26 April 2012

JUnit Tutorials

I prepared a short list of tips and links for some colleagues to get started with JUnit.
  • A good start for an absolute beginner is the JUnit Cookbook.
  • JUnit is integrated in Eclipse. Lars Vogel's JUnit Tutorial shows how to write and execute tests using Eclipse. Talking about Eclipse, I always use the keyboard short-cut ALT-SHIFT-X and then key T to launch the test open in the editor window. After that I use the keyboard short-cut CTRL-F11, which runs the last launched test or application, to re-run my JUnit test until it succeeds.
  • JUnit comes pre-packaged with Hamcrest, a framework for writing matcher objects. These matchers improve the readability of tests and provide better failure messages. Consider writing a custom Matcher if you need to compare large objects with one another based on complex state.
  • A mistake that I see quite often is the handling of expected exceptions in tests. Szczepan Faber has written down five rules how to do that and to avoid any problems.
  • To explore more advanced topics of JUnit see my presentation on Practical Unit Testing (June 2009).
  • Also make sure that your tests are deterministic. Non-deterministic tests are a serious threat to the discipline of unit testing.

Ventanas Rotas. Broken WindowsAll these links focus on using the JUnit technology, but do not explain how to write good tests. If you have some spare time and would like to know more about JUnit and unit testing in general I recommend the book Pragmatic Unit Testing in Java with JUnit.

Behaviour - the "New" Way
By the rise of BDD the common understanding of unit tests has changed. Even if you do not do TDD or BDD these things apply to any unit test.
  • They are now called Micro tests to distinguish them from traditional unit tests. Tests with a larger scope, e.g. integration or end-to-end tests, are no unit tests even if they make use of JUnit.
  • Further the names of test methods should be full sentences focusing on behaviour. JUnit 4.x removes the need to prefix test methods with test, and usually the sentence of the expected behaviour starts with the word should.
  • The test methods should be created using the Arrange-Act-Assert or even better the Given-When-Then pattern.

Recommended Watching
Finally I highly recommend the recording of The Deep Synergy Between Testability and Good Design by Michael Feathers. It's an excellent talk examining relationship among test-pains, code smells and design principles. Go, watch it!

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