SiebUnit - Build Inventory

This article is a continuation on SiebUnit - an xUnit implementation, and provides an inventory of the parts needed to construct a SiebUnit framework.

Like the first article, this is aimed at the Technical Architect, who understands the concept, and knows how to put the necessary pieces together to bring this idea to life.


Architecture



The architecture diagram allows us to visualize important concepts at a high level, and can be used to break up big jobs into more manageable pieces.


Rules Engine

You can replace Rules Engine with any Siebel interface that supports receiving Inputs and returning Output PropertySets. SiebUnits will also work against a standard invoked business service, or workflow.

The only caveat is that you cannot have context, that is, you must re-design your BS/WFs to decouple your logic from any specific Application context. This naturally suits the testing of a rules engine, external API such as ESB, internal APIs like custom business object libraries, and scripting utilities.


SiebUnit Framework

A SiebUnit framework can be composed of the following sub components

* Test Case Runner
* Test Case start up routines
* Test Case tear down routines (optional)
* Test case assertion
* Random data generator
* Expression language
* Expression language parser
* Expression Executor
* Expression Builder
* Test history and performance timing
* Script Library
* Business Object (BO) Library
* XML Parser
* SQL/IO Layer


Test Case Runner

This component reads the configuration data from the data store, loads all the test cases in memory, and runs each test case one by one. It records start, stop times, and logs the output, but does not make any determination on the test case result. Errors are captured, and any exceptions are suppressed, allowing the Test Case Runner to continue on until it completes all test cases.


Test Case Startup/TearDown

In order to test certain scenarios, prerequisite test data may need to be setup before the rules can be tested. This component constructs the initial test data before the test suite runs. Optionally, there can be a Tear Down component, which cleans up after all test cases.


Test Case Assertion

Assert is a computer science term used to ensure a condition is true/false to enforces application integrity. The assertion component performs the same role, it checks the outputs of each test case, and validates it against the expected result for that test case, logging the result to a history data store.


XML Parser

This component converts XML into a structured object and back. This can be used to send dynamic outbound messages, and validate inbound responses, for integration testing.

SQL/IO Layer

This component retrieves the related data from an entity for validation purposes. It is used by the Test Case Assertion component.


Random Data Generator

Even within predefined test boundaries, we can allow the generation of random data to simulate dynamic conditions.

Eg. Generate a bunch of expense activities of random type, and amount, and test it against a business rule for assignment or approval logic.

The random data generator can be used by the Setup component, or the individual test case to randomize inputs into a rule.


Expression Language

To make SiebUnits declarative, we need a way of allowing the developer to construct data, supply dynamic inputs, and validate the results of the test cases, without writing a line of code. This can be done via an Expression Language, similar to calculated field expressions in Siebel.


Expression Language Parser

This component is responsible for translating the above expressions into a form which is understandable by the Siebel eScript compiler or external engine, that will in-turn run the instructions.

The expression parser needs to differentiate between a literal and expression. This is done via 4 ways, as illustrated throughout Siebel.

1. Field Pre/Post Default

Expressions need to be prefixed with "Expr: " or a key word such as "System", "Field" etc. Anything else is considered a literal.

If you wanted to pre default another field via the square bracket notation "[Id]" this will actually result in a literal value

2. Calculated Field

A calculation is always expected to be an expression, unless it is surrounded by quotes. So the square bracket notation "[Id]" is treated as an expression in this context.

3. Field Type

This example can be seen in WFs in the Output argument of some steps. There is another field that indicates the type. Eg: Literal vs Expression.

4. Dot Notation

WFs also have another interesting expression, with the dot notation to reference child elements within property sets. This dosnt really fit into either of the above 3 categories. As it can easily be interpreted as a literal, and does not have any prefixes to indicate that it is an expression.

You have to make a call on which method you will use, and your expression parser has to recognise the above patterns if you mix the scenarios.

Eg 1. For an eScript implementation, the expression

"GetProfileAttr('Me.Id')"

Should translate this to an eScript call like this

TheApplication().GetProfileAttr("Me.Id")

The parser has to recognise that this is an expression with a literal argument.


Eg 2. The next expression provides a dynamic input.

