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Hacking Visual Studio
Pages: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Run Unit Tests Inside Visual Studio

Testing can be just a few clicks away when you use TestDriven.NET to run unit tests right inside of Visual Studio.

Test Driven Development is the practice of writing unit tests for your code before you actually write that code. By writing a test and then writing the code to make that test pass, you have a much better idea of the goal and purpose of your code. Test Driven Development also encourages complete code coverage, which not only increases the quality of your code, but also allows you to refactor the internals of a method or class and quickly and easily test the outside interface of the object.

TestDriven.NET is a unit-testing add-in for Visual Studio. It was developed for a number of years under the name NUnitAddIn. It now supports multiple unit testing frameworks and is compatible with all versions of Visual Studio .NET. It is available in free and professional versions from the TestDriven.NET web site at Its author, Jamie Cansdale, keeps a web log charting TestDriven.NET's development at


TestDriven.NET can be installed using an administrator or limited user account. By default, it will install for just the current user. Because limited users don't have write access to the Program Files folder, a limited user installation will install files in the user's Application Data\TestDriven.NET folder. An administrator installation will install files in the Program Files\TestDriven.NET folder. These defaults can be changed by selecting Custom on the Choose Setup Type page.

TestDriven.NET is packaged with functional versions of the NUnit and MbUnit unit testing frameworks. It also includes an adapter for executing Visual Studio Team System unit tests when available. These will be installed to subdirectories inside the TestDriven.NET directory, as shown in Figure 13-2.

Figure 13-2. TestDriven.NET Setup

Run Test(s)

The Run Test(s) command offers a straightforward way to build and run tests. It is intended to be the default method of test execution in most contexts. It automatically detects the test framework being used and executes tests using the correct test runner. The tests are launched by a test execution engine running as an external process. This test process is kept alive in order to improve execution times on subsequent runs. Once a test process has been cached, a rocket icon will appear in the notify box.

If the code editor window is selected, the test(s) to execute will be determined by the position of the caret. Individual tests are executed by right-clicking anywhere inside a test method and selecting Run Test(s), as shown in Figure 13-3. All tests in a test fixture are executed by right-clicking inside a class (but outside of any method) and selecting Run Test(s). All tests in a namespace are executed by right-clicking inside a namespace and selecting Run Test(s).

Figure 13-3. Run Test(s) menu item

The Run Test(s) option is also found on various Solution Explorer context menus. It can be used to execute all tests in a solution, project, or project item.

Ad Hoc Tests

Ad hoc tests offer a useful alternative to throwaway console applications. They should not in any way act as a substitute for real unit tests. Rather, they are intended to provide a convenient way of exploring local private methods or third-party code.

Any method that does not take parameters can be executed as an ad hoc test simply by right-clicking inside it and selecting Run Test(s). It can be a public, private, static, or instance method. In the case of an instance method, an object will be created using the default constructor of the class (providing, of course, that the class has a default constructor). The Dispose method will be called on any object that implements IDisposable, once the test has been executed.

If an ad hoc test returns an argument, the argument will be expanded to the Test output pane. Complex objects will have their fields and properties displayed. Enumerable objects will be listed. Primitive objects will be converted to strings and displayed.

Test Output and Task List

The Test output pane is the window in which all test results and warning messages appear and is shown in Figure 13-4. Trace and debug information is also sent there, along with console output and error messages. If all tests in a project or solution are being executed, the Test output pane will display only ignored or failed tests.

Figure 13-4. Output Test pane

When a test fails, the name of the test, together with the exception message and stack trace, is displayed. If code has been compiled with debugging information, the corresponding portions of the stack trace will contain line numbers. Double-clicking on these portions is a convenient way of navigating to the offending code.

As well as sending information to the output pane, failing tests also get added to the task list. If many tests have failed, this creates a useful summary view as shown in Figure 13-5. Generally, the further up the stack trace, the more likely the code will be of interest. Double-clicking a test in the task list is an alternative way of accessing the code in question.

Figure 13-5. Task List view

Test With... Debugger

The Test With... menu offers many alternative contexts in which to run tests. Selecting the Debugger context executes test(s) with the Visual Studio debugger attached, as shown in Figure 13-6. By setting a breakpoint on a method and selecting Test With... → Debugger, it is possible to step into a unit test.

Figure 13-6. Debugger command on Test With... submenu

By default, Visual Studio will build all projects in a solution when executing with the debugger. In Visual Studio .NET 2003 and Visual Studio 2005, there is an option to "Only build startup projects and dependencies on Run". Checking this option can significantly improve startup times when debugging large solutions. In Visual Studio .NET 2003, this option is under Tools → Options → Environment → Projects and Solutions. In Visual Studio 2005, it can be found under Tools → Options → Environment → Projects and Solutions→Build and Run.

Test Projects and Solutions

By right-clicking on a project in the Solution Explorer window and selecting Run Test(s), all tests within that project will be executed. Failed and ignored tests are sent to the Test output pane and task list in a similar fashion to other Run Test(s) commands. Trace, debug, and console output is suppressed when executing all tests in a project or solution.

Similarly, all tests in a solution can be executed by right-clicking on the solution in the Solution Explorer window and selecting Run Test(s). For each project in the solution, the test framework being used is established and tests are executed using the correct test runner. Projects that do not contain any tests are simply ignored.

Aborting a Test Run

When a test run is in progress, an Abort Test menu item will appear on the Tools menu, as shown in Figure 13-7. Selecting this item will abort the thread the tests are executing on. When tests are aborted in this way, any cleanup logic is given a chance to run.

Figure 13-7. Abort Test command on Tools menu

Stopping the Test Process

You will sometimes need to stop the test process. The most common of these circumstances is when an app domain is created, but not unloaded by a test run. This can result in any assemblies loaded by the app domain being locked, which causes subsequent builds to fail. It is possible to recycle the test process by right-clicking on the rocket icon in the notify box and selecting Stop, as shown in Figure 13-8. A new test process will be launched the next time the Run Test(s) command is executed.

Figure 13-8. Stopping the test process

Jamie Cansdale

Pages: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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