Mastering Test-Driven Development: Using Jest and React Testing Library with React Apps

Mastering Test-Driven Development: Using Jest and React Testing Library with React Apps

In the world of software development, maintaining code quality while ensuring new features are delivered swiftly can be challenging. Test-Driven Development (TDD) offers a solution to this by emphasizing the importance of writing tests before actual code. When developing React applications, leveraging tools like Jest and React Testing Library can streamline this process. This blog post delves into how you can adopt TDD for your React applications using these tools.

What is Test-Driven Development (TDD)?

TDD is a development process where tests are written before the code that makes the tests pass. The TDD cycle involves three main steps:

  1. Red: Write a test that fails.

  2. Green: Write the minimum amount of code required to make the test pass.

  3. Refactor: Improve the code while ensuring all tests still pass.

This iterative process helps in writing clean, bug-free, and maintainable code.

Setting Up Jest and React Testing Library

Before diving into TDD, ensure your React project is set up with Jest and React Testing Library. If you're using Create React App (CRA), Jest is already included. For other setups, you can add these dependencies using npm or yarn:

npm install --save-dev jest @testing-library/react @testing-library/jest-dom


yarn add --dev jest @testing-library/react @testing-library/jest-dom

Writing Your First Test-Driven Component

Let's walk through an example to demonstrate TDD in a React application. Suppose we want to create a simple Counter component that increments a count when a button is clicked.

Step 1: Write a Failing Test (Red)

First, create a test file Counter.test.js and write a test that fails because the Counter component does not exist yet.

import React from 'react';
import { render, screen, fireEvent } from '@testing-library/react';
import '@testing-library/jest-dom/extend-expect';
// import Counter from './Counter'; // This will be uncommented once the component is created

test('increments count when button is clicked', () => {
  // render(<Counter />); // This will be uncommented once the component is created
  const button = screen.getByRole('button', { name: /increment/i });;
  const count = screen.getByText(/count: 1/i);

Step 2: Write Just Enough Code to Pass the Test (Green)

Create the Counter component with the minimal implementation needed to pass the test.

import React, { useState } from 'react';

const Counter = () => {
  const [count, setCount] = useState(0);

  return (
      <p>Count: {count}</p>
      <button onClick={() => setCount(count + 1)}>Increment</button>

export default Counter;

Uncomment the necessary lines in your test file:

import Counter from './Counter';

Run your test to ensure it passes:

npm test

Step 3: Refactor

With the test passing, you can now refactor the code. For instance, you might want to extract the button into its own component or add more functionality, ensuring that all tests continue to pass after each change.

Benefits of TDD

  1. Improved Code Quality: Writing tests first ensures that your code is thoroughly tested.

  2. Less Debugging: Since tests catch bugs early, you spend less time debugging.

  3. Better Design: TDD encourages better design decisions, as you write only the necessary code to pass the tests.

  4. Documentation: Tests serve as documentation for your code, making it easier for others to understand its functionality.

Tips for Effective TDD in React

  • Start Small: Begin with small, manageable components and gradually move to more complex ones.

  • Mock External Dependencies: Use Jest's mocking capabilities to isolate your components from external dependencies.

  • Use Descriptive Test Names: Write tests with descriptive names to clearly convey their purpose.

  • Keep Tests Fast: Ensure your tests run quickly to maintain an efficient development workflow.


Adopting TDD in your React applications using Jest and React Testing Library can lead to more reliable, maintainable, and well-designed code. By writing tests first and implementing just enough code to make them pass, you ensure that your application is thoroughly tested and free from unexpected bugs. Start small, refactor often, and let the tests guide your development process.

Happy coding!