Tests: A Quick Overview on Unit vs Functional Testing

Here's a super quick peek into unit tests compared to functional tests. And full disclaimer here is that depending on your circle of influence, these might be given slightly different names. Try not to dwell on that but instead the comparison and contrast presented! Unit Tests Coded tests that take a white-box visibility approach to exercising and asserting that written code, generally a specific function/method, works as it was designed. Pros: Generally very programmer-focused Very granular coverage (breaks can identify exact lines where an issue occurs) (Should) run extremely quickly Have very little test setup in ideal cases Provide full control (generally via ‘mocking’ dependencies) to exercise very specific logical paths Cons: Generally more challenging to convey coverage to other stakeholders By nature these are brittle and break with refactoring Require sets of design patterns to help ensure tests are…

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What Makes Good Code? – Should Every Class Have An Interface? Pt 2

Should Every Class Have an Interface? This is part two in the sub-series of "Should Every Class Have an Interface?", and part of the bigger "What Makes Good Code?" series. Other Peoples' Code So in the last post, we made sure we could get an interface for every class we made. Okay, well that's all fine and dandy (I say half sarcastically). But you and I are smart programmers, so we like to re-use other peoples' code in our own projects. But wait just a second! It looks like Joe Shmoe didn't use interfaces in his API that he created! We refuse to pollute our beautiful interface-rich code with his! What can we do about it? Wrap it. That's right! If we add a little bit of code we can get all the benefits as the example we walked through originally. It's…

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API: Top-Down? Bottom-Up? Somewhere in the Middle?

A Quick Brain-Dump on API Desgin I'll keep this one pretty brief as I haven't totally nailed down my thoughts on this. I still thought it was worth a quick little post: When you're creating a brand new API to expose some functionality of a system, should you design it with a strong focus on how the internals work? Should you ignore how internals work and make it as easy to consume as possible? Or is there an obvious balance? I find myself trying to answer this question without ever explicitly asking it. Any time I'm looking to extend or connect systems, this is likely to come up. Most Recently... Most recently I started trying to look at creating an API over AMQP to connect my game back-end to a Unity 3D front-end. I had been developing the back-end for…

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ProjectXyz: Enforcing Interfaces (Part 2)

Enforcing Interfaces This is my second installment of the series related to my small side project that I started. I mentioned in the first post that one of the things I wanted to try out with this project is coding by interfaces. There's an article over at CodeProject that I once read (I'm struggling to dig it up now, arrrrrghh) that really gave me a different perspective about using interfaces when I program. Ever since then I've been a changed man. Seriously. The main message behind the article was along the lines of: Have your classes implement your interface, and to be certain nobody is going to come by and muck around with your class's API, make sure they can't knowingly make an instance of the class. One of the easiest ways to do this (and bear with me here, I'm…

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Continuous Improvement – One on One Tweaks

Continuous Improvement - Baby Steps! Our development team at Magnet Forensics focuses a lot on continuous improvement. It's one of the things baked into a retrospective often performed in agile software shops. It's all about acknowledging that no system or process is going to be perfect and that as your landscape changes, a lot of other things will too. The concept of continuous improvement isn't limited to just the software we make or the processes we put in place for doing so. You can apply it to anything that's repeated over time where you can measure positive and negative changes. I figured it was time to apply it to my leadership practices. The One on One I lead a team of software developers at Magnet, but I'm not the boss of any of them. They're all equally my peers and…

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Yield! Reconsidering APIs with Collections

Yield: A Little Background The yield keyword in C# is pretty cool. Being used within an iterator, yield lets a function return an item as well as control of execution to the caller and upon next iteration resume where it left off. Neat, right? MSDN documentation lists these limitations surrounding the use of the yield keyword: Unsafe blocks are not allowed. Parameters to the method, operator, or accessor cannot be ref or out. A yield return statement cannot be located anywhere inside a try-catch block. It can be located in a try block if the try block is followed by a finally block. A yield break statement may be located in a try block or a catch block but not a finally block. So what does this have to do with API specifications? A whole lot really, especially if you're dealing…

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Singletons: Why Are They “Bad”?

Background The very first thing I want to say is that I don’t think singletons are inherently bad–even if it means I am cast away from the rest of the programming world. There’s a time and a place for the singleton. It’s really common for people to get caught up with their perspective on something that they outright refuse to acknowledge the other side of it. I’d also like to point out that if you have a strong opinion on something and you find that other people also have a strongly opposing opinion on the same thing, there’s probably good take away points from either side. In this post though, I’m going to focus on why singletons are “bad”, because for me it means acknowledging one of the two main perspectives–that they are the best thing since cat videos met…

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How Do You Structure Your Singletons?

Background I'll skip over the discussion about why many people hate singletons (that's a whole separate can of worms, but worth mentioning) because in the end, it's not going to get rid of them. A singleton is a design pattern that ensures only one instance of the singleton object can ever be constructed. Often, singletons are made to be "globally accessible" in an application (although, I'm still not confident that this is actually part of the definition of a singleton). There are a handful of different ways to implement singletons... so what are they?   The Not-Thread-Safe-Singleton With singletons, the main goal is to ensure that only one instance can be created. Below is a snippet of singleton code that works, but is not guaranteed in a multi-threaded environment: internal class NotThreadSafeSingleton { private static NotThreadSafeSingleton _instance; /// /// Prevents…

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