Testing Spring for GemFire Apps with GemFire Testcontainers

Patrick Johnson March 8, 2024

Until recently, the primary way to start GemFire during integration testing was using Spring Test for GemFire to bootstrap a server application with Spring. With the recent release of GemFire Testcontainers 2.0.0, you can now start a containerized GemFire cluster and configure it via gfsh just like any other GemFire cluster.

Benefits of Testcontainers

  1. The GemFire cluster runs in Docker, allowing you to run your tests in parallel without running into port conflicts, saving time and resources.
  2. You can configure your cluster using the GemFire shell (GFSH), giving you more flexibility to control your cluster.
  3. A GemFire cluster started with Testcontainers is essentially the same as a GemFire cluster started in the traditional way. This can give you more confidence that your application testing of GemFire is representative of how it will behave in production.

Getting started with Testcontainers

Adding the dependency

The first step to using GemFire Testcontainers is to add it as a dependency to your project. If you don’t already have access to the GemFire commercial Maven repository, follow the steps on the GemFire Developer Site. Once you have access to the GemFire Maven repository, you can add a dependency on GemFire Testcontainers to your build.





Getting the GemFire Image

You will also need to pick a container image for the version of GemFire you want to use. GemFire images can be found on Dockerhub. Make sure to use the same version of GemFire that you built your application with.

If you plan to deploy code into your GemFire Testcontainers cluster, make sure to select an image with the same or higher JDK version than the one used to compile the code to be deployed. For example, you may want gemfire/gemfire:10.1-jdk17 if your project uses JDK 17, which is required for Spring Framework 6 and later.

Using Testcontainers in Your Test

Now that Testcontainers has been added as a dependency, and you have selected an appropriate GemFire image, you can start writing or converting your test.

First, make sure that you have Docker running in your environment.

The primary class you will use to set up and interact with your cluster is GemFireCluster. You create a GemFireCluster by passing in the Docker image to use and the number of locators and servers to start. There are also several methods to configure the cluster before it starts, such as GemFireCluster.withGfsh() and GemFireCluster.withClasspath(). Then, accept the license and start the cluster.

Once started, you can access the locator and server ports using getLocatorPorts and getServerPorts, which returns a list of Integers. You’ll want to set a property with the locator and/or server information, or introduce a ClientCacheConfigurer bean to connect to the cluster.

Here’s an example of configuring and starting a GemFire cluster using Testcontainers:

private static GemFireCluster gemFireCluster;

public static void startGemFireCluster() throws IOException {
  gemFireCluster = new GemFireCluster(System.getProperty("gemfire/gemfire:10.1-jdk17"), 1, 1)
      .withClasspath(GemFireCluster.SERVER_GLOB, "/path/to/some/jar")
      .withGfsh(false, "create region --name=Customers --type=PARTITION");


  System.setProperty("spring.data.gemfire.pool.locators", String.format("localhost[%d]", gemFireCluster.getLocatorPort()));

The setup happens in a @BeforeClass method so GemFire will start before your test. After your test, you can shut down the cluster like this:

public static void stopGemFireCluster() {

After your cluster is running, you can interact with it using Gfsh commands via GemFireCluster.gfsh(). This is different from withGfsh that we used earlier. The withGfsh method configures the cluster before it is started by passing commands that run at start time. The gfsh method invokes commands on a running cluster when the method is called.

If you’re deploying code using Gfsh’s deploy command, you’ll need to make the jar file accessible to Docker by using GemFireCluster.withPreStart and copying the file to the container before the cluster starts.

gemfireCluster.withPreStart(GemFireCluster.ALL_GLOB, container -> 
  container.copyFileToContainer(MountableFile.forHostPath("/local/path/to/jar"), "/destination/path/in/container"))

Now you can invoke the deploy command like normal, using the path to the jar in the container.

If you want to see logs from your GemFire members, the best way to do that is to view them in Docker Desktop by clicking on the relevant container.

That’s essentially all that’s required to use Testcontainers to test your Spring for GemFire apps.

Full examples of Spring Data GemFire and Testcontainers can be viewed here

For more information on Testcontainers with GemFire, check out this blog post by Jens Deppe. There have been some changes with the 2.0 release, but there is still lots of valuable information in there.

For more information on Spring for GemFire, checkout the documentation for Spring: