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Refining Modern Web Development

bdd

Monday, January 30th 2017

Don't Mock Your Code - The Behavior is the Unit

I first started really utilizing unit testing and test-driven development while on the DataMarket team at Microsoft was slowing migrating an ASP.NET WebForms app to MVC. In a team that had no tests maintained by developers (shudder how did we develop software this long?) it was a big cultural change led by my great colleages Jon Sequiera and Dmitry Frenkel, who I am very greatful to have the experience of working with.

At the time we'd write tests for our controllers. We'd mock out all the dependencies it would need in a test and provide them. We were also using the repository pattern and testing the controller we'd mock that out. The repository pattern was really needed as we couldn't actually make a call to the database due to a lot of different reasons that basically stem from a monolithic ball of sphagetti code and abomination that was Entity Framework 1.0.

That was nice to get developers used to writing tests for their code, but there was a lot of problems with that. Views were not tested at all, due to Razor being untestable at the time (some 32bit vs 64bit issue on the build server or something, see previous comment on monolithic ball of sphagetti). We had bugs in our view not being rendered. Razor was also very logic heavy, and a few abominations were created. Writing new tests required about 3x the mocking code than code that actually did the assertions. Model binding had no tests - you'd know about it 3 days later (maybe) when a tester ran their test suite, or worse, your manager was trying something on the development environment. Forgot a dependency injection registration that you mocked out? App won't boot at all despite your tests passing. Moreover, when I want to refactor code to move more logic into the controller from the repository that had to much (that had no tests on it), I have to refactor a whole quite of tests. How can we rely on these tests when it still has these huge gaps and maintence problems?