JUnit Tip: Verifying that an Exception with a Particular Message was Thrown

JUnit has a hidden treasure which makes it easy to do something we have long longed for – namely not only to verify that an exception of a particular type has been thrown but also that its message contains the expected message. The hidden pearl is the @Rule ExpectedException and its JavaDoc documents well how to use it (slightly modified):

import org.junit.*;
import org.junit.rules.ExpectedException;

public static class HasExpectedException {
        public ExpectedException thrown= ExpectedException.none();

        public void throwsNothing() {
            // no exception expected, none thrown: passes.

        public void throwsNullPointerExceptionWithMessage() {
                thrown.expectMessage("What happened here?");
                thrown.expectMessage(allOf(containsString("What"), containsString("here")));
                throw new NullPointerException("What happened here?");

(As you might have noticed, it uses Hamcrest matchers; containsString isn’t included directly in junit and thus you’d need junit-dep + hamcrest jars.)

Published by Jakub Holý

I’m a JVM-based developer since 2005, consultant, and occasionally a project manager, working currently with Iterate AS in Norway.

6 thoughts on “JUnit Tip: Verifying that an Exception with a Particular Message was Thrown

  1. As Loren has pointed out at DZone, you should do this only if there is no better way. My response:

    @Tomek Thank you for a good response! @Loren is right that it makes tests brittle and often it might be better to fix the design instead, e.g. creating a custom exception subclass. However there are certainly cases when this doesn’t pay off and using this little dirty check is the best compromise.

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