Testing with Spring Boot and @SpringBootTest

Table Of Contents

With the @SpringBootTest annotation, Spring Boot provides a convenient way to start up an application context to be used in a test. In this tutorial, we’ll discuss when to use @SpringBootTest and when to better use other tools for testing. We’ll also look into different ways to customize the application context and how to reduce test runtime.

Example Code

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

The “Testing with Spring Boot” Series

This tutorial is part of a series:

  1. Unit Testing with Spring Boot
  2. Testing Spring MVC Web Controllers with Spring Boot and @WebMvcTest
  3. Testing JPA Queries with Spring Boot and @DataJpaTest
  4. Testing with Spring Boot and @SpringBootTest

If you like learning from videos, make sure to check out Philip’s Testing Spring Boot Applications Masterclass (if you buy through this link, I get a cut).

Integration Tests vs. Unit Tests

Before we start into integration tests with Spring Boot, let’s define what sets an integration test apart from a unit test.

A unit test covers a single “unit”, where a unit commonly is a single class, but can also be a cluster of cohesive classes that is tested in combination.

An integration test can be any of the following:

  • a test that covers multiple “units”. It tests the interaction between two or more clusters of cohesive classes.
  • a test that covers multiple layers. This is actually a specialization of the first case and might cover the interaction between a business service and the persistence layer, for instance.
  • a test that covers the whole path through the application. In these tests, we send a request to the application and check that it responds correctly and has changed the database state according to our expectations.

Spring Boot provides the @SpringBootTest annotation which we can use to create an application context containing all the objects we need for all of the above test types. Note, however, that overusing @SpringBootTest might lead to very long-running test suites.

So, for simple tests that cover multiple units we should rather create plain tests, very similar to unit tests, in which we manually create the object graph needed for the test and mock away the rest. This way, Spring doesn’t fire up a whole application context each time the test is started.

Test Slices

We can test our Spring Boot application as a whole, unit by unit, and also layer by layer. Using Spring Boot’s test slice annotations we can test each layer separately.

Before we look into the @SpringBootTest annotation in detail, let’s explore the test slice annotation to check if @SpringBootTest is really what you want.

The @SpringBootTest annotation loads the complete Spring application context. In contrast, a test slice annotation only loads beans required to test a particular layer. And because of this, we can avoid unnecessary mocking and side effects.


Our web controllers bear many responsibilities, such as listening to the HTTP request, validating the input, calling the business logic, serializing the output, and translating the Exceptions to a proper response. We should write tests to verify all these functionalities.

The @WebMvcTest test slice annotation will set up our application context with just enough components and configurations required to test our web controller layer. For instance, it will set up our @Controller’s, @ControllerAdvice’s, a MockMvc bean, and some other auto configuration.

To read more on @WebMvcTest and to find out how we can verify each of those responsibilities, read my article on Testing MVC Web Controllers with Spring Boot and @WebMvcTest.


@WebFluxTest is used when we want to test our WebFlux controllers. @WebFluxTest works similar to the @WebMvcTest annotation difference here is that instead of the Web MVC components and configurations, it spins up the WebFlux ones. One such bean is the WebTestClient, using which we can test our WebFlux endpoints.


Just like @WebMvcTest allows us to test our web layer, @DataJpaTest is used to test the persistence layer.

It configures our entities, repositories and also sets up an embedded database. Now, this is all good but, what does testing our persistence layer mean? What exactly are we testing? If queries, then what kind of queries? To find out answers for all these questions and more, read my article on Testing JPA Queries with Spring Boot and @DataJpaTest.


Spring Data JDBC is another member of the Spring Data family. If we are using this project and want to test the persistence layer then we can make use of the @DataJdbcTest annotation. @DataJdbcTest automatically configures an embedded test database and JDBC repositories defined in our project for us.

Another similar project is Spring JDBC which gives us the JdbcTemplate object to perform direct queries. The @JdbcTest annotation autoconfigures the DataSource object that is required to test our JDBC queries.


