Using DI container in unit tests

For true unit tests (i.e. those which only test one class, and mock all of its dependencies), it doesn’t make any sense to use a DI framework. In these tests:

  • if you find that you have a lot of repetitive code for newing up an instance of your class with all the mocks you’ve created, one useful strategy is to create all of your mocks and create the instance for the subject-under-test in your Setup method (these can all be private instance fields), and then each individual test’s “arrange” area just has to call the appropriate Setup() code on the methods it needs to mock. This way, you end up with only one new PersonController(...) statement per test class.
  • if you’re needing to create a lot of domain/data objects, it’s useful to create Builder objects that start with sane values for testing. So instead of invoking a huge constructor all over your code, with a bunch of fake values, you’re mostly just calling, e.g., var person = new PersonBuilder().Build(), possibly with just a few chained method calls for pieces of data that you specifically care about in that test. You may also be interested in AutoFixture, but I’ve never used it so I can’t vouch for it.

If you’re writing integration tests, where you need to test the interaction between several parts of the system, but you still need to be able to mock specific pieces, consider creating Builder classes for your services, so you can say, e.g. var personController = new PersonControllerBuilder.WithRealDatabase(connection).WithAuthorization(new AllowAllAuthorizationService()).Build().

If you’re writing end-to-end, or “scenario” tests, where you need to test the whole system, then it makes sense to set up your DI framework, leveraging the same configuration code that your real product uses. You can alter the configuration slightly to give yourself better programmatic control over things like which user is logged in and such. You can still leverage the other builder classes you’ve created for constructing data, too.

var user = new PersonBuilder().Build();
     var controller = Container.Get<PersonController>();
     var result = controller.GetCurrentUser();
     Assert.AreEqual(result.Username, user.Username)

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