Integration testing using Testcontainers in a Spring Boot 2, JPA application

In this post we will be looking at how to perform integration testing of the repository layer using Testcontainer. We will be setting up Testcontainer in a Spring Boot 2 application, use JPA for persistence and PostgreSQL as database.Besides this we will also be using JUnit5 framework.

Why Integration testing of the database ?

In any software application, it is a known fact that data is of utmost importance. In a web application, this data will usually be handled at the database layer. In an application which uses JPA for persistence, the repository and the JPA entities are major components of the database layer.

To ensure that the repository layer and the entities are functioning appropriately, we should write unit tests. Unit tests for the same are usually written against an in memory database. This is definitely required. The only catch here – Should we wait until production to ensure that the database layer is behaving as expected against our actual type of our database as against the in memory database ?

What would be even better is if we can do integration testing against a similar database that we use in production environment – MySQL,Oracle,PostgreSQL etc. But wouldn’t setting this up be difficult and laborious for just integration testing ?

Enter Testcontainers

Using Testcontainers, we can actually start a containerized instance of the database to test our database layer without going through the pain of actually setting it up on every developer’s machine. Testcontainer is a Java library that provides disposable and lightweight instances of databases. It actually does a lot more that just that. You can read about it here.

How does it help us ?

Using JUnit tests against the actual type of our production database will give us feedback before we actually go into production.This means we can worry less about our database layer and breathe a little easy. There will always be other issues in production,NullPointerExceptions in our code that we can worry about! Since Testcontainers spawns a containerized environment for us to run our tests, we need to have Docker installed.

Getting started with the code

We will be using Spring Boot 2.3.0 along with Spring Data JPA, JUnit 5 to run the tests,Flyway to create tables and TestContainer version 1.14.1.

Snippet of the pom.xml
<!-- The PostgreSQL db driver -->        
<!-- test container support for postgre module -->
<!-- JUnit 5 integration with testcontainer -->
The file

The spring.jpa.hibernate.ddl-auto has been set to none because we are using flyway to create our database and tables. The initialization script can be found under the /db/migration folder.

Starting the containerized PostgreSQL database and tying it with Spring
public abstract class AbstractContainerBaseTest {

	protected static final PostgreSQLContainer postgres;

	static {
		postgres = new PostgreSQLContainer("postgres:9.6.15")
		//Mapped port can only be obtained after container is started.
	static class PropertiesInitializer implements ApplicationContextInitializer<ConfigurableApplicationContext> {
		public void initialize(ConfigurableApplicationContext configurableApplicationContext) {			
					.of("spring.datasource.driver-class-name=" + postgres.getDriverClassName(),
							"spring.datasource.url=" + postgres.getJdbcUrl(),
							"spring.datasource.username=" + postgres.getUsername(),
							"spring.datasource.password=" + postgres.getPassword())

The main purpose of this abstract class is to start the container using Testcontainer library. All other test classes will extend this class .The static block creates the container and this instance will be shared by all test classes. There is a manual call to start method. The library manages to shut it down automatically.

The PropertiesInitializer class is needed because we need to access this containerized database through the Spring Data JPA.

Initialization of Testcontainer,PostgreSQL, Spring Boot,Spring Data JPA
Verifying the output
PostgreSQL container created and closed by Testcontainer

I am using the docker ps –format command to list the containers started by Testcontainer library. As shown in the image above, one can see the container having the name competent_raman which is the PostgreSQL container.For all the test cases this is the single instance of the container. There is also this additional image – this is created by the Testcontainer library which ensures all other containers are shut down and cleaned when the JVM shuts down.

Database and tables in the containerized PostgreSQL database.

As you can see in the image above, I am using the docker exec -it command to connect to the same containerized instance, (competent_raman) of the PostgreSQL database. Then using the command psql -h -p 32813, we are connected to the dockerized database. The -p indicates the port number and -h the host. The \c socialmediasite command connects us to the database and finally the \d command is used to list all the tables.

Once all the tests are executed, the Testcontainer library removes the instances of the containers that it created.

The JPA entities SocialMediaSite and User used in the application have a One-Many relationship.


Writing unit tests against an in-memory database like H2 is certainly helpful but writing integration tests against actual type of production database takes us to the next level – more confidence, fewer failures in production. The combination of Testcontainers, Spring Boot 2, JUnit5 makes it easy for us to get started on this journey. You can find the entire source code here.

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