[rspec-users] Should(not?) test associations (was: Dealing with dependent data)
dchelimsky at gmail.com
Fri Jun 27 22:07:27 EDT 2008
On Jun 27, 2008, at 6:58 PM, Jim Gay wrote:
> I've been meaning to ask the list about this for a while now.
> I don't always use "should", but I've been trying to come up with a
> standard way to approach the Rails has_one, has_many, etc. as
> opposed to methods on the object such as name, description etc.
> What I mean is that I want to write specs so that I know if
> something refers to an associated object or not, without resorting
> to writing technically oriented specs that define implementation
> rather than behavior.
> "project should have an owner" unfortunately doesn't let me know if
> it's a method that returns a value, or a method that returns another
An association does not want you to know that it's an association. It
wants you to think of it as any other attribute. Why do you care what
it IS? Focus on what it DOES.
> Does anyone have advice or experience in writing the specs to
> provide that kind of information?
> I hope this isn't too much of a thread hijack.
We'll make a new thread then :)
My opinion is that attributes and associations are equally about
structure, not behaviour. The fact that a project has an owner is not
behaviour. The fact that the owner has an email address is not
The facts that you can't save a project without an owner, and you
can't save an owner without a valid email address are behaviour. And
by setting expectations around those, the attributes and associations
themselves are handled implicitly:
describe Project do
it "should not be valid without an owner" do
Project.new(:owner => nil).should_not be_valid
Watch that fail saying that Project does not respond to 'owner='
method. Add a migration and an association. Now it fails saying that
it was valid. Add the validation and watch the example pass. That's
TDD (yes, starting with a T).
Any time I have a an attribute or an association that I *think* is
supposed to be on a model, I try to think of what might be interesting
about that attribute or association and set expectations about that.
There are many who believe that we should have examples like
"project.should have_one(:owner)." I can't say that those people are
wrong if doing that is adding value to their process and helping them
deliver quality software. For me, personally, it's just unnecessary
noise that adds maintenance burden later when things move around. And
it definitely ain't behaviour.
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