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Is Test::Class the standard yet?

April 20, 2010 8 comments

Recently, I’ve been coming across a few Perl projects (both at work, and in the wild) that are reasonably large and complex, have test suites, but don’t use Test::Class. And I really struggle to understand why. Most of them have decent test suites, at least in terms of coverage. But, personally, I have a hard time looking at the test files and understanding exactly what’s going on.

Most other widely used languages have at least one class-based testing framework that is the de-facto standard, usually based around xUnit. I find there are several benefits to using a framework like Test::Class:

  1. As I mentioned, it makes your tests more readable by breaking them up into methods (I blogged a while ago about breaking them up even further for maximum readability). This ensures you’re clear about what you’re testing in every test, and you don’t get a really complex setup, used by a whole lot of different tests. Not only is that difficult to read, but it quickly becomes complex to maintain, and the tests become fragile, throwing you false negatives.
  2. Makes code-reuse easier, with inheritance (ok, so we all use roles now, but inheritance is still better than nothing).
  3. Makes it easy to setup fixtures by storing them in $self, using setup, teardown, etc. methods, all of which encourages more code-reuse
  4. Helps with test driven development, by allowing you two map one application class to one test class, or set of classes where necessary. You can do it with a bunch of .t scripts as well, I guess, but I usually find it easier with classes.
  5. And many more…!

We like to have a lot of options in Perl, and I’m fine with that, but you usually should have a good reason for deviating from the norm. So is Test::Class the norm (or did I just get a bad sample)? If it’s not the standard, why isn’t it? It seems to have a pretty thin set of dependencies, is stable and mature code, and fits right in with Test::Builder and friends.

In my opinion, you should use Test::Class unless you have a damn good reason not to!

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