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 Thursday, May 08, 2008
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As some of you who follow me on twitter know, I've been working on Yet Another Context/Specification Framework as an experiment. Yeah, I know we already have NSpec and NBehave, and they're great and all, but MSpec takes things on from a slightly different angle, and it's just an experiment (for now). Here's a sample Description:

public class Transferring_between_from_account_and_to_account
  static Account fromAccount;
  static Account toAccount;

  Context before_each =()=>
    fromAccount = new Account {Balance = 1m};
    toAccount = new Account {Balance = 1m};
  When the_transfer_is_made =()=>
    fromAccount.Transfer(1m, toAccount);
  It should_debit_the_from_account_by_the_amount_transferred =()=>

  It should_credit_the_to_account_by_the_amount_transferred =()=>

And a TestDriven.NET run:

------ Test started: Assembly: Machine.Specifications.Example.dll ------

Transferring between from account and to account
  When the transfer is made
    * It should debit the from account by the amount transferred
    * It should credit the to account by the amount transferred

2 passed, 0 failed, 0 skipped, took 0.79 seconds.

Err, What?

Different eh? The idea was heavily inspired by Scott Bellware's SpecUnit.Net framework he showed at the ALT.NET conference. It also took heavy cues from RSpec and my insanity. I realize that the the code doesn't look much like C# code and I'm OK with that. Many have and will ask why I don't just use Boo or RSpec w/ IronRuby eventually or even one of the existing Context/Spec/BDD frameworks. Those are good questions, but my main motivations are tooling and syntax. I enjoy the tooling I get in C# and I personally like the syntax in this library considering the limitations imposed by C#.

How's it work?

The simplest way to describe it is to compare it to a normal *Unit style testing framework:

  • Description = TestContext
  • Context before_each = SetUp
  • Context before_all = SetUpFixture
  • Context after_each = TearDown
  • Context after_all = TearDownFixture
  • When = Also SetUp, but happens after Context before_each
  • It = Test

Rather than methods and attributes, MSpec uses named delegates and anonymous functions. The only reason for this is readability. You'll also notice that the fields used in the context are static. This is necessary so that the anonymous functions in the field initializers can access them. Probably the first thing you noticed is the =()=> construct. I won't mention the names that this was given on twitter, but I think it's an acceptable thing to have to deal with in exchange for the cleanliness of the rest of the syntax.

Ok, you're crazy, but how do I try it?

First, this is a very rough cut. Everything is subject to change as we experiment with the language. That said, here's how you play with it:

  1. Grab the drop here.
  2. Extract it somewhere. Put it somewhere semi-permanent because the TestDriven.NET runner will need a static location for the MSpec TDNet Runner.
  3. If you want TestDriven.NET support, run InstallTDNetRunner.bat
  4. Check out the example in Machine.Specifications.Example. Note that you can run with TD.NET.
  5. Create a project of your own. Just add Machine.Specifications.dll and get started.
  6. Send me feedback! Leave comments, email me, tweet me, whatever.

Also, this is part of Machine, so feel free to take a look at the code and/or submit patches. There's also a Gallio adapter in there, but I didn't include it in the release as it's not quite polished enough yet. If you're interested in it, talk to me. Special thanks to Scott Bellware, Jeff Brown and Jamie Cansdale for their help and support.