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Logging Test Runner Application

, 14 Nov 2007
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An NUnit syntax-compliant Logging Test Runner for performing automated Integration/Acceptance testing with WatiN (or anything else)

Introduction

I'm currently building a suite of automated acceptance tests for a web application. In the past I've used Watir (pronounced "water," not "waiter"), which is a framework that will drive an instance of Internet Explorer. I've since moved to WatiN, which is a .NET port of Watir, since we are a Microsoft shop. One of the shortcomings of these frameworks is that they don't supply a mechanism for executing and reporting on the tests. Instead, they instruct you to use a unit test runner and framework to perform test execution. Unfortunately, the needs of an acceptance test are different from the needs of a unit test.

Current xUnit test runners fail to meet the needs of an Acceptance test runner. To bridge this gap, I've built this Logging Test Runner. It is written to be NUnit syntax compliant, so that your current investment in test assets can be leveraged and you will be working with a familiar syntax. If there is enough interest, I'll turn it into a full open source project.

The Chasm Between xUnit Needs and Acceptance Test Needs

Unit test automation is well understood. It has been around for almost two decades, although wide adoption didn't occur until the rise of eXtreme Programming and the development of JUnit by Kent Beck. You can read Kent's original article on testing if you are curious. I also came across another article, A Brief History of Test Frameworks by Andrew Shebanow, that claims some unit test automation work actually pre-dates sUnit. By and large, however, most people I interact with consider JUnit to be our starting point.

Well-designed xUnit tests should adhere to the following principles:

  • Tests should isolate what they are testing
  • Tests should be atomic: fully fail or fully succeed
  • Tests should be independent: each test controls all its pre-conditions and can be run independently
  • Tests should be repeatable: a second or third run yields the same result as the first run
  • Tests should clean up after themselves: leave the system how you found it

Acceptance test automation (and integration tests) are not as mature, especially for web applications. The frameworks, like FIT and FITNesse, Watir and Selenium have only been around for a few years. There are a multitude of recommendations on how to perform acceptance testing, but no consensus. Witness the recommendations on Watir. They give examples of writing output to Excel, console or using a unit test runner.

By their nature, acceptance tests have lots of pre-conditions and post-conditions. Often, that is exactly what you are testing. They are expensive to set up and can be long-running. Also, what constitutes acceptance may not always be clear. This is my list of principles that an acceptance test should adhere to:

  • Tests should focus on the feature/story they are trying to prove acceptance on
  • Tests should be resilient: a failure of one aspect of the test should still allow the full test to execute
  • Tests should be independent: each test controls all its pre-conditions and can be run independently
  • Tests should be repeatable: a second or third run yields the same result as the first run
  • Tests should clean up after themselves: leave the system how you found it

As you can see, the needs are similar, but not the same. The last three bullets are identical for both unit and acceptance tests, but the first two vary. One of the intents of a unit test is to indicate exactly where your code fails. To that end, any failure in a test is a complete failure. Acceptance tests, on the other hand, are testing major functionality and interaction points. You might also be checking many, many minor items along the way to testing your major points. Just because a minor item fails doesn't mean the major feature is failing to function correctly.

Example: You have an event registration form and want to write a test to confirm that when a user registers, they are in the system. The heart of the test enters data in a screen and then navigates to a registrant-listing page to confirm that the user exists. This screen might be four or five screens into your application past a login screen. Each time the test runs, it must perform these prior steps, so it is expensive to set up the test.

After initially building the test, you realize that you also want to test your field validation. In a unit test, you would write a new test. For an acceptance test, however, this is more something that you would want to test "along the way." Since you are already in the editing screen and have gone to the expense of logging in and navigating to the proper screen, this is a good time to perform these tests. As you test each of 20 fields, you discover that half of the fields are not properly validating. To discover this with a unit test runner, it would take at least 10 runs. Therein lies the purpose of the Logging Test Runner (aka: LogRunner).

Done with the boring stuff. On to the code.

Sample Test Suite

We will build up some trivial samples to show LogRunner in action. Our sample will perform two tests: Search for a result in Google and navigate the MSDN site.

Step 1: Install Frameworks

Step 2: Setup Project

Create a new C# class library project in Visual Studio 2005. Call it MyWatinSample. Add references to nunit.framework.dll and WatiN.Core.dll. These will be located in the bin directory of their respective installation folders. You can also remove the System.Data and System.Xml references that Visual Studio adds for you if you are anal about your code.

