Bringing Developers and Designers closer together (eventually, sort of)

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

When Microsoft released their Expression suite of products, the marketing claim was that they could be used to edit the very same source files that the developers were working on.

BUT, while Visual Studio 2005 included TFS, the obvious integration with any of the Expression products was missing. So the marketing claim was a bit hollow. Yes, you technically "could" work on the same files, but it was going to be a clunky experience.

So it is ironic that yet again, a version 3 product finally appears to get it right. Note this announcement refers to Expression Blend, and it isn't clear whether Expression Web has similar capabilities.

The art of Unit Testing with Examples in .NET

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

The Art of Unit Testing: with Examples in .NET
The Art of Unit Testing: with Examples in .NET
by Roy Osherove

I recently bought a copy of The Art of Unit Testing: with Examples in .NET by Roy Osherove, taking advantage of a discount being offered by Manning.

Already owning xUnit Test Patterns: Refactoring Test Code (Addison-Wesley Signature Series) by Gerard Meszaros and Working Effectively with Legacy Code (Robert C. Martin Series) by Michael Feathers, I was interested to see what new insights Osherove would bring, especially as he would be focussing purely on the .NET platform (code samples are in C#).

The book is divided into 4 sections.

Part 1 (which I skimmed through) was an introduction to unit testing. Osherove uses NUnit for his examples which is reasonable considering it is probably the most popular unit testing framework for .NET at the moment.

His preferred naming convention for test methods is interesting – "[MethodUnderTest]_[Scenario]_[ExpectedBehaviour]". It contrasts with the "natural sentence" style I currently favour (which I'd trace back to Jean-Paul Boodhoo's unit testing episodes on dnrTV).

He also recommends naming test classes with a "Tests" suffix. I've always used the singular "Test", but I take his point that each test class does contain multiple tests so plural may be more accurate.

Part 2 introduces stubs, mock objects and isolation frameworks (aka mock object frameworks). Following a poll held on Osherove's blog, Rhino Mocks was chosen to demonstrate how a framework can simplify creating mock objects. I could be wrong, but you almost get a sense that this was done somewhat grudgingly considering Osherove himself works for TypeMock (who sell a commercial mocking framework). Curiously whilst including a link to the Rhino Mocks download site, he doesn't even mention Ayende's name at all.

Osherove makes the following recommendations about stubs and mocks:

I found this interesting, as we've been writing a lot of unit tests lately, and one of the things we're coming to realise is that brittle tests can be annoying. Tests that still test your code, but are more flexible about exactly how the code under test works (rather than setting strict expectations for each and every method call) are going to be more useful and less effort to maintain.

Part 3 looks at various strategies for organising tests and a number of patterns and anti-patterns to follow when creating tests.

Part 4 covers how to make unit testing the norm in an organisation, and how to work with legacy code.

Having some experience writing unit tests, I did find this book a bit light on. Osherove references Meszaros and Feather's books regularly. I would also consider both of these works cover the topic in a more detailed and thorough manner. However they are probably not necessarily as good a starting point for someone new to unit testing, especially someone who's main experience lies in developing for the .NET platform.

I finished the book surprisingly quickly – pleased that I'd learned a few new things, but left feeling that it would have been nice to learn a few more.

Firefox 3.5

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Today is "Upgrade to Firefox 3.5" day :-)

My upgrade went very smoothly, and one nice feature was it warned me beforehand which extensions wouldn't work with the new version.

Post-upgrade, it found a compatible version of Firebug, but I'm still waiting for updates of

The following extensions work ok:

They reckon 3.5 is about twice as fast as 3.0. It certainly does seem snappier.

As a side note, I just noticed that Google Notebook is no longer being developed. Might be time to finally make the transition to Evernote.

Saasu

Saturday, 27 June 2009

(or two things I remember from this month's SQL Server user group meeting)

This month, Rob presented on "SQL in the cloud". It was an interesting talk, if nothing else for the interesting direction(s) that Microsoft have taken trying to get this whole "cloud database" concept up and running.

Rob's joke turned out to be quite good (considering the context of a SQL Server User Group - "A man walks into a bar, sees two TABLEs and says 'Can I JOIN you?"

The other thing which he mentioned as part of a discussion on cloud computing was Saasu – an online accounting site. Think MYOB or Quicken but entirely online. This attracted my interest as I've been using MYOB Business Basics to track Narelle's scrapbooking business for a few years, and I've come to discover that particular product isn't really suited to a reseller type business.

Saasu is free to join and if you keep below 15 transactions a month it is free to use. Following the familiar service model, once you start using it more often than that you need to pay a small amount each month. That cost would probably be less than having to buy an upgrade for MYOB each year, so it is quite competitive. Even though it's a global site, they have facilities for handling Australian accounting and tax requirements (eg. GST and BAS).

So far, I'm quite impressed, especially considering they support handling inventory (something Business Basics couldn't even do).

Tracing and logging WPF

Monday, 22 June 2009

Whilst researching unit testing WPF applications I came across Bob King's answer to this question on StackOverflow.

WPF DataBinding can appear to be a bit of a mysterious black box, but I now know that you can enable diagnostic trace sources to see what's happening under the covers. Mike Hillberg shows some examples in this post.