Job – Java Automation Lead (cat=REST)
Looking for a Backend Java/Spring Team Lead with Integration Experience (Remote) (Part Time): Read More

1. Overview

In this tutorial, we’ll focus on the basic principles and mechanics of testing a REST API with live Integration Tests (with a JSON payload).

Our main goal is to provide an introduction to testing the basic correctness of the API, and we’ll use the latest version of the GitHub REST API for the examples.

For an internal application, this kind of testing will usually run as a late step in a Continuous Integration process, consuming the REST API after it’s already been deployed.

When testing a REST resource, there are usually a few orthogonal responsibilities the tests should focus on:

  • the HTTP response code
  • other HTTP headers in the response
  • the payload (JSON, XML)

Each test should only focus on a single responsibility and include a single assertion. Focusing on a clear separation always has benefits, but when doing this kind of black box testing, it’s even more important because the general tendency is to write complex test scenarios in the very beginning.

Another important aspect of integration tests is adherence to the Single Level of Abstraction Principle; we should write the logic within a test at a high level. Details such as creating the request, sending the HTTP request to the server, dealing with IO, etc., shouldn’t be done inline, but via utility methods.

Further reading:

Integration Testing in Spring

A quick guide to writing integration tests for a Spring Web application.

Testing in Spring Boot

Learn about how the Spring Boot supports testing, to write unit tests efficiently.

A Guide to REST-assured

Explore the basics of REST-assured - a library that simplifies the testing and validation of REST APIs.

2. Testing the Status Code

public void givenUserDoesNotExists_whenUserInfoIsRetrieved_then404IsReceived()
  throws ClientProtocolException, IOException {
    // Given
    String name = RandomStringUtils.randomAlphabetic( 8 );
    HttpUriRequest request = new HttpGet( "" + name );

    // When
    HttpResponse httpResponse = HttpClientBuilder.create().build().execute( request );

    // Then

This is a rather simple test. It verifies that a basic happy path is working, without adding too much complexity to the test suite.

If, for whatever reason, it fails, then we don’t need to look at any other test for this URL until we fix it.

3. Testing the Media Type

public void 
  throws ClientProtocolException, IOException {
   // Given
   String jsonMimeType = "application/json";
   HttpUriRequest request = new HttpGet( "" );

   // When
   HttpResponse response = HttpClientBuilder.create().build().execute( request );

   // Then
   String mimeType = ContentType.getOrDefault(response.getEntity()).getMimeType();
   assertEquals( jsonMimeType, mimeType );

This ensures that the Response actually contains JSON data.

As we can see, we’re following a logical progression of tests. First is the Response Status Code (to ensure the request was OK), and then the Media Type of the Response. Only in the next test will we look at the actual JSON payload.

4. Testing the JSON Payload

public void 
  throws ClientProtocolException, IOException {
    // Given
    HttpUriRequest request = new HttpGet( "" );

    // When
    HttpResponse response = HttpClientBuilder.create().build().execute( request );

    // Then
    GitHubUser resource = RetrieveUtil.retrieveResourceFromResponse(
      response, GitHubUser.class);
    assertThat( "eugenp", resource.getLogin() ) );

In this case, the default representation of the GitHub resources is JSON, but usually, the Content-Type header of the response should be tested alongside the Accept header of the request. The client asks for a particular type of representation via Accept, which the server should honor.

5. Utilities for Testing

We’ll use Jackson 2 to unmarshall the raw JSON String into a type-safe Java Entity:

public class GitHubUser {

    private String login;

    // standard getters and setters

We’re only using a simple utility to keep the tests clean, readable, and at a high level of abstraction:

public static <T> T retrieveResourceFromResponse(HttpResponse response, Class<T> clazz) 
  throws IOException {
    String jsonFromResponse = EntityUtils.toString(response.getEntity());
    ObjectMapper mapper = new ObjectMapper()
      .configure(DeserializationFeature.FAIL_ON_UNKNOWN_PROPERTIES, false);
    return mapper.readValue(jsonFromResponse, clazz);

Notice that Jackson is ignoring unknown properties that the GitHub API is sending our way. This is simply because the Representation of a User Resource on GitHub gets pretty complex, and we don’t need any of that information here.

6. Dependencies

The utilities and tests make use of the following libraries, all of which are available in Maven central:

7. Conclusion

This is only one part of what the complete integration testing suite should be. The tests focus on ensuring basic correctness for the REST API, without going into more complex scenarios.

For example, we didn’t cover the following: discoverability of the API, consumption of different representations for the same Resource, etc.

The implementation of all of these examples and code snippets can be found over on Github. This is a Maven-based project, so it should be easy to import and run as it is.

Course – LS (cat=REST)

Get started with Spring 5 and Spring Boot 2, through the Learn Spring course :

res – REST (eBook) (cat=REST)
Comments are closed on this article!