Tools to create web tests for Express and Socket.IO applications with session integration.

Work Already

Work Already is a set of tools for building web tests for mixed HTTP/S and WebSocket web applications that are built on Socket.IO, and where sessions are shared between Socket.IO and Express.js or some other similar http.Server-based framework.

So you've built a single page application with Express.js and Socket.IO, wherein user sessions are created and managed by Express.js, and then shared with Socket.IO. A client first hits a page served by Express.js, which generates a session, and then passes on identifiers for that session when connecting to one or more sockets as specified in the page Javascript.

Those identifiers can be cookies (as is often the case) or query parameters on the namespace path for the Socket.IO connect call (as is preferred by the Socket.IO developers).

With your application up and running, you'd like to run automated web tests against your server, hitting both web pages and Socket.IO connections. This is where you'll find that your options are actually somewhat limited - there are not that many tools out there that can do this. Hence the existence of this small package, Work Already.

Features worth noting in Work Already:

  • Set the order of HTTP/S requests and examine the responses.
  • Make Socket.IO connections that pass the right session information.
  • Emit on sockets and examine or expect server responses.
  • Run as a standalone test or integrate with Vows test suites.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This package works with 0.9.x versions of Socket.IO. It won't do much for earlier or later version in its present form, as some hacking of is required to make it play ball with sessions in a Node.js environment.

Very quickly, here is an example of a generic way to share sessions between Express.js and Socket.IO by using cookies to pass around the session ID:

var express = require("express");
var io = require("");
var SessionMemoryStore = require("connect/lib/middleware/session/memory");
// Set up a minimal Express application, but ensure that the session store,
// cookie parser, and session key are exposed and accessible.
var app = express();
var store = new SessionMemoryStore();
var sessionKey = "sid";
var cookieSecret = "cookieSecret";
var cookieParser = express.cookieParser(cookieSecret);
  key: sessionKey,
  secret: cookieSecret,
  store: store
var server = http.createServer(app).listen(10080);
// Now set up Socket.IO.
var socketFactory = io.listen(server);
// And use the authorization hook to attach the session to the socket
// handshake by reading the cookie and loading the session when a
// socket connects. Using the authorization hook means that we can
// deny access to socket connections that arrive without a session - i.e.
// where the user didn't load a site page through Express first.
socketFactory.set("authorization", function (data, callback) {
  if (data && data.headers && data.headers.cookie) {
    cookieParser(data, {}, function (error) {
      if (error) {
        callback("COOKIE_PARSE_ERROR", false);
      var sessionId = data.signedCookies[sessionKey];
      store.get(sessionId, function (error, session) {
        // Add the sessionId. This will show up in
        // socket.handshake.sessionId.
        // It's useful to set the ID and session separately because of
        // those fun times when you have an ID but no session - it makes
        // debugging that much easier.
        data.sessionId = sessionId;
        if (error) {
          callback("ERROR", false);
        } else if (!session) {
          callback("NO_SESSION", false);
        } else {
          // Add the session. This will show up in
          // socket.handshake.session.
          data.session = session;
          callback(null, true);
  } else {
    callback("NO_COOKIE", false);

This is not, however, the recommended way of doing things. At present the Socket.IO folk are leaning towards requiring authentication or identification tokens (such as the session ID in some encrypted form) to be appended to the namespace for the connection.

On the client:


On the server:

socketFactory.set("authorization", function (data, callback) {
  var token = data.query.token;
  // Now figure out the session based on what was placed inside the token
  // and attach it to the data object.
  // ...

See these pages for more on this topic:

The challenge for testing in a Node.js rather than browser environment - only for the situation in which you are using cookies rather than the query string to pass session identifiers - is that the package doesn't permit the setting of cookie data in its requests.

The Work Already package works around this issue in a very crude way, but there is little other option but to hack or rewrite the package code in order to achieve this goal.

See /examples for examples of use, for both simple load tests, and Vows web tests like this one:

var assert = require("assert");
var vows = require("vows");
var workAlready = require("work-already");
var suite = vows.describe("Testing an Express / Socket.IO server.");
var client = new workAlready.Client({
  server: {
    host: "localhost",
    port: 10080,
    protocol: "http"
  sockets: {
    // If namespace is not specified in an action, then this is the namespace
    // used.
    defaultNamespace: ""
// Load the main application page, which also obtains the necessary cookies
// to pass along with the Socket.IO connection that follows.
  "Load main page via GET request": {
    topic: function () {
      client.action("/index.html", this.callback);
    "page fetched": function (error, page) {
      // The last retrieved page is stored at for perusal, as well
      // as being passed to this function.
      assert.strictEqual(200, page.statusCode);
      assert.include(page.body, "some distinctive string");
// Establish a Socket.IO connection with the default namespace, passing over
// the right cookies obtained in the prior request.
  "Connect via Socket.IO": {
    topic: function () {
        type: "socket",
        timeout: 500,
        // Optionally, set Socket.IO connection parameters.
        socketConfig: {
          "reconnect": true
      }, this.callback);
    "socket connected": function (error) {
// Perhaps the server sends an immediate response message via the socket
// connection. If so, the next step is to wait on it.
  "Await emitted server response to connection": {
    topic: function () {
        type: "awaitEmit",
        eventType: "responseOnConnect",
        timeout: 500
      }, this.callback);
    "event emitted": function (error, socketEvent) {
      // The socketEvent is stashed in the client as well as being passed
      // to this function.
      assert.strictEqual(client.socketEvent.namespace, client.config.sockets.defaultNamespace);
      assert.strictEqual(client.socketEvent.eventType, "responseOnConnect");
exports.suite = suite;