Creating a Consumer-Driven Contract with Feign and Pact

Table Of Contents

Consumer-driven contract tests are a technique to test integration points between API providers and API consumers without the hassle of end-to-end tests (read it up in a recent blog post). A common use case for consumer-driven contract tests is testing interfaces between services in a microservice architecture. In the Java ecosystem, Feign in combination with Spring Boot is a popular stack for creating API clients in a distributed architecture. Pact is a polyglot framework that facilitates consumer-driven contract tests. So let’s have a look at how to create a contract with Feign and Pact and test a Feign client against that contract.

Example Code

This article is accompanied by a working code example on GitHub.

In this Article

Instead of testing API consumer and provider in an end-to-end manner, with consumer-driven contract tests we split up the test of our API into two parts:

  • a consumer test testing against a mock provider and
  • a provider test testing against a mock consumer

This article focuses on the consumer side.

In this article we will:

  • define an API contract with the Pact DSL
  • create a client against that API with Feign
  • verify the client against the contract within an integration test
  • publish the contract to a Pact Broker

Define the Contract

Unsurprising, a contract is called a “pact” within the Pact framework. In order to create a pact we need to include the pact library:

dependencies {

The pact-jvm-consumer-junit5_2.12 library is part of pact-jvm, a collection of libraries facilitating consumer-driven-contracts for various frameworks on the JVM.

As the name suggests, we’re generating a contract from a JUnit5 unit test.

Let’s create a test class called UserServiceConsumerTest that is going to create a pact for us:

public class UserServiceConsumerTest {

  @Pact(provider = "userservice", consumer = "userclient")
  public RequestResponsePact createPersonPact(PactDslWithProvider builder) {
  // @formatter:off
  return builder
      .given("provider accepts a new person")
      .uponReceiving("a request to POST a person")
        .matchHeader("Content-Type", "application/json")
        .body(new PactDslJsonBody()
          .integerType("id", 42))
  // @formatter:on


This method defines a single interaction between a consumer and a provider, called a “fragment” of a pact. A test class can contain multiple such fragments which together make up a complete pact.

The fragment we’re defining here should define the use case of creating a new User resource.

The @Pact annotation tells Pact that we want to define a pact fragment. It contains the names of the consumer and the provider to uniquely identify the contract partners.

Within the method, we make use of the Pact DSL to create the contract. In the first two lines we describe the state the provider should be in to be able to answer this interaction (“given”) and the request the consumer sends (“uponReceiving”).

Next, we define how the request should look like. In this example, we define a URI and the HTTP method POST.

Having defined the request, we go on to define the expected response to this request. Here, we expect HTTP status 201, the content type application/json and a JSON response body containing the id of the newly created User resource.

Note that the test will not run yet, since we have not defined and @Test methods yet. We will do that in the section Verify the Client against the Contract.

Tip: don’t use dashes ("-") in the names of providers and consumers because Pact will create pact files with the name “consumername-providername.json” so that a dash within either the consumer or provider name will make it less readable.

Create a Client against the API

Before we can verify a client, we have to create it first.

We choose Feign as the technology to create a client against the API defined in the contract.

We need to add the Feign dependency to the Gradle build:

dependencies {
    // ... other dependencies

Note that we’re not specifying a version number here, since we’re using Spring’s depency management plugin. You can see the whole source of the build.gradle file in the github repo.

Next, we create the actual client and the data classes used in the API:

@FeignClient(name = "userservice")
public interface UserClient {

  @RequestMapping(method = RequestMethod.POST, path = "/user-service/users")
  IdObject createUser(@RequestBody User user);
public class User {
  private Long id;
  private String firstName;
  private String lastName;
  // getters / setters / constructors omitted
public class IdObject {
  private Long id;
  // getters / setters / constructors omitted

The @FeignClient annotation tells Spring Boot to create an implementation of the UserClient interface that should run against the host that configured under the name userservice. The @RequestMapping and @RequestBody annotations specify the details of the POST request and the corresponding response defined in the contract.

For the Feign client to work, we need to add the @EnableFeignClients and @RibbonClient annotations to our application class and provide a configuration for Ribbon, the loadbalancing solution from the Netflix stack:

@RibbonClient(name = "userservice", configuration = RibbonConfiguration.class)
public class ConsumerApplication {
public class RibbonConfiguration {
  public IRule ribbonRule(IClientConfig config) {
    return new RandomRule();

Verify the Client against the Contract

Let’s go back to our JUnit test class UserServiceConsumerTest and extend it so that it verifies that the Feign client we just created actually works as defined in the contract:

@PactTestFor(providerName = "userservice", port = "8888")
        // overriding provider address
        "userservice.ribbon.listOfServers: localhost:8888"
public class UserServiceConsumerTest {

  private UserClient userClient;
  @Pact(provider = "userservice", consumer = "userclient")
  public RequestResponsePact createPersonPact(PactDslWithProvider builder) {
    ... // see code above
  @PactTestFor(pactMethod = "createPersonPact")
  public void verifyCreatePersonPact() {
    User user = new User();
    IdObject id = userClient.createUser(user);

We start off by using the standard @SpringBootTest annotation together with the SpringExtension for JUnit 5. Important to note is that we configure the Ribbon loadbalancer so that our client sends its requests against localhost:8888.

With the PactConsumerTestExt together with the @PactTestFor annotation, we tell pact to start a mock API provider on localhost:8888. This mock provider will return responses according to all pact fragments from the @Pact methods within the test class.

The actual verification of our Feign client is implemented in the method verifyCreatePersonPact(). The @PactTestFor annotation defines which pact fragment we want to test (the fragment property must be the name of a method annotated with @Pact within the test class).

Here, we create a User object, put it into our Feign client and assert that the result contains the user ID we entered as an example into our pact fragment earlier.

If the request the client sends to the mock provider looks as defined in the pact, the according response will be returned and the test will pass. If the client does something differently, the test will fail, meaning that we do not meet the contract.

Once the test has passed, a pact file with the name userclient-userservice.json will be created in the target/pacts folder.

Publish the Contract to a Pact Broker

The pact file created from our test now has to be made available to the provider side so that the provider can also test against the contract.

Pact provides a Gradle plugin that we can use for this purpose. Let’s include this plugin into our Gradle build:

plugins {
    id "" version "3.5.20"

pact {
    publish {
        pactDirectory = 'target/pacts'
        pactBrokerUrl = 'URL'
        pactBrokerUsername = 'USERNAME'
        pactBrokerPassword = 'PASSWORD'

We can now run ./gradlew pactPublish to publish all pacts generated from our tests to the specified Pact Broker. The API provider can get the pact from there to validate his own code against the contract.

We can integrate this task into a CI build to automate publishing of the pacts.


This article gave a quick tour of the consumer-side workflow of Pact. We created a contract and verified our Feign client against this contract from a JUnit test class. Then we published the pact to a Pact Broker that is accessible by our API provider so that he can test against the contract as well.

Written By:

Tom Hombergs

Written By:

Tom Hombergs

As a professional software engineer, consultant, architect, general problem solver, I've been practicing the software craft for more than fifteen years and I'm still learning something new every day. I love sharing the things I learned, so you (and future me) can get a head start. That's why I founded

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