Chris Padilla/Blog / Tech

Testing Organizes Code

Rebecca Murphey has a fantastic. talk on front end testing. It's all done in JQuery, and the principles still apply really nicely to react applications.

My favorite takeaways:

  1. Testing allows for a clear explanation of what consumers of your code can expect. Rebekah says this is like documentation, but even better! Tests will actually verify that the code does what it says it will, unlike documentation.
  2. Testing allows you to write methodically. Writing the code is easy once you've written the expectations. This is further validation for testing as a process of clear thinking. Put another way: Measure twice, cut once.
  3. Testing old code illuminates tight coupling. Much of the talk is diving into an example of a long file of entangled responsibilities. Server requests, rendering data, managing state, all in one function. When you sit down to write a test for this, the coupling is quickly illuminated.

Jest Supports This Systematically

That last point is one I'm coming up against in my own codebase.

This site keeps all it's content in markdown. So I have a looong file with methods for grabing that data:

// api.js

const postsDirectory = join(process.cwd(), '_posts');

export function getPostSlugs() {
  return fs.readdirSync(postsDirectory);

export function getPostBySlug(slug, fields = []) {
  const realSlug = slug.replace(/\.md$/, '');
  const fullPath = join(postsDirectory, `${realSlug}.md`);
  if (!fs.existsSync(fullPath)) return false;
  const fileContents = fs.readFileSync(fullPath, 'utf8');
  const { data, content } = matter(fileContents);

  const items = {};

  // Ensure only the minimal needed data is exposed
  fields.forEach((field) => {
    if (field === 'slug') {
      items[field] = realSlug;
    if (field === 'content') {
      items[field] = content;

    if (typeof data[field] !== 'undefined') {
      items[field] = data[field];

  return items;

export function getAllPosts(fields = [], options = {}) {
  const slugs = getPostSlugs();
  let posts = slugs
    .map((slug) => getPostBySlug(slug, fields))
    // Filter false values (.DS_STORE)
    .filter((post) => post)
    // sort posts by date in descending order
    .sort((post1, post2) => ( > ? -1 : 1));

  if (options.filter) {
    posts = posts.filter(options.filter);

  if (options.limit) {
    posts = posts.slice(0, options.limit);

  return posts;

. . .

If I wanted to test getAllPosts, this is already difficult on a file-organization level. I can't very well mock the method getPostSlugs because with Jest you can only mock external packages.

I suppose this, in practice, isn't a terribly tight coupling. They are separate methods. But it has already illuminated an opportunity to break up this file to more closely follow a MVC model of organization. A strange paradigm to take on with the absence of a database here, but taking a step towards it lends to the first point at the top of this post - we get clarity in expectations of how this app is working. A big win already.