I’ve been teaching programmers about the value of isolated tests for a long time, and recently I’ve seen increasing resistance to the idea. I worry that this comes partly from having presented motivations and reasons that tends towards the overly-abstract, ironically enough. Perhaps I can improve matters by returning to the concrete issues and constraints that led me to being exploring this idea in the first place.
Many programmers believe that tests have special permission to repeat themselves, arguing that this repetition makes those tests “simpler” or “easier to read”. I challenge that claim in this free preview article at The jbrains Experience, where members get personalized consulting and answers to their questions.
I recently encountered a code base in which someone had applied the Golden Master technique, but done so in a way I find risky, so I wanted to warn you against letting this happen in your code. This code exhibits a bad idea that probably started out as a good idea or seemed like a good idea at the time. This makes it plausible-but-risky, and this is where a lot of legacy code comes from.
Today I’d like to share an example of a tiny cohesion risk. I leave it to you to evaluate the severity of the risk and the appropriateness of the refactoring. I like to deal with risks when they are small enough that their impact, while painful, probably won’t kill.
If you want reuse, you have to make it happen. Fortunately, you don’t need to be psychic; it’s enough to start by removing duplication, which makes opportunities for reuse easier to spot. Let me show you an example from code I’m working on to generate Nginx server block configurations I need to support some pretty URLs.
In “What Is Functional Programming?” I spotted a nice example of how duplication in tests leads to a suggestion to improve the design.
When you use relative include paths in your code, you bind each source code file to its current location in the project’s file layout. You relegate yourself to having to run it from a very specific location on the file system. You generally make it unnecessarily difficult to automate running your application (or its tests) outside your development environment, such as in platform-as-a-service environments. You make things like Docker not just helpful, but necessary.
No matter what one writes, no matter how carefully one tries to articulate it, a non-trivial segment of the readership will interpret it differently from what one intended. So it has gone with “Integrated Tests are a Scam”. I’d like to address some common differences of interpretation.