Archive for the ‘ Software ’ Category

Creative uses of Hamcrest matchers

The matcher API of Hamcrest is typically associated with assertThat() or mocks. I always knew other people would find good uses for it, but I never really knew what.

I particularly like these:

Collection processing

Håkan Råberg blogged about how Hamcrest can be used with iterators:

List<Integer> numbers = Arrays.asList(-1, 0, 1, 2);
List<Integer> positiveNumbers = detect(numbers, greaterThan(0)));

List<String> words = Arrays.asList("cheese", "lemon", "spoon");
List<String> wordsWithoutE = reject(words, containingString("e"));

Nothing rocket-sciencey about it. But simple and useful because it reduces boilerplate code and get to use the ever growing library of Hamcrest matchers.

On top of that, combining Hamcrest with a CGLib generated proxy, he has built a staticly typed query API:

List<Person> employees = ...;
List<Integer> allAges
= collect(from(employees).getAge());
List<Person> allBosses
= collect(from(employees).getDepartment().getBoss());
List<Person> allAccountants
= select(from(employees).getDepartment().getName(),

This is nice alternative to a string based query language as you get your IDE completions, refactoring, compile time checking etc, without the noise of boilerplate code.

Web testing

Robert Chatley has taken some of the concepts of his LiFT framework and reimplemented them using Hamcrest and WebDriver for performing web testing.

public void testHasLotsOfLinks() {
assertPresenceOf(greaterThan(15), links());
assertPresenceOf(atLeast(1), link().with(text(containingString("Sign in"))));

clickOn(link().with(text(containingString("Sign in"))));
assertPresenceOf(exactly(1), title().with(text(equalTo("Sign in page"))));

Now initially this seems a bit wordy and strange. Robert has designed this as a literate API. If you adjust the syntax highlighting of your API and make the Java keywords and syntax less visible, you get this:

goTo "http://some/url"
assertPresenceOf greaterThan 15 links
assertPresenceOf atLeast 1 link with text containingString "Sign in"

clickOn link with text containingString "Sign in"
assertPresenceOf exactly 1 title with text equalTo "Sign in page"

The motivation here is that the API usage is self documenting and could be useful to non-programmers. The flip-side to this is that it’s actually quite hard to write APIs like this and the usage can take quite a bit of getting used to.

Robert also introduced a Finder interface (the link() and title() methods return Finder implementations). This allows you to factor out your own UI specific components:

assertPresenceOf(atLeast(1), signInLink());
blogLink().with(urlParameter("name", containingString("joe"))));

This is the bit I really like.

Allowing abstractions of components and matching rules to be combined in many different ways, so tests can check exactly what they need to, resulting in reduced less brittle tests that are easier to maintain.

Other uses

As I hear of other uses I’m listing them on the Hamcrest wiki.

When it goes bad

Of course, like any technology, it’s easy to get carried away.

Here’s an example of Hamcrest gone bad:

assertThat(myNumber, anyOf(equalTo(0), allOf(greaterThan(5), lessThan(10))));

I’m not a LISP programmer, so I find that really hard to understand. Just because we have an assertTHAT() method, we don’t have to use it all the time. In this case it’s much simpler to use plain old assertTRUE():

assertTrue("myNumber should be 0 or between 5 and 10",
myNumber == 0 || (myNumber > 5 && myNumber < 10));

Even though the non-Matcher version is longer (it could be shortened by leaving out the message and using a shorter variable name, but that would make it harder to understand), I find it much easier to understand.

But, what if you actually needed to use a matcher (e.g. for the web testing or collection processing examples above)?

One approach is you could use higher level matcher that are composed of other matchers:

matcher = anyOf(equalTo(0), allOf(greaterThan(5), lessThan(10)))
// simplifies to
matcher = anyOf(equalTo(0), between(5, 10))

Complete tangent: An alternative to between(5, 10) is between(5).and(10). The latter makes for more literate code, but is harder to implement – again a design tradeoff.

Another approach is to create a one-off anonymous matcher implementation:

matcher = new CustomMatcher() {
public boolean matchesSafely(Integer n) {
return n == 0 || (n > 5 && n < 10);

What are you doing with Hamcrest?


  1. JUnit 4.4 now comes with Hamcrest and assertThat().

Hamcrest 1.1 released

Testing on the Toilet

At Google we have pretty good internal documentation, tutorials and places to find good tips. If you know you don’t know something, it won’t take long to find the answer.

However, it’s slightly tougher to place something to be read, when the target readers don’t know they don’t know it. This was a problem the testing group were finding, as they wanted to improve sharing of practical testing techniques.

So, Testing on the Toilet was started. A regular weekly(ish) tip posted in toilet cubicles and above urinals. Short enough to be read whilst doing your business.

Soon after, many visitors started noticing these postings and we got requests to make these available to put up in offices of other development teams.

So, we have.

Each episode will be made available as a toilet friendly PDF.

Building testable AJAX apps (Does my button look big in this?)

Last week, Adam Connors and I presented “Does my button look big in this? Building testable AJAX applications.” at the Google London Test Automation Conference.

Unfortunately the code is unclear on the video, so you can also download the slides separately (13mb!).

QDox is back – 1.6 released

QDox history

QDox is a fast JavaDoc/Java parser built in 2002. It was originally intended as a stop gap until Java supported annotations by allowing tools to easily get access to JavaDoc attributes. Essentially it provided nothing more than a stripped down version of the JavaDoc Doclet tool, with performance suitable for using in continual build cycles (what would take JavaDoc over ten minutes to process would typically take QDox less than ten seconds). It served its purpose well.

The death of QDox

Then came along Java 5 and I stopped actively working on QDox. The first reason was that with the new annotations support, QDox wasn’t necessary. The other reason was that it would take a lot of effort to update the parser to support Java 5 syntax (not just for annotations, but generics, enums, etc).

And so QDox went quiet. The dev team lost interest and the releases stopped.

QDox is reborn

It turned out, I was wrong. Even with Java supporting annotations, QDox in a Java 5 world has some benefits:

  • Some Java 5 projects still want to use JavaDoc attributes (as well as annotations). Maybe for legacy reasons.
  • QDox acts on source code, rather than byte code. This can be useful in chicken and egg situations where you need to generate source from existing source, but you can’t compile until you’ve generated the code.
  • QDox exposes information that isn’t exposed by reflection, such as names of parameters or JavaDoc comments, which are useful for building tools to help visualize code.

So, by popular demand, I’m resurrecting the project. Yay.

1.6 released

This new release is a stop-gap release. Highlights include:

  • Switched to Apache 2.0 license.
  • Parser can now deal with Java 5 source code (annotations, generics, enums, var args, etc).
  • Numerous bugfixes.

This should be enough for existing projects to carry on using it with Java 5 code.

The next release will focus on making Java 5 specific features available in the API. Stay tuned.

Java and .NET RESTful interoperability with XStream

My ex-colleagues Paul Hammant and Ian Cartwright have written an article on their experiences of building SOA applications using RESTful services in .NET and Java that could interoperate over web services and message queues. XStream made this possible.


I’ve joined Google

Woooo….. this looks fun.