November 8, 2008 by Alistair Deneys
Well. When I started writing this multi-part series on automated testing and Sitecore I never intended for it to flow over into 8 parts. But I think what I’ve covered in this series are the fundamental pieces any developer requires to be able to affectively automate their tests for Sitecore code.
So, now that we’re at the end of the series, I’ll leave you with some tips.
- Don’t get hung up on “unit” testing. As you’ve seen, it’s very difficult to completely isolate any code we write against the Sitecore API, as that API is a dependency. Also at times, the entire Http Request becomes a dependency when we’re testing components which are context sensitive. Don’t worry too much about ensuring you’re testing is “unit”. Unit testing makes it easier to pinpoint which piece of code is misbehaving, but all we really need is an atomic, repeatable test harness for our code to ensure it behaves as expected. Once you let go of pure units, you’ll be able to write your tests a lot easier.
- Plan for testing. I always start writing new pieces of code by thinking about how I could test that code. (Actually, I start by writing the tests so I’m TDD.) Is it presentation? Is it static in behavior? Do I need the custom test runner to provide a Sitecore context to the running tests? How will I make the test repeatable? What dependencies on the environment are there, such as, do I need to create any items to test the component?
- Design for testing. Take note of how you write your code and how you design the architecture of your solution to make sure components are easily testable. For example, complex functionality should never be in the code behind of a sublayout or layout. It should always be in a different class. This makes the functionality available to other parts of the solution as well as making the testing of the logic of that function much easier as the logic is not mingled with presentation code.
- Ensure your tests are repeatable. You want to be able to retest and retest and get consistent results. Part of this will most likely be setting up your content tree before the test so you know what results to expect. Being able to pragmatically setup the environment is paramount to making your tests repeatable. You don’t want to have to rely on a person creating certain items or setting up the environment manually before a test. Ensure there are as few steps as possible in the testing strategy. The closer you can get to “single click” testing, the less likely you are to have developers not running the tests to make sure they didn’t break anything.
- Ensure your tests are atomic. You need to cleanup any test items created for the test at the conclusion of the test (or test fixture). You don’t want tests to impact on each other as these ends up leading to very messy maintenance. You need to ensure your tests can grow as your solution does and the biggest impact on this is the atomicity of your tests.
I hope the techniques I’ve shown in this series will help you on your way to better testing. But these techniques are still evolving. As I’m challenged by a new dev about the complexity of testing against Sitecore, or as I find better ways to test, I incorporate those into my testing techniques. I’ll keep you posted on what I find in the future. And of course if you think I’m completely off the mark about any of this, let me know. Only through challenging the technique do we truly assess it’s effectiveness and suitability.