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Unit Testing with TestDriven.NET

, 5 Jan 2007 CPOL
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Learn about unit testing from an expert.

Introduction

Unit testing is the automated testing of software components. The technique is used to build high-quality, reliable software by writing a suite of accompanying automated tests that validate assumptions and business requirements implemented by your software.

Learning to write good unit tests takes time, and it helps to have an experienced software developer guiding you. This article serves as an introduction to both the tools and techniques used in unit testing.

Prerequisites

Test Fixtures

Create a new project and copy the code below into a new class file.

Study the following code for a moment. The code implements a Test Fixture, which is a normal class decorated with the special attribute [TestFixture]. Test Fixtures contain Test Methods. Test Methods are decorated with the [Test] attribute. Other decorations, such as [TestFixtureSetup] and [TearDown], are used to decorate methods that have special meanings that will be explained later.

SampleFixture.cs
using System;
using NUnit.Framework;

namespace UnitTest
{
    [TestFixture]
    public class SampleFixture
    {
        // Run once before any methods
        [TestFixtureSetUp]
        public void InitFixture()
        {
        }

        // Run once after all test methods
        [TestFixtureTearDown]
        public void TearDownFixture()
        {
        }

        // Run before each test method
        [SetUp]
        public void Init()
        {
        }

        // Run after each test method
        [TearDown]
        public void Teardown()
        {
        }

        // Example test method
        [Test]
        public void Add()
        {
            Assert.AreEqual(6, 5, "Expected Failure.");
        }

    }
}

Running a Test Fixture

You can right-click on any test fixture file and run it directly from Visual Studio .NET. This is the beauty of TestDriven.NET.

Notice in your Error or Output tabs that a failure message appears.

Double-clicking on the failure will take you to the precise line that failed. Correct this line so it will pass, then re-test the Fixture.

Running a Test Method

You may also right-click anywhere inside a method and run just that one method.

Setup/Teardown Methods

If you have setup code that should be run once before any method or once after all methods, use the following attributed methods:

If you have setup code that should run once before each method or once after each method in your fixture, use the following attributed methods:

Tips on Writing Good Unit Tests

A proper unit test has these features:

  • Automated
  • No human input should be required for the test to run and pass. Often this means making use of configuration files that loop through various sets of input values to test everything that you would normally test by running your program over and over.

  • Unordered
  • Unit tests may be run in any order and often are. TestDriven.NET does not guarantee the order in which your fixtures or methods will execute, nor can you be sure that other programmers will know to run your tests in a certain order. If you have many methods sharing common setup or teardown code, use the setup/teardown methods shown above. Otherwise, everything should be contained in the method itself.

  • Self-sufficient
  • Unit tests should perform their own setup/teardown, and optionally may rely upon the setup/teardown methods described above. In no circumstances should a unit test require external setup, such as priming a database with specific values. If setup like that is required, the test method or fixture should do it.

  • Implementation-agnostic
  • Unit tests should validate and enforce business rules, not specific implementations. There is a fine line between the end of a requirement and the beginning of an implementation, yet it is obvious when you are squarely in one territory or the other. Business requirements have a unique smell: there is talk of customers, orders, and workflows. Implementation, on the other hand, smells very different: DataTables, Factories, and foreach() loops. If you find yourself writing unit tests that validate the structure of a Dictionary or a List object, there is a good chance you are testing implementation.

    Unit tests are designed to enforce requirements. Therefore, implementation tests enforce implementation requirements, which is generally a Bad Idea. Implementation is the part you don't care to keep forever. Depending on your skill level, implementations may change and evolve over time to become more efficient, more stable, more secure, etc. The last thing you need are unit tests yelling at you because you found a better way to implement a business solution.

    This advice runs counter to what you may read in other unit testing literature; most authors recommend testing all public methods of all classes. I find that while this is consistent with the goals of testing all code, it often forces tests that do more to enforce implementation than business requirements.

    Business requirements often follow a sequence or pattern, and my view is that the pattern is the real thing to be tested. Writing unit tests for every CustomerHelper class and OrderEntryReferralFactory class often indicates that classes and methods could be organized to better follow the business requirements, or at least wrapped in classes that reflect the requirements.

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Author

Ben Allfree

United States United States
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Comments and Discussions

 
GeneralRe: Huh. Pinmemberroberthking8-Jan-07 7:41 
GeneralRe: Huh. PinmemberBen Allfree8-Jan-07 8:42 
GeneralRe: Huh. Pinmemberroberthking8-Jan-07 10:55 
All great points. Our approaches seem to be converging the more we look at this.
 
My approach (let's call it "quasi-Agile" just to see who's paying attention) is to not only design from the top down, but to implement in this fashion as well. Consequently, a "slice" of the design may start with a stubbed-out Customer object, followed by stubbing out the methods surfaced during analysis. These stubbed (actually nMocked these days) implementations (my usage, not yours) would get Unit Tests designed at that point, so we're in agreement about the focus on the high-level testing. Successively drilling down into the design to the "nuts and bolts" then occurs in the context of the high-level design, not the reverse as is so often the case.
 
I also agree 100% about the misuse of Unit testing. Too many new converts to TDD do in fact write their tests to prove their code works, rather than using them as a "goal" for their code to satisfy. For me, it HAS to be used in a true TDD (emphasis of Test-DRIVEN) fashion, where the tests are designed as "use case validators" as you suggest.
 
BTW - Brooks is, and has been for quite a while, a constant reference for me.
 
Looking forward to the rest of the series.
GeneralRe: Huh. PinmemberBen Allfree8-Jan-07 14:19 
GeneralArticle PinmemberStanislav Panasik18-Dec-06 22:02 
GeneralRe: Article PinmemberBen Allfree18-Dec-06 22:08 
GeneralRe: Article PinmemberStanislav Panasik19-Dec-06 2:45 

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