Step 3: Create Test Fixture Classes

Add class files named GoogleTest.cs and EntertainmentWeeklyTest.cs to your project. I started with a test of the MSDN site, but it is horrifyingly slow and does something to keep IE from completing page load, so I did a sample with EW instead. These are your two test fixtures. Below is the code for each file. The tests could be refactored better, but the intent is a little clearer without base classes. I'll let you examine it at your leisure.

GoogleTest Source Listing

using System;using NUnit.Framework;
using WatiN.Core;

namespace MyWatinSample
{
    [TestFixture]
    public class GoogleTest
    {

        #region Property to web browser instance

        private IE _browser = null;

        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><summary>
</span>
        /// Hook to our browser instance
        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"></summary>
</span>
        public IE Browser
        {
            get
            {
                if (_browser == null)
                {
                    _browser = new IE();
                }
                return _browser;
            }
            set { _browser = value; }
        }
        #endregion

        #region Fixture setup and teardown
        [TestFixtureSetUp]
        public void SetupTestFixture()
        {
            //we lazy load the browser, so it is not in setup
        }

        [TestFixtureTearDown]
        public void TearDownTestFixture()
        {
            Browser.Close();
            Browser = null;
        }
        #endregion

        [Test]
        public void SearchForWatinHome()
        {
            string watinSearch = "WatiN Test";
            string watinHome = "WatiN Home";
            string watinURL = "http://watin.sourceforge.NET/";

            Browser.GoTo("http://www.google.com");
            //Assert we are at google
            Assert.IsTrue(Browser.ContainsText("Google"), 
                "Google page does not contain Google Name");

            //Add our search term to search box and search
            Browser.TextField(Find.ByName("q")).Value = watinSearch;
            Browser.Button(Find.ByValue("Google Search")).Click();

            //check for result
            Assert.IsTrue(Browser.ContainsText(watinHome), 
                "Search result did not find " + watinHome);
            Browser.Link(Find.ByText(watinHome)).Click();

            //validate we're on the watin sourceforge page
            Assert.AreEqual(watinURL, Browser.Url, 
                "WatiN Home not at sourceforge URL");
        }
    }
}

EntertainmentWeeklyTest Source Listing

using System;
using WatiN.Core;

using NUnit.Framework;

namespace MyWatinSample
{
    [TestFixture]
    public class EntertainmentWeeklyTest
    {

        const string ewHomeUrl = "http://www.ew.com/ew";

        #region Property to web browser instance

        private IE _browser = null;

        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><summary>
</span>
        /// Hook to our browser instance
        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"></summary>
</span>
        public IE Browser
        {
            get
            {
                if (_browser == null)
                {
                    _browser = new IE();
                }
                return _browser;
            }
            set { _browser = value; }
        }
        #endregion

        #region Fixture setup and teardown
        [TestFixtureSetUp]
        public void SetupTestFixture()
        {
            //we lazy load the browser, so it is not in setup
        }

        [TestFixtureTearDown]
        public void TearDownTestFixture()
        {
            Browser.Close();
            Browser = null;
        }
        #endregion

        #region Test setup and teardown
        [SetUp]
        public void TestSetup()
        {
            if (Browser.Url != ewHomeUrl)
            {
                Browser.GoTo(ewHomeUrl);
            }
        }
        [TearDown]
        public void TestTeardown()
        {
        }
        #endregion

        [Test]
        public void EWMoviesTest()
        {
            Assert.IsTrue(Browser.ContainsText("Entertainment Weekly"), 
                "Entertainment Weekly does not " + 
                "state its name on home page.");
            Assert.IsTrue(Browser.ContainsText("Movies"), 
                "Movie test not found on home page");
            Browser.Link(Find.ByText("Movies")).Click();
            Assert.IsTrue(Browser.ContainsText("Upcoming Movies"), 
                "EW Movie page does not announce upcoming movies.");
        }
        [Test]
        public void ChrisColeMoviesTest()
        {
            Assert.IsTrue(Browser.ContainsText("Entertainment Weekly"), 
                "Entertainment Weekly does " + 
                "not state its name on home page.");
            Assert.IsTrue(Browser.ContainsText("Movies"), 
                "Movie test not found on home page");
            Browser.Link(Find.ByText("Movies")).Click();
            Assert.IsTrue(Browser.ContainsText("Chris Cole"), 
                "Entertainment Weekly does not have Chris Cole's new " +
                "indie film listed on their movie site.");
        }

