Read my latest article: 8 things I look for in a Ruby on Rails app (posted Thu, 06 Jul 2017 16:59:00 GMT)

On Apologies

Posted by Thu, 15 Feb 2007 21:01:00 GMT

Recently, Seth Godin posted a short blog post, titled, Apologies, ranked, which points out several ways of apologizing. When you work in a service industry, it becomes very important to develop good apology skills. Let’s be honest for a moment. Not everything works out for the best in every customer experience. Sometimes it’s their fault and many times… it’s our fault.

In response to Seth’s post, Marc Chung has written up a similar post that adapts this to software bugs, titled, Seth on Fixing Bugs.

It’s worth a read and definitely relates to the communication issues that we keep talking about within the Dialogue-Driven Development community and how that can translate to a healthy testing process with BDD.


Be Careful that you don't Stub your Big Toe

Posted by Tue, 13 Feb 2007 06:09:00 GMT

In a project that I’m currently working on, we’re handling recurring payments for subscribers. I’ve decided to play with a different payment service API on this project (TrustCommerce), which supposedly has one of the easier systems to handle recurring payments as well as one-time charges to the same credit cards. They store all the credit card data so that our delivered product to the client is CISP-compliant.

I came across the TrustCommerce Subscription plugin for Rails, which does just everything that I need to do in this first product release… as well as things that aren’t requirements just yet.

Well, I got my test account from TrustCommerce and was working on some RSpecs to test my new subscription and noticed that it was failing. After some snooping around the error responses, I realized that… test accounts don’t give you the ability to test the Citadel features of TrustCommerce. It’ll be another week or so before finish getting our account setup, so what am I to do? I really want to finish writing these specs and move on to the other portions that are dependent upon this working.

Suppose that you were going to perform something like this in an AR callback.

class BillingDetail < ActiveRecord::Base

  # validations    

  before_create :store_credit_card_data_with_trust_commerce


    def store_credit_card_data_with_trust_commerce
      # some of this is still test data... prettyu much copied from the README
      # TODO: refactor... but keep me out of controllers!
      response = TrustCommerceGateway::Subscription.create(
          :cc =>  self.credit_card_number, 
          :exp => '0412', 
          :name => self.customer_name,
          :amount => 1,
          :cycle => '1y',
          :demo => 'y'

      if response['status'] == 'approved'
          self.billing_id = response['billingid']
        # handle failure

Enter Mock Objects

Since I am unable to succesfully use the TrustCommerceGateway::Subscription.create method until I get our real account, I needed a simple way to emulate the interaction with the web service.

This can be done by using a Mock object, which RSpec provides for you.

TrustCommerceGateway::Subscription.stub!(:create).and_return( {expected response} )

Let’s look at the following spec file (much of it removed to protect the innocent).

module ValidBillingDetail
  def valid_attributes
    { # a hash of valid key/values for this model }

  def approved_trust_commerce_subscription
    { 'status' => 'approved', 'billingid' => '1093423' } 

context "A new billing detail" do
  include ValidBillingDetail

  setup do
    TrustCommerceGateway::Subscription.stub!(:create).and_return( approved_trust_commerce_subscription )

  # bunch of other specs

  specify "should store new billing info with 3rd party API and store the billingid" do
    @billing_detail = BillingDetail.create( valid_attributes )
    @billing_detail.billing_id.should_not_be nil

You’ll notice a few things. First, you’ll see that I’ve stubbed the create method and when it is called in the method in my model, it’ll return the hash that I’ve specified.

TrustCommerceGateway::Subscription.stub!(:create).and_return( approved_trust_commerce_subscription )

In the spec, you will see that I am checking that that the .billing_id.should_not_be nil. If you look back in the method in the model above, you will notice that an approved subscription returns a billing_id, which is set when the transaction is successful.

This is working out great for me and because the documentation is fairly easy to follow, I’m going to be able to mock much of the behavior that I’ll be using in the application, without needing to even connect to their API.

If you’re using RSpec, I highly encourage you to read more about mocks objects.

