Tag Archives: Characterization Tests

Legacy Coderetreat: Episode 5 – Basic Rules of Refactoring – Code Cast

Basic Rules of Refactoring – code cast

Blog post series

This blog post is part of a series about legacy coderetreat and legacy code techniques you can apply during your work. Please click to see more sessions about legacy code.

Code Cast

This is a code cast in Java.

We start by checking what can be extracted to another method. The Basic Rules of Refactoring describes the detailed steps I use.

To ensure that we have a safety net, let us start with covering the code with some system tests and then write tests on the newly created method. These are also characterization tests, but they are often simpler than the system tests we wrote before. When the new method have been covered by tests, call it from the initial place where the code was copied from. Run all the system tests. At the end do some manual testing to see that everything works fine.

This technique is very useful to have small and safe steps while refactoring. Remember to never cut and paste. Always duplicate the implementation, cover it with tests and then reroute the call to the new code.

 

 

Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Thomas Sundberg for proofreading this post.

Legacy Coderetreat: Episode 4 – Add Feature on Legacy Code – Code Cast

Add feature on legacy code – code cast

Blog post series

This blog post is part of a series about legacy coderetreat and legacy code techniques you can apply during your work. Please click to see more sessions about legacy code.

Code Cast

This is a code cast in Java. We have a new feature request and we need to add it to a legacy code base.

We start by understanding what we need to change. After that we run the existing system tests, that we wrote during the session From Nothing to System Tests. We use a test coverage tool to understand how much of the code is covered with tests. After this step we start writing new system tests until all the code
that will be changed is covered by tests.

When all of the system is covered with tests, we refactor the code to make room for a new feature. We extract a method, then a class and then an interface. The interface is implemented in a new way so that we add the new functionality. Adding the new functionality is done with tests written up-front.

At the end we write one system test to verify that the whole system can work well with the new feature. This is a kind of partial acceptance test that helps us understand if all the system works well together. And of course, manual testing and refactoring is essential before we can say we are done.

See more about the technique in the blog post Add Features on Legacy Code.

 

 

Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Thomas Sundberg for proofreading this post.

Legacy Coderetreat: Episode 3 – Fix bugs on Legacy Code – Code Cast

Fix bugs on legacy code – code cast

Blog post series

This blog post is part of a series about legacy coderetreat and legacy code techniques you can apply during your work. Please click to see more sessions about legacy code.

Code Cast

This is a code cast in Java. I have a bug report and I need to fix bugs on legacy code. I start by writing characterization test on the system level and then I dive into the code with writing a unit test. See more about the technique in the blog post Fix a Bug on Legacy Code.

 

Legacy Coderetreat: Part 4 – Fix bugs on Legacy Code

Fix bugs on legacy code

Blog post series

This blog post is part of a series about legacy coderetreat and legacy code techniques you can apply during your work. Please click to see more sessions about legacy code.

Purpose

When we need to fix bugs on legacy code, we first need to understand if the described behaviour is in fact a bug or not. For that we can write some characterization tests in order to understand what the system really does. The simplest form of characterization test is a system test. A couple of ideas to start writing the characterization tests are to use the generic approach Part 2 – From Nothing to System Tests and Part 3 – Golden Master. We can generate system tests considering that the System Under Test (SUT) is a black box. You can find more details about how to do that in the blog posts and code casts about the above techniques. But in order to fix bugs on legacy code we need to dive more into the code base. We need to write tests on a smaller scope and we often need to refactor in order to make room for the code changes. Let’s see a technique of fixing a bug in legacy code.

Fix bugs on legacy code

Fix bugs on legacy code

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Legacy Coderetreat: Episode 2 – Golden Master Code Cast

Golden Master – code cast

Blog post series

This blog post is part of a series about legacy coderetreat and legacy code techniques you can apply during your work. Please click to see more sessions about legacy code.