The code examples in this article only need the dependencies to Spring Boot’s test starter and to JUnit Jupiter:

dependencies {

Creating an ApplicationContext with @SpringBootTest

@SpringBootTest by default starts searching in the current package of the test class and then searches upwards through the package structure, looking for a class annotated with @SpringBootConfiguration from which it then reads the configuration to create an application context. This class is usually our main application class since the @SpringBootApplication annotation includes the @SpringBootConfiguration annotation. It then creates an application context very similar to the one that would be started in a production environment.

We can customize this application context in many different ways, as described in the next section.

Because we have a full application context, including web controllers, Spring Data repositories, and data sources, @SpringBootTest is very convenient for integration tests that go through all layers of the application:

class RegisterUseCaseIntegrationTest {

  private MockMvc mockMvc;

  private ObjectMapper objectMapper;

  private UserRepository userRepository;

  void registrationWorksThroughAllLayers() throws Exception {
    UserResource user = new UserResource("Zaphod", "zaphod@galaxy.net");

    mockMvc.perform(post("/forums/{forumId}/register", 42L)
            .param("sendWelcomeMail", "true")

    UserEntity userEntity = userRepository.findByName("Zaphod");



The code examples in this tutorial use the @ExtendWith annotation to tell JUnit 5 to enable Spring support. As of Spring Boot 2.1, we no longer need to load the SpringExtension because it's included as a meta annotation in the Spring Boot test annotations like @DataJpaTest, @WebMvcTest, and @SpringBootTest.

Here, we additionally use @AutoConfigureMockMvc to add a MockMvc instance to the application context.

We use this MockMvc object to perform a POST request to our application and to verify that it responds as expected.

We then use the UserRepository from the application context to verify that the request has lead to an expected change in the state of the database.

Customizing the Application Context

We can turn a lot of knobs to customize the application context created by @SpringBootTest. Let’s see which options we have.

Caution when Customizing the Application Context

Each customization of the application context is one more thing that makes it different from the "real" application context that is started up in a production setting. So, in order to make our tests as close to production as we can, we should only customize what's really necessary to get the tests running!

Adding Auto-Configurations

Above, we’ve already seen an auto-configuration in action:

class RegisterUseCaseIntegrationTest {

There are lot of other auto-configurations available that each add other beans to the application context. Here are some other useful ones from the documentation:

  • @AutoConfigureWebTestClient: Adds WebTestClient to the test application context. It allows us to test server endpoints.
  • @AutoConfigureTestDatabase: This allows us to run the test against a real database instead of the embedded one.
  • @RestClientTest: It comes in handy when we want to test our RestTemplates. It autoconfigures the required components plus a MockRestServiceServer object which helps us mock responses for the requests coming from the RestTemplate calls.
  • @JsonTest: Autoconfigures JSON mappers and classes such as JacksonTester or GsonTester. Using these we can verify whether our JSON serialization/deserialization is working properly or not.

Setting Custom Configuration Properties

Often, in tests it’s necessary to set some configuration properties to a value that’s different from the value in a production setting:

@SpringBootTest(properties = "foo=bar")
class SpringBootPropertiesTest {

  String foo;

  void test(){

If the property foo exists in the default setting, it will be overridden by the value bar for this test.

Externalizing Properties with @ActiveProfiles

If many of our tests need the same set of properties, we can create a configuration file application-<profile>.properties or application-<profile>.yml and load the properties from that file by activating a certain profile:

# application-test.yml
foo: bar
class SpringBootProfileTest {

  String foo;

  void test(){

Setting Custom Properties with @TestPropertySource

Another way to customize a whole set of properties is with the @TestPropertySource annotation:

# src/test/resources/foo.properties
@TestPropertySource(locations = "/foo.properties")
class SpringBootPropertySourceTest {

  String foo;

  void test(){

All properties from the foo.properties file are loaded into the application context. @TestPropertySource also to configure a lot more.

