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Tests are essential for ensuring any software quality. Whether you are creating unit, widget, or integration tests for Flutter applications, the end goal of any test is asserting that the reality matches the expectations. Here is an ultimate cheat sheet for assertions in Dart and Flutter tests with many details explained!

Cheat sheet

Flutter Tests

Each of the items in this cheat sheet is discussed in greater detail in this article.

Check the official website for the overall approach to testing Flutter apps.

Before you start, you can read all tests in the following Zapp.run project.

Expect

expect() is the main assertion function. Let’s take a look at this test:

test('expect: value ✅', () {
  final result = 0;
  expect(result, 0);
});

where result is a value that would typically come from software under test.

Here, expect() ensures that the result is 0. If it is different, it will throw the TestFailure exception, leading to test failure.

Additionally, expect() prints the description of the problem to the output. For example, for this test:

test('expect: value ❌', () {
  final result = 1;
  expect(result, 0);
});

We’ll see the following output:

Expected: <0>
  Actual: <1>

Here is the full signature of the expect() method:

void expect(
    dynamic actual,       // actual value to be verified
    dynamic matcher, {    // characterises the expected result
    String? reason,       // added to the output in case of failure
    dynamic skip,         // true or a String with the reason to skip
}) {...}

expect() accepts an optional reason that can be added to the output. For this test:

test('expect: reason ❌', () {
  final result = 1;
  expect(result, 0, reason: 'Result should be 0!');
});

The output is:

Expected: <0>
  Actual: <1>
Result should be 0!

expect() also accepts an optional skip that can be either true or a String:

test('expect: skip ✅', () {
  final result = 1;
  expect(result, 0, skip: true);
  expect(result, 0, skip: 'for a reason');
});

This test succeeds with the following output:

Skip expect: (<0>).
Skip expect: for a reason

Attention! The usage of the skip parameter does not skip the entire test, but only the expect() call it is applied to.

Next, we will focus on the matcher parameter of the expect() method and explore what values it can accept.

Matcher

Matcher is an instance that validates that the value satisfies some expectation based on the matcher type. It is either a child of the Matcher base class or a value. Matcher is also responsible for providing a meaningful description of a mismatch in case of test failure.

Keep reading to learn about the variety of available matchers.

Matcher equals

In the example below, we pass 0 as a matcher parameter:

test('expect: value ✅', () {
  final result = 0;
  expect(result, 0);
});

In such a case, when the value is passed, an equals matcher is used implicitly. It is equivalent to:

test('matcher: equals ✅', () {
  final result = 0;
  expect(result, equals(0));
});

It is probably the most commonly used matcher, explicitly or implicitly.

The equals matcher uses the equality operator to perform the comparison. By default, classes in Dart are compared “by reference” and not “by value”. Thus, if applied to custom objects like this Result class here:

class Result {
  Result(this.value);

  final int value;
}

equals matcher fails this test:

test('expect: equals ❌', () {
  final result = Result(0);
  expect(result, equals(Result(0)));
});

With the following output:

Expected: <Instance of 'Result'>
  Actual: <Instance of 'Result'>

It is a good idea to override the .toString() method to make the output more meaningful. For this improved Result class implementation:

class Result {
  Result(this.value);

  final int value;

  @override
  String toString() => 'Result{value: $value}';
}

The test output changes to:

Expected: Result:<Result{value: 0}>
  Actual: Result:<Result{value: 0}>

To make it pass, the Result class has to override the operator ==, for example like this:

class Result {
  Result(this.value);

  final int value;

  @override
  String toString() => 'Result{value: $value}';

  @override
  bool operator ==(Object other) =>
      identical(this, other) ||
      other is Result &&
          runtimeType == other.runtimeType &&
          value == other.value;

  @override
  int get hashCode => value.hashCode;
}

Equality matchers

Apart from an equals matcher that compares objects with operator ==, and is used implicitly when an expected value is passed instead of a matcher; there are more explicit equality matchers.

