Unit testing conundrum when using webpack

The problem

There’s one fundamental flaw when it comes to unit testing while using the suggested webpack configuration for distribution and a plain compilation using tsc for testing.

This is not a good solution. For instance, you will run into problems in case your tests rely on any of those modules being initialised by the activate function (e.g. when you want to reference the extension context).

The workaround

This is a workaround I’m using at the moment, in case it helps anyone. It uses a global json tool to modify package.json just for the execution of unit tests. You can get it via npm install -g json

Excerpt from my package.json

  "scripts": {
    "test-compile": "npm run main-out && tsc -p ./",
    "main-out": "json -I -f package.json -e 'this.main=\"./out/extension.js\"'",
    "main-dist": "json -I -f package.json -e 'this.main=\"./dist/extension.js\"'"

Excerpt from my launch.json

  "version": "0.2.0",
  "configurations": [{
      "name": "Extension Tests",
      "type": "extensionHost",
      "request": "launch",
      "runtimeExecutable": "${execPath}",
      "args": [
      "outFiles": [
      "preLaunchTask": "npm: test-compile",
      "postDebugTask": "npm: main-dist"

The solution

In the long run VSCode will need to come up with a way to temporarily enforce loading the extension from out/extension.js for unit tests.

This has been requested in this issue on Github