[rspec-users] State Based vs. Behaviour Based Spec/Testing

David Chelimsky dchelimsky at gmail.com
Sat Mar 24 09:08:57 EDT 2007

On 3/24/07, David Chelimsky <dchelimsky at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 3/24/07, Scott Taylor <mailing_lists at railsnewbie.com> wrote:
> >
> > I've notice that a project like Rubinius has both a spec & a test
> > directory.  Rspec has only a spec directory.  Obviously I support
> > BDD, but isn't there also a place for state based/verification
> > testing?
> BDD is not a tool. BDD is a way of thinking about TDD. BDD *is* TDD,
> with focus (not exclusivity) on behaviour. This is what I believe to
> be the initial intent of TDD. This doesn't mean that all state testing
> is bad. In fact, most of the expectations in rspec are state-based:
> actual.should == value, etc.
> I think you're confusing Interaction testing with BDD. Interaction
> testing is a very important part of BDD, but it is not the sole
> purview of BDD. Mocks have been around for a long time. I can't really
> think of anything that you can do with rspec that you can't do w/
> test/unit and mocha. RSpec just tries to make it easier to focus on
> behaviour by using less "testy" words.
> > I sometimes sense that I *do* want to practice Test Driven
> > Development. That is, I want some assurance that my production code
> > will run as intended. But I also want some verification of a bug
> > right after I have implemented it.
> Many people fix bugs using TDD. When the bug is reported, just start
> by writing a failing test that exposes the bug.
> Keep in mind that when doing TDD, the nature of the tests change very
> quickly. When you write the failing test, your goal is expose a
> missing or incorrect behaviour, and use the resulting test to drive
> your design. As soon as that test is passing, it changes in nature,
> becoming both documentation and a regression test.
> >
> > How can one truly get away from state based testing to some degree?
> You can't. At least not in my experience.
> > Spec's often seem too "high level" to assure the "testing" of the code.
> Again, this has to do w/ approach. You can write low level specs just
> as you can write high-level tests. The trick is balance, keeping the
> focus on behaviour rather than the internal structure of code.
> > I know that Test::Unit code will always be brittle.  What happens
> > when the code is refactored?  It is sure to break.
> > Does this suggest that Test::Unit code should be written right after
> > development is done, covering the internals of the project?
> Again, this is a matter of approach, not tooling. Assuming that you
> *must* test something internal, there's no reason that you can't do it
> with rspec. But if you are testing internals, I'd reflect on that and
> ask yourself why it is important to do so. Ask yourself how the
> behaviour is going to be different if the internals change. I'll bet
> that most (not all) of the time, you'll be able to find ways to
> express your "testing" concerns in terms of behaviour. If you can do
> that without having to get too far away from the code to do so, you're
> better off because you'll have better documentation and less brittle
> tests.
> We should really be talking about specific examples, because there are
> some principles here that are either not being recognized or dying to
> get out. Feel free to post some.
> > Maybe
> > BDD specs should be written first, using TDD with Test::Unit for
> > verification (as throw-away code)?  Or do mock objects solve all of
> > these problems?
> >
> > The real question is, do you spec'ers think there is any place for a
> > testing framework next to a spec'ing framework?
> Heretical though this may seem: RSPEC IS A TESTING FRAMEWORK. There, I said it.
> Scott - I don't mean to pick on you here. In fact, I thank you for
> posting this because a lot has been said during the early phases of
> BDD's evolution that is confusing and obviously misleading. And, in
> fact, much of this has been said by me as I've been exploring what the
> meaning of BDD is ... to me.
> I hope that you'll keep posting questions like this as they can only
> help us all to clarify things.

I should also add that I'm talking about BDD as applied to isolation
testing (what many call unit testing :) ). BDD has really evolved into
an agile practice that comprises TDD, Acceptance Test Driven Planning
and other concepts that are geared towards increasing communication
and understanding within the context of a software project. If this is
new to you, check out http://dannorth.net/introducing-bdd/.

> Cheers,
> David
> >
> > Best,
> >
> > Scott Taylor
> >
> >
> >
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> > rspec-users at rubyforge.org
> > http://rubyforge.org/mailman/listinfo/rspec-users
> >

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