same

The same matcher makes sure expected and actual results are the same instance. This test:

test('expect: same ❌', () {
  final result = Result(1);
  expect(result, same(Result(1)));
});

Fails with the following output:

Expected: same instance as Result:<Result{result: 1}>
  Actual: Result:<Result{result: 1}>

But this test passes:

test('expect: same ✅', () {
  final result = Result(1);
  expect(result, same(result));
});

Interesting observation regarding const. This test also passes:

test('expect: same ✅', () {
  final result = 1;
  expect(result, same(1));
});

Because 1 is a const and only one instance exists in memory. The same applies when custom classes declare const constructors and instances are created with const modifiers. If the Result class is updated to declare a const constructor:

class Result {
  const Result(this.value);

  final int value;
}

This test also passes:

test('expect: same ✅', () {
  final result = const Result(1);
  expect(result, same(const Result(1)));
});

But this test still fails:

test('expect: same ❌', () {
  final result = Result(1);
  expect(result, same(Result(1)));
});

because without using const, two different instances of Result are created.

null matchers

The next pair of matchers is quite simple: isNull and isNotNull check result nullability.

test('expect: isNull ❌', () {
  final result = 0;
  expect(result, isNull);
});

Fails with:

Expected: null
  Actual: <0>

And this test passes:

test('expect: isNotNull ✅', () {
  final result = 0;
  expect(result, isNotNull);
});

bool matchers

The next pair of equality matchers is self-explanatory: isTrue and isFalse. These tests pass:

test('expect: isTrue ✅', () {
  final result = 0;
  expect(result < 1, isTrue);
});
test('expect: isFalse ✅', () {
  final result = 0;
  expect(result > 1, isFalse);
});

anything

The anything matcher matches any value. It is used in any from mockito package or any<T> from mocktail, which we’ll probably discuss later. However, it’s not a commonly used matcher in client application tests.

Type matchers

isA

The isA<T> matcher helps verify a variable type:

test('expect: isA ❌', () {
  final result = 0;
  expect(result, isA<Result>());
});

This test fails with the following output:

Expected: <Instance of 'Result'>
  Actual: <0>

Predefined type matchers

There are a couple of more focused type matchers: isList and isMap. These tests pass:

test('expect: isList ✅', () {
  final result = [0];
  expect(result, isList);
});
test('expect: isMap ✅', () {
  final result = {0: Result(0)};
  expect(result, isMap);
});

Custom type matcher

It is very easy to create your focused type matcher using TypeMatcher class:

const isResult = TypeMatcher<Result>();

That’s it; now it can be used in tests:

test('expect: isResult ✅', () {
  final result = Result(0);
  expect(result, isResult);
});

Error matchers

Error type matchers

Error-type matchers are based on the TypeMatcher class from the example above, as they check for the error type: isArgumentError, isException, isNoSuchMethodError, isUnimplementedError, etc.

test('expect: isUnimplementedError ✅', () {
  final result = UnimplementedError();
  expect(result, isUnimplementedError);
});

throwsA

throwsA is a matcher that ensures the method call resulted in an error. If the method call is supposed to throw, it’s unsafe to call it in the test body. Instead, it should be called inside the expect() call. throwsA matcher accepts another matcher that validates the error, for example, one of the error matchers above:

test('expect: throwsA ✅', () {
  final result = (int value) => (value as dynamic).length;
  expect(() => result(0), throwsA(isNoSuchMethodError));
});

Collection matchers

By “collection” I mean String, Iterable, and Map.

