Best method for functional testing in grails

or ‘why isn’t there more quality control on the internet…?’

This week I tried to add some automated functional tests to a grails project. (See my post on agile best practices; we agreed that our definition of ‘Done’ should definitely include functional tests)

There are a few plugins for grails which look like they could do the job.

My final selection criteria turned out to be: the only one which I could get working within less than half a day.

Canoo Webtest

I came away from a recent grails training course thinking that this was the de-facto standard for functional testing. In fact, I have since then used the standalone Webtest tool to test a legacy PHP application, with good success.

However, trying to get going in grails was a different matter.

:: net.sourceforge.htmlunit#htmlunit;2.8-SNAPSHOT: not found

I found the following bug report, and following the advice to specify the htmlunit version did allow me to get started.

But I was already disappointed.  If I install a plugin using the grails install-plugin command, I think there should be some level of assurance that the plugin version to be installed will be a tested version, dependent on NON-snapshot versions of any required libraries.

Grails functional-test plugin

I then realised that other plugins were available, as mentioned in the grails functional testing user guide.
The documentation for this one defines the dependency as

compile ":functional-test:2.0.RC1"

Again, I do not want the install-plugin command to install a Release Candidate. I want the tested and released version. I tried using an older version as well, but gave up on this pretty quickly too.


The grails plugin page states:

This plugin is no longer maintained. Consider looking at Geb.

So this is what I did.


After a bad day, I was pleasantly surprised to get going quickly with Geb. And I really like the separation between modelling the available functions on the page and calling them in tests. Although the plugin version is only 0.9.0 it feels like it is current and will be maintained.

I’m surprised at how much trouble I had getting going with functional testing. It feels like there is a lack of quality control on the publicly available Grails plugins, and little attempt to ensure versions are compatible with other standard plugins such as jQuery.

I’ll be spending some more time learning to use Geb in the near future, so I’ll try and report my progress…