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Home Guide How to use the react testing library debug method?

How to use the react testing library debug method?

By Hamid Akhtar, Community Contributor -

React Testing Library (RTL) was developed to address the need for more user-centric testing. Rather than focusing on the internal implementation details of components (like state or props), RTL encourages tests that focus on the behavior of the component from the user’s perspective. This approach aligns with the principle that the more your tests resemble the way your software is used, the more confidence they can give you.

Companies across various industries have found immense value in using RTL for their projects. For instance, large tech companies like Facebook and Airbnb have leveraged RTL to ensure their user interfaces behave as expected under different scenarios.

RTL allows developers to write tests that closely mimic how a user would interact with the application in a real-world scenario. For example, you can simulate and test events like user clicks or form submissions, and check if the application responds as expected.

Moreover, tests written with RTL tend to be more robust and less brittle. Since they are not concerned with the internal workings of components, these tests do not break with refactors that do not affect user behavior. This reduces the maintenance cost for test suites and ensures that they remain useful and relevant as the application evolves.

Therefore, RTL has been a key tool in many companies’ testing strategies, enabling them to produce more reliable, user-centric software.

Overview of react testing library

React Testing Library, or RTL, is a tool that helps you test your React apps. Its main focus is on user experience, meaning it checks how the user would see and interact with your app, rather than focusing on the code underneath. Think of it like an imaginary user who’s trying out your app and telling you whether it’s working as it should. It’s simple to use, and it works well with Jest, a popular testing framework. Overall, RTL helps ensure your app is working as expected for the users, making it a pretty handy tool for developers.

How to add React Testing Library to React apps

  1. Installation: First, you need to add React Testing Library (RTL) to your project. To do this, open your terminal, go to your project’s directory, and type in npm install –save-dev @testing-library/react if you’re using npm. If you’re using yarn, you would type yarn add –dev @testing-library/react, and then hit enter.
  2. Writing Tests: Once RTL is installed, you’ll be able to start writing tests. It’s like you’re instructing a robot to use your app and then check if everything is working fine. You’d use special functions like render and screen from RTL to do this.
  3. Running Tests: After you’ve written your tests, you’ll need to run them to see if your app is working as expected. If you created your app using Create React App, you can run your tests by typing npm test or yarn test in your terminal.

Remember, if something goes wrong, you can always ask for help or look up the problem online. Testing can seem tough at first, but with practice, it becomes a lot easier.

How to use React Testing Library

Let’s jump into how to use React Testing Library (RTL) with some specific examples.

  • Writing a Basic Test: Let’s say you have a component in your app that displays a simple text message, like Hello, World!. You want to make sure this message is actually being shown. Here’s how you would write that test using RTL:
import { render, screen } from '@testing-library/react';
import HelloWorld from './HelloWorld'; // your HelloWorld component

test('check HelloWorld component', () => {
render(<HelloWorld />);
const textElement = screen.getByText(/hello, world/i);

In this test, you’re telling RTL to render your HelloWorld component, find the Hello, World! text, and check if it’s displayed in the document.

  • Testing a Button Click: Suppose you have a button that says Click me!, and when you click it, the text changes to Clicked!. You can write a test to check this behavior:
import { render, fireEvent, screen } from '@testing-library/react';
import Button from './Button'; // your Button component

test('check button click', () => {
render(<Button />);
const buttonElement = screen.getByText(/click me/i);;

In this test, you’re instructing RTL to render your Button component, find the button, click it, and then check if the text changed to Clicked!.

Remember, the whole idea of testing with RTL is to simulate how a real user would interact with your app. The closer your tests resemble the actual user actions, the more confidence you can have in your application.

What is React Testing Library Debug Method?

Think of the react testing library debug function in React Testing Library like a magnifying glass. When you’re testing your React component and you want to see exactly what’s being created or what it looks like, you use this react testing library debugging magnifying glass. 

For instance, say you have a component that you’re testing:

const { debug } = render(<MyComponent />);

Here, render(<MyComponent />) is like drawing or creating your component on a piece of paper. Now, you want to see this drawing, right? That’s when you use your debug magnifying glass:


When you do this, it’s like the magnifying glass is showing you exactly what your drawing (or component) looks like in the terminal where you’re running your tests.

And the cool thing? You can use debug to look at specific parts of your drawing too. For instance, if you have a bit of text like ‘Hello’ in your component and you just want to look at that, you can do:

Here, getByText(‘Hello’) finds the ‘Hello’ text in your component (like pointing to it on your drawing), and then debug(helloText) lets you use the magnifying glass to look specifically at this ‘Hello’ text part of your component.