Injecting Mocks with @MockBean

If we only want to test a certain part of the application instead of the whole path from incoming request to database, we can replace certain beans in the application context by using @MockBean:

class MockBeanTest {

  private UserRepository userRepository;

  private RegisterUseCase registerUseCase;

  void testRegister(){
    // given
    User user = new User("Zaphod", "zaphod@galaxy.net");
    boolean sendWelcomeMail = true;

    // when
    Long userId = registerUseCase.registerUser(user, sendWelcomeMail);

    // then

In this case, we have replaced the UserRepository bean with a mock. Using Mockito’s given method, we have specified the expected behavior for this mock in order to test a class that uses this repository.

You can read more about the @MockBean annotation in my article about mocking.

Adding Beans with @Import

If certain beans are not included in the default application context, but we need them in a test, we can import them using the @Import annotation:

package other.namespace;

public class Foo {
class SpringBootImportTest {

  Foo foo;

  void test() {

By default, a Spring Boot application includes all components it finds within its package and sub-packages, so this will usually only be needed if we want to include beans from other packages.

Overriding Beans with @TestConfiguration

With @TestConfiguration we can not only include additional beans required for tests but also override the beans already defined in the application. Read more about it in our article on Testing with @TestConfiguration

Creating a Custom @SpringBootApplication

We can even create a whole custom Spring Boot application to start up in tests. If this application class is in the same package as the real application class, but in the test sources rather than the production sources, @SpringBootTest will find it before the actual application class and load the application context from this application instead.

Alternatively, we can tell Spring Boot which application class to use to create an application context:

@SpringBootTest(classes = CustomApplication.class)
class CustomApplicationTest {


When doing this, however, we’re testing an application context that may be completely different from the production environment, so this should be a last resort only when the production application cannot be started in a test environment. Usually, there are better ways, though, such as to make the real application context configurable to exclude beans that won’t start in a test environment. Let’s look at this in an example.

Let’s say we use the @EnableScheduling annotation on our application class. Each time the application context is started (even in tests), all @Scheduled jobs will be started and may conflict with our tests. We usually don’t want the jobs to run in tests, so we can create a second application class without the @EnabledScheduling annotation and use this in the tests. However, the better solution would be to create a configuration class that can be toggled with a property:

        name = "io.reflectoring.scheduling.enabled",
        havingValue = "true",
        matchIfMissing = true)
public class SchedulingConfiguration {

We have moved the @EnableScheduling annotation from our application class to this special confgiuration class. Setting the property io.reflectoring.scheduling.enabled to false will cause this class not to be loaded as part of the application context:

@SpringBootTest(properties = "io.reflectoring.scheduling.enabled=false")
class SchedulingTest {

  @Autowired(required = false)
  private SchedulingConfiguration schedulingConfiguration;

  void test() {

We have now successfully deactivated the scheduled jobs in the tests. The property io.reflectoring.scheduling.enabled can be specified in any of the ways described above.

Why are my Integration Tests so slow?

A code base with a lot of @SpringBootTest-annotated tests may take quite some time to run. The Spring test support is smart enough to only create an application context once and re-use it in following tests, but if different tests need different application contexts, it will still create a separate context for each test, which takes some time for each test.

All of the customizing options described above will cause Spring to create a new application context. So, we might want to create one single configuration and use it for all tests so that the application context can be re-used.

If you’re interested in the time your tests spend for setup and Spring application contexts, you may want to have a look at JUnit Insights, which can be included in a Gradle or Maven build to produce a nice report about how your JUnit 5 tests spend their time.


@SpringBootTest is a very convenient method to set up an application context for tests that is very close the one we’ll have in production. There are a lot of options to customize this application context, but they should be used with care since we want our tests to run as close to production as possible.

@SpringBootTest brings the most value if we want to test the whole way through the application. For testing only certain slices or layers of the application, we have other options available.

The example code used in this article is available on github.

If you like learning from videos, make sure to check out Philip’s Testing Spring Boot Applications Masterclass (if you buy through this link, I get a cut).

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 reflectoring.io.

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