Size matchers

The pair of isEmpty and isNotEmpty matchers call respective .isEmpty or .isNotEmpty getters on a result, and expect them to return true:

test('expect: isEmpty ✅', () {
  final result = [];
  expect(result, isEmpty);
});
test('expect: isEmpty ❌', () {
  final result = '0';
  expect(result, isEmpty);
});
test('expect: isNotEmpty ✅', () {
  final result = {0: '0'};
  expect(result, isNotEmpty);
});

When used with the type that does not have isEmpty or isNotEmpty methods:

test('expect: isEmpty ❌', () {
  final result = 0;
  expect(result, isNotEmpty);
});

isEmpty and isNotEmpty matchers fail the test with the following output:

Expected: non-empty
  Actual: <0>
NoSuchMethodError: Class 'int' has no instance getter 'isNotEmpty'.
Receiver: 0
Tried calling: isNotEmpty

The hasLength matcher follows the same principle and calls .length getter on the passed value:

test('expect: hasLength ✅', () {
  final result = '0';
  expect(result, hasLength(1));
});

When the value does not have a .length getter:

test('expect: hasLength ❌', () {
  final result = 0;
  expect(result, hasLength(1));
});

The test fails:

Expected: an object with length of <1>
  Actual: <0>
   Which: has no length property

Content matchers

The contains matcher has different logic depending on the value it is applied to.

For a String it means substring matching:

test('expect: contains ✅', () {
  final result = 'result';
  expect(result, contains('res'));
});

For a Map it means the map has the key:

test('expect: contains ✅', () {
  final result = {0: Result(0)};
  expect(result, contains(0));
});

And for Iterable it means there is an element matching the matcher that is passed inside contains matcher. In this test first a predicate matcher is used, and then an implicit equals:

test('expect: contains ✅', () {
  final result = [Result(0), Result(1)];
  expect(result, contains(predicate((r) => r.value == 0)));
  expect(result, contains(Result(1)));
});

The isIn matcher is the opposite to the contains matcher:

test('expect: isIn ✅', () {
  final result = 'res';
  expect(result, isIn('result'));
});
test('expect: isIn ✅', () {
  final result = Result(0);
  expect(result, isIn([Result(0), Result(1)]));
});

String matchers

In addition to the collection matchers above that work for String, there is a couple of matchers more.

Content matchers

startsWith, endsWith matchers check String content along the edges:

test('expect: startsWith ✅', () {
  final result = 'result';
  expect(result, startsWith('res'));
});
test('expect: endsWith ✅', () {
  final result = 'result';
  expect(result, endsWith('ult'));
});

matches

The matches matcher can either accept another String:

test('expect: matches ✅', () {
  final result = 'result';
  expect(result, matches('esul'));
});

or a RegExp:

test('expect: matches ✅', () {
  final result = 'result';
  expect(result, matches(RegExp('r[a-z]{4}t')));
});

Iterable matchers

In addition to the collection matchers above that work for List and Set, there are a few more matchers.

every & any

Matchers everyElement and anyElement verify that all or some elements satisfy a matcher or equal to a value they accepted as a parameter:

test('expect: everyElement ✅', () {
  final result = [Result(0), Result(1)];
  expect(result, everyElement(isResult));
});
test('expect: anyElement ✅', () {
  final result = {0, 1};
  expect(result, anyElement(0));
}); 

Content matchers

Matchers containsAll and containsAllInOrder verify that the Iterable passed as a parameter is a subset of the actual Iterable, optionally verifying items’ order:

test('expect: containsAll ✅', () {
  final result = [Result(0), Result(1), Result(2)];
  expect(result, containsAll([Result(1), Result(0)]));
});
test('expect: containsAllInOrder ✅', () {
  final result = {0, 1, 2};
  expect(result, containsAllInOrder({0, 1}));
});

The actual Iterable can have additional elements.

Matchers orderedEquals and unorderedEquals check that the actual Iterable is of the same length and contains the same elements as the passed Iterable, optionally verifying items’ order:

test('expect: orderedEquals ✅', () {
  final result = [Result(0), Result(1)];
  expect(result, orderedEquals([Result(0), Result(1)]));
});
test('expect: unorderedEquals ✅', () {
  final result = {0, 1};
  expect(result, unorderedEquals({1, 0}));
});

Map matchers

In addition to collection matchers that work for Map, there are just a couple more.

