Last updated: 2022-12-14

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Adding Integration Tests in Spring Boot with Testcontainers

Good software always includes automated tests to detect errors during the creation and modification of the code. In this tutorial, integration tests will be added to a Spring Boot application, connecting to the 'real' database using the Testcontainers library.


An integration test is meant to test the interaction of multiple parts of the application. So for a Spring Boot application, it would be great to examine the running app including the database (e.g. MySQL, MariaDB or PostgreSQL). An embedded database would not be optimal for this, as there can be significant differences to the actual database, and therefore certain features may not work or errors may be missed.

For this purpose, there is the Testcontainers library to load a Docker image of exactly the database that is used by the developer and later in production. To write an integration test for our application, we first add the dependencies.

Dependencies of build.gradle

Besides spring-boot-starter-test we need org.testcontainers:junit-jupiter as well as an org.testcontainers reference to the database we have in use. In our case we choose MySQL.

Starting the application context

To centralize the recurring logic of our test classes, we first create an abstract base class from which our IT classes then inherit. The first version of this class looks like this:

First version of

Spring Boot provides very good support for integration testing by using the @SpringBootTest annotation to load the full application context. With @ActiveProfiles we define that the application is started with the profile "it". If needed, we can use this profile to activate special settings in our code.

By setting the variable webEnvironment to RANDOM_PORT the application will be started under a random (and available) port, so during testing there shouldn't be any conflict with an already taken port. MockMvc is configured automatically with the annotation AutoConfigureMockMvc - there are a lot of useful helpers included for calling our endpoints, so this is a replacement for TestRestTemplate used in an older version of this article.

Mocking the database

Now we want to configure a database that is exclusively available for our tests. For this we add a file application-it.yml / in our src/test/resources folder. Because we're already using the "it" profile, this file will be picked up by Spring Boot and overwrite the datasource url.

Testcontainers can now do all the magic for us: the appropriate docker image with the given version is downloaded (if required) and started. This should ideally exactly match the version that is also used in production. The database "my-app-test" is created and our application context connects to it. Depending on how we initialize our database schema - for example with Flyway or Liquibase - this will be automatically applied upon our test database during context startup.

With the TC_REUSABLE flag, the Docker container is not automatically terminated at the end of the tests, but available for reusage without a longer waiting period. Occasionally, the container must be terminated manually to fully reset the database. To enable reuse, the file /<usersdir>/ must be extended by the entry testcontainers.reuse.enable=true.

This approach works well for all major databases, however as document-oriented databases are not based on JDBC, we can instead extend our BaseIT class with the following code snippet:

Testcontainers setup for a document-oriented database like MongoDB

This is basically doing the same thing as providing the application-it file: starting the given container and updating our application context to connect to it.

Running the tests

With this preparation, we can write our first test class. Let's assume that the following @RestController already exists. The referenced service returns all entries that exist in the "Test" table.

TestController of our Spring Boot app

We can now create a class TestControllerIT that extends our abstract base class. The test method sends a GET request to the existing endpoint using MockMvc. We're asserting that the HTTP status and (part of) our JSON are matching our expectations.

TestControllerIT of our Spring Boot app

Even though our database schema is already initialized, we still lack explicit test data that we need for our test. For this we use the Spring annotation @Sql, which executes two scripts and thus puts our database into a known state. In our case, there is now exactly one entry in the Test table that we expect as a result.

Wiping out all data with src/test/resources/data/clearAll.sql

Create a single table entry with testData.sql

When we run the test for the first time, we have to wait a bit for the Docker container to start, depending on our environment. It may also be useful to already cache the image beforehand using docker pull mysql:8.0 to avoid issues with the download. Our test should now go through without errors.


With the setup described, we have created a way to check the behavior of our application including the database from a high level. With this we have a very good addition to our unit tests. Testcontainers also offers support for other services such as RabbitMQ, so we can flexibly extend BaseIT as needed.

In the Professional plan, Bootify offers the option to activate Testcontainers. This initializes the Spring Boot application including the described setup, depending on the selected database. It also generates the IT classes and scripts according to the tables and REST controllers created.

See Pricing
or read quickstart

Further readings

Testcontainers homepage
Official guide on testing Spring Boot applications
Docker Hub for finding images
@Sql and @SqlMergeMode explanation
Where to look for the