RSpec Bundle for TextMate

Posted by Mon, 12 Feb 2007 12:58:00 GMT

Just a quick follow up to my post last night, Sharing Custom TextMate Bundles with Subversion. It appears that I missed the RSpec bundle for TextMate, which is listed on the RSpec webpage.

Install the RSpec Bundle

Installation is quite simple, just change directories to your TextMate bundle directory.

    $ cd ~/Library/Application\ Support/TextMate/Bundles/

Check out the RSpec bundle from the subversion repository.

    $ svn co svn://
    # lots of files...
    A    RSpec.tmbundle/Support/spec/fixtures/example_failing_spec.rb
    A    RSpec.tmbundle/Support/spec/fixtures/example_passing_spec.rb
    A    RSpec.tmbundle/Support/spec/spec_mate_spec.rb
    Checked out revision 1489.

Now, just reload your bundles in TextMate and you’re good to go!

Bundles > Bundle Editor > Reload Bundles

I’d like to thank Aslak Helles√ły for pointing me to this and for also providing me with the correct subversion URL, which is currently outdated on the RSpec page until the next release.

Is BDD kinkier than TDD?

Posted by Thu, 08 Feb 2007 18:20:00 GMT

If you’re in need of a compelling reason to switch from Test-Driven Development to Behavior-Driven Development... consider this.

“BDD sounds kinkier.” -Michael K. Loukides, Book Editor for O’Reilly

...on that bombshell... I am going to suggest that this be used as the official BDD logo.

There you have it. Deep down… the biggest reason that I switched from Test::Unit to RSpec... was the sex appeal. ;-)

What was your reason?

The Zen of Auto Rspec

Posted by Wed, 10 Jan 2007 16:08:00 GMT

Several months ago, I heard that people were using a program called autotest to have their tests continue to run as you made changes to your code base, which comes with ZenTest. It’s a really nice tool written by Ryan Davis and I hadn’t gotten a chance to play with it as of yet. Well, our team isn’t spending too much time in the test/ directory these days as we jumped ship near the end of last summer and found ourselves hanging out on the Isle of BDD. The locals are quite thoughtful about these sorts of things.

I just started working on a project that has been under development for several months and as I’m getting to learn the ins/outs of the system, I find myself having to rerun the specs, which can take quite a bit of time watching. Watching your specs or tests run sometimes is as productive as watching your code compile. Oddly enough, this is as close to compilation as we really get when working with Ruby on Rails… and it’s a productivity killer for me.

There Must Be a Better Way!

So, I did a quick google search and found an announcement for Rails that ran specs through ZenTest. This was exactly what I was searching for!

Some requirements

Please makes sure that you have the following gems installed in your development environment as they are dependencies to make this all work.

  • zentest
  • diff-lcs

$ sudo gem install zentest diff-lcs 

note I’m going to assume that you have rspec and rspec for rails installed… if not… tsk. ;-)

Install RSpec autotest

$ script/plugin install

If you’re using subversion, you might consider installing it as an external.

$ script/plugin install -x

Running RSpec autotest

This is where it gets tricky. ;-)

$ rake spec:autotest

Now, you can keep a terminal window open and autotest will watch your application and detect when files change. When they change, it’ll attempt to rerun your specs (specifically those that changed). This helps save you the time of having to rerun all your specs throughout the development process and keep your spec:all sanity checks for when you’re about to commit code to your repository.

I’ll post another entry in the next few days to show you how you can use Growl with RSpec Autotest to keep you from having to look at your terminal all the time.

Until then… have fun!

The Circular Perspective of BDD

Posted by Thu, 12 Oct 2006 13:56:00 GMT

A few weeks ago, Brian Ford was in my office and we were discussing BDD and how we can make this process even easier for our clients to understand… much less our own internal staff. With all concepts, each person has their own idea about what it is, why it is important, regardless of whether or not it’s accurate. This can cause some people to not find a good need for some practices.

During our discussion, Brian grabbed one of my whiteboard markers and drew diagrams to explain how he saw BDD vary from TDD. He has since posted an article on his blog titled, what’s it worth to me, and discusses his circular view of Behavior-Driven Developent and the importance of using Dialogue to evolve shared meaning.

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