Atbash Jakarta EE Testing

Jakarta EE Integration Testing

Testing your application is very important but also difficult to do. Unit tests are relatively easy to create but it can be difficult to run them with realistic values. So developers sometimes use unrealistic values and constructs just to have the code coverage above the company-required threshold.

Integration testing is even more difficult as you need additional systems, like a database, with a predefined set of data to have repeatable tests. So some test frameworks solve this problem by creating specific artefacts for the test, containing parts of your application and fake and mocked other parts. But you are no longer testing your end product anymore and merely are testing that specific test artefact.

With the availability of the Testcontainers framework, developers can again test the real application by deploying it in a container using the runtime that will be used in production. External dependencies like databases can also be set up easily within a container and initialised with the required dataset for each test. At last, we can actually perform some true integration testing.

Now that we have used it for some time, we see that we always use certain code snippets over and over again in our tests.

– Starting the container with the runtime and your application

– Calling the endpoints of our web application and verifying the structure and response codes

– Setting up remote debugging of our application to find out what is going wrong in our tests.

And so on.

The idea of the Atbash Integration testing framework for Jakarta EE is to provide all those snippets in a reusable dependency so that we can quickly and in a uniform way create integration tests for our Jakarta EE applications. As the focus these days of applications are micro services or at least applications that provide REST endpoints, the focus of the testing framework is also for these applications.

Pieces of the Puzzle

The framework is built as a JUnit 5 extension that brings together all the pieces so that you as a developer can very easily start testing your application. Testing a ‘Hello World’ application is as simple as the Hello World application itself.

@ContainerIntegrationTest(runtime = SupportedRuntime.PAYARA_MICRO)
public class HelloPayaraIT extends AbstractContainerIntegrationTest {

  public HelloService helloService;

  void sayHello() {
    String value = helloService.sayHello("JUnit");
    Assertions.assertThat(value).isEqualTo("Hello JUnit");

The test starts the container with Payara Micro, deploys your application, and calls the ‘Hello World’ endpoint to verify if the response is as expected. As already mentioned, the Testcontainers framework is used and with the help of Apache CXF, Jackson, and the MicroProfile Rest Client specification, endpoints can be called very easily by defining an interface with the contract of your endpoint(s).

Deploy the Application

You don’t need to do anything. The extension looks for the war file in the target directory and makes sure it ends up in the Docker image that is created on the fly.

In future versions, the search logic will be made more flexible so that it can be used when you don’t use the default structure or Gradle for example.

Define the Runtime

The framework supports Payara Micro, OpenLiberty, and WildFly as Jakarta EE runtime. You can also use Glassfish but there are several limitations with it. See more on that later on.

The runtime that the framework will use, is determined as the value of the ‘runtime’ member of the @ContainerIntegrationTest annotation. You can also live this value to its default and specify the runtime through the JVM System Properties be.atbash.test.runtime. This is especially handy if you are developing a Jakarta EE library or framework and want to test it out on multiple runtimes easily.

The JUnit5 extension creates a specific Docker image for each runtime based on the official Docker image. The tag number of that base image is taken from a default (look at the documentation to find out which number it is) or you can specify it also as a JVM System property.

When this property specifies not only the tag number, but the entire Docker Image identification like payara/micro:5.2022.2 it uses it as the base image. In the example, we use the JDK8 version of Payara Micro 5.2022.2 instead of the default JDK11 version that is chosen by the framework.

The System property can also be used to select a Jakarta EE 9.x or even Jakarta EE 10 based version of the runtime and not the default Jakarta EE 8 ones. This is possible because for the integration tests we only call the application endpoints and there is no direct dependency of the test framework on the Jakarta version that is used within your application.

Also, Glassfish is supported but with a few limitations since there is no official Docker image available. This means I had to use the Docklands image from Adam Bien but it only has an image that is based on JDK8. This image lacks the possibility to have a remote debugging session. See more on that later on in the text.

Call the Endpoints

The second major point of the framework is the simple way how endpoints of your application can be called. The JVM itself can be used for this with the URL class and the openConnection() method for example. But it is rather cumbersome, especially if you do need to create the JSON and read the response, and especially can be tricky since the host and port where the application is running are determined by Testcontainers and the Docker Client.

Although Testcontainers is used under the hood, the developer that writes the test is, as little as possible, confronted with it. For that reason, I choose to make use of the MicroProfile Rest Client to call the application endpoints. The only thing we need to do is to define the ‘contract’ of the endpoint as an interface.

public interface HelloService {

  String sayHello(@PathParam("name") String name);

Based on this definition, Apache CXF can create a proxy that actually calls the endpoint of your application. The JUnit5 extension knows or can find out from Testcontainers the URL on which your application is accessible. And with the help of Jackson, you as a developer are also not confronted with creating and reading JSON content. Automatic conversion to Java instances is performed.

The proxy can be ‘injected’ into your test class by using the @RestClient annotation of MicroProfile.

Behind the scenes, some low-level handling and reflection are going on. To avoid the usage of setAccessible() method, the test class and the field where the rest Client is injected must be declared with the scope ‘public’. So that we can avoid warnings and problems by the JVM when performing this low-level stuff.

Some Other Features

Besides the main features described above to automatically deploy your application in a specially created Docker container using the runtime of your choice and making it easy to call endpoints of the application, there are a few other useful features.

Remote debugging

When your test fails, it is very handy that you can start a debugging session to follow the code execution to the point where it goes wrong. When performing integration tests, a remote debugging session will be the fastest and easiest way to find the problem. The integration testing framework has support for remote debugging with a simple option. Just set the debug member of the annotation to true.

@ContainerIntegrationTest(runtime = SupportedRuntime.PAYARA_MICRO, debug = true)

When the container starts, the JVM will wait due to the suspend=y option until the debugger is attached. So when you see the message that Testcontainers is waiting until the container is started, connect the debugger to localhost:5005 (or the host the container is accessible on, you see already some messages in the log where the container is). The start-up continues and comes to the point where you have placed a breakpoint in your application code.


First of all, make sure you configure a logging output framework like Logback as described in the Testcontainers documentation. The framework has two additional features to show the container log for a specific test.

When a test fails due to a java.lang.AssertionError error, an URL that could not be found (proxy received a status 404) or there was an internal server error detected, the entire container log is shown as part of the test output.

You also can specify the value liveLogging = true resulting in showing the container logs during the execution of the test. It appears as the runtime log is written out ‘immediately’ when generated by the runtime but there is a very small delay.

@ContainerIntegrationTest(runtime = SupportedRuntime.PAYARA_MICRO, liveLogging = true)

Planned Features

The current version of the framework (see Github and Maven Central) already allows to perform an integration test with the Jakarta runtimes but there are already some improvements in the pipeline to cover more use case scenarios.

– Support for database containers and defining the initial data set easily

– Support for integration with other (micro)service(s) that also start as a Docker container during the test.

Atbash Training and Support

Do you need a specific training session on integration testing with a Jakarta runtime or want some help in setting up integration tests? Have a look at the training support that I provide on the page and contact me for more information.