Parameterized Unit Tests

3/17/2007 9:53:00 PM

Parameterized Unit Tests

Andrew Stopford wrote about a Microsoft Research technology called parameterized testing being developed on a project called Pex (Program EXploration). Pex is described as an…

…intelligent assistant to the programmer. By automatically generating unit tests, it allows [one] to find bug early. In addition, it suggests to the programmer hot to fix the bugs.

In addition to specifications, I have been thinking since last spring about how I could better integrate my software with unit-testing. While I am not planning on building a dedicated system like Pex, one common trait that my system may have with Pex is the ability to symbolically analyze a function with unspecified parameters. 

Some of the changes that I had been considering included:

  • Recognizing calls to the various unit-testing frameworks such as Assert.IsTrue.
  • Accepting test methods containing parameters.
  • Presenting an NUnit style tree-view interface.

In addition, NStatic would not actually cause any external side-effects to the environment, which may or may not be a benefit. Also, there may also be some cross-pollenation and integration with the specifications work post-V1.

It’s not entirely clear to me at the moment what additional value the last two bullet points have over just performing a regular scan over the codebase (and/or using specifications): Automatic calls to Setup and Teardown? More structured tests? Exploring specific scenarios?

These are just some of my thoughts for the long-term future of my product. None of these features are coming out in the first version.

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