The containsValue matcher checks if the actual .containsValue method returns true:

test('expect: containsValue ✅', () {
  final result = {0: Result(0)};
  expect(result, containsValue(Result(0)));
});

The containsPair matcher checks both pair’s key and value, where the value can be another matcher:

test('expect: containsPair ✅', () {
  final result = {0: Result(0)};
  expect(result, containsPair(0, isResult));
  expect(result, containsPair(0, Result(0)));
});

Numeric matchers

Zero-oriented matchers

isZero, isNonZero, isPositive, isNonPositive, isNegative, isNonNegative matchers all check how the actual value is related to 0:

test('expect: isZero ✅', () {
  final result = 0;
  expect(result, isZero);
});
test('expect: isPositive ✅', () {
  final result = 1;
  expect(result, isPositive);
});

Range matchers

inInclusiveRange, inExclusiveRange matchers check if the actual num value is in the range:

test('expect: inInclusiveRange ✅', () {
  final result = 1;
  expect(result, inInclusiveRange(0, 1));
});
test('expect: inExclusiveRange ❌', () {
  final result = 1;
  expect(result, inExclusiveRange(0, 1));
});

Comparable matchers

Matchers greaterThan, greaterThanOrEqualTo, lessThan, lessThanOrEqualTo use operator ==, operator <, and operator > to compare expected and actual values:

test('expect: greaterThan ✅', () {
  final result = 1;
  expect(result, greaterThan(0));
});
test('expect: lessThanOrEqualTo ✅', () {
  final result = 1;
  expect(result, lessThanOrEqualTo(1));
});

They can be applied not only to numeric values but also to custom classes. To use them in our Result class, it has to be improved with operator < and operator > implementations:

class Result {
  const Result(this.value);

  final int value;

  ...

  @override
  bool operator ==(Object other) =>
      identical(this, other) ||
      other is Result &&
          runtimeType == other.runtimeType &&
          value == other.value;

  bool operator >(Object other) =>
      other is Result &&
          value > other.value;

  bool operator <(Object other) =>
      other is Result &&
          value < other.value;
}

As you see, I am comparing Result objects by the inner value field. Now, these tests also pass:

test('expect: greaterThan ✅', () {
  final result = Result(1);
  expect(result, greaterThan(Result(0)));
});
test('expect: lessThanOrEqualTo ✅', () {
  final result = Result(1);
  expect(result, lessThanOrEqualTo(Result(1)));
});

Universal matcher

Generally speaking, most types of checks a developer might ever need to perform in expect() methods can be expressed with a single matcher – predicate. It accepts a predicate – a Function with one parameter that returns bool, where you can decide if the parameter matches your expectations. For example:

test('expect: predicate ✅', () {
  final result = Result(0);
  expect(result, predicate((e) => e is Result && e.value == 0));
  expect(result, predicate((result) => result.value == 0));
});

Depending on the type of required check, predicate might be exactly the matcher you need. But there is a bunch of more focused matchers which provide more readable code and output. Let’s compare.

A test with a predicate matcher:

test('expect: predicate ❌', () {
  final result = 1;
  expect(result, predicate((e) => e == 0));
});

It gives the following output:

Expected: satisfies function
  Actual: <1>

It can be improved with predicate matcher description parameter. This test:

test('expect: predicate ❌', () {
  final result = 1;
  expect(result, predicate((e) => e == 0, 'Result should be 0!'));
});

prints:

Expected: Result should be 0!
  Actual: <1>

While a test with an equals matcher:

test('expect: equals ❌', () {
  final result = 1;
  expect(result, equals(0));
});

gives more information about the expected result with less code:

Expected: <0>
  Actual: <1>

Always prefer using focused matchers when available.

Custom matchers

If you did not find a matcher that satisfies your requirements, you could create your own matcher.

