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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 you 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 configuration file. 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 configuration file (cypress.json by default) 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. Fixture files are located in cypress/fixtures by default, but can be configured to another directory.

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

Test files

Test files are located in cypress/integration by default, but can be configured to another directory. 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, 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.

The initial imported plugins file can be configured to another file.

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.

Keep in mind, when clicking “Run all specs” after cypress open, the code in the support file is executed once before all spec files, instead of once before each spec file. See Execution for more details.

The initial imported support file can be configured to another file or turned off completely using the supportFile configuration.

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.

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

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

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

beforeEach(() => {
  cy.log('I run before every test in every spec file!!!!!!')
Global hooks for tests

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


Cypress executes the support file before the spec file. For example when you click on a test file named spec-a.js via cypress open, then the Test Runner executes the files in the following order:

<!-- bundled support file -->
<script src="support/index.js"></script>
<!-- bundled spec file -->
<script src="integration/spec-a.js"></script>

The same happens when using the cypress run command: a new browser window is opened for each support and spec file pair.

But when you click on “Run all specs” button after cypress open, the Test Runner bundles and concatenates all specs together, in essence running scripts like shown below. This means the code in the support file is executed once before all spec files, instead of once before each spec file.

<!-- bundled support file -->
<script src="support/index.js"></script>
<!-- bundled first spec file, second spec file, etc -->
<script src="integration/spec-a.js"></script>
<script src="integration/spec-b.js"></script>
<script src="integration/spec-n.js"></script>

Having a single support file when running all specs together might execute before and beforeEach hooks in ways you may not anticipate. Read ‘Be careful when running all specs together’ for examples.

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', () => {
  context('math', () => {
    it('can add numbers', () => {
      expect(add(1, 2)).to.eq(3)

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

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

    specify('can multiply numbers', () => {
      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.

beforeEach(() => {
  // root-level hook
  // runs before every test

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

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

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

  after(() => {
    // runs once after all tests 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().

Be wary of root-level hooks, as they could execute in a surprising order when clicking the “Run all specs” button. Instead place them inside describe or context suites for isolation. Read ‘Be careful when running all specs together’.

Excluding and Including Tests

To run a specified suite or test, 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 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', () => {
    numsExpectedToEq([9, 12, 18], 'fizz')

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

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

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

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

Test Configuration

To apply a specific Cypress configuration value to a suite or test, pass a configuration object to the test or suite function as the second argument.

This configuration will take effect during the suite or tests where they are set then return to their previous default values after the suite or tests are complete.


describe(name, config, fn)
context(name, config, fn)
it(name, config, fn)
specify(name, config, fn)

Allowed config values

Note: Some configuration values are readonly and cannot be changed via test configuration. The following configuration values can be changed via per test configuration:

  • animationDistanceThreshold
  • baseUrl
  • browser
  • defaultCommandTimeout
  • execTimeout
  • env
  • requestTimeout
  • responseTimeout
  • viewportHeight
  • viewportWidth
  • waitForAnimations

Suite of test configuration

You can configure the size of the viewport height and width within a suite.

describe('page display on medium size screen', {
  viewportHeight: 1000,
  viewportWidth: 400
}, () => {
  it('does not display sidebar', () => {

  it('shows hamburger menu', () => {

Single test configuration

If you want to target a test to run or be excluded when run in a specific browser, you can override the browser configuration within the test configuration. The browser option accepts the same arguments as Cypress.isBrowser().

it('Show warning outside Chrome', {  browser: '!chrome' }, () => {
    .should('contain', 'For optimal viewing, use Chrome browser')

Dynamically Generate Tests

You can dynamically generate tests using JavaScript.

describe('if your app uses jQuery', () => {
  ['mouseover', 'mouseout', 'mouseenter', 'mouseleave'].forEach((event) => {
    it('triggers event: ' + event, () => {
      // 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', () => {
  expect(add(1, 2)).to.eq(3)

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

Watching tests

When running in 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?



  • Integration directory (cypress/integration/ by default)
  • Support directory (cypress/support/ by default)
  • Plugins directory (cypress/plugins/ by default)

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.