Testing Components with $componentController

Testing directives in Angular 1.x was tricky because we had to instantiate DOM elements to test the underlying functionality. Angular introduced $componentController to allow us to test component controller without having to jump through any DOM creation hoops.

To see this in action, we will see a test written for our categories feature. I say "feature" because in the repository, the spec contains tests for the module, controller, component and template. Skimming over the highlights, we are using the module mock to spin up the categories module as well as provide a scaled down CategoriesModel mock. We then inject and assign $componentController and CategoriesModel to local variables that we can use later.

Jumping down to the Controller block, we will first create a spy on CategoriesModel to watch for when getCategories gets called. Then we will instantiate our component using $componentController and passing in its dependencies as the second parameter. This is where it gets slightly tricky as our lifecycle hooks do not get implicitly fired as the component is never added to the DOM but we can work around that by explicitly calling our lifecycle method. Once the method is called, we can assert that our spy was correctly fired.

describe('Categories', () => {
  let component, $componentController, CategoriesModel;

  beforeEach(() => {

    window.module($provide => {
      $provide.value('CategoriesModel', {
        getCategories: () => {
          return {
            then: () => {}

  beforeEach(inject((_$componentController_, _CategoriesModel_) => {
    CategoriesModel = _CategoriesModel_;
    $componentController = _$componentController_;

  describe('Controller', () => {
    it('calls CategoriesModel.getCategories immediately', () => {
      spyOn(CategoriesModel, 'getCategories').and.callThrough();

      component = $componentController('categories', {


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