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Unit Test Frameworks by Paul Hamill

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<pre>Author/s : Paul Hamill
Publisher : O'Reilly
Category : Project management, Process and Best Practices
Review by : Lasse Koskela
Rating : 7 horseshoes
</pre>
I had used JUnit for several years before picking up this book and I like to think that I know the tool pretty well. So why did I decide to read this book? I read this book because I thought that might help me venture a bit outside my familiar JUnit turf and into doing test-first programming with languages other than Java. The short version? A very nice introduction to all the included xUnit ports. The long version? Read on.

The first four chapters are general introduction to the topic of unit testing (and to some degree, test-driven development). I was prepared to do a quick scan through them all but ended up reading chapters 3 (xUnit architecture) and 4 (writing unit tests) almost word to word -- the topic was mostly familiar but the authors solid writing kind of kept me going.

The first two chapters didn't pique my interest that much, perhaps because I had already seen people develop a unit test framework from scratch as an introduction to the domain.

The real meat of the book that I was looking forward to was in chapters 7 through 9, the introductions to CppUnit, NUnit, PyUnit -- which were mostly new to me although I had done very little fooling around with them before. I wasn't disappointed. The author managed to put together a pretty good set of tutorials for these frameworks. Obviously the same information is available online but I still prefer reading a treekiller rather than a printout of a web page.

The not so bright spots in the book, in my opinion, were the chapters on unit testing a Swing GUI and on XMLUnit. Not that they were in anyway badly written. I just felt like they didn't belong. I would've personally swapped in a couple of additional xUnit ports instead (Ruby and PHP, for example).

This is definitely not a book you'll carry with you from project to project. There's approximately 100 pages of substance split among half a dozen topics so none of them gets covered in detail. The rest, almost 100 pages of the book is what I'd classify as "nice to have" -- I don't mind having that material in the book but I also wouldn't have minded if they'd left them out.

To summarize, if you'd like to get an idea of how the unit testing frameworks on different platforms/languages differ and what they have in common, this is as good an introduction to them as any and well written in all dimensions. However, you might be disappointed if you're looking for a more long-lasting companion.


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