Hackfest 5/07 Post Mortem

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May 7, 2008, 2:39:08 PM5/7/08
to Boston Ruby Group
By now, I think it's a running joke that we'd work on the
recommendable plugin we started a month or so ago.

Instead, we worked on the Factory stuff. This article captures most of
the ideas of using factories for testing and reasons for using them
instead of fixtures: http://www.dcmanges.com/blog/38

The crew tonight:

* Chad Pytel
* Josh Nichols
* Wyatt Greene
* Brian Underwood
* Dan Croak

## Overview

As the article mentions, someone did implement a plugin which captures
most of these ideas: http://factories-and-workers.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/factories-and-workers/README

There were a few reasons (and some more which I don't remember) why we
didn't like this plugin.

* Plugin, not a gem, so unusable outside of rails
* Pollutes the namespace of `Object`
* No tests

So, the journey for better Factories begins. The basic ideas/goals we
settled on is this:

* Define your factories in test/test_helper.rb
* Be able to define a factory for a class with default options
* Be able to define alternate factories for a class, for example, to
create an admin user versus a normal user
* Flexibility for defining default attributes, ie be able to call
other methods
* Choice of making new instance, persisting a new instance, stubbing
an instance, or getting valid attributes
* Flexible API for actually calling the factories

## The API

So we started out with a basic API that Dan Croak had outlined:

Factory.define do |factory|
factory.add :project do |project|
project.name {"factoryfu"}
project.homepage_url {"http://factoryfu.rubyforge.org"}

factory.add :event, :meeting do |event|
event.event_type {"Meeting"}
event.date {Time.now}
event.description {"an sick meeting"}

factory.add :event, :hackfest do |event|
event.event_type {"Hackfest"}
event.date {Time.now}
event.description {"a cool hackfest"}

As for usage of the factories, we had 3 possibilities:

Factory.create :project, :name => 'ambitious_sphinx'
Factory.create_project :name => 'ambitious_sphinx'
create_project :name => 'ambitious_sphinx'

I'm not going to say much about these, aside from the first being the
simplest to implement, the second being the most explicit about what
you are doing, and the last is the most consise.

Because it seemed like the simplest, we started implementing the
first. I believe that the other two syntaxes can actually be emulated
using it.

To simulate the second, as we register factories, we can create the
appropriate methods, ie `create_event`, `new_event`,

To simulate the third, we can build on the second, and probably do
some magic to delegate from TestCase to our Factory.

## Implementing it

For simplicity's sake, we started with our work from last week's
hackfest on bostonrb.org.

We added the snippet for defining factories into our `test_helper.rb`,
made a new model unit test which used the factory methods, and started
a Factory class.

We basically ran the test, watched it blow up horribly, and added some
code, until eventually the test passed.

You can see the work we ended up in the hackfest repository under
'boston\_rb': https://svn.thoughtbot.com/hackfest/boston_rb

Of particular interest are:

* https://svn.thoughtbot.com/hackfest/boston_rb/lib/factory.rb
* https://svn.thoughtbot.com/hackfest/boston_rb/test/test_helper.rb
* https://svn.thoughtbot.com/hackfest/boston_rb/test/unit/project_test.rb

So, I'm just go over a few of the more interesting bits of the

### Factory.define

This is the entrance into defining our factories.

The implementation isn't very interesting. We just call the block on
Factory. We were originally making new instances of Factory, and
passing that to the block, but we then realized that this made it a
little trickier to have factory methods be class-level methods.

### Factory.add

This is what you use to define how you the factory behaves.

It takes a block which defines how to create new attributes. If you
look at the snippet:

event.event_type {"Hackfest"}
event.date {Time.now}

Notice that `event.event_type` and `event.date` are actually taking
blocks. This allows us to do `Time.now`, and have this not actually be
invoked until object creation.

`Factory.add` actually passes your block a magical `Hash` which
captures this attribute/attribute creation data. We'll talk about this
has in a little bit.

After we get back from the block, we store in `@@model_templates`,
keyed by the model and kind of the factory.

### The Factory methods

We provide three factory methods:

* `valid_attributes`: a Hash of valid attributes for the object
* `new`: a new unpersisted instance, using `valid_attributes`
* `create`: a persisted instance, using `new`

You invoke them like:

Factory.valid_attributes :project
Factory.new :project, :name => 'factoryfu', :homepage_url =>
Factory.create :event, :hackfest, :date =>
3.days.ago, :description => 'your looking at it'

The way we parse the arguments is a little tricky. Initially, we only
supported the first 2 lines. This meant our method signature looked

def self.new(model, attributes = {})

When we went to support the 3rd line, we thought to go like:

def self.new(model, kind = 'default', attributes = {})

By doing so, you break the 2nd line, because kind would get set to our

activesupport provides a solution: `Array#extract_options`. Basically,
it looks at the `Array`, and pops the last element off the end if it's
a `Hash`. We use it like:

def self.valid_attributes(model, *args)
kind, attributes = parse_args(*args)
# ...


def self.parse_args(*args)
attributes = args.extract_options!
kind = args.first || 'default'
[kind, attributes]

### BlockfulHash

We made a subclass of `Hash` which lets you define keys like:

event.date {Time.now}
event.description {"This is going to be SICK!"}

Such that it's equivalent to:

event[:date] = {Time.now}
event[:description] = {"This is going to be SICK!"}

Here's the implementation:

class BlockfulHash < Hash
def method_missing(method, *args)
# When Proc.new is given no arguments,
# it returns a Proc for the block passed to the current method
# Proc.new... yeah, it's officially a hackfest.
self[method.to_sym] = Proc.new

This `BlockfulHash` is what gets passed to the block given to

### What's next

So, we have something workable here:

* Uses the syntax we laid out for defining factory
* Supports the first syntax for using factories
(`Factory.create :event`)

As far as what is left to do:

* Extract it out of the boston\_rb code base
* More tests
* Make a gem
* Support `Factory.create_event` syntax
* ...


May 7, 2008, 8:34:26 PM5/7/08
to Boston Ruby Group
I forgot to include the addendum, with links and other stuff mentioned
in passing:

* UnitRecord : http://www.dcmanges.com/blog/rails-unit-record-test-without-the-database
for model unit tests without the database
* mocha : http://mocha.rubyforge.org for mocking/stubbing
* Object Daddy](http://b.logi.cx/2007/11/26/object-daddy
* Seed Fu : http://www.intridea.com/2008/4/20/seed-fu-simple-seed-data-for-rails
* fixture-scenarios : http://code.google.com/p/fixture-scenarios/
* Rails Scenarios : http://faithfulcode.rubyforge.org/docs/scenarios/)
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