Setting input values in AngularJS 1.6 Unit tests

Having spent hours yesterday wondering why my unit test would not work, I can confirm that the correct way to enter data into an input field in an AngularJS 1.6 unit test is as follows:

var field = element.find('input');       
var wrappedField = angular.element(field);
wrappedField.val('Some text');

I can further confirm that this will not be enough if you have set a debounce value in the ngModelOptions for the field. The debounce value defines a delay between input changes and triggering a $digest cycle. This can improve performance, as it saves thrashing all the code linked to the two way binding every time a key is pressed. However for the purposes of unit testing it also means that the model will not be updated immediately after running the code above.

I found the answer in this stackoverflow post: How to test an AngularJS watch using debounce function with Jasmine.

Adding the following after setting the field value causes the model updates to be processed immediately:


I’ve added a working example of this unit test to my angular-testing repository on github.

Unit Testing AngularJS Directives with templateUrl

Quick blog as this confused me for a while. When running a unit test for a directive which had the template in an html file, I got the following error:

Error: Unexpected request: GET assets/views/template.html

Odd I thought, I haven’t been explicitly using $httpBackend. However, I discovered that when using when unit testing all HTTP requests are processed locally, and as the template is requested via HTTP, it too is processed locally.

The answer is to use karma-ng-html2js-preprocessor to generate an Angular module which puts your HTML files into a $templateCache to use in your tests. Then Angular won’t try to fetch the templates from the server.

First, install the dependency:

npm install karma-ng-html2js-preprocessor --save-dev

Then add the following to karma.conf.js (add to existing entries under files and preprocessors if they exist)

    files: [
    preprocessors: {
        'build/assets/views/*.html': "ng-html2js"
    ngHtml2JsPreprocessor: {
        stripPrefix: 'build/',
        moduleName: 'ngTemplates' 

Then in the unit test, add the line:


After doing this, you may encounter the following error:

Error: [$injector:modulerr] Failed to instantiate module ngTemplates due to:
Error: [$injector:nomod] Module ‘ngTemplates’ is not available! …

To get it available, you need to get the settings right – the module will only be created if html files exist in the specified directory. The stripPrefix setting allows you to ensure that the path to the view matches what is expected by you application, if the basePath in your karma.conf.js isn’t the same as the base of your application. Other settings are available too.

Quick backendless development with AngularJS

There are occasions when you want to run your AngularJS app without accessing a live REST API. There are various blog posts on the internet about doing this using $httpBackend, which is part of angular-mocks and very handy for unit testing.

For example:

var cakeData = [{ name: 'Hot Cross Bun'}];
$httpBackend.whenGET('/cakes').respond(function(method,url,data) { 
    return [200, cakeData, {}];

This is fine if you have small snippets of JSON to return. However, in real life data is usually bigger and uglier than that!

It would seem logical to put your mock data into JSON files, and return these when running without a live backend, keeping the code nice and succinct and readable. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be possible with $httpBackend method.

I tried something like this:

$httpBackend.whenGET('/cakes').respond(function(method, url, data) {
    return $http.get("/mock/cakes.json");

This doesn’t work, because $httpBackend doesn’t work with returned promises. The respond method needs static data.
Workarounds include falling back to a synchronous `XMLHttpRequest` to get the data (ugh) or using a preprocessor to insert the contents of the json file into the code when you build. Neither seem particularly nice.

Using Http Interceptors to serve mock data

I came across this blog post: Data mocking in angular E2E testing, which describes an alternate approach to serving mock data for testing. This approach works just as well for running your app without a backend.

Here’s the code for a simple interceptor

    .factory('MockInterceptor', mockInterceptor)
    .config(function ($httpProvider) {

function mockInterceptor() {
    return {
        'request': function (config) {
            if (config.url.indexOf('/cakes') >= 0) {
                config.url = 'mock/cakes.json';
            return config;

It’s fairly easy to use your build script to include this module conditionally when you want to run without a backend.

You can extend the interceptor logic; for example check the method, and switch POST to GET (you can’t POST to a file!). It’s not as sophisticated as a full mock backend, as data doesn’t change to reflect updates, but is a really quick way to view your app with a big chunk of data in it.