For example, let’s create a matcher that validates the value field. For that, we need a child of CustomMatcher class:

class HasValue extends CustomMatcher {
  HasValue(Object? valueOrMatcher)
      : super(
          'an object with value field of',
          'value field',
          valueOrMatcher,
        );

  @override
  Object? featureValueOf(dynamic actual) => actual.value;
}

The HasValue class extends CustomMatcher and accepts one parameter, which can be a value or another matcher. It calls the parent constructor with the feature name and description, which will be used in the output if the test fails.

It also overrides the featureValueOf method that attempts to get value property of the actual object passed to expect(). It is supposed to work with any type that declares the value property, like the Result class. In case actual does not declare such a property, our featureValueOf implementation will throw, but the base CustomMatcher class calls it inside try / catch bloc and will fail the test gracefully.

To be consistent with common practices of declaring a matcher, let’s also declare a factory method to create our matcher:

Matcher hasValue(Object? valueOrMatcher) => HasValue(valueOrMatcher);

Now it can be used in any of these ways:

test('expect: hasValue ✅', () {
  final result = Result(0);
  expect(result, hasValue(0));
  expect(result, HasValue(0));
  expect(result, hasValue(equals(0)));
});

Notice that hasValue matcher can accept both 0 and equals(0) matcher. In fact, it can accept any other matcher:

test('expect: hasValue ✅', () {
  final result = Result(0);
  expect(result, hasValue(isZero));
  expect(result, hasValue(lessThan(1)));
});

In case of a failing test:

test('expect: hasValue ❌', () {
  final result = Result(1);
  expect(result, hasValue(0));
});

The output contains the feature name and description passed to CustomMatcher constructor:

Expected: an object with value property of <0>
  Actual: Result: <Result{result: 1}>
   Which: has value property with value <1>

Matcher operators

allOf

The allOf matcher allows combining multiple matchers and ensures all of them are satisfied. It can be used with an array of matchers or with up to 7 individual matchers:

test('expect: allOf ✅', () {
  final result = Result(0);
  expect(result, allOf(hasValue(0), isResult));
  expect(result, allOf([hasValue(0), isResult]));
});

In case of failure:

test('expect: allOf ❌', () {
  final result = Result(0);
  expect(result, allOf([hasLength(1), hasValue(1)]));
});

The output prints errors from the first failed matcher:

Expected: (an object with length of <1> and an object with value property of <1>)
  Actual: Result:<Result{result: 0}>
   Which: has no length property

anyOf

The anyOf matcher also accepts an array of matchers or up to 7 individual matchers and ensures at least one of them is satisfied:

test('expect: anyOf ✅', () {
  final result = Result(0);
  expect(result, anyOf(hasLength(1), hasValue(0)));
  expect(result, anyOf([hasLength(1), hasValue(0)]));
});

Even though hasLength matcher fails, the overall test passes.

isNot

The isNot matcher calls the inner matcher and inverts its matching result:

test('expect: isNot ✅', () {
  final result = 0;
  expect(result, isNot(1));
  expect(result, isNot(isResult));
  expect(result, isNot(allOf(isResult, hasValue(0))));
});

Remembering them all

All mentioned matchers are provided by the matcher package.

With so many matchers, it may take a lot of work to remember them all. Let alone the cheat sheet you can have at any time; it’ll be much easier if they all belonged to a single class, for example, Matcher. In this case, we could type in Matcher., trigger code completion suggestions, and pick the suitable matcher from the list. It is unlikely ever to become true, but there is a way around which gives almost the same result.

Having import 'package:flutter_test/flutter_test.dart'; or import 'package:test/test.dart'; implicitly gives access to all matchers from the matcher package. However, importing it explicitly and assigning it a meaningful name, for example match, allows using code completion after typing match.:

Afterword

conclusion

There is still a lot to cover in this topic, including asynchronous matchers, Flutter widget matchers, etc. Stay tuned for more!

Stay tuned for more updates and exciting news that we will share in the future. Follow us on Invertase TwitterLinkedin, and Youtube, and subscribe to our monthly newsletter to stay up-to-date. You may also join our Discord to have an instant conversation with us.

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