test_dummy

Test Dummy is an easy fake data generator library with the ability to create individual fake models or complex, inter-linked sets of models on-demand.

ActiveRecord models, the default for Ruby on Rails, is the only type supported at this time.

The generators produced by Test Dummy can simplify automated testing by making it possible to have test records created in a known-good state every time instead of depending on fixture files which may contain irregularities.

After installing the gem, methods to declare how to fake data are made available within ActiveRecord-derived models. There are several ways to declare how to dummy something.

Getting Started

Add Gem Dependency

To add Test Dummy functionality to an application, add the dependency to the Gemfile:

gem 'test_dummy'

Most application frameworks provide some kind of test helper foundation, like test/test_helper.rb in Rails or test/helper.rb in many gem templates.

Include the following line in there at an appropriate location:

require 'test_dummy'

This is usually inserted after all the foundational dependencies are taken care of, so typically later in the file.

Dummy Attributes

If a model has no validation requirements, it will already have some basic dummy functionality. Models can be created simply:

dummy_example = ExampleModel.create_dummy

Like the default create method, create_dummy also takes arguments that can be used to supply pre-defined attributes:

named_example = ExampleModel.create_dummy(:name => 'Example')

Any attribute which has validation requirements will need to have a generator or the models emitted by create_dummy cannot be saved. In this example, if name was a required field, this would have to be populated by TestDummy.

For convenience, you can add this directly to the model in question:

class ExampleModel < ActiveRecord::Base
  dummy :name do
    'Test Name'
  end
end

The dummy definition defines an operation that will occur if the attribute name is not specified. In this case, if name is not supplied as an argument to create_dummy then it will be filled in. These operations are attempted in the order they are defined.

Keep in mind it is possible to create invalid model instances if the parameters sent in would result in a validation error. For instance:

broken_example = ExampleModel.create_dummy(:name => nil)

broken_example.valid?
# => false

The dummy function can be used in several ways to handle a variety of situations. The default usage is simple:

dummy :name do
  'Fake Name'
end

In this case, whatever is returned by the block is inserted into the listed attribute if that attribute was not speficied in the options.

It is possible to dummy several attributes at the same time:

dummy :password, :password_confirmation do
  'testpassword'
end

This will be applied to any of the listed attributes that have not been specified in the options.

If access to the model that's being constructed is required, it is passed in as the first argument to the block:

dummy :description do |example|
  "Example with a name of length %d" % example.name.length
end

The model itself can be manipulated in any way that's required, such as setting other fields, calling methods, and so forth, but it's important to be careful here as the model at this point is incomplete if there are other attributes which have yet to have had their dummy generator called.

Separate Definition File

If including the attribute dummy generators in the main model file produces too much clutter, they can be relocated to an alternate location. This has the advantage in that they will only be loaded if a dummy operation is performed, so a production application will not be affected by their presence.

An example model app/models/example_model.rb file looks like:

class ExampleModel < ActiveRecord::Base
  dummy :name do
    "Random Name \#%d" % rand(10e6)
  end

  dummy :password, :password_confirmation do
    'tester'
  end

  dummy :nickname, :use => :random_phonetic_string
end

To avoid cluttering up your models with lots of dummy-related code, this can be stored in the test/dummy directory as a secondary file that's loaded as required.

An example test/dummy/example_model.rb looks like this:

class ExampleModel
  dummy :name do
    "Random Name \#%d" % rand(10e6)
  end

  dummy :password, :password_confirmation do
    'tester'
  end

  dummy :nickname, :use => :random_phonetic_string
end

Note that, like any patch to an existing class, it is not strictly required to re-declare the parent class.

The name of the test/dummy file should be the same as the main model defined in app/models. For instance, app/models/my_model.rb would have a corresponding test/dummy/my_model.rb which is loaded on demand.

Development and Testing

For simplicity and portability, SQLite3 is used as the database back-end for testing. If any changes are made to existing migrations the temporary database will need to be deleted before they're applied.

Copyright

Copyright (c) 2010-2013 Scott Tadman, The Working Group Inc.