Code And Cocktails

Goos Review Chapter 12

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In this chapter we implement our first real acceptance test. It is an end-to-end test of a real user feature.

I tend to run my tests repeatedly as I write them - so I hit a problem before the Authors revealed it. It was the surprise problem of the connection needing to be closed. I guess my running of tests often led me to find it earlier than others might - so I’ll take that as a win. It was annoying to hit it before the Author’s intended though - I thought I had a broken OpenFire installation.

There were four things that stood out for me in this chapter:

  1. Their note about using the same value in test code and production code (e.g. JOIN_MESSAGE_FORMAT) on p109. This is a problem that I struggle with in my testing. Sometimes I feel that it is cheating - or not really testing anything. Other times I think it is the “Right Thing To Do(TM)”. I am glad/disappointed that they have conclusive word on if it is good/bad.

  2. They start implementation of the new feature by first refactoring the existing code into one that will make the needed change easy. This is something I’d like to internalize but I haven’t yet. I usually start by implementing what I need (even if hard/ugly) and then refactoring until it is nice and clean. But this often leads to wailing and gnashing of teeth. I also think, in retrospect that I have missed the target of the really nice design, which no longer can really see, but I feel is still out there.

  3. There was a phrase on p113 which I think is a good feel for how I usually am thinking when I am implementing: “…our immediate concern is to get message translation to work, the rest can wait.” It is this focusing on the immediate problem and ‘faking-till-you-make-it’ that I do a lot. I like to commit often - so I am always working hard to get small bits working and committed instead of trying to do bigger chunks of work (although I can’t say I am always successful in this).

  4. On p116 the Authors say that the expectation is the most important line of the test. However I find that it is hidden in the Java code needed to create it. Perhaps it is because I always look at a test in the ‘arrange, act, assert’ way; so I don’t expect to see an expectation in the ‘arrange’ section but in the ‘assert’ section (as it would be with Spock, Mockito, or Moq for example). I wonder how else it could be made more visible?

  5. Finally they point out the importance of writing the ‘first draft’ code and then refactoring it after the tests are working. I don’t think I could agree with this more strongly.

On the whole a good chapter for the first real user-feature. I am still annoyed with plain old Java code. Maybe I’ll need to start re-implementing this in Ruby or at least Groovy sooner rather than later.

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