# Typical usage case of Marble Testing for RxJS

### What’s Marble Testing

RxJS is a powerful tool to handle various asynchronous tasks. Sometime RxJS observables are hard to test. In the community, there is one particular unit testing solution for RxJS observables called marble testing.

For marble testing, you can refer to these articles. They all do an excellent job of introducing what it is.

### A real case to show Marble Testing’s power

Recently in my development work, I came across a case where I used marble testing properly to solve the issue.

The background is for my application in the root index.html file, there is one third-party javascript library/SDK. For some business reasons, after the third-party library is loaded, we bind some value to the global window object.

Before the loaded event is triggered, the window.SecretLibary was undefiend. After the event is triggered, it will be assigned some value.

This global value is vital for my application since one of the UI components depends on it to determine to show or hide.

Since the script was loaded with async flag for performance consideration, this component needs to check the window.SecretLibrary value repeatedly.

The interesting part comes from the getSecretLibraryLoadStatus function. It utilizes the timer, map, takeWhile, and pluck operators of RxJS library to realize the repeatedly status checking and updating purpose.

RxJS operator is not this article’s topic, so I will not dig deep into it. Just add one comment for the takeWhile part, which seems a little hard to understand at the first look. It defines two conditions to stop the observable: first case is the window.SecretLibrary value is not undefined, which means the script is loaded; the second case is it reaches the maximum time limit (30 seconds).

### How to test it: marble testing

Traditionally we use subscribe and assert pattern to test RxJS observables. But for the case, as mentioned above: time-based observables, the traditional solution can’t handle it well. We can’t wait 30 seconds when we run the unit tests during local development or in CI pipeline. That’s unacceptable.

Marble testing can fix this issue correctly by the concept of virtual time. For what is virtual time, you can refer to these great articles. I will not discuss it at a detailed level in this post. Simply speaking, virtual time empowers us to test asynchronous RxJS observable synchronously. In virtual time asynchronous functions like setTimeout and setInterval will use fake time instead of actual time. And the magic comes from the TestScheduler of RxJS.

The marble testing solution as following:

Let me emphasize several key points to understand the above testing case. getSecretLibraryLoadStatus will repeatedly check the status of window.SecretLibrary every 500 milliseconds and return a boolean value stream.

I manually set the window.SecretLibrary value after 2 seconds by calling this:

So Let’s imagine what the result should be: the first four emit value will be false, and the last value is true. That’s the expected observable.

But please notice that scheduler.run, everything run inside the callback will use virtual time. So we didn’t wait 2 seconds for the timer operator. Instead, it runs synchronously.

The second point needs to notice is the syntax of the marble string a 499ms b 499ms c 499ms d 499ms (e|). Yes, it looks a little wired, but be careful that’s the correct way to represent marble. The alphanumeric values represent an actual emitted value, which advances time one virtual frame.

Here I only show the case where the third-party script load successfully. Of course, to have full testing coverage, we need to consider the negative case where the script failed to load. You can figure it out.

### Summary

In this post, I didn’t go into the detailed syntax of marble testing. I think the reader can find the related document easily. I record a real usage case in the development where marble testing can show its power to handle async observables.