Alexander Smirnov’s personal Weblog

March 25, 2011

Testing client-side part of JSF applications with HtmlUnit

Filed under: Java, Java server faces — alexsmirnov @ 3:54 pm

There are couple tools that can be used to test generated html and client-side scripts. The most accurate tools are  these that run test in the real browser ( for example, Selenium framework ), but, in the some cases, they cannot be used – machine that runs tests has to have GUI ( rare available on continuous integration servers ), preconfigured instances of target browsers, and these tests can take too much time because you have to start new browser instance for each test to eliminate dependencies between them.

Another option is client emulator, that only simulates target browser. Although it’s less accurate then the real browser, the advantages are: no additional software required, it runs faster, and test code has full control on test client configuration. For developer tests in RichFaces, we use HtmlUnit library, integrated with our embedded FacesEnvironment.



HtmlUnit teste require these dependencies :
Test Project
+- org.jboss.test-jsf:jsf-test-stage
+- org.jboss.test-jsf:jsf-test-jetty ( optional )
+- org.jboss.test-jsf:htmlunit-client
+- javax.servlet:servlet-api
+- javax.servlet.jsp:jsp-api
+- javax.el:el-api
+- javax.servlet:jstl
+- junit:junit
+- com.sun.faces:jsf-api
\- com.sun.faces:jsf-impl ( or any other you want to test with ).
htmlunit-client does not contain dependencies for servlet or JSF because it can be used with different versions and implementations.


HtmlUnitEnvironment combines embedded JSF environment and HtmlUnit client designed to work with it. Test example:
public class FacesTest {
 private HtmlUnitEnvironment environment;
 public void setUp() throws Exception {
 this.environment = new HtmlUnitEnvironment();
 public void tearDown() throws Exception {
In this test, the new instance of HtmlUnitEnvironment created  before each test, configured with virtual web application from package ‘org/jboss/test’ content and initialized to serve requests. The tearDown() method stops environment after each test and releases its resources.

Using in tests

The simple test gets JSF page, fills input field with new value and submits form to server.
After submit, it verifies that input element set new value to the session-scope bean ant that value was rendered back by outputText component:
 public void testHelloFacelets() throws Exception {
 HtmlPage page = environment.getPage("/hello.jsf");
 HtmlForm htmlForm = page.getFormByName("helloForm");
 HtmlInput input = htmlForm.getInputByName("helloForm:username");
 HtmlElement submitElement = page.getElementById("helloForm:submit");
 HtmlPage responsePage =;
 HttpSession session = environment.getServer().getSession(false);
 HelloBean bean = (HelloBean) session.getAttribute("HelloBean");
 assertEquals("foo", bean.getName());
 Element span = responsePage.getElementById("responseform:userLabel");
 assertEquals("foo", span.getTextContent().trim());


In Junit 4.x, MethodRule version of environment can be used instead of setup/release it in code. This example does the same as one with @Before/@After methods:
public class FacesTest {
 public HtmlUnitRule environment= HtmlUnitRule.create().withWebRoot("org/jboss/test/hello.xhtml");

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