Testing rules (and tools)

20 Oct 2011 » Giacomo Tesio

Epic has received some interest in the last weeks (probably becouse of the pending bet with Greg Young).

As previously stated, we really need new developers, and we’d like to lower the effort required to start contributing as much as possible.

However, being a challenging long term project, Epic requires a set of rules to make its codebase both reliable and maintainable.

Marco and I already agreed on such (often subtle but carefully crafted) coding conventions but we have to document them for newcomers.

Indeed each pull request will be reviewed (and discussed, thanks to the wonderful tools that GitHub provides), but it’s easier to build them correctly at first rather than to fix them later.

Full code coverage is not enough

Epic’s development is not test driven.

Development follows a deep analysis that is shared (and discussed) between developers. This helps me (as a dictator :-D) to keep the components coherent with the overall vision.

To keep the framework reliable, we have the released code fully covered by unit tests. Thus, any pull request missing the required tests can not be accepted. Indeed, to reach a 100% code coverage, we have to review the code more and more times, understanding it deeply. These reviews help to early find bugs that we have left behind.

A full code coverage, however is not enough. We have to cover behaviours, not just code!


To get used to test behaviours instead of code, we designed a set of conventions for unit tests.

The fixture’s name is that of the class under test followed by “QA” (for quality assurance), while the namespace is that of the class itself.

Tests adhere to the Arrange-Act-Assert style, and their names follow the form Message_Scenario_Assertion:

  • Message is the method (often a command) that is sent to the class under test.
  • Scenario is a description of the preconditions (tipically a semantical description of the arguments).
  • Assertion is a description of the assertion to be expected.

With such conventions, when we name a test, we have to think about the behaviour that it will verify. Moreover, looking at the fixture running, we can read about the tested behaviours (and identify forgotten ones) even when all the lines have been hit.

…and tools

To ease (and force) such convention we wrote two simple code snippets for Visual Studio and MonoDevelop.

A VSI installer is available here for VS users.

Once installed properly, they will be fired typing test or etest (for expected exceptions).

Tests rely on NUnit and Rhino.Mocks (in the version included in the 3rdParties directory). To verify the code coverage we use NCover (and MonoCov, on Linux).