Posts tagged with 'testing'

This is a repost that originally appeared on the Couchbase Blog: Visual Studio Live Unit Testing: New to Visual Studio 2017.

Visual Studio 2017 was just officially released. It comes with a lot of new, great stuff, but one of my favorite new features is built-in Visual Studio Live Unit Testing (available in Visual Studio 2017 Enterprise, not yet available for .NET Core projects).

In this post, I’m going to show you how Visual Studio Live Unit Testing works, as well as some thoughts around using unit tests vs integration tests. You can follow along by getting the full source code for this Live Unit Testing example on GitHub.

Visual Studio Live Unit Testing with NUnit

NUnit is perhaps the most popular testing tool for C#/.NET developers. Visual Studio Live Unit Testing can also work with xUnit and MSTest, but for this post I’m going to just cover NUnit.

To use NUnit, you add it with NuGet, just as normal. To use Visual Studio Live Testing, you’ll also need to add the NUnit Test Adapter (Install-Package NUnite3TestAdapter).

Next, start Live Testing by clicking Test → Live Unit Testing → Start.

Start Visual Studio Live Unit Testing

Writing a Unit Test

We’ll need some unit tests to demonstrate. We could just do Assert.That(1, Is.EqualTo(1)), but where’s the fun in that? Let’s create a shopping cart class.

public class ShoppingCart
    public string UserName { get; set; }
    public DateTime LastUpdated { get; set; }
    public List<Item> Items { get; set; }
    public decimal Total
        get { return Items.Sum(i => i.Price); }

This shopping cart has a couple properties, and a collection of items in it. Notice the Total property. Astute readers may already notice some problems with it, but let’s start with a single, simple unit test to make sure it calculates a total.

public void ShoppingCart_Total_Should_Sum_Up_the_Item_Prices()
    // arrange: create shopping cart with 2 items and figure out the expected total
    var item1 = new Item { Name = "Large Pepperoni Pizza", Price = 14.99M };
    var item2 = new Item { Name = "Cheese Sticks", Price = 4.99M };
    var expectedTotal = item1.Price + item2.Price;
    var cart = new ShoppingCart { Items = new List<Item> { item1, item2 } };

    // act: user the Total method on ShoppingCart
    var actualTotal = cart.Total;

    // assert: totals should match
    Assert.That(actualTotal, Is.EqualTo(expectedTotal));

If Live Unit Testing is turned on, then the test is being automatically run in the background by Visual Studio. You should see some green checkmarks appear.

Visual Studio Live Unit Testing in action

The green checkmarks will also appear wherever the code that is under test is covered.

Visual Studio Live Unit Testing code under test

With Visual Studio Live Unit Testing, you don’t have to stop to run the tests. As you are coding, the tests will run, and give you immediate feedback on whether your code is making tests fail (or whether you’ve written enough code to make your test pass).

Most of all, this will encourage you to write more tests.

What are Integration Tests?

When writing unit tests, you are meant to test a small piece of code on its own. For code that interacts with some external service (a web service, a database, a file system, etc), you often mock those pieces out, so that you can focus on the unit.

You may also write integration tests with NUnit. Integration tests that are meant to go beyond testing a single unit of code, and test that systems work together. Let’s write a method that writes a record to Couchbase Server. This test will use a real database, therefore we can consider it an integration test.

public void SaveShoppingCart(ShoppingCart cart)
    _bucket.Insert(new Document<ShoppingCart>
        Id = Guid.NewGuid().ToString(),
        Content = cart

This method should save a shopping cart to a document in Couchbase Server. To make sure it’s working, we can write an NUnit test.

public void Repo_Can_Save_a_New_Shopping_Cart_to_Database()
    // arrange: create a shopping cart
    var cart = new ShoppingCart
        UserName = "Matthew " + Guid.NewGuid().ToString(),
        LastUpdated = DateTime.Now

    // act: save shopping cart to database

    // assert: check that the cart was saved
    var cartBackOut = Repo.GetCartByUserName(cart.UserName);
    Assert.That(cartBackOut, Is.Not.Null);
    Assert.That(cartBackOut.UserName, Is.EqualTo(cart.UserName));

Note: To keep this post simple, I omitted some of the repository details, and test setup. You can view all of this in the GitHub repository.

Integration Tests with Visual Studio Live Unit Testing

Visual Studio Live Unit Testing will happily run this unit test. You may not want these types of tests to be running in the background automatically because:

  1. If you don’t have Couchbase Server installed, or a bucket created and indexed, then they will fail.

  2. If you have a lot of tests that rely on external components, they could slow down the tests (reading/writing documents in Couchbase is very fast, but setting up a Cluster object for each test or test fixture is not).

  3. These tests could add a lot of unnecessary junk test data to your database.

Excluding Integration Tests from Visual Studio Live Unit Testing

To exclude tests from Live Unit Testing, you can simply right-click on the test file and select "Exclude" from the context menu.

