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Test Doubles

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It's finally time to talk about one of the most critical parts of unit testing: mocking. Oh, and it's kind of the most fun part too!

To Mock or Not to Mock

Check out EnclosureSpec: we already had at least one situation where we called a method and needed to pass another object as an argument - a Dinosaur in this case. When the object you're testing has a dependency on another object like this, you have two options. First, you can just pass the real object, and that's what we've been doing so far. This is a simple and excellent solution when the object you're passing is easy to instantiate and doesn't have any side effects - most commonly, objects that just hold data.

The second solution - mocking - is perfect for all the other situations: when the object you're using is a pain to instantiate, its behavior is complex or its methods do things - like it makes database queries. In those cases, we do not want to use the real object: we want to mock... or create a test double... or a dummy. These are all terms that sorta describe the same thing - we'll discuss as we go along.

Creating a Mock Object

Let's see this in action! Create a new example: function it_should_allow_to_check_if_two_dinosaurs_have_same_diet_using_stub(). Yea, we'll discuss that word "stub" along the way.

Check this out: instead of creating a new Dinosaur object, add an argument to the example method with a Dinosaur type-hint. Let's var_dump($dinosaur) and then see what happens when we run phpspec:

... lines 1 - 9
class DinosaurSpec extends ObjectBehavior
... lines 12 - 96
function it_should_allow_to_check_if_two_dinosaurs_have_same_diet_using_stub(Dinosaur $dinosaur)
./vendor/bin/phpspec run

Oh... interesting! It's some sort of a Collaborator object. But what I really want you to see is that, inside of it, is something called an ObjectProphecy. Woh, cool name.

Technically speaking, phpspec doesn't have its own mocking system - it uses a totally independent library called prophecy. Well, the truth is that the phpspec team made and maintains both libraries - but prophecy is its own library, and can even be used in PHPUnit.

But the point is, this is not a real Dinosaur object, it's a "fake" object that looks and smells like a Dinosaur object and one that we can completely control. And getting a mock object is easy! Just add an argument type-hinted with the class or interface you need to mock - phpspec & prophecy take care of the rest. I love that.

Controlling Method Return Values

So... what can we do with this $dinosaur mock? Well, you could take full control over the return value of any of its methods. Or you can check to make sure that one of its methods was called. We have 100% control over how this object behaves.

For this example, we're testing that the hasSameDietAs() method behaves correctly. We're basically doing the same example as before, but with a mock. And so, when our code calls isCarnivorous() on the mocked Dinosaur, we need that to return false.

Cool - let's tell our mock about this: $dinosaur->isCarnivorous()->willReturn(false). I like that! It feels a lot like normal phpspec code! Except instead of getGenus()->shouldBe() to assert a return value, we're instead training the mock: we're teaching it how it should behave.

... lines 1 - 96
function it_should_allow_to_check_if_two_dinosaurs_have_same_diet_using_stub(Dinosaur $dinosaur)
... lines 100 - 101
... lines 103 - 104

Now we can say $this->shouldHaveSameDietAs($dinosaur) - remembering that $this will not be carnivorous, because it was constructed with no arguments.

... lines 1 - 96
function it_should_allow_to_check_if_two_dinosaurs_have_same_diet_using_stub(Dinosaur $dinosaur)
... lines 99 - 100
... lines 103 - 104

Cool! So let's see what phpspec thinks:

./vendor/bin/phpspec run

Ha! That actually passes!

Mocks, test doubles, spies, stubs, Larry

These fake objects are called test doubles, but you'll hear them called by a number of other names as well, like stubs, spies, mocks and sometimes even Larry. When you hear these words, they're all basically referring to the same idea, though technically, each word - like stub or spy refer to different cool "things" that you can do with these objects.

For example, when you want to control the return value of an object, then suddenly this "fake" object is known as a stub. So, in our example, $dinosaur is technically a stub. Later, we're going to do things like assert that a certain method was called. Like, we could say: I want to assert that the isCarnivorous() method was called exactly one time. When we do that, the test double object will be known as a spy or a mock.

The point is: these terms are all different ways to describe the same idea of getting a fake object from phpspec and then either training it to have some sort of behavior or asserting that certain methods were called on it. To some people, this distinction is super important. For me, I can never remember the difference, and I don't care that much. Though, as we'll see later, prophecy's documentation uses these words a lot - so it's good to know a little bit about them.

But before we get there, let's add another service to our application - an EnclosureBuilderService. This will let us build enclosures faster and, more importantly, is going to be a kick-butt example for mocking.

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