Writing and Organizing Tests

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What you’ll learn

  • How to organize your test and support files.
  • What languages are supported in your test files.
  • How Cypress handles unit tests vs integration tests.
  • How to group your tests.
Best Practices

We recently gave a “Best Practices” conference talk at AssertJS (February 2018). This video demonstrates how to approach breaking down your application and organizing your tests.


Folder Structure

After adding a new project, Cypress will automatically scaffold out a suggested folder structure. By default it will create:

    - example.json

      - actions.spec.js
      - aliasing.spec.js
      - assertions.spec.js
      - connectors.spec.js
      - cookies.spec.js
      - cypress_api.spec.js
      - files.spec.js
      - local_storage.spec.js
      - location.spec.js
      - misc.spec.js
      - navigation.spec.js
      - network_requests.spec.js
      - querying.spec.js
      - spies_stubs_clocks.spec.js
      - traversal.spec.js
      - utilities.spec.js
      - viewport.spec.js
      - waiting.spec.js
      - window.spec.js

    - index.js

    - commands.js
    - index.js

Configuring Folder Structure

While Cypress allows to configure where your tests, fixtures, and support files are located, if you’re starting your first project, we recommend you use the above structure.

You can modify the folder configuration in your cypress.json. See configuration for more detail.

What files should I add to my ‘.gitignore file’ ?

Cypress will create a screenshotsFolder and a videosFolder to store the screenshots and videos taken during the testing of your application. Many users will opt to add these folders to their .gitignore file. Additionally, if you are storing sensitive environment variables in your cypress.json or cypress.env.json, these should also be ignored when you check into source control.

Fixture Files

Fixtures are used as external pieces of static data that can be used by your tests.

You would typically use them with the cy.fixture() command and most often when you’re stubbing Network Requests.

Test files

Test files may be written as:

  • .js
  • .jsx
  • .coffee
  • .cjsx

Cypress also supports ES2015 out of the box. You can use either ES2015 modules or CommonJS modules. This means you can import or require both npm packages and local relative modules.

Example Recipe

Check out our recipe using ES2015 and CommonJS modules.

To see an example of every command used in Cypress, open the example folder within your cypress/integration folder.

To start writing tests for your app, simply create a new file like app_spec.js within your cypress/integration folder. Refresh your tests list in the Cypress Test Runner and your new file should have appeared in the list.

Plugin files

By default Cypress will automatically include the plugins file cypress/plugins/index.js before every single spec file it runs. We do this purely as a convenience mechanism so you don’t have to import this file in every single one of your spec files.

Read more about using plugins to extend Cypress behavior.

Support file

By default Cypress will automatically include the support file cypress/support/index.js. This file runs before every single spec file . We do this purely as a convenience mechanism so you don’t have to import this file in every single one of your spec files.

The support file is a great place to put reusable behavior such as Custom Commands or global overrides that you want applied and available to all of your spec files.

You can define your behaviors in a beforeEach within any of the cypress/support files:

beforeEach(function () {
  cy.log('I run before every test in every spec file!!!!!!')

global hooks

Note: This example assumes you are already familiar with Mocha hooks.

Keep in mind, setting something in a global hook will render it less flexible for changes and for testing its behavior down the road.

From your support file you should also import or require other files to keep things organized.

We automatically seed you an example support file, which has several commented out examples.

Example Recipe

Our Extending Cypress recipes show you how to modify the support file.

Writing tests

Cypress is built on top of Mocha and Chai. We support both Chai’s BDD and TDD assertion styles. Tests you write in Cypress will mostly adhere to this style.

If you’re familiar with writing tests in JavaScript, then writing tests in Cypress will be a breeze.

Test Structure

The test interface borrowed from Mocha provides describe(), context(), it() and specify().

context() is identical to describe() and specify() is identical to it(), so choose whatever terminology works best for you.

// -- Start: Our Application Code --
function add (a, b) {
  return a + b

function subtract (a, b) {
  return a - b

function divide (a, b) {
  return a / b

function multiply (a, b) {
  return a * b
// -- End: Our Application Code --

// -- Start: Our Cypress Tests --
describe('Unit test our math functions', function() {
  context('math', function() {
    it('can add numbers', function() {
      expect(add(1, 2)).to.eq(3)

    it('can subtract numbers', function() {
      expect(subtract(5, 12)).to.eq(-7)

    specify('can divide numbers', function() {
      expect(divide(27, 9)).to.eq(3)

    specify('can multiply numbers', function() {
      expect(multiply(5, 4)).to.eq(20)
// -- End: Our Cypress Tests --


Cypress also provides hooks (borrowed from Mocha).

