Continuous Integration for your jQuery plugins

TL;DR If you have tests for Javascript code written in QUnit & Jasmine that depend on the Document Object Model (DOM), here is a way to set up Travis CI using PhantomJS.

My colleagues recently made me aware of a relatively new continuous integration software called Travis CI which, originally built to serve the Ruby community, is a distributed build service able to run code in various languages, including Python & Javascript. As far as I know, it currently only works together with Github, so your code needs to be hosted there.

As Travis’ workers (the ones running the actual build) come with node.js included, I played around a bit getting my QUnit tests to run with jsdom and the QUnit node adaptation. While there are some guides out there on how to test your Javascript with node.js, it gets complicated when depending on the DOM, which most likely is the case when you are developing a plugin for jQuery. However, after reading criticism on testing against something that the original system didn’t target (or are you running jQuery on the server side?) I gave up on that pretty quickly.

Now, in a different context I came upon PhantomJS, a headless browser stack based on Qt’s Webkit. It provides an executable that can work without a graphical system (hence the name headless) and is perfectly suited for testing environments. Ariya, the guy behind PhantomJS, is clearly aware of that and already provides the proper integration for running tests based on QUnit and Jasmine. The test runner is a neat piece of code, that just scrapes the QUnit output from the generate HTML. Installing that locally was easy and running the test suite provides a short output on how many tests were run and how many failed, if any.

The problem was getting PhantomJS running on Travis CI. Travis CI comes with a good set of software (and already includes some of PhantomJS’ dependencies); so far no one has written a cookbook for PhantomJS though. However, this guy came up with an easy solution, after all the worker is just a (virtual) Ubuntu machine and you can install anything on it.

So here is the quick run through: In the .travis.yml which describes the build, we

  • run a small install script setting up the remaining dependency of PhantomJS and PhantomJS itself,
  • start up a virtual framebuffer (xvfb, “headless” is not completely true when on Linux) running on port 99
  • and finally run PhantomJS with the QUnit (alternatively Jasmine) test runner on our test suite.

Here is the full .travis.yml file:

rvm:  - 1.9.3before_script:  - "sudo bash install_phantomjs > /dev/null"  - sh -e /etc/init.d/xvfb startscript:  - DISPLAY=:99.0 phantomjs run-qunit.js test/index.html

The first line indicates that we are wanting Ruby version 1.9.3, even though we don’t need it. I believe we have to chose some target system, so there it goes.

Here is the install_phantomjs script:

#!/bin/bashapt-get install libqtwebkit-dev -ygit clone git:// phantomjsqmake-qt4makecp bin/phantomjs /usr/local/bin/

We are ready to test this on Travis. If you haven’t registered there yet, get an account, set up the hook by visiting your profile page, and commit your own .travis.yml together with the PhantomJS install script and the relevant test runner described above. You should pretty quickly find your project in the build queue on

Happy testing!


One comment

  1. Thanks for noting. However, moving to the pre-installed version, I currently get an error by the test runner. I am raising this on the mailing list now.

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