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Seeding database with cy.exec

Recently, I found out that Cypress has a command that can run arbitrary commands, cy.exec. I've used this to setup my local database with seed data before tests run.

However, the back end I'm working with doesn't have a deterministic, predictable seeder, so the test data is not guaranteed. So, I did some fun stuff with Postgres!

Dump the current state of the database

The first thing I did was get the database into the state that I want. Then, I used psql to dump the data into a .sql file:

psql -f seed.sql -d postgres -h -p 31091 -U postgres -W

This script sets up the connection to the database I want, and outputs the contents to seed.sql.

Clean the database

Next, I needed to clean the database. I tried using a --clean flag, but that didn't seem to work. So, I wrote a separate .sql file (truncate.sql) to truncate everything:

# truncate.sql
# more TRUNCATE statements...

Execute psql within cypress

Now, all that was left was to execute some psql from within my cypress test. I put the 2 .sql files inside ./cypress/data.

I also stored the connection values from above (database name, host, port user, password) in ./cypress.json as environment variables.

  "baseUrl": "",
  "supportFile": "cypress/support/index.ts",
  "viewportHeight": 768,
  "viewportWidth": 1024,
  "env": {
    "PGDATABASE": "postgres",
    "PGHOST": "",
    "PGPORT": 31091,
    "PGUSER": "postgres",
    "PGPASSWORD": "postgres"

Now, I'm ready to use cy.exec. Here, I'm executing an arbitrary shell command, combining 2 psql commands to truncate, then seed the database.

Note that I'm providing another env object; Cypress merges these environment variables in with the system environment variables, so I was able to use the same names that Postgres looks for automatically. I'm retrieving the values from cypress.json by using Cypress.env.

describe('A test suite description', () => {
    before(() => {
            'psql -f ./cypress/data/truncate.sql && psql -f ./cypress/data/seed.sql',
                env: {
                    PGDATABASE: Cypress.env('PGDATABASE'),
                    PGHOST: Cypress.env('PGHOST'),
                    PGPORT: Cypress.env('PGPORT'),
                    PGUSER: Cypress.env('PGUSER'),
                    PGPASSWORD: Cypress.env('PGPASSWORD'),

Here's the output:

Screen Shot 2021-07-23 at 11 43 11 AM

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