Mocking Service for gRPC

Example code unary RPC

Example code streaming RPC


To test client-side logic without the overhead of connecting to a real server. Mocking enables users to write light-weight unit tests to check functionalities on client-side without invoking RPC calls to a server.

Idea: Mock the client stub that connects to the server.

We use Gomock to mock the client interface (in the generated code) and programmatically set its methods to expect and return pre-determined values. This enables users to write tests around the client logic and use this mocked stub while making RPC calls.

How to use Gomock?

Documentation on Gomock can be found here. A quick reading of the documentation should enable users to follow the code below.

Consider a gRPC service based on following proto file:


package helloworld;

message HelloRequest {
    string name = 1;

message HelloReply {
    string name = 1;

service Greeter {
    rpc SayHello (HelloRequest) returns (HelloReply) {}

The generated file helloworld.pb.go will have a client interface for each service defined in the proto file. This interface will have methods corresponding to each rpc inside that service.

type GreeterClient interface {
    SayHello(ctx context.Context, in *HelloRequest, opts ...grpc.CallOption) (*HelloReply, error)

The generated code also contains a struct that implements this interface.

type greeterClient struct {
   cc *grpc.ClientConn
func (c *greeterClient) SayHello(ctx context.Context, in *HelloRequest, opts ...grpc.CallOption) (*HelloReply, error){
    // ...
    // gRPC specific code here
    // ...

Along with this the generated code has a method to create an instance of this struct.

func NewGreeterClient(cc *grpc.ClientConn) GreeterClient

The user code uses this function to create an instance of the struct greeterClient which then can be used to make rpc calls to the server. We will mock this interface GreeterClient and use an instance of that mock to make rpc calls. These calls instead of going to server will return pre-determined values.

To create a mock we’ll use mockgen. From the directory examples/helloworld/ run mockgen GreeterClient > mock_helloworld/hw_mock.go

Notice that in the above command we specify GreeterClient as the interface to be mocked.

The user test code can import the package generated by mockgen along with library package gomock to write unit tests around client-side logic.

import ""
import hwmock ""

An instance of the mocked interface can be created as:

mockGreeterClient := hwmock.NewMockGreeterClient(ctrl)

This mocked object can be programmed to expect calls to its methods and return pre-determined values. For instance, we can program mockGreeterClient to expect a call to its method SayHello and return a HelloReply with message “Mocked RPC”.

    gomock.Any(), // expect any value for first parameter
    gomock.Any(), // expect any value for second parameter
).Return(&helloworld.HelloReply{Message: Mocked RPC”}, nil)

gomock.Any() indicates that the parameter can have any value or type. We can indicate specific values for built-in types with gomock.Eq(). However, if the test code needs to specify the parameter to have a proto message type, we can replace gomock.Any() with an instance of a struct that implements gomock.Matcher interface.

type rpcMsg struct {
    msg proto.Message

func (r *rpcMsg) Matches(msg interface{}) bool {
    m, ok := msg.(proto.Message)
    if !ok {
        return false
    return proto.Equal(m, r.msg)

func (r *rpcMsg) String() string {
    return fmt.Sprintf("is %s", r.msg)


req := &helloworld.HelloRequest{Name: "unit_test"}
    &rpcMsg{msg: req},
).Return(&helloworld.HelloReply{Message: "Mocked Interface"}, nil)

Mock streaming RPCs:

For our example we consider the case of bi-directional streaming RPCs. Concretely, we'll write a test for RouteChat function from the route guide example to demonstrate how to write mocks for streams.

RouteChat is a bi-directional streaming RPC, which means calling RouteChat returns a stream that can Send and Recv messages to and from the server, respectively. We‘ll start by creating a mock of this stream interface returned by RouteChat and then we’ll mock the client interface and set expectation on the method RouteChat to return our mocked stream.

Generating mocking code:

Like before we'll use mockgen. From the examples/route_guide directory run: mockgen RouteGuideClient,RouteGuide_RouteChatClient > mock_route_guide/rg_mock.go

Notice that we are mocking both client(RouteGuideClient) and stream(RouteGuide_RouteChatClient) interfaces here.

This will create a file rg_mock.go under directory mock_route_guide. This file contains all the mocking code we need to write our test.

In our test code, like before, we import the this mocking code along with the generated code

import (
    rgmock ""
    rgpb ""

Now considering a test that takes the RouteGuide client object as a parameter, makes a RouteChat rpc call and sends a message on the resulting stream. Furthermore, this test expects to see the same message to be received on the stream.

var msg = ...

// Creates a RouteChat call and sends msg on it.
// Checks if the received message was equal to msg.
func testRouteChat(client rgb.RouteChatClient) error{

We can inject our mock in here by simply passing it as an argument to the method.

Creating mock for stream interface:

    stream := rgmock.NewMockRouteGuide_RouteChatClient(ctrl)

Setting Expectations:

    stream.EXPECT().Recv().Return(msg, nil)

Creating mock for client interface:

    rgclient := rgmock.NewMockRouteGuideClient(ctrl)

Setting Expectations:

    rgclient.EXPECT().RouteChat(gomock.Any()).Return(stream, nil)