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Learning to enjoy writing test cases

I'm not big on writing test cases. Before joining Bug Labs, I mainly did .NET dev for three years, and "building" a project was sufficient enough to move on to the next item. When I started doing Rails stuff, bballantine told me why I should be writing test cases and so did numerous bloggers/developers. Ok, I get it. But writing test cases was still only a bit less painful than pulling teeth for me.

  • "I could be adding new features!"
  • "Fixtures mess up everything!"
  • "I come up with easy scenarios just for sake of writing test cases!"
  • "Urrgh.."

These were some of thoughts in my head whenever I had to write test cases.

So I spent some time researching different testing methods in Rails and how people deal with issues with fixtures or test data. I personally wanted to run automated test cases for new features so I wouldn't have to run through different scenarios in browsers. I needed something simple and flexible, so I wouldn't have to spend much time debugging and troubleshooting test scripts. The general consensus in the Rails community seemed to point to a direction of Shoulda and a form of data factory (factory_girl or object_daddy). So I gave Shoulda+factory_girl a try. Overall, I'm pretty happy with:

  • Shoulda's integration with existing Rails testing framework
  • Shoulda's useful macros and nested contexts
  • Being able to define test data on the fly with factory_girl. No more worrying about breaking older tests or going back-and-forth between test scripts and fixtures.

Just to give you a taste, here's a snippet from our test script. These test basic scenarios of forums account consolidation process-- older forums users need to submit their email address associated with their previous account so that we know who they are and import data if necessary.

context "After logging in" do setup do @current_user = Factory(:user) # create a user logged_in_as(@current_user) end context "> requesting forums account consolidation" do setup do @previous_email = "oldforumemail@mail.com" # create a previous forums post with the email @post = Factory(:sbpost_imported, :temp_user => Factory(:temp_user, :email => @previous_email)) post :forums_request_consolidation, :prev_email => @previous_email end # check the returned message should_set_the_flash_to /Please check your email/i should "set activation code" do # activation code is set and temp user id is recorded @current_user.reload assert_not_nil @current_user.forums_activation_code assert_equal @current_user.temp_user_id, @post.temp_user.id end should "have no forums post" do assert_equal 0, SbPost.count("user_id = #{@current_user.id}") end context "> clicking the activation link" do setup do @current_user.reload get :forums_activate, :activation_code => @current_user.forums_activation_code end should_set_the_flash_to /Thanks for activating/i should "nil activation code and update sbposts" do @current_user.reload assert_nil @current_user.forums_activation_code assert SbPost.count("user_id = #{@current_user.id}") > 0 end end end end

I was pulling my hair out at some point because I didn't realize Factory.build(:user) doesn't actually save data-- reminder to myself: read the documentation carefully..

In any case, I'll be writing more test cases using Shoulda next few days and post tips if I learn something useful.

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