like the tap-spec module, we just piped some TAP text into it and it prettified it for us
  • Limited assertions Limited assertions keep your assertions easy to understand


  • Limited assertions This is a con too
    You can get useful error messages with assertions like hasBeenCalledWith, this is difficult to replicate with t.equal
  • It breaks
    When you run more than 10000 tests
    You probably won’t hit that. But it might be a deal breaker for a large Vue project
  • It’s basic You’ll need to use other libraries for mocking, stubbing and faking

The pros and cons are pretty similar. Tape is basic, and that can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on who you ask.

Most importantly though, it’s blazing fast!

Fast unit tests are good unit tests.

Call to action

The best way to work out a new test framework is to use it.

On the next Vue project you start, try Tape. You can find a list of assertions on the Tape README.


You can find the finished repo on GitHub.

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