So, debug is a handy tool to visualize what’s going on when you’re testing your components. It’s like a helper showing you your test ‘drawings’.

const { getByText, debug } = render(<MyComponent />);
const helloText = getByText('Hello');

How to debug in react testing library using screen.debug() method? 

Suppose you have a component that just displays a greeting:

function Greeting() {
return <h1>Hello there!</h1>;

Now, you want to test this component and also see what it looks like when it’s rendered in your test. Here’s how you do it using React Testing Library:

import { render, screen } from '@testing-library/react';
import Greeting from './Greeting';

test('renders the greeting', () => {
render(<Greeting />);

When you run this test, screen.debug() will print the current state of your rendered Greeting component to the console, which will look like this:

<h1>Hello there!</h1>

That’s it! screen.debug() is just a tool that allows you to peek into your component and see what it looks like at any given moment during your test. You can think of it as a “snapshot” of your component at the time you called screen.debug().

What is automatic logging and how to do it?

Let’s walk through how to set up automatic logging using Jest’s error handling coupled with React Testing Library’s debug method. This will give you a more technical insight.

Jest allows you to define a custom function that runs whenever a test fails by using jest.spyOn(global.console, ‘error’) in your test setup.

Here’s an example of how you can use it:

import { render, screen } from '@testing-library/react';

// This will run before all tests
beforeAll(() => {
jest.spyOn(global.console, 'error').mockImplementation((...args) => {
// This function will be called whenever a test fails
if (typeof args[0] === 'string' && args[0].includes('TestingLibraryElementError')) {
// Print the state of the DOM when a TestingLibraryElementError occurs

// Call the original console.error with the provided arguments

// Remember to restore the original console.error after all tests
afterAll(() => {

// Your tests go here

In this setup, we’re using jest.spyOn to replace console.error with a custom function that checks if the error is a TestingLibraryElementError. If it is, we call screen.debug() to print the current state of the DOM. Finally, we call the original console.error function to print the error message.

This way, anytime a test fails with a TestingLibraryElementError, you will automatically get a snapshot of the DOM at the moment of failure, which can help you understand why the test failed.

Please note that automatic logging is just one technique that can be used to help debug failing tests. Depending on your application and your specific debugging needs, there may be other techniques that are more suitable.

How to test a method in React Testing Library

Suppose you have a component called Counter that displays a count and has a method called incrementCount to increase the count when a button is clicked. Here’s how you can test it using React Testing Library:

Counter Component (Counter.js)

import React, { useState } from 'react';

function Counter() {
const [count, setCount] = useState(0);

const incrementCount = () => {
setCount(count + 1);

return (
<p>Count: {count}</p>
<button onClick={incrementCount}>Increment</button>

export default Counter;

Counter Test (Counter.test.js)

import { render, fireEvent } from '@testing-library/react';
import Counter from './Counter';

test('counter increments the count', () => {
const { getByText } = render(<Counter />);

const button = getByText('Increment');;

const countElement = getByText('Count: 1');

In this test, you’re rendering the Counter component and finding the “Increment” button using getByText. Then, you simulate a user clicking the button using Finally, you find the element that displays the updated count and assert that it’s displaying the expected count.

By testing the component behavior through user interactions, you indirectly test the incrementCount method. You’re verifying that when the button is clicked, the count updates as expected. This approach focuses on testing the component from the user’s perspective rather than directly testing the method implementation.

This way, your tests are more robust and flexible, allowing you to make changes to the implementation details of the component without breaking the tests.

With BrowserStack, you can easily test your React apps across multiple browsers, devices, and operating systems, ensuring seamless compatibility and optimal user experience. One of the key products offered by BrowserStack App Live. It allows you to test your React mobile applications in real-time on real devices, ensuring accurate rendering and functionality across various screen sizes and platforms. You can access App Live.

Try BrowserStack App Live

Waiting for appearance and disappearance

To wait for element appearance or disappearance in React Testing Library, you can utilize various mechanisms provided by the library. These mechanisms allow you to wait for specific elements to appear or disappear before performing assertions in your tests. Here are a few approaches you can use:

1. findBy: Use findBy queries to wait for an element to appear. It returns a promise that resolves when the element is found or rejects if not found within the specified timeout.

const element = await screen.findByText('Hello');

2. waitFor: Utilize waitFor to wait until a condition is met. It repeatedly checks the condition until it resolves or reaches the specified timeout.

await waitFor(() => {
const element = screen.queryByText('Hello');

3. queryBy: Use queryBy queries to check for the absence of an element. It returns null if the element is not found, allowing conditional assertions based on its presence or absence.

const element = screen.queryByText('Hello');

These methods help you wait for element appearance or disappearance in React Testing Library tests, ensuring reliable and accurate testing of your components.

