The builder pattern for test classes

I’ve always been interested in software testing, either unit tests, integration tests, ui tests, … Not because it’s the funniest part of software development but because I think it’s important to deliver quality and testing is the main way to achieve it.

Recently, I wrote a lot of integration tests for an API with quite complex object trees and to make effective tests, I need to insert effective data.

Our APIs are generated using Jhipster, the following code snippet shows how a Jhipster application creates and persists objects in integration tests.

createEntity method is generated, being responsible for instantiating a class, eventually calling a createEntity from another test class to create an instance of a dependency.

public class NodeResourceIntTest {

	private EntityManager em;

	private Node node;

	public static Node createEntity(EntityManager em) {
		node = new Node()
		// Add required entity
		Tree tree = TreeResourceIntTest.createEntity(em);
		return node;

	public void initTest() {
		node = createEntity(em);

This example remains simple. What if I tell you that a Tree object is also linked to several children of type Nodes, themselves having a set of MetaGroup, each MetaGroup having a MetaType and a set of Meta, … and so on.

Some tests don’t need the full hierarchy but for some others, a full hierarchy is required for the test to be relevant.

A convenient way to create objects is the builder pattern. Creating a Node object could look like this.

Node node = new NodeBuilder()

Good enough for a unit test, but I also do a lot of integration tests and therefore, I want my objects to be added to my persistence context and stored in my database. Therefore, I added a buildAndPersist method to my builder and to be able to persist it, I needed an EntityManager, which I pass to the builder via the constructor.

Node node = new NodeBuilder(entityManager)

I ended up building an abstract class, so that all my builders would follow the same behavior.

public abstract class AbstractPersistenceTestBuilder<T> {

    private final EntityManager em;

    public AbstractPersistenceTestBuilder(EntityManager em) {
        this.em = em;

    public T buildAndPersist() {
        T target = build(); // Builds the object via the implementation provided by the concrete class
        em.persist(target); // Persists the created object
        return target; // Returns the instance linked to the persistence context

    public abstract T build();

From now on, building a complex object can be as simple as this code snippet, which in my opinion, also make the code much easier to read.

Tree tree = new TreeTestBuilder(em)
      .withMetaGroups(newHashSet(new MetaGroupTestBuilder(em)
            .withMetaType(new MetaTypeTestBuilder(em)
            .withMetas(newHashSet(new MetaTestBuilder(em)
                  .withMetaValue("my lovely title")

The source code is available on my Github.

In a next post, I hope to publish this very simple library to Maven Central as an exercise.