Testing Explained

At Rails Girls we like to talk about tests. In fact, pretty much all Rails developers like to talk about tests! Why is this? Well, we understand how important they are to making your code as robust and error-free as possible. But we also understand how confusing they can be..there seems to be so many different types of tests. We believe most things in Ruby on Rails are only confusing because they haven’t been explained properly. In this post we are going to very simply explain tests. Once you understand what they are, the syntax isn’t really that hard..trust us!

Unit Tests

These tests are generally very quick and precise. They test at the method level and they generally test one single thing. An example might be testing that a specific data attribute has a valid value. A good rule of thumb is that whenever you add any new feature you write a unit test for it.

Integration Tests

These start one layer up from our unit tests and they test the underlying services. They are fantastic at telling you when something is broken, however they are not as precise as unit tests in telling us exactly what is broken. A perfect example of an Integration Test would be the testing of a valid and invalid login or perhaps connectivity to your database. The idea here is to flag when something is wrong rather than the low level of detail that unit tests can give us.

User Interface Tests

These tests are our end to end tests. They test the whole system and how it connects together with the UI. And in that sense they are fab. It can be tempting to think all testing should be UI tests but this is not the case. UI tests are very slow and therefore considered expensive. They can also be flaky which means that if something changes on the UI, even if it is just a new field, it could ‘break’ your tests. Don’t get us wrong, they are necessary and they have many benefits but use them sparingly.

Now we know we have covered a lot in one post but we will chip away at each type of test over time. So if you take just one thing from this post let it be this: when it comes to testing your app try to cover as much as possible with unit tests 🙂

Sorcha & Rachelle