        [Test]
        public void BriteySpearsTest()
        {
            Assert.IsTrue(Browser.ContainsText("Britey Spears"), 
                "Entertainment Weekly does not " + 
                "have anything about Britney" +
                " Spears on its home page.");
            //search for Britney
            Browser.TextField("searchbox").Value = "Britney Spears";
            Browser.Button("btn_search").Click();

            Assert.IsTrue(Browser.ContainsText("All about"), 
                "EW does not talk all about Britney Spears");

            Browser.Link(Find.ByText("Britney Spears")).Click();
            Assert.IsTrue((Browser.Title.IndexOf("Britey Spears") >

Now we have our samples that will run in an NUnit runner. One performs a search for the WatiN homepage in Google and the other looks at some pages in MSDN. The supplied source code includes an NUnit project to execute the tests. You must run it on a single apartment thread. The sample code includes a proper config file to do this.

LogRunner Code

LogRunner is designed to be syntax-compatible with NUnit. This design decision was made so that tests could be developed and run with either NUnit Runner (Console or GUI) or the LogRunner. My first application of this was for a smoke test that could be compiled into an acceptance test suite or as a standalone console application for smoke testing deployed applications. Compilation mode is set via a compilation switch that replaces the using XXX reference depending on what your target is. LogRunner is a refinement of that original smoke test runner.

NUnit (and most other .NET xUnit frameworks) make use of custom attributes to define test fixtures and aspects of the test suite. Our logging runner will need to define and read those same custom attributes. We will additionally have to implement methods from the Assert object in a way that logs results and continues the current test run, as opposed to halting the test on an assert failure.

We'll start with some basic parts. We need an implementation of the Assert static class. We'll also need an implementation of all the custom attribute classes used by NUnit. These classes will be put in a namespace that can be controlled via a compiler directive. In the case of LogRunner, this will be the LogRunner.Framework namespace.

Assert

Assert provides static methods to perform a variety of tests. IsTrue happens to be the most useful, since every question can be phrased as True/False. Everything else is just for convenience and readability. This implementation also contains properties to indicate current TestFixture and Method, as well as a collection (List) of failed assert calls.

The failure log makes use of a FailedAssert class. This is only a convenience class to bundle meta information about the assert for the log collection. I leave it to you to investigate the FailedAssert class in the the sample code.

Assert Source Listing (Brief)

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Text;

namespace LogRunner.Framework
{
    /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><summary>
</span>
    /// Logging Assert class implementation.  This adds items to a log
    /// for later retrieval so whole smoke test can run.
    /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"></summary>
</span>
    static class Assert
    {

        #region Properties about assert

        private static string _classUnderTest = null;
        private static string _methodUnderTest = null;
        private static List<FailedAssert> _failedAsserts = null;


        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><summary>
</span>
        /// Name of class (TestFixture) currently being tested.
        /// THIS IS NOT THREAD SAFE
        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"></summary>
</span>
        public static string ClassUnderTest
        {
            get { return _classUnderTest; }
            set { _classUnderTest = value; }
        }

        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><summary>
</span>
        /// Name of method (Test) currently being tested.
        /// THIS IS NOT THREAD SAFE
        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"></summary>
</span>
        public static string MethodUnderTest
        {
            get { return _methodUnderTest; }
            set { _methodUnderTest = value; }
        }

        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><summary>
</span>
        /// List of Test Failure meta info
        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"></summary>
</span>
        public static List<FailedAssert> FailedAsserts
        {
            get
            {
                if (_failedAsserts == null)
                {
                    _failedAsserts = new List<FailedAssert>();
                }
                return _failedAsserts;
            }
            set
            {
                _failedAsserts = value;
            }
        }

        #endregion


        #region Assert methods

        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><summary>
</span>
        /// Tests if a condition is true.
        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"></summary>
</span>
        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><param name="test"></param>
</span>
        public static void IsTrue(bool test)
        {
            IsTrue(test, "[No message for error]");
        }

        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><summary>
</span>
        /// Tests if a condition is true.
        /// If false the error is added to the error Log
        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"></summary>
</span>
        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><param name="test"></param>
</span>
        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><param name="message"></param>
</span>
        public static void IsTrue(bool test, string message)
        {
            string className = ClassUnderTest;
            if (className == null) className = "[Unknown]";

            if (test == false)
            {
                AddTestFailureMessage(message);
            }
        }

