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QUnit plugin to automatically show helpful info for failed assertions

Test page, tests with variable injection


Build status dependencies devdependencies



// QUnit test with failing assertion 
QUnit.test('simple test', function () {
  ok(2 + 2 === 5);
// output 
    Module: global Test: simple test
// load qunit-helpful.js before tests, same test 
// output 
  Errors: ok [2 + 2 === 5]
    Module: global Test: simple test

Comparison screenshots with the failed assertions for source

QUnit.test('ok expression', function () {
  ok(2 + 2 === 44); // fails 
  ok('foo' + 'bar' == 'foobar2'); // fails 
  ok("foo" + "bar" == 'foobar');

QUnit with failed ok(expression)


QUnit + qunit-helpful with failed ok(expression)


Supported assertions

This package rewrites ok, QUnit.ok, equal, QUnit.equal assertions, leaving the rest of the code unchanged. I might add other QUnit assertions if needed.


QUnit (Jasmine, Mocha, etc) first evaluates the arguments, then passes the computed values to assertion functions. Thus the failed assertion has no idea what the failing expression was. This forces you to write assertion messages, repeating the test condition

QUnit.ok(2 + 2 === 4, '2 + 2 === 4');
QUnit.equal(foo('a', 1), 'foo-a-1', 'calling foo with "a" and 1 produces "foo-a-1"');

qunit-helpful automatically rewrites your tests before QUnit executes them, adding the condition source to the message string. Thus you can skip writing the same stuff

QUnit.ok(2 + 2 === 4);
// will be evaluated by QUnit as 
// QUnit.ok(2 + 2 === 4, 'ok 2 + 2 === 4'); 
QUnit.equal(foo('a', 1), 'foo-a-1');
// will be evaluated by QUnit as 
// QUnit.equal(foo('a', 1), 'foo-a-1', 'equal "foo('a', 1)" and "foo-a-1"'); 

Unknown or custom assertions will be left unchanged. The source rewriting is done using falafel.



npm install qunit-helpful --save-dev
// load qunit-helpful before unit tests
$ qunit -c node_modules/qunit-helpful/qunit-helpful.js -t tests.js


bower install qunit-helpful
// include the qunit js script first, then
<script src="bower_components/qunit-helpful/qunit-helpful-browser.js"></script>
// then include user tests


  • assert argument to the unit test is not supported yet, please use QUnit.equal rather than function (assert) { assert.equal(...); }

  • global variables should be ok, but closure variables to the unit test will cause ReferenceError. This is due to the dynamic source code rewriting and evaluation which leads to the test to have a different lexical scope location.

// will cause ReferenceError 
var foo = 'foo';
QUnit.test('check foo', function () {
  QUnit.equal(foo, 'foo');

Workaround 1

Skip dynamic test rewriting in this case by adding suffix noHelp or no_help to the test function name

var foo = 'foo';
QUnit.test('check foo', function checkFooNoHelp() {
  QUnit.equal(foo, 'foo');

Workaround 2

If you need external non-global variables, use qunit-inject to inject them. Load qunit-inject before qunit-helpful and it should work.

QUnit.module('injection', {
  foo: 'foo'
QUnit.test('check foo', function (foo) {
  QUnit.equal(foo, 'foo');


Other QUnit plugins I wrote:

There is a different approach to improving assertion messages: grab the detailed callsite as better-assert does. Unfortunately, this is limited to V8 javascript engine only. My approach should work with almost any modern javascript engine (as long as it supports correct function toString method).

Small print

Author: Gleb Bahmutov © 2014 @bahmutov

License: MIT - do anything with the code, but don't blame me if it does not work.

Support: if you find any problems with this module, email / tweet / open issue on Github