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For each class we are building, thought should be given to how the class is to be tested. As we have seen, the extreme programming (XP) approach suggests that test sets should be created before any coding starts. This is not as simple as it seems because at the start of the coding of a unit, it may not be entirely clear how it will be written, and some important tests may not be easily de ned. Furthermore, many of the popular types of testing such as the white box testing techniques are based on the structure of the code. But we have no code as yet, so this won t work. The lack of discussion of this point is one of the weaknesses of some treatments of XP. What is important here is that a basic framework for testing the unit is de ned, and this will be developed into a more detailed set of tests in tandem with the coding. At the end of the initial exploratory coding stage, a complete set of tests should then be available so that thorough testing of the class is possible. Given the outline description or structure of a class, we have to identify two important things: (a) What are the ways in which the method will be accessed and
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8 Units and Their Tests
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what, if any, are the preconditions on the data that is supplied to it (b) What are the ranges of values that need to be provided for the methods Once we have identi ed these, the expected outputs have to be considered and, in particular, action taken to ensure that the output information of interest can be read or displayed in an appropriate form. We will be writing some test scripts that will be used in conjunction with the class code to establish whether it is behaving in a desired manner. These scripts, themselves forming classes or modules in the language concerned, will provide the basis for automating many of the tests, but it is unlikely that all the tests can be done automatically. The test scripts will have to provide the information needed to prepare the class for testing, and this will involve identifying the entry points to the method and supplying suitable data to make the test work. In any method that we want to test, there will be some data input values needed from a de ned data structure or type. It is important to ensure that the data selected for this purpose is suf ciently varied to expose the method to all possible types of failure as well as success. We are trying to do two things during testing: gain some con dence that the method works and at the same time try to break it. Only then can we be sure that the class is trustworthy enough to be considered for integration into our existing working system. Most values of data will be de ned in the context of limits or boundaries that describe their validity so that, for example, we may have taken the decision earlier that a particular data value that is a string must be between 1 and 30 characters long and that falling outside that range will cause an error and some suitable recovery perhaps inviting a user to try again if it is a data input through some user interface. Numerical values might also be restricted, and it is useful to be proactive in this respect and not rely on the system to deal with out of range values. When choosing numeric data values for use in unit testing, it is useful to consider the following simple categories of data values, where we are assuming that there are upper and lower boundaries on the values: A value below the lower boundary A value equal to or at the lower boundary A midrange value A value equal to or at the higher boundary A value above the higher boundary A value in an incorrect format A null value or no input If we are dealing with the type of a string of literals that must be of length between 1 and 30, then we could generate the following distinct tests: ,return. a abcdef
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