Code Cast

This is a code cast in Java where I start generating system test with the Golden Master technique. Please read more details about this technique in the Part 3 – Golden Master blog post. Have fun!

 

 

 

Legacy Coderetreat: Part 3 – Golden Master

Golden Master on legacy code

Blog post series

This blog post is part of a series about legacy coderetreat and legacy code techniques you can apply during your work. Please click to see more sessions about legacy code.

Purpose

Whenever you start dealing with an existing software system you need to have a basic safety net. This basic safety net will make sure that whenever you change big things in the code, the changes will not affect the existing functionality. You can read more about this concept in the generic session Part 2 – From Nothing to System Tests.

As mentioned in the above entry, we want to start with some basic safety feature that will let us test the code in a generic way, focusing only on inputs and on outputs and without changing the production code. So we will treat the system as a black box (we do not care about the internal behaviour of the system, we care just about the whole system inputs and outputs) and we will test only the outputs for given inputs.

The Golden Master technique is very useful when a clear input and output is easy to obtain on the system level. There are some cases where the Golden Master technique can be applied with difficulty or where it cannot be applied at all. We will discuss these situations further as well.

golden-master-beatles-hey-jude-lp

In audio mastering, a golden master is a model disk used as a reference to create disks in the old vinyl industry. This disk was cut in metal and it would contain the sound transferred from a microphone (see here more details). In the software world we took this name and we started using it for a fixed reference of a system output, paired with a system input.

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Legacy Coderetreat: Episode 1 – From Nothing to System Tests Code Cast

From Nothing to System Tests – code cast

Blog post series

This blog post is part of a series about legacy coderetreat and legacy code techniques you can apply during your work. Please click to see more sessions about legacy code.

Code Cast

This is a code cast in Java where I start covering with tests a simple code base. Please read the explanation of this technique in the Part 2 – From Nothing to System Tests blog post. Have fun!

 

Legacy Coderetreat: Part 2 – From Nothing to System Tests

From Nothing to System Tests

Blog post series

This blog post is part of a series about legacy coderetreat and legacy code techniques you can apply during your work. Please click to see more sessions about legacy code.

Purpose

Whenever I need to change an existing system I need a safety net. These system tests knit a coarse safety net, very good if you want to have the safety of changing code later without introducing defects.

This is the first thing I usually do when I start working with a system that:

  • does not have any automated tests
  • is totally unknown to me

This safety net will be used during the next phases when the code will be refactored and cleaned-up, before being modified. Now let’s see a bit about the concept of this session.

from-nothing-to-system-tests

From Nothing to System Tests

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Legacy Coderetreat: Part 1 – Introduction

Legacy Coderetreat

Blog post series

This blog post is part of a series about legacy coderetreat and legacy code techniques you can apply during your work. Please click to see more sessions about legacy code.

A bit of history

On 26 November 2011 I had the honour of being an attendee at the second ever Legacy Coderetreat, which was supposed to be the first one in the world. But my friend Johan Martinsson from Grenoble beat Erik and me to it. Anyway I was part of the second ever Legacy Coderetreat in the world, facilitated by JB Rainsberger. JB had come with this concept of using the Coderetreat format, but for legacy code.

At the beginning of the day he presented us the problem, like in any other coderetreat. The problem was an ugly trivia game and you can find the sources here. At that time the code base was translated, from Java, only in a couple of other languages. Now you can find almost any language you want, thanks to the worldwide community of passionate developers who translated the code base.

JB facilitated the event like you could find in here, with a lot of details. But in short we would start with a free session, then follow with Golden Masters, continue with Subclass to Test, Replace Inheritance with Delegation and then Pure Functions. After each iteration we deleted the code like in any other coderetreat and swapped the pairs.

I liked a lot the fact that JB started this idea, because I am a big lover of working with legacy code. And this Legacy Coderetreat is such a good way to practice. But I had some other ideas on how to make it different.

legacy-coderetreat

Legacy Coderetreat

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