Monday, May 19, 2014

Portable Tests

With two implementations of Suneido (the original C++ cSuneido and the newer Java jSuneido) I've ended up with three sets of overlapping tests - in each of the implementations plus in the Suneido standard library. And as I play with implementing Suneido in Go I find myself creating yet another set of tests.

Obviously this is not ideal. Apart from the duplication, each version of the tests has better or worse coverage of different areas depending on where I had issues with the implementation. Ideally, I'd like to run the same complete set of tests everywhere, and if I added a test case it would be included everywhere, not just in one of the versions.

One option would be to use something like Fit or Fitnesse. But that would still require writing code (for fixtures and "slim" interfaces) and it would mean accepting a third party dependency which in turn depends on Java.

I figured the simplest thing would be to have the test cases in text files and to write a test runner for each of the versions.

But what format should I use for the test cases? I realized that I could use a format that was easy to read with the Suneido lexical scanner. Any implementation of Suneido has to have this, and it's generally one of the first things I implement. Using the scanner made it easy to handle quoted strings and to ignore comments and whitespace.

I implemented a test runner in Suneido code first, and designed the format to keep the parsing simple. Here is an example:


1, 1, 2 // i.e. assert 1 + 1 == 2


"abc" "b"
"abc", "x", false // this should not match

"^bar" // ^ should match after a newline

An '@' followed by a name precedes a list of test cases for the named test "fixture". Each version has to implement each of the fixtures, but these are simple and I already have equivalent code in the existing tests.

Normally each line of values is a test case. Commas between values are optional, but newlines are ignored after a comma to allow splitting a test case over several lines.

After the Suneido code version it was straightforward to implement a version in Go. Java and C++ should also be simple.

I still want to run these tests as part of the existing automated testing, but that's easy to do by writing a test (e.g. in JUnit) that calls the test runner for the portable tests.

A remaining question is where to put the test files. Expecting them to be in the current directory or a subdirectory is easiest, but then each version will have its own copy and I'd have to keep them in sync. It makes more sense to have a single copy somewhere, but then I need some way to point each version at that central location. One option would be an environment variable but that can be problematic. Instead I decided I'd put a text file at the root of each project that would contain the directory path to the tests. (And if that doesn't fit, each implementation is free to handle this differently.)

My main concern with this was tests with a lot of different cases, where you'd use data driven tests. (like regular expressions) In other areas what I probably should have is more of a BDD (Behavior-driven development) style of tests that would form a kind of specification for Suneido. To keep this portable it would make sense to use the JBehave style that separates the specification from the implementation.

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