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0.0.6 • Public • Published

Introduction to writing automated tests for Airtable Extensions

Support for automated testing is currently in open beta.

Implementation status

Not all operations are currently supported. In the course of writing tests, authors may find that the Extension under test does not function as intended when induced to perform these operations. Authors may request support from the SDK maintainers or implement the functionality they need as part of their work (this document includes guidance on extending the testing API in a subsequent section).

The following table describes the implementation status of each operation.

operation internal support testing API
Table - create partial [1]
Table - update partial [1]
Table - destroy ✔️
Field - create partial [1]
Field - update partial [1]
Field - destroy ✔️
View - create
View - update
View - destroy ✔️
Global Config - update ✔️ n/a [2]
Cursor Data - update ✔️
Session Data - update
User permissions - update ✔️ ✔️
click settings button
toggle full screen
expand record ✔️
Record - create partial [3] n/a [2]
Record - update ✔️ n/a [2]
Record - destroy ✔️ n/a [2]
  • [1] While the SDK's public API supports these operations, its capabilities are restricted. Ideally they would be complemented by a more powerful testing API.
  • [2] These operations can be initiated using the SDK's public API.
  • [3] Unsupported operations: creating records for tables which have not yet been loaded, creating records with data for fields which have not yet been loaded, and creating records in specific views

Key concepts

Test fixture data is a representation of the state of an Airtable Base, including descriptions of Tables, Views, Fields, and Records. It is written by test authors and in terms of JSON-serializable values. The Extension Test Fixtures Airtable Extension allows developers to generate this data from the state of an authentic Base. This Extension is not ready for beta yet.

TestDriver is the JavaScript interface for creating and manipulating a simulated Airtable Extensions environment. It implements methods for performing operations which are not available in the SDK.

AirtableInterface is the layer of the SDK which mediates between the models and the backend. In production environments, it operates via asynchronous message passing with the Extension's parent web browser frame. In testing environments, no transmission occurs, but the AirtableInterface behaves as though it is receiving relevant messages in order to simulate production behavior.

Mutations are instructions which describe changes to the Base. Mutations travel through the AirtableInterface, which sends them to the backend in production environments only.

Writing tests

As of January 2021, Airtable Extensions must be written using the React framework. These instructions take the presence of React for granted.

Every test file must import TestDriver through the @airtable/blocks-testing module to ensure that the environment is correctly instrumented for automation.

Each test will typically perform the following steps:

  1. Create a TestDriver instance, providing valid fixture data:

    const testDriver = new TestDriver({
        /* fixture data here */
  2. Create an instance of the Extension under test by rendering the Extension's Component as a child of the TestDriver#Container Component.

            <MyExtension />
  3. Provide some input to the Extension. This may be in the form of a simulated user interaction (e.g. via the @testing-library/user-event library)

    // Simulate a user choosing the "Gruyere" option from the table labed
    // "Cheeses".
    const input = screen.getByLabelText('Cheeses');
    const option = screen.getByText('Gruyere');
    userEvent.selectOptions(input, [option]);

    ...or a simulated backend behavior (e.g. via the Blocks SDK or the TestDriver API).

    // Invoking `createTableAsync` in a test script simulates the condition
    // where the Airtable backend reports that a table has been created by
    // another viewer of the Base.
    await testDriver.base.createTableAsync('a new table', [
        {name: 'address', type: FieldType.EMAIL},
  4. Verify that the Extension responded to the input as expected. For many kinds of interactions, the Extension's response will be discernible by some change in the UI. The @testing-library/react library is a good choice for inspecting the state of the user interface.

    // Ensure that the UI updated to display the checkbox as "checked"
    const checkbox = screen.getByRole('checkbox');

    ...while the TestDriver API can be used to verify Extension behaviors which do not influence the UI:

    // Track every time the Extension attempts to expand a record.
    const recordIds = [];
    testDriver.watch('expandRecord', ({recordId}) => recordIds.push(recordId));
    // (The code necessary to simulate user inteaction elided from this example.)
    // Ensure that the Extension attempted to expand the Record with ID `reca`

The automated test suite for the To-do List example Extension demonstrates this pattern.

Extending the Testing API

In order to provide predictable behavior, the Airtable testing platform relies on simulations of Base operations. Every simulation requires some amount of support in the testing platform. Some simulations also require a dedicated testing API.

Implementing internal support Every Base operation requires some amount of simulation code in order to support scripting in test environments.

For some operations, this simulation may be as limited as a "no-op" implementation of an internal method. These operations include mutations which the SDK applies optimistically and messages with no direct effect on the Extension.

Other operations will require more advanced simulation logic. Operations of this type generally rely on the backend's response to determine their effect on the Base. The simulated behavior should be predictable, mimicking the expected response in production.

Implementing a dedicated API A dedicated testing API is not necessary for any operation which can be expressed through the public API of the SDK (e.g. "create many records" or "delete a table"). When a test author wishes to script such an operation, they should use the SDK directly. This is valid because an Extension cannot distinguish between operations initiated by the backend and operations initiated by a test script using the SDK.

Many other operations cannot be expressed via the public API of the SDK. The TestDriver API must be extended to allow test authors to simulate these operations.

Some of these restrictions are circumstantial, owing to the fact that as of January 2021, the SDK is incomplete and under active development. This includes an API to delete a Field. Other restrictions are fundamental to the design of the Extensions platform. For instance, the SDK intentionally omits a method for an Extension to change the permissions of the current user. This distinction may inform the decision to introduce a testing API, since doing so will increase maintenance responsibilities in a way that may be obviated by future extensions to the SDK's public API.




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