Exclude from Live Unit Testing

After this, none of the tests in that file will be executed by Live Unit Testing. You can also exclude an entire project. So, if you organize unit tests and integration tests into separate projects, then you are all set.

If you don’t organize them into separate projects, then this process could be a bit tedious. Further, the Include/Exclude information is a local setting that can’t (as of the time I’m writing this, and to the best of my knowledge) be committed to source control.

So, after asking about Live Testing exclusion on StackOverflow, I created an attribute that you can place on tests to exclude them from Live Testing.

public class IgnoreForLiveTesting : Attribute, ITestAction
    readonly string _ignoreReason;

    public IgnoreForLiveTesting(string ignoreReason = null)
        _ignoreReason = ignoreReason;

    public ActionTargets Targets { get; set; }

    public void AfterTest(ITest test) { }

    public void BeforeTest(ITest test)
        var isLiveTesting = AppDomain.CurrentDomain.GetAssemblies()
            .Any(a => a.GetName().Name == "Microsoft.CodeAnalysis.LiveUnitTesting.Runtime");
        if (isLiveTesting)
            Assert.Ignore(_ignoreReason ?? "Ignoring this test");

This attribute implements the ITestAction interface (which is kinda like Aspect-Oriented Programming/AOP for NUnit, but that’s a topic for a whole other blog post). It will check to see if it’s being run by a LiveUnitTesting process. If it is, it instructs NUnit to ignore the test.

Furthermore, I added an optional ignoreReason to the constructor, so that you can add a helpful note to other people on your team to explain why this test should not be run with Live Unit Testing. You can use it on an integration test like so:

[IgnoreForLiveTesting("Integration Test")]


I’m not terribly pleased with this method, as it’s NUnit specific, and it’s not quite exactly what I was hoping for with Visual Studio Live Unit Testing. But right now I think "the juice is worth the squeeze". Live Unit Testing is such a great feature for writing code, especially Test-Driven Development (TDD), that it’s worth it to have to write and use a special NUnit attribute.

By all means, if you know of a better way to achieve this, I want to know about it. Please leave a comment below or ping me on Twitter @mgroves.

If you have questions about the Couchbase code you saw in this post, I’d be happy to help. Or, you can check out the responsive and knowledgeable community on the Couchbase .NET SDK forum. If you want to learn more about Couchbase, check out the Couchbase Developer Portal.

Jeremy Miller is the creator of Storyteller.

This episode was recorded at CodeMash 2017 in a massive dining room, so the audio is a bit different than normal.

Show Notes:

Jeremy Miller is on Twitter

Want to be on the next episode? You can! All you need is the willingness to talk about something technical.

Theme music is "Crosscutting Concerns" by The Dirty Truckers, check out their music on Amazon or iTunes.

Jesse Riley and I discuss unit testing and how to do it better.

Show Notes:

Jesse Riley is on Twitter

Want to be on the next episode? You can! All you need is the willingness to talk about something technical.

Theme music is "Crosscutting Concerns" by The Dirty Truckers, check out their music on Amazon or iTune

It's the last part of the series, and I just thought I would wrap things up by talking about unit testing the aspect. I wrote a whole chapter in my book AOP in .NET on unit-testing of aspects. I also was honored to do a live webinar with Gael Fraiteur on unit testing with PostSharp, in which he has a different view on aspect unit testing, so I recommend you check that out too.

I'm not straying too much from the book in this example, so if you're familiar with that chapter, there's not much new for you here.

My plan is to not test the PostSharp aspect directly, but instead have the aspect delegate just about all the functionality to a plain old C# class that's easier to test. The old adage of solving a problem by adding another layer of indirection applies. Doing it this way makes my aspect easier to test, further decouples my application from a specific framework, but does require some more work, so it's not like it's a magic cost-free approach to testing either.

Here is the aspect, all tightly coupled to PostSharp:

And here is my refactored code, which you'll notice results in a higher number of classes, but it is ready to unit test. You may also notice that some of the logic is a bit different than the above aspect. This is because I found some issues and bugs while I was writing unit tests. So, hooray for unit tests! Also notice the "On" static field. I touch on this in the book, but this flag is merely there so that I can unit test the actual services while isolating them from the aspect. Since PostSharp uses a compile-time weaver, this is necessary. If you are using a runtime AOP weaver like Castle DynamicProxy, that's not necessary.

I'll even show you some of my unit tests, which I've written in mspec and JustMock Lite with the help of Sticking Place for testing the SqlException stuff.

Notice that I moved the Exceptionless-specific code behind an interface (IExceptionLogger) as well, to further decouple, improve testability, and also because Exceptionless is just the sort of thing that might actually be swapped out somewhere down the line. I've left out the details of that implementation because it's quite trivial.

So now you are caught up to today: this is the aspect I'm actually using and deploying to a staging site for my cofounder and our designer to use and test. And so far I must say that it's working quite well, but things could always change when it actually hits real customers, of course.

Matthew D. Groves

About the Author

Matthew D. Groves lives in Central Ohio. He works remotely, loves to code, and is a Microsoft MVP.

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