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Unit Testing with Enzyme

Airbnb's Enzyme is a library for writing tests for React components. It supports different versions of React and React-like libraries using "adapters". There is an adapter for Preact, maintained by the Preact team.

Enzyme supports tests that run in a normal or headless browser using a tool such as Karma or tests that run in Node using jsdom as a fake implementation of browser APIs.

For a detailed introduction to using Enzyme and an API reference, see the Enzyme documentation. The remainder of this guide explains how to set Enzyme up with Preact, as well as ways in which Enzyme with Preact differs from Enzyme with React.


Install Enzyme and the Preact adapter using:

npm install --save-dev enzyme enzyme-adapter-preact-pure


In your test setup code, you'll need to configure Enzyme to use the Preact adapter:

import { configure } from 'enzyme';
import Adapter from 'enzyme-adapter-preact-pure';

configure({ adapter: new Adapter });
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For guidance on using Enzyme with different test runners, see the Guides section of the Enzyme documentation.


Suppose we have a simple Counter component which displays an initial value, with a button to update it:

import { Component, h } from 'preact';

export default class Counter extends Component {
  constructor(props) {

    this.state = {
      count: props.initialCount,

  render() {
    const increment = () => this.setState(({ count }) => ({
      count: count + 1,

    return (
        Current value: {this.state.count}
        <button onClick={increment}>Increment</button>
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Using a test runner such as mocha or Jest, you can write a test to check that it works as expected:

import { expect } from 'chai';
import { h } from 'preact';
import { mount } from 'enzyme';

import Counter from '../src/Counter';

describe('Counter', () => {
  it('should display initial count', () => {
    const wrapper = mount(<Counter initialCount={5}/>);
    expect(wrapper.text()).to.include('Current value: 5');

  it('should increment after "Increment" button is clicked', () => {
    const wrapper = mount(<Counter initialCount={5}/>);


    expect(wrapper.text()).to.include('Current value: 6');
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For a runnable version of this project and other examples, see the examples/ directory in the Preact adapter's repository.

How Enzyme works

Enzyme uses the adapter library it has been configured with to render a component and its children. The adapter then converts the output to a standardized internal representation (a "React Standard Tree"). Enzyme then wraps this with an object that has methods to query the output and trigger updates. The wrapper object's API uses CSS-like selectors to locate parts of the output.

Full, shallow and string rendering

Enzyme has three rendering "modes":

import { mount, shallow, render } from 'enzyme';

// Render the full component tree:
const wrapper = mount(<MyComponent prop="value"/>);

// Render only `MyComponent`'s direct output (ie. "mock" child components
// to render only as placeholders):
const wrapper = shallow(<MyComponent prop="value"/>);

// Render the full component tree to an HTML string, and parse the result:
const wrapper = render(<MyComponent prop="value"/>);
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  • The mount function renders the component and all of its descendants in the same way they would be rendered in the browser.

  • The shallow function renders only the DOM nodes that are directly output by the component. Any child components are replaced with placeholders that output just their children.

    The advantage of this mode is that you can write tests for components without depending on the details of child components and needing to construct all of their dependencies.

    The shallow rendering mode works differently internally with the Preact adapter compared to React. See the Differences section below for details.

  • The render function (not to be confused with Preact's render function!) renders a component to an HTML string. This is useful for testing the output of rendering on the server.

Triggering state updates

In the previous example, .simulate('click') was used to click on a button.

Enzyme knows that calls to simulate are likely to change the state of a component, so it will apply any state updates immediately before simulate returns. Enzyme does the same when the component is rendered initially using mount or shallow and when a component is updated using setProps.

If however an event happens outside of an Enzyme method call, such as directly calling an event handler (eg. the button's onClick prop), then Enzyme will not be aware of the change. In this case, your test will need to trigger execution of state updates and then ask Enzyme to refresh its view of the output.

Calling an Enzyme wrapper's .update() method will apply any pending state updates to Preact components and refresh Enzyme's view of the rendered output.

For example, here is a different version of the test for incrementing the counter, modified to call the button's onClick prop directly, instead of going through the simulate method:

it('should increment after "Increment" button is clicked', () => {
    const wrapper = mount(<Counter initialCount={5}/>);
    const onClick = wrapper.find('button').props().onClick;

    // Invoke the button's click handler, but this time directly, instead of
    // via an Enzyme API

    // Refresh Enzyme's view of the output

    expect(wrapper.text()).to.include('Current value: 6');
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Differences from Enzyme with React

The general intent is that tests written using Enzyme + React can be easily made to work with Enzyme + Preact or vice-versa. This avoids the need to rewrite all of your tests if you need to switch a component initially written for Preact to work with React or vice-versa.

However there are some differences in behavior between this adapter and Enzyme's React adapters to be aware of:

  • The "shallow" rendering mode works differently under the hood. It is consistent with React in only rendering a component "one level deep" but, unlike React, it creates real DOM nodes. It also runs all of the normal lifecycle hooks.
  • The simulate method dispatches actual DOM events, whereas in the React adapters, simulate just calls the on<EventName> prop
  • In Preact, state updates (eg. after a call to setState) are batched together and applied asynchronously. In React state updates can be applied immediately or batched depending on the context. To make writing tests easier, the Preact adapter flushes state updates after initial renders and updates triggered via setProps or simulate calls on an adapter. When state updates are triggered by other means, your test code may need to manually call .update() to flush pending state updates.

For further details, see the Preact adapter's README.

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