Posts tagged with 'visual studio'

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.

I blogged last year about my switch from Markdown to AsciiDoc, and that I was using AsciiDocFX.

I still like AsciiDoc, but AsciiDocFX has been getting on my nerves:

  • It doesn't have a very good update system. It checks for new versions, but it seems like I have to a) uninstall the old version, b) reinstall the new version, otherwise I get problems. I may be doing it wrong, but this made me want to update less.
  • The UI is a little wonky. The live preview sometimes seem to keep its update a few keystrokes behind, meaning that the preview and the document are out of sync. It also tends to get locked up, until I click the Restore button and then Maximize button.

Still, I used it.

But, I built a new computer this week. And I've been setting up my softwares on it. I thought it might be worthwhile to see if there's an AsciiDoc plugin for Visual Studio Code. And, of course there was, because apparently the Code extension ecosystem is booming!

So, I installed AsciiDoc by Joao Pinto, since it came with a live preview. But, it requires me to actually install the asciidoc command line tool.


So, I thought, that should be easy enough. I went to the AsciiDoc site and started following the directions for Windows installation.

Install Ruby

Okay, well now I need to install Ruby. Should be easy enough. I already have Chocolatey NuGet, so I'll just run choco install ruby. No problem. I know that ruby comes with gem, so I should be all set.

Install AsciiDoc

According to AsciiDoc... docs... I just use gem install asciidoc and that should do the trick.

But, no. It's not that easy. Otherwise I wouldn't be writing this blog. I got an error message:

SSL_connect returned=1 errno=0 state=SSLv3 read server certificate B: certificate verify failed

I'm sure all you Ruby people or Mac people or whatever already know where this is going, but I had no clue. So I googled it. I found a whole bunch of suggestions on StackOverflow. Some solutions made sense but weren't for Windows, and vice versa. I eventually hit upon some random guy's Gist and SSL upgrades on which lead to me this page on about SSL updates.

Fixing RubyGems Certificate Thingy

So, following that literally:

gem install --local C:\rubygems-update-2.6.7.gem

and then

update_rubygems --no-ri --no-rdoc

and finally

gem uninstall rubygems-update -x

So, I guess that fixed... something? It's described in the gist I linked above. But I don't really understand why it's still a problem for a brand new install of ruby. Not complaining! It worked!

Okay, now Install AsciiDoc

So now gem install asciidoc works. And now I get a live preview of AsciiDoc in Visual Studio Code.

I'll report back after some more time blogging to see if I like this, or if I eventually go back to AsciiDocFx.

David Neal is writing cross-platform desktop apps with Electron!

Show notes:

David Neal 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.

In my view, Visual Studio Code doesn't share much with the standard Visual Studio software, except for the name.

This isn't a bad thing, per se. But don't expect all the features you're used to in Visual Studio.

Getting started is super easy. Open up a command lind, and type:

choco install visualstudiocode

Then navigate to some source code folder (still in command line) and type:

code .

(You may have to restart your command line environment, since chocolatey updates the path environment variable)

I used this on a PHP project. When I opened a php file, Visual Studio Code recognized it a such, and complained that it couldn't find the php executable.

If you are also using PHP, you'll need to go to File->Preferences->Workspace Settings. This will open up a JSON file that you can make changes to. It will probably be just an empty JSON object to start with.

You then have two options:

  1. Add "php.validate.enable": false
  2. Add "php.validate.executablePath": "path\to\php.exe"

I opted for #1, since I was just doing some quick hacking on a really simple PHP project.

Easy, peasy. Visual Studio Code doesn't take up much hard drive space; it's quick to install and use. So give it a try today.

One of my favorite VS extensions is SmartPaster. Often when I'm pasting something into Visual Studio, I'm pasting it into C# source code. It could be a long directory name, a JSON string, or some sort of template that's going into a StringBuilder. Doing this with plain copy/paste can be tedious because you need to escape certain characters, and often times VS or ReSharper can be uncooperative.

Instead, just install SmartPaster. You'll get a new right-click menu option: "Paste As", which lets you paste text as a literal string, a comment, or as a StringBuilder.

Screenshot of SmartPaster in Visual Studio

Here's an example of Paste As -> StringBuilder. Notice that it even does the string escaping for you (see the double quotes around "Paste As").

It's not useful every day, but it's a huge time saver when it is.

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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