        #endregion


        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><summary>
</span>
        /// Adds a failure message to the list of failures
        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"></summary>
</span>
        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><param name="message"></param>
</span>
        private static void AddTestFailureMessage(string message)
        {
            FailedAsserts.Add(new FailedAssert(ClassUnderTest, 
                MethodUnderTest, message));
        }

        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><summary>
</span>
        /// Tests to see if the test run generated any error messages.
        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"></summary>
</span>
        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><returns></returns>
</span>
        public static bool RunWasSuccessful()
        {
            return (FailedAsserts.Count == 0);
        }

    }
}

Custom Attributes

We also have to replicate all the custom attributes used by NUnit. These are really only markers for the reflection.

Attribute Classes Source

using System;

namespace Log.Framework
{
    [AttributeUsage(AttributeTargets.Class)]
    public class TestFixtureAttribute : System.Attribute { }

    [AttributeUsage(AttributeTargets.Method)]
    public class TestFixtureSetUpAttribute : System.Attribute { }

    [AttributeUsage(AttributeTargets.Method)]
    public class TestFixtureTearDownAttribute : System.Attribute { }

    [AttributeUsage(AttributeTargets.Method)]
    public class SetUpAttribute : System.Attribute { }

    [AttributeUsage(AttributeTargets.Method)]
    public class TearDownAttribute : System.Attribute { }

    [AttributeUsage(AttributeTargets.Method)]
    public class TestAttribute : System.Attribute { }

    [AttributeUsage(AttributeTargets.Class | AttributeTargets.Method)]
    public class CategoryAttribute : System.Attribute
    {
        public CategoryAttribute() { }
        public CategoryAttribute(string name) { }

        private string _name;

        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><summary>
</span>
        /// Name of this category
        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"></summary>
</span>
        public string Name
        {
            get { return _name; }
            set { _name = value; }
        }
    }
    [AttributeUsage(AttributeTargets.Class | AttributeTargets.Method)]
    public class IgnoreAttribute : System.Attribute
    {
        public IgnoreAttribute() { }
        public IgnoreAttribute(string reason)
        { this.Reason = reason; }

        private string _reason;

        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><summary>
</span>
        /// Reason for ignoring this test
        /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"></summary>
</span>
        public string Reason
        {
            get { return _reason; }
            set { _reason = value; }
        }
    }
}

We now have a replication of the required NUnit parts. The next step is to build out the test runner with proper reflection to execute the tests. An xUnit test fixture's lifecycle looks something like this:

  1. Load TestFixture class instance
  2. Run Fixture Setup
  3. Run Test Setup
  4. Execute Test 1
  5. Run Test Teardown
    ...
  6. Run Test Setup
  7. Execute Test N
  8. Run Test Teardown
  9. Run Fixture Teardown

TestClassInfo

In order to aid the test runner, LogRunner makes use of a TestClassInfo class to hold the meta information about a fixture. This contains MethodInfo properties to represent the various setup and teardown methods. By making use of this class, the TestRunner can handle all tests in a more generic manner. This class also encapsulates the reflection logic for discovering what methods to test.

In order to build out the meta information, the class invokes LoadClassToTest with an instance of the class to be tested. This method gets all public instance methods with the below call:

Type testDef = objectToTest.GetType();
MethodInfo[] methods = testDef.GetMethods(
    BindingFlags.Public | BindingFlags.Instance);

It then loops each MethodInfo object, checks its custom attributes and adds it to the proper property as below:

foreach (MethodInfo currentMethod in methods)
    {
        object[] attributes = 
            currentMethod.GetCustomAttributes(true);
        foreach (object attr in attributes)
        {
            string typeName = attr.GetType().Name;
            if ("TestAttribute" == typeName)
            {
                _testMethods.Add(currentMethod);
                break;
            }
            else if ("TestFixtureSetUpAttribute" == typeName)
            {
                FixtureSetupMethod = currentMethod;
                break;
            }
            else if ("TestFixtureTearDownAttribute" == typeName)
            {
                FixtureTeardownMethod = currentMethod;
                break;
            }
            else if ("SetUpAttribute" == typeName)
            {
                TestSetupMethod = currentMethod;
                break;
            }
            else if ("TearDownAttribute" == typeName)
            {
                TestTeardownMethod = currentMethod;
                break;
            }
        }
    }

After loading all the reflective information and grabbing the proper method hooks, it is ready to be tested. I leave it to you to explore the entire class listing in the included source code.

