Skip to main content

Front-End Release Management: Unit Testing

This is a small part of a series of "Front-End Release Management" blogposts I'll be writing.

Unit testing allows your developers to protect pieces of functionality in the application from misbehaviours. It is extremely important on groundwork (analytics and frameworks).

Before diving into the tools that we're using at RESAAS to achieve continuous integration with our JavaScript unit tests, let's go over some of the core goals:

  • Easy to write tests
  • Fast to execute tests
  • Easy to integrate into Jenkins (CI)

Our front-end engineers are extremely talented and experienced with JavaScript, CSS, HTML5 -- that said, if we introduce a tool, we need to keep the toolchain as streamlined as possible and in alignment with their skill-sets. JavaScript is natural to any software engineer. It is fast (based on V8, Chakra, and Nitro), it is easy to understand, and it is very easy to pick up if you're coming from a designer background or from a purely back-end background.

In part of the testing initiatives, we investigated different test frameworks, such as, qunit and Jasmine BDD. In the end, we decided on Jasmine BDD partly because of its expressiveness (using a business-centric lexicon/vocabulary). Here's an example of what Jasmine BDD has to offer in regards to readability and ease of use in writing a few specs:

As you can see above, things are simple. Jasmine BDD is so simple that it's rather easy to start doing targeted code generation (partly because of its nesting describes). For example, our analytics library called Arbiter has roughly 700 generated specs to ensure that event tracking behaves the way it is supposed to depending on the user interactions being specified.

In continuous integration, we've hooked up our roughly 2,000 unit tests to Jenkins. The guts of the test runner is just a C# test class, which talks directly to the Chutzpah executable. Chutzpah then runs all the specs and returns the output to the C# Test class, which ensures that all tests pass. Additionally, Chutzpah is very easy-to-use within Visual Studio. It lets you right click a folder of specs and executes them and streams the results to the Visual Studio console. Below is a diagram of how it works.

It's that easy. We've benchmarked our specs and so far we're seeing a few thousand unit tests run in less than 10 seconds. At the start of the blogpost, I outlined "fast to execute tests" as part of our core design goals. Ultimately, development and testing tools need to be fast and the faster we can react to misbehaviours in the code, the faster we can fix it.

Good luck and have fun,
Jaime Bueza

Jaime Bueza is a software engineer in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He has developed web applications for Nintendo, Starbucks, Bacardi, Nike, Electronic Arts, Ritchie Brothers, Kiwi Collections, Cox Communications and Microsoft. When he's not developing useful software that constantly evolves with business requirements, he's writing open source software and helping developers in the Windows Azure NodeJS community.


Popular posts from this blog

TextMate Tutorial: How to add a Strikethrough keybind to your Markdown bundle

Markdown is awesome for quickly generating Readme's on Github. After looking at other projects using the strike tag, I've decided to create a custom keybind for it in my TextMate Markdown bundle. Here's how:

1) Click the + sign on the bottom left and click New Command.
2) Paste this into the editbox and make sure you name your command "Strikethrough".

For the input field, select WORD in the drop down.
For the output field, select "insert as snippet".
As for the keybind, you can totally map it to whatever you're comfortable with but I chose Command-D as it is the same thing in Microsoft Word.


Plenty of Fish - Lessons Learned Meetup

Today, I had the fantastic opportunity of going to a retrospective by Plenty of Fish. As you may know, Plenty of Fish is the largest online dating site and it was all started by a local BCIT graduate named Markus Frind.

Below are notes that were taken on my iPhone. I do apologize as I am continually editing this blogpost.

What is Plenty of Fish? An online dating site.
Why enter the dating market? Back in 2003, it was the only thing that was interesting to build. Markus already knew ASP but wanted to learn more about building web applications with ASP.NET and improve his skills on his resume. 
How do you deal with the network effects problem? In the early days, Plenty of Fish gained traction through Vancouver and Toronto.  There wasn't any silver bullet or magic around it -- Plenty of Fish heavily relied on organic user growth and SEO. The focus was to retain users more than go out and acquire new ones.
What are some early challenges you faced? Markus actually ended up doing every…

World of Warcraft Ninjalist addon: version 0.1 coming along quite nicely

After toying around with more GUI related issues in World of Warcraft's API, I've decided to take a totally different direction. Originally when I architected this addon, I knew in my mind it would be a super simple Console application that a user could easily paste in a name and add it to the database; however, why stop there?

After discovering AceGUI, I can easily start developing UI components in no time! As of right now, I've got it saving data in between game sessions--the interesting part will come when I'll have to develop the web service that will parse the SavedVariable.lua, eliminate duplicate entries, as well as, do a huge merge between their copy and whats on the server's (per realm basis of course).

Here's a screen shot of the responses when adding new Ninjas to your list:
When a user clicks add after entering a name in the textbox, it'll go ahead and add that person to the ninjalist tagging the user's realm and current date/time. Someday, I…