Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

Microtests and Test Frameworks

I’m a big fan of microtests – both the term and the thing itself. My friend Hill coined the term quite a while back and I felt it completely solved the problem of ambiguity we agile folks were having when we talked about unit tests in front of people who understood the term in the way it was used 30 or more years ago.

I’m not going to describe what microtests are here. If you aren’t familiar with the term, go watch Hill’s video clip about them right now. We’ll talk more later.

Back already? Great! So… a while back I started to wonder if the NUnit test framework, which I have worked on since 2004, might be leading people to write bigger and more complex tests by having too many features. What would happen, I asked myself, if a framework only had those features that support microtests. And by the way… what features would that be?

I asked the question to a group of experienced coaches and – as you might expect – I got varying answers. Some people thought it was a good idea while others felt that having a separate tool for microtests would be a burden. There was a fair amount of agreement about what features were needed but also some disagreement on specific items.

I’ve decided to start out with a specification of features that will be most useful in microtests. There could be separate frameworks to support those features or you could just use a standard test framework and limit yourself to a particular subset. A framework could even support a setting that would warn you if you got out of the usual territory for microtests.

So here’s my short list of features at least for now. Let me know what you think of it.

1. A full set of assertions, such as are supported by nunit or junit. Assertions designed for access to the file system or databases, however, would be excluded.

2. A full set of test-identification attributes, including those that support data-driven tests.

3. Some way to create shared setup and teardown for tests. This is controversial as some people think it’s an antipattern to use separate setup methods. In the end, I decided it should be available but de-emphasized. Higher-level setup (fixture, namespace, assembly) would not be supported, however.

4. Simple reporting of test results without adding on any extra components.

5. NOTHING else, at least initially. In particular, NO way to order tests or define dependencies between them.

Tell me what you think of the list. Would you use such a framework if it existed?

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

Future of NUnit

A while back I began to have some concern about the future of NUnit. I was entering my 70s and I knew I wanted to spend more time on other things. NUnit had been very much my project for a few years and I didn’t want it to die when I was no longer maintaining it.

Starting about three years ago, we began the process of phasing me out of the project. It was difficult and time-consuming but now the transition is pretty well complete. Today, we have a much larger group of contributors and team members than ever before. I’m still involved but my level of participation is much reduced.

The NUnit Project is now run by a team (the Core Team) rather than an individual and is supported by the .NET foundation. The Core Team consists of Rob Prouse (chair), Terje Sandstrom, Chris Maddock, Joseph Musser and myself. The Core Team makes the big decisions, similar to a board of directors, rather than running individual projects. Each of the projects under NUnit has it’s own team and team leader, although there is a fair amount of overlap. I think that’s a great formula for future success.

With a decentralized structure like this, there is both an opportunity and a need for more people to step up into leadership positions. I hope more people will join the developers of NUnit as time goes on and that some of you who have been involved for a while will consider taking responsibility for some of the projects or subprojects we operate.

For myself, I’ll continue to be a member of the Core Team and will continue to contribute to the codebase. But most of my open source work will be in other projects, some related to NUnit and some more independent. I’ll be posting here about some of the things I’m working on as they come closer to fruition, so please follow me here if you are interested.

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

NUnit-Summary Becoming an “Official” NUnit Application

UPDATE: I’m leaving the post here but the action described has been reversed and the project continues to live at

NUnit-Summary is an “extra” that I’ve maintained personally for some time. It uses built-in or user-supplied transforms to produce summary reports based on the results of NUnit tests.

I have contributed it to the NUnit project and we’re working on updating it to recognize NUnit 3 test results. The program has never had a 1.0 release, but we expect to produce one soon.

This old post talks about the original nunit-summary program.

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Back to Blogging!

My blog has been offline for a long time, as you can see. The last prior post was in 2009!

Recently, I found a backup copy of the old blog and was able to re-establish it. Watch for some new posts in the near future.

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

Blogging Again

I haven’t done much blogging for a while due – in part – to the enormous amount of Spam my blog was attracting. But I just updated the software and installed a spam filter. I plan to start posting again, and re-open the blog to comments. Hopefully, the spam won’t overwhelm me this time.

Since I last wrote, NUnit 2.4.3 and 2.4.4 have come out as well as NUnitLite 0.1 and 0.2. I’ll blog separately about the status of each of those.

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006 Revisited

In an earlier article I wrote about my concern with They had acquired the domain andwere offering me the right to use it in exchange for a link. I felt uncomfortable about this, particularly after I learned about their dispute over the domain.

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Monday, May 15th, 2006

NUnit on Microsoft CodePlex?

A reader asks “What is this about?” pointing to the new Microsoft CodePlex site, which mentions NUnit.

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Wednesday, March 1st, 2006

Getting NUnit in China

A Chinese programmer (anonymous until he tells me otherwise) recently wrote to ask me for a copy of NUnit 2.2.7. For some reason, it appears that Sourceforge is not accessible in China. This seems odd to me, since it’s hardly a political site, but the ways of bureaucracy in any country can be hard to fathom.

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Saturday, October 29th, 2005

What’s with

The site seems to have acquired, a domain we thought about using but didn’t. Now I’m sorry, since they could use it for pretty much any purpose.

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Thursday, September 8th, 2005

It’s the Tests

I’ve been wanting to get into blogging for a while and this is my first attempt. As the subtitle indicates, I expect to be posting a lot about testing – TDD in particular – but I won’t promise to limit myself to testing topics alone.

After investigating a number of alternatives, I decided to go with WordPress as the engine for this blog. The current format is a modified version of the default WordPress 1.5 theme.