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From "John Fallows" <>
Subject Re: Thoughts about unit testing and mock objects
Date Sat, 13 May 2006 06:43:51 GMT
On 5/12/06, Craig McClanahan <> wrote:
> On 5/12/06, John Fallows <> wrote:
> >
> > On 5/10/06, Adam Winer <> wrote:
> > >
> > > I thought more about this over the last few hours.  I think my basic
> > > gripe with easymock and mockobject approaches to JSF API objects is
> > > that most of the JSF tests I write rarely are concerned  specifically
> > > with testing how my code is interacting with the JSF API;  it's how my
> > > code is itself behaving.  The former is where mock object suites pay
> > > dividends, but when your main concern is in your own code, mock suites
> > > seem to get in the way for more than they help.  Basically, the Shale
> > > test framework seems like a better fit (yeah, handcoded, but that
> > > work's done and released...).
> >
> >
> > I don't understand your point.  Shale test framework is founded on mock
> > objects.
> In addition, code we write in things like ADF Faces is going to assume
> certain behavior on the part of the JSF runtime -- I like to use a mock
> object framework that behaves enough like the "real thing" so that I can
> test the parts of my code that depend on that behavior too, not just
> static
> unit tests on individual methods.
> Also, no one so far seems to have addressed the second question in the
> > original post about how we should provide mock objects for our own code
> in
> > our unit tests.
> It probably blurs the line between unit tests and system integration tests
> a
> bit, but I like to use the real objects, rather than mocks, whenever I can
> feasibly do so.  Besides having to do less work (not building mocks for
> classes that can be used both at test time and runtime), this also reduces
> the risk that I will mistakenly program my own class to the possibly
> botched
> behavior of a badly written mock object, giving me a false sense of
> security
> when the tests pass ...

Well I definitely agree about not wanting to hand-craft mock object

Dynamic mock creation also seems to address that by not requiring an
implementation and keeping the recipe for the behavior isolated to the unit
test itself.  This provides self-documenting tests which are especially
useful for anyone trying to learn the semantics of the code.

IMHO, unit testing is about verifying the semantics of each codepath in each
method, aiming for 100% coverage.  This is most easily verified if each
codepath is unit tested in isolation, preventing cascading failures and
minimizing initialization overhead (only create the objects used by the
method codepath).

The point about false positives is interesting.  Let's assume that we don't
have any reusable mock object implementations to possibly botch, instead we
have a specification of expected behavior (to possibly botch!) inside each
unit test method definition (using jMock).  Then, the unit test reads as
"setup expectations", "execute real object method", and "verify actual

The unit test verifies that the method behaves according to the expected
semantics defined in the same method.  With a minimal amount of expected
behavior to specify in each unit test method, the general approach does not
seem that error prone to me.  Perhaps some of this setup just needs to be
hoisted out of the unit test method in special cases, like Shale does for
JSF specification objects.

Lastly, I think that the best way to verify in-container behavior is to run
the code in the actual container and update the isolated behavior
specifications in any unit test methods that need to be improved.  When the
tested codepaths are working, the unit tests will ensure that they keep

Thanks for any insights you can provide to help me figure out the pros and
cons here. :-)

Author: Pro JSF and Ajax: Building Rich Internet Components, Apress

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