Buy
Buy

Matchers, Examples & Generation

We have an empty Dinosaur class. As proud of that empty class as I am, I think we need to start thinking about what we need this class to actually do - how we want it to behave! This totally depends on your app - and what you need to use each class for. But... hmm... let's see. I definitely want to be able to set the length on a Dinosaur - because maybe we need to render that somewhere. Oh, and if the length is not set, it should probably default to be 0.

Our First Example

Wait. Right there. Did you notice? I just described an example of how our Dinosaur class should work! All we need to do is translate that into a phpspec example! Create a new function, start it with it_ - because that's what phpspec requires... and also because that helps us create descriptive & readable method names. How about: it_should_default_to_zero_length().

... lines 1 - 8
class DinosaurSpec extends ObjectBehavior
{
... lines 11 - 15
function it_should_default_to_zero_length()
{
... line 18
}
}

Inside, remember: the goal is to pretend like we're inside the Dinosuar class. When each example is executed, phpspec will instantiate a Dinosaur object behind the scenes and we can reference it via $this. That's total and absolute magic... and we'll get to find out exactly how it works a bit later.

Anyways, right now: just imagine that $this is a Dinosaur object. To show an example of how the length should be 0 by default, we will literally write example code. For our app, I want to be able to call a getLength() method to get the length. Cool! Write: $this->getLength() as if that method already existed.

And because we want our Dinosaur's length to default to 0, call a matcher function to assert that: ->shouldReturn(0).

... lines 1 - 15
function it_should_default_to_zero_length()
{
$this->getLength()->shouldReturn(0);
}
... lines 20 - 21

Matchers!

How... weird, but cool is that?! At any point in phpspec, you can say ->should to call one of phpspec's many "matcher" functions. These are equivalent to the assert() functions in PHPUnit - the difference is purely style. Instead of saying $this->assertEquals(0, $dinosuar->getLength()) like you would in PHPUnit - boring - you say $this->getLength()->shouldReturn(0). The whole line reads like a clear English sentence!

And fortunately, even though phpspec is using some legit sourcery to make this all work, PhpStorm has great support for auto-completing these matcher functions. Oh, and, by the way, every matcher always starts with should or shouldNot. That's just a rule - and we'll learn why later.

Find your browser and go to https://phpspec.net. Click into the manual and go to the matchers section. Nice! phpspec has a huge number of matchers... and someone even thought to document them! Amazing! Right now, we're using one called the Identity Matcher, which allows you to use shouldBe(), shouldBeEqualTo() shouldReturn() or shouldEqual(). These are all different ways to compare values using ===.

There's also a Comparison Matcher where you can say shouldBeLike() to compare values using ==. And there are many, many, many more to geek out over. We'll learn the most useful ones along the way.

Generating the Missing Method

We now have one new example of how we want the Dinosaur class to work. Will this example already pass? Of course not! We don't even have a getLength() method yet! But, run phpspec anyways - and prepared to be... amazed:

./vendor/bin/phpspec run

Yes! I love failure! The getLength() method is not found. Oh, but check it out! Just like before, it realizes that we're describing some behavior that doesn't exist and asks us if we want it to do our job for us! Of course we do!

Let's go check it out! Not bad! It generates the method but, unless your version of phpspec has become self-aware - in which case... let me know what version you're using - it has no idea what to put inside the method.

... lines 1 - 4
class Dinosaur
{
public function getLength()
{
// TODO: write logic here
}
}

And so, after phpspec generated the code, it automatically re-ran itself, but the new example still fails:

it should default to zero length, expected integer 0 but got null,

This is the phpspec flow! One: describe behavior with an example. Two: phpspec generates as much as it can. Three: we fill in the logic. Four: profit!

Filling in the Logic

And... actually, the rules of TDD say that we should fill in the method with as little code as possible to get the test to pass - including just hardcoding a value if you can! But... more on that craziness later.

Right now, let's fill this in for real. So, hmm... because we know each Dinosaur can have a different length, we will probably need a $length property. And, ah yes, it needs to default to 0 - that's something we decided during the "spec" or "description" process. Inside the method, return $this->length. Oh, and to be super-cool, add the int return type. Viva return types!

... lines 1 - 4
class Dinosaur
{
private $length = 0;
... line 8
public function getLength(): int
{
return $this->length;
}
}

Our class should now behave like our example expects. Let's see if phpspec agrees! Run it:

./vendor/bin/phpspec run

Woohoo! It passes!

Describing setLength()

But... nobody want's to visit a dinosaur park full of dinosaurs with zero length. We need a way to set the length. How do we want to do that? There's no right answer: it depends on your app. For example, we could make it a constructor argument. Or, it might make sense in your app to have, for example, some updateSpecs() method where you pass the length along with a few other things about your dinosaur. Or, you might need a simple setLength() method. The cool thing is that phpspec forces you to think about this - it forces you to ask: How will this class be used? Do I really need a setLength() method? Or will the user set a bunch of details all at once, and so a more descriptive updateSpecs() method is more clear?

Again... there's no right or wrong answer - sorry! For our app, let's create an example showing setLength(): function it_should_allow_to_set_length(). Inside, pretending that $this is a Dinosaur object, let's show how this should work: call $this->setLength() and pass it, how about 9. After that, we should be able to call $this->getLength()->shouldReturn(9).

... lines 1 - 8
class DinosaurSpec extends ObjectBehavior
{
... lines 11 - 20
function it_should_allow_to_set_length()
{
$this->setLength(9);
$this->getLength()->shouldReturn(9);
}
}

Done! Oh, and I want you to notice one cool thing: we now get autocomplete on the getLength() method! PhpStorm has great phpspec integration and knows that we're allowed to use $this like a Dinosaur object. We don't have auto-completion for setLength(), because that method doesn't exist yet.

Let's see what phpspec thinks about our new example:

./vendor/bin/phpspec run

Awesome! It hates it! It fails, asks us if it can generate some code, then fails again because that generated setLength() method is just blank. Go find the new method. Hey! It even noticed that this method should have one argument. Change it to int $length. Inside, $this->length = $length.

... lines 1 - 4
class Dinosaur
{
... lines 7 - 13
public function setLength(int $length)
{
$this->length = $length;
}
}

Try it again!

./vendor/bin/phpspec run

Yes! All green! This is test-driven-development the phpspec way. Oh, and yea, we'll talk more about TDD, BDD and what all those buzzwords mean in the context of phpspec a bit later.

Next, instead of relying on the built-in matchers - like shouldReturn() - let's create our own custom matcher. Why? Because a custom matcher can help us write examples with perfectly natural language.

Leave a comment!