These are helpful to set conditions that you want to run before a set of tests or before each test. They’re also helpful to clean up conditions after a set of tests or after each test.

describe('Hooks', function() {
  before(function() {
    // runs once before all tests in the block

  after(function() {
    // runs once after all tests in the block

  beforeEach(function() {
    // runs before each test in the block

  afterEach(function() {
    // runs after each test in the block

The order of hook and test execution is as follows:

  • All before() hooks run (once)
  • Any beforeEach() hooks run
  • Tests run
  • Any afterEach() hooks run
  • All after() hooks run (once)

Before writing after() or afterEach() hooks, please see our thoughts on the anti-pattern of cleaning up state with after() or afterEach().

Excluding and Including Tests

To run a specified suite or test, simply append .only to the function. All nested suites will also be executed. This gives us the ability to run one test at a time and is the recommended way to write a test suite.

// -- Start: Our Application Code --
function fizzbuzz (num) {
  if (num % 3 === 0 && num % 5 === 0) {
    return 'fizzbuzz'

  if (num % 3 === 0) {
    return 'fizz'

  if (num % 5 === 0) {
    return 'buzz'
// -- End: Our Application Code --

// -- Start: Our Cypress Tests --
describe('Unit Test FizzBuzz', function () {
  function numsExpectedToEq (arr, expected) {
    // loop through the array of nums and make
    // sure they equal what is expected
    arr.forEach((num) => {

  it.only('returns "fizz" when number is multiple of 3', function () {
    numsExpectedToEq([9, 12, 18], 'fizz')

  it('returns "buzz" when number is multiple of 5', function () {
    numsExpectedToEq([10, 20, 25], 'buzz')

  it('returns "fizzbuzz" when number is multiple of both 3 and 5', function () {
    numsExpectedToEq([15, 30, 60], 'fizzbuzz')

To skip a specified suite or test, simply append .skip() to the function. All nested suites will also be skipped.

it.skip('returns "fizz" when number is multiple of 3', function () {
  numsExpectedToEq([9, 12, 18], 'fizz')

Dynamically Generate Tests

You can dynamically generate tests using JavaScript.

describe('if your app uses jQuery', function () {
  ['mouseover', 'mouseout', 'mouseenter', 'mouseleave'].forEach((event) => {
    it('triggers event: ' + event, function () {
      // if your app uses jQuery, then we can trigger a jQuery
      // event that causes the event callback to fire
        .get('#with-jquery').invoke('trigger', event)
        .get('#messages').should('contain', 'the event ' + event + 'was fired')

The code above will produce a suite with 4 tests:

> if your app uses jQuery
  > triggers event: 'mouseover'
  > triggers event: 'mouseout'
  > triggers event: 'mouseenter'
  > triggers event: 'mouseleave'

Assertion Styles

Cypress supports both BDD (expect/should) and TDD (assert) style assertions. Read more about assertions.

it('can add numbers', function() {
  expect(add(1, 2)).to.eq(3)

it('can subtract numbers', function() {
  assert.equal(subtract(5, 12), -7, 'these numbers are equal')

Watching tests

When running in interactive mode using cypress open Cypress watches the filesystem for changes to your spec files. Soon after adding or updating a test Cypress will reload it and run all of the tests in that spec file.

This makes for a productive development experience because you can add and edit tests as you’re implementing a feature and the Cypress user interface will always reflect the results of your latest edits.

Remember to use .only to limit which tests are run: this can be especially useful when you’ve got a lot of tests in a single spec file that you’re constantly editing; consider also splitting your tests into smaller files each dealing with logically related behavior.

What is watched?



  • cypress/integration/
  • cypress/support/
  • cypress/plugins/

The folder, the files within the folder, and all child folders and their files (recursively) are watched.

Those folder paths refer to the default folder paths. If you’ve configured Cypress to use different folder paths then the folders specific to your configuration will be watched.

What isn’t watched?

Everything else; this includes, but isn’t limited to, the following:

  • Your application code
  • node_modules
  • cypress/fixtures/

If you’re developing using a modern JS-based web application stack then you’ve likely got support for some form of hot module replacement which is responsible for watching your application code—HTML, CSS, JS, etc.—and transparently reloading your application in response to changes.


Set the watchForFileChanges configuration property to false to disable file watching.

Nothing is watched during cypress run.

The watchForFileChanges property is only in effect when running Cypress using cypress open.

The component responsible for the file-watching behavior in Cypress is the Cypress Browserify Preprocessor. This is the default file-watcher packaged with Cypress.

If you need further control of the file-watching behavior you can configure this preprocessor explicitly: it exposes options that allow you to configure behavior such as what is watched and the delay before emitting an “update” event after a change.

Cypress also ships other file-watching preprocessors; you’ll have to configure these explicitly if you want to use them.