TestRunner

TestRunner handles loading any number of assemblies and discovering all classes within, as well as executing tests on those classes. In the future, this may be made into an abstract class or an interface, but for now there is only one runner that the console may invoke. For a listing of all current shortcomings, see the Release Notes section below.

Communication between the runner and hosting app is handled via events. A predictable set of events is defined (TestFixtureStarted, TestComplete, etc.). TestComplete includes a log of all failed Asserts in its argument, so this is currently where we discover if we had a successful run or not. You can view LogRunner.Program to see what is being done with the events raised by TestRunner.

TestRunner has two main methods for test execution: ExecuteAssemblyTests and ExecuteObjectTests. These methods use a little reflection, plus our TestClassInfo object to actually execute the tests. ExecuteAssemblyTests loops through all types defined in an assembly. Any type found to be flagged as a TestFixture will be run. Actual test execution by ExecuteObjectTests requires an instance of the test fixture class. To obtain this instance, we use System.Activator.CreateInstance() to create an instance of this class. This instance is then passed to ExecuteObjectTests, which will create a TestClassInfo object containing all of the method pointers for the test setup, execution and teardown. Below shows what these methods look like.

    /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><summary>
</span>
    /// Execute a particular assembly's tests.
    /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"></summary>
</span>
    /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><param name="assemblyName"></param>
</span>
    public void ExecuteAssemblyTests(string assemblyName)
    {
        if (!TestAssemblies.ContainsKey(assemblyName))
            throw new ArgumentException("Assembly not defined for testing");

        Assembly testAsm = this.TestAssemblies[assemblyName];
        if (testAsm == null) return;

        OnAssemblyTestsStarted(new TestExecutionEventArgs(assemblyName));

        Type[] testTypes = testAsm.GetTypes();
        foreach (Type testClassType in testTypes)
        {
            object[] fixtureAttribs = 
                testClassType.GetCustomAttributes(typeof (
                TestFixtureAttribute), false);
            object[] ignoreAttribs = 
                testClassType.GetCustomAttributes(typeof(IgnoreAttribute), 
                false);
            if (fixtureAttribs.Length == 0) continue;
            if (ignoreAttribs.Length >

Now Where's the Magic?

Glad you asked. As I said before, LogRunner is NUnit syntax compliant, not binary compliant. This means that your NUnit test fixtures will not run out of the box. They need to be recompiled to bind to the object set defined within LogRunner. You shouldn't need to rewrite your tests. You will, however, do a little magic with compilation flags and pre-processor statements.

First, add a reference to LogRunner.exe from any projects you wish to run under LogRunner. Next, in each test fixture class, change your current using NUnit.Framework; statement to the following:

#if LOGRUNNER
using LogRunner.Framework;
#else
using NUnit.Framework;
#endif

Finally, add the conditional compiler directive LOGRUNNER to your project in Visual Studio (Project > [Project_Name] Properties > Build > Conditional compilation symbols) or set the value at command line compile time. Your code will now be ready for LogRunner. To change back to NUnit, simply remove the compiler directive.

Conclusion

Acceptance testing, particularly web application acceptance testing, has different needs from unit testing. While unit test runners are fairly mature, acceptance test runners still have a long way to go. In addition to being a little bit of fun with reflection, WatiN and conditional compilation, this is an attempt to move us closer to the kind of functionality we need from acceptance test runners.

Release Notes

  • Currently, all command line switches are ignored; only assembly paths are honored
  • [Ignore] attributes at the test level are ignored
  • Results are only sent to stdout as plain text; there's no XML support
  • In the next version, I'll likely try to support the NUnit XML output file TestResult.xml
  • Only a small subset of Assert methods are supported
  • Single fixture and single test execution is not supported
  • LogRunner is distributed under the Apache License version 2.0

History

  • 14 November, 2007 -- Original version posted

License

This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

A list of licenses authors might use can be found here

About the Author

Chris Cole
Architect
United States United States
I have been involved in professional software development for over 15 years, focusing on distributed applications on both Microsoft and Java platforms.
 
I also like long walks on the beach and a sense of humor and don't like mean people Wink | ;-)
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