[rspec-users] How to spec code with multiple (interacting) paths

Jerry West jerry.west at ntlworld.com
Mon Feb 26 05:50:03 EST 2007

 > This would be acting like a factory for all objects required by the
 > action, and could be specified independently.  Then I wouldn't need
 > to check that the controller behaves correctly under 3 different
 > invalid models, just that if anything is invalid it behaves
 > correctly.  (Pretty much identical to the way you spec the individual
 > validations in a model, then spec that the controller behaves
 > correctly if its invalid.)
 > Maybe you were thinking along these lines?  It's hard to put things
 > across sometimes without writing code out.
 > Ashley

Yes, I think so; the controller delegates the matter where possible, so 
your controller spec simply checks that the delegatee is called.  The 
spec for the delegate(e) worries about ensuring that the correct 
outcomes arising in each of the myriad parameter combinations.

I've also been puzzling over the true application of "Tell don't ask", 
which I haven't really wrapped my head around yet.  To quote...

The problem is that, as the caller, you should not be making decisions 
based on the state of the called object that result in you then changing 
the state of the object. The logic you are implementing is probably the 
called object's responsibility, not yours. For you to make decisions 
outside the object violates its encapsulation.

Sure, you may say, that's obvious. I'd never write code like that. 
Still, it's very easy to get lulled into examining some referenced 
object and then calling different methods based on the results. But that 
may not be the best way to go about doing it. Tell the object what you 
want. Let it figure out how to do it. Think declaratively instead of 

It is easier to stay out of this trap if you start by designing classes 
based on their responsibilities, you can then progress naturally to 
specifying commands that the class may execute, as opposed to queries 
that inform you as to the state of the object.

 From  http://www.pragmaticprogrammer.com/ppllc/papers/1998_05.html

I'm too used to designing my models around the data which means I always 
offer the equivialent of #is_valid and #set_status.  Tell don't ask 
suggests I should be writing CreditCard#transact and returning an error 
if necessary.  It's a bit of a sea change for me (and for DHH if I 
recall his early works correctly!).  All part of the heavyweight model 
thing that seems to be in fashion, perhaps.

Best wishes,

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