Spring Testing - Understanding TestExecutionListener

[Updated: Sep 13, 2017, Created: Aug 21, 2017]

A TestExecutionListener listens for the test execution events published by the TestContextManager.

Default Test ExecutionListeners

The spring-test module declares all default TestExecutionListeners in its META-INF/spring.factories properties file.

Spring.factories (spring-test version 4.3.10.RELEASE):

# Default TestExecutionListeners for the Spring TestContext Framework
org.springframework.test.context.TestExecutionListener = \

All above listeners have a specific responsibility in Spring integration tests execution. For example, DependencyInjectionTestExecutionListener provides support for dependency injection and initialization of test instances.

What is spring.factories?

This is a general purpose factory loading mechanism provided by Spring core. It requires the file spring.factories (a properties file) located under META-INF.

SpringFactoriesLoader.loadFactories(MyService.class, ..) method can be used to load a specified class. This method returns list of specified class instances. There might be multiple spring.factories files in different JAR files in the class path which may defined a particular type multiple times.

Note that spring-boot also uses this mechanism to load auto configurations, check out here.

The TestExecutionListener interface

package org.springframework.test.context;
public interface TestExecutionListener {
    void beforeTestClass(TestContext testContext) throws Exception;
    void prepareTestInstance(TestContext testContext) throws Exception;
    void beforeTestMethod(TestContext testContext) throws Exception;
    void afterTestMethod(TestContext testContext) throws Exception;
    void afterTestClass(TestContext testContext) throws Exception;

As seen above, a TestExecutionListener implementation can receive events during different test execution stages. Let's see what we can do with TestContext which is passed to the listener on each event.

The TextContext interface

package org.springframework.test.context;
public interface TestContext extends AttributeAccessor, Serializable {
	ApplicationContext getApplicationContext();
	Class<?> getTestClass();
	Object getTestInstance();
	Method getTestMethod();
	Throwable getTestException();
	void markApplicationContextDirty(HierarchyMode hierarchyMode);
	void updateState(Object testInstance, Method testMethod, Throwable testException);

As seen above, TestContext contains information of spring context and of the target test class/methods as well, which can be used to alter the tests behavior or extend their functionality.

Example of Custom TestExecutionListener

Let's see how to defined our own TestExecutionListener to understand how it works.

Creating a simple Spring application

public class MyBean {
  public void doSomething() {
      System.out.println("-- in MyBean.doSomething() method --");
public class AppConfig {

Writing a TestExecutionListener

public class MyListener implements TestExecutionListener {
  public void beforeTestClass(TestContext testContext) throws Exception {

  public void prepareTestInstance(TestContext testContext) throws Exception {


  public void beforeTestMethod(TestContext testContext) throws Exception {

  public void afterTestMethod(TestContext testContext) throws Exception {

  public void afterTestClass(TestContext testContext) throws Exception {

Writing JUnit test

A TextExecutionListener can be registered via @TestExecutionListeners annotation:

@ContextConfiguration(classes = AppConfig.class)
@TestExecutionListeners(value = {MyListener.class,
public class MyTests {

  private MyBean myBean;

  public void testDoSomething() {

Note that, we also used DependencyInjectionTestExecutionListener in above example, that's because when we specify our own listeners with @TestExecutionListeners, all default listeners are overridden. In above example, We needed DependencyInjectionTestExecutionListener as we used @Autowired.


Aug 21, 2017 11:07:29 AM org.springframework.context.support.GenericApplicationContext prepareRefresh
INFO: Refreshing org.springframework.context.support.GenericApplicationContext@735f7ae5: startup date [Mon Aug 21 11:07:29 CDT 2017]; root of context hierarchy
-- in MyBean.doSomething() method --

Merging TestExecutionListeners

As mentioned above, when we specify our own listeners with @TestExecutionListeners, all default listeners are overridden. One way to utilize default listeners is to include them manually in the value attribute of this annotation (as we saw above). Another way is to use 'mergeMode' of this annotation, which will not replace the default listeners. The following snippet shows the usage:

@ContextConfiguration(classes = AppConfig.class)
@TestExecutionListeners(value = MyListener.class,
      mergeMode = TestExecutionListeners.MergeMode.MERGE_WITH_DEFAULTS)
public class MyTests {

The default value of 'mergeMode' is MergeMode.REPLACE_DEFAULTS.

Example Project

Dependencies and Technologies Used :

  • spring-context 4.3.10.RELEASE: Spring Context.
  • spring-test 4.3.10.RELEASE: Spring TestContext Framework.
  • junit 4.12: JUnit is a unit testing framework for Java, created by Erich Gamma and Kent Beck.
  • JDK 1.8
  • Maven 3.3.9

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See Also