A Concept for Integrated Database Testing within Storyteller

As I wrote about a couple weeks back, we’re looking to be a bit more Agile with our relational database developmentStoryteller is generally our tool of choice for automated testing when the problem domain involves a lot of data setup and where the declarative data checking becomes valuable. To take the next step toward more test automation against both our centralized database and the related applications, I’ve been working on a new package for Storyteller to enable easy integration of relational database manipulation and insertions. While I don’t have anything released to Nuget yet, I was hoping to get a little bit of feedback from others who might be interested in this new package — and have something to show other developers at work;)

As a super simplistic example, I’ve been retrofitting some Storyteller coverage against the Hilo sequence generation in Marten. That feature really only has two database objects:

  1. mt_hilo: a table just to track which “page” of sequential numbers has been reserved
  2. mt_get_next_hi: a stored procedure (I know, but let it go for now) that’s used to reserve and fetch the next page for a named entity

Those objects are shown below:

CREATE TABLE public.mt_hilo (
	entity_name			varchar CONSTRAINT pk_mt_hilo PRIMARY KEY,
	hi_value			bigint default 0

CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION public.mt_get_next_hi(entity varchar) RETURNS int AS $$
	current_value bigint;
	next_value bigint;
	select hi_value into current_value from public.mt_hilo where entity_name = entity;
	IF current_value is null THEN
		insert into public.mt_hilo (entity_name, hi_value) values (entity, 0);
		next_value := 0;
		next_value := current_value + 1;
		update public.mt_hilo set hi_value = next_value where entity_name = entity;

	return next_value;
$$ LANGUAGE plpgsql;

As a tiny proof of concept, I wanted to have a Storyteller specification just to test the happy path of the objects above. In the Fixture class for the Hilo sequence objects, I need grammars to:

  1. Verify that there is no existing data in mt_hilo at the beginning of the spec
  2. Call the mt_get_next_hi function with a given entity name and verify the page number returned from the function
  3. Do a set verification of the exact rows in the mt_hilo table at the end of the spec

To implement the desired specification language for the steps above, I wrote this class using the new Storyteller.RDBMS bits:

    public class HiloFixture : PostgresqlFixture
        public HiloFixture()
            Title = "The HiLo Objects";

        public override void SetUp()
            WriteTrace("Deleting from mt_hilo");
            Runner.Execute("delete from mt_hilo");

        public IGrammar NoRows()
            return NoRowsIn("There should be no rows in the mt_hilo table", "public.mt_hilo");

        public RowVerification CheckTheRows()
            return VerifyRows("select entity_name, hi_value from mt_hilo")
                .Titled("The rows in mt_hilo should be")

        public IGrammarSource GetNextHi(string entity)
            return Sproc("mt_get_next_hi")
                .Format("Get the next Hi value for entity {entity} should be {result}")

A couple other notes on the class above:

  • You might notice that I’m cleaning out the mt_hilo table in the Fixture.Setup() method. I do this to quietly establish a known starting state at the beginning of the specification execution
  • It’s not shown here, but part of your setup for this tooling is to tell Storyteller what the database connection string is. I haven’t exactly settled on the final mechanism for this yet.
  • The HiloFixture class subclasses the PostgresqlFixture class that provides some helpers for defining grammars against a Postgresql database. I’m developing against Postgresql at the moment (just so I can code on OSX), but this new package will target Sql Server as well out of the box because that’s what we need it for at work;)

Now that we’ve got the Fixture, I wrote this specification shown in Storyteller’s markdown flavored persistence:

# Read and Write


In the initial state, there should be no data

|> NoRows
|> GetNextHi entity=foo, result=0
|> GetNextHi entity=bar, result=0
|> GetNextHi entity=foo, result=1
|> CheckTheRows
    |foo        |1       |
    |bar        |0       |

Finally, here’s what the result of running the specification above looks like:

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 12.10.51 PM

Where do I foresee this being used?

I think the main usage for us is with some of our services that are tightly coupled to a Sql Server database. I see us using this tool to set up test data and be able to verify expected database state changes when our C# services execute.

I also see this for testing stored procedure logic when we deem that valuable, especially when the data setup and verification requires a lot of steps. I say that because Storyteller turns the expression of the specification into a declarative form. That’s also valuable because it helps you to decouple the expression of the specification from changes to the database structure. I.e., using Storyteller means that you can more easily handle scenarios like a database table getting a new non-null column with no default that would break any hard coded Sql statements.

I’d of course prefer not to have a lot of business logic in sproc’s, but if we are going to have mission critical sproc’s in production, I’d really prefer to have some test coverage over them.


One thought on “A Concept for Integrated Database Testing within Storyteller

  1. Pingback: Storyteller 4.1 and the art of OSS Releases | The Shade Tree Developer

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