shoulda, woulda, coulda

I hate Testing Frameworks. Actually, let me be specific…I hate .NET Testing Frameworks. They make me angry and sad; so I’ve decided that because I have nothing better to do, I’ll write my own. But first, a little comparison…

VS2010 Testing Framework (MSTest?)

Microsoft’s built in testing system isn’t too bad. It’s integration is done well, but it’s so bloody overly complicated and slow, and messy. Every test you perform dumps a shit-load of messy files everywhere on your filesystem and inside your solution folder. It then has the CHEEK to complain that you should delete some when it gets “full”?

Poor effort Bill (or is it Steve now?)


As far as I’ve ever been able to tell, this is simply a big, even more bloated version of the above. Some of the testing functionality is simpler and easier to understand, and it does have more assertions…that’s where the good things end. Like a lot of software, it’s probably the most used? Weird that.


Made by the same blokes as the above, but apparently it’s better and easier to use. I went over their comparison table they’ve got up on their Codeplex site….yeah, no. If anything, it’s a massive excercise in how to complicate a piece of supposedly useful software even further. I mean…test methods are called “Facts”? Not only that, the method to actually get testing is beyond annoying.

Getting there…but not quite.


I’m tired. I like ruby, I like libraries like “shoulda” and “cucumber”. You just want to test whether that function does what you want it to; does it fulfil the requirements? Does it do what you expected it to do? I got tired of fumbling around the above libraries. I wanted a simple, easy to use, easy to understand testing framework so that I could test Nucleo quickly and effectively, so I created “Should”. At least that’s what It’s called at the moment.

Creating a test involves (at the moment) two things:

  1. ShouldTestContext<T> object. Think of it as the manager for all your tests. The generic type parameter <T> is the object you want to perform tests on, or the “context”.
  2. One or more Expectation objects. An expectation test is exactly that; it tests an expectation of something else.
  3. Once you’ve set up all your expectation tests, you make a call to theShouldTestContext<T>.RealiseExpectations() method and shazzam, it tests away!

Expectation Test Syntax

I wanted to make writing the actual tests as easy as possible; plain english if i could. Turns out I could:

Expectation ex = new Expectation(() = { return true; }, "should return true"); 

Here, I’ve created a new expectation test and fed it a lambda expression as a delegate that simply returns true (for demo purposes) and my expectation (logically) is that it “should return true”. Using a simple parser, an Expectation is then created by analysing the logic of the expectation string. The parser determines the type of test by what kind of type is passed to it (method, property, field etc.) and then runs a test against the object based on the given expectation. The kind of tests you can run are all your usual suspects, and I may add a few more in the future. Here are some examples of some expectation test strings:

"should contain 'Hello'" (test a collection, array or string) "shouldalways return true" (test a constant) "shouldnot have length > 10" (test a property or field) 

The important thing to note is that, underlying all of this is the same basic usage of assertions. It’s the way in which those assertions are performed which is the cool thing. I am also making it completely programmatic too, so if you want to write your tests in the standard way, you still can, and they’ll still be beautiful:

Should.BeEqual(1, 1); Should.ReturnTrue(() => { return true; }); Etc. etc. - more to come..