Testing for Appearance and Disappearance

Let’s consider a scenario where you have a component called Notification that displays a notification message. Initially, the notification is not visible, but it appears when a button is clicked. After a few seconds, it automatically disappears.

import React, { useState, useEffect } from 'react';

function Notification() {
const [isVisible, setIsVisible] = useState(false);

useEffect(() => {
let timeout;

if (isVisible) {
timeout = setTimeout(() => {
}, 3000);

return () => {
}, [isVisible]);

return (
<button onClick={() => setIsVisible(true)}>Show Notification</button>
{isVisible && <p>Notification message</p>}

export default Notification;

Notification Test (Notification.test.js)

import { render, screen, fireEvent, waitForElementToBeRemoved } from '@testing-library/react';
import Notification from './Notification';

test('notification appears and disappears', async () => {
render(<Notification />);

const button = screen.getByText('Show Notification');;

const notification = screen.getByText('Notification message');

await waitForElementToBeRemoved(() => screen.getByText('Notification message'));


In this example, we’re testing the appearance and disappearance of the notification. First, we render the Notification component and click the ‘Show Notification‘ button. We then assert that the notification message appears in the DOM. We use waitForElementToBeRemoved to wait for the notification message to disappear from the DOM, and then we assert that it is no longer in the document.

By using these techniques, you can effectively test the appearance and disappearance of elements in your React components, providing confidence in the behavior and functionality of your application.

Pro-Tip: BrowserStack also provides parallel testing capabilities, allowing you to run multiple tests concurrently, significantly reducing your testing time. This helps you achieve faster time to market for your React applications. Learn more about parallel testing.

How to Debug specific component elements

You can debug specific component elements using React Testing Library as seen in the code below:

import { render, screen } from '@testing-library/react';
import YourComponent from './YourComponent';

test('debug specific component elements', () => {
render(<YourComponent />);

const specificElement = screen.getByText('Specific Element');

  • In this example, when you run this test, you will render the YourComponent that you want to test.
  • Next, you will use getByText to select the specific element you want to debug based on its text content.
  • Finally, by using debug, you will print the debug information of the specific element. The debug output will provide you with valuable insights into the state and properties of that element.
  • By running this test, you will see the debug output in the testing console, which helps you understand and debug the selected component element during testing.

How to use logRoles function for creating Test Logs in React Testing Library

import { render, screen, logRoles } from '@testing-library/react';
import YourComponent from './YourComponent';

test('create test logs using logRoles', () => {
render(<YourComponent />);

  • In this example, you import the necessary functions from React Testing Library. Then, you render the YourComponent that you want to test.
  • After rendering the component, you use the logRoles function, passing screen.getByRole as a parameter. This function generates test logs for the roles present in the component.
  • When you run this test, the logRoles function will generate test logs in the testing console, providing you with information about the roles and their accessibility within the component.
  • These logs can be useful for understanding the roles used in your component, ensuring proper accessibility, and assisting in documenting and validating the accessibility features of your application.

Best Practices for React Library Debugging

Here are some of the best practices when using React Library Debugging:

  • Understand the component’s behavior before debugging.
  • Use console.log for basic logging.
  • Utilize React Developer Tools for component inspection.
  • Debug one component at a time to isolate issues.
  • Inspect props, state, and context values for unexpected changes.
  • Check for rendering inconsistencies caused by async operations.
  • Use breakpoints and step through code for analysis.
  • Verify component lifecycle methods and execution order.
  • Inspect network requests and responses.
  • Review console warnings and error messages.
  • Analyze DOM structure and CSS classes.
  • Employ performance monitoring tools.
  • Verify correct hook usage and dependencies.
  • Utilize linting tools for code quality checks.
  • Document and comment complex code sections.
  • Conduct code reviews and pair programming.
  • Analyze bugs in isolated environments.
  • Test on different browsers and devices.
  • Implement automated testing for regression bugs.
  • Regularly update dependencies for bug fixes and improvements.

Following these practices will help you effectively debug React libraries, ensuring reliable functionality and efficient code.

BrowserStack offers powerful debugging tools, such as the BrowserStack Local feature, which enables you to securely test your React apps on local servers or behind firewalls. It ensures smooth testing of applications that interact with internal resources. Discover more about BrowserStack Local.

Closing Notes

In conclusion, the React Testing Library (RTL) is a powerful tool for testing React applications. By focusing on user-centric testing and encouraging tests that resemble real user interactions, RTL helps ensure that your application functions as intended from the user’s perspective. Companies like Facebook and Airbnb have leveraged RTL to enhance the reliability and user experience of their projects.

By leveraging BrowserStack’s robust platform, React Developers can gain confidence in the quality and performance of their applications, leading to enhanced user satisfaction and increased productivity. Experience the benefits of BrowserStack’s comprehensive testing platform for React applications.

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