JUnit Revisited

Just as a warning, in this short post, I’m going to be writing unit tests that verify that primitives in Java do what they should and basically that gravity is still turned on. The reason for that is that I’d like to showcase some new Java unit testing goodies I’ve recently discovered since coming back into the Java fold a little here and there lately. I firmly believe that the more conversationally readable the contents of unit tests are, the more effective they will be at defining functional and internal requirements as well as showcasing the behavior of the system.

Coming from the .NET world and using MSTest, I’m used to semantics of Assert.AreEqual<int>(x, y) where, by convention, the “control” or expected value goes on the left and the actual value goes on the right. This is a compelling alternative in that it reads like a sentence, which is always good. The MSTest version reads “Are equal x and y” whereas this reads “x is y.” The less it reads like Yoda is talking, the better. So what enables this goodness?

The first import gives you assertThat(), obviously. assertThat() as shown above takes two parameters (there is an overload that takes a string as an additional parameter to let you specify a failure message): a generic type for the first parameter, and a “matcher” for the second parameter. Matchers perform evaluations on types and can be chained together in fluent fashion to allow construction of sentences that flow. For instance, you can chain the is() matcher and the not() matcher to get the following test:

This really just scratches the surface and there are lots of additional matchers from hamcrest as well. You can even extend the functionality by defining your own matchers to cater to the ubiquitous language of the domain that you’re using. This just barely scratches the surface, but if you’re a java developer and haven’t given these a look, I’d suggest doing so. If you’re a .NET developer, it’s worth taking a peek at what’s going on elsewhere and perhaps defining your own such constructs if you’re feeling ambitious or looking for existing ones. In fact, if you know of good ones, please post ’em — I always like seeing what’s out there.