"GetProfileAttr([&Property])"

This follows Siebels WF standard, of referencing WF properties via the ampersand prefix inside square bracket notation, requires a bit more work because you have to deal with the nesting of expressions.

This is where you can draw the line, and define styles for your expressions and have another expression to deal with that scenario

"GetProfileAttrByProperty('Property')"

Now the literal references a property that holds the value to this method. You will have to plan out your expression language in advance, and know how your parser will deal with each scenario.


Expression Executor

After you've translated the expression into the native language, it needs to be executed, and the result returned. The method that you execute the expression, will impact on the style of your expressions, and how complex your parser needs to be.

Consider implementing a short circuiting mechanism so that, if part of a condition expression is met, you can abort executing the rest of the expression.


Expression Builder

This component allows the developer to choose from a defined set of expressions, this aids in learning, reduces mistakes, and as well as documenting all the supported functions of SiebUnit. Ideally It has to integrate with the Siebel UI session, and apply the expression to the list/control.


Test History and Performance timing

This data is produced by the Assert component which validates the test case runners run history with the expected outputs, it also extracts performance timings for analysis.

Inputs and Outputs of the run are also included in the run history to help debugging. Having the results in the UI is consistent of the expectations of a declarative tool. Take note BRP engineers!

Test history and performance data can be transient, and the user can export the results, if a base line needs to be established.

Script Library and BO Library

It is important to differentiate between the above two components. A script library provides utilities, and prototypes on native objects, while a BO library provides business functions.

A SiebUnit library is tightly integrated with the script library for performing internal operations, and provides proxy functions for invoking the BO library to setup and perform test cases. When creating framework functions you will have to make conscious decisions in which library a function belongs to.


Unit Testing and Regression Testing

SiebUnit does not replace commercial regression testing suites. An important differentiation is that SiebUnits is designed to be used by developers for unit testing code/WFs before it is checked in, and to ensure application integrity is maintained before it reaches the testers.

SiebUnits are also more thorough, as only the developer could understand all the exception paths of a program. SiebUnits test technical functionality, while regression test tools test functionality.

Although SiebUnit can be used to regression test business rules, it does not test UI components. The developer is still expected to ensure that UI rules are unit tested. A badly configured link, can still bring the system down and while writing SiebUnits to create data, and check the data returned from the link could be a valid test case. It was not intended to micro manage every piece of individual configuration.

SiebUnits can offer a great sense of security for the developer, but poorly designed test cases, can also provide a false sense of security. This is normally due to poor test case coverage. Average developers will usually test the positive scenario, good developers test both positive and negative scenarios. SiebUnits require the developer to understand all the possible logic paths and design test cases to thoroughly cover off the scenarios that can result the program to fail.

Conclusion

There are numerous benefits to having SiebUnits on a project. The immediate return on investment, is that your testing period is reduced, and your application will be more robust, but the real payoff of really comes down the track, when you build highly complex systems, where one small change can break another part of the system. SiebUnits can provide your developers with confidence to make that change, without costly regression testing. SiebUnits will keep your Application, and also your sanity in check.

xUnits is a proven concept, and is a staple of any modern development platform. SiebUnit provides an evolution path, so that your developers no longer need to manually unit test. The world has JUnit , jsUnit, CUnit, OCUnit, PHPUnit, PyUnit, SUnit and now we can add SiebUnit to the list.


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6 comments:

  1. Jason - Very creative concept... btw... do you sell this product?


    Its very hard to understand what you are trying to explain but the concept looks pretty good.

    If its possible to attached source code that would be easier for us to understand.

    One example is eScript framework. Matt (Yet Another Siebel Framework) posted the source code. It took sometime but and I'm already using it in my implementation.

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  2. Dear Anon,

    The SiebUnit framework is not distributed, however it is provided for free, as a service to my clients.

    This article has a limited audience, but it hopes to bridge the gap from concept to realization, by providing the build components for an experienced architect to implement SiebUnit in your project.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Can I have a Demo & further more detilas of this Framework.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Vibhav, please send me a message on linkedin, and I'll any answer questions that I can for you.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Jason,

    Does it any kind of software that you provide?
    If not, then I will be glad to know, how to implement SiebUnit in our current project.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Azhar, Not currently. It'd be best to take small steps. Building something smaller like this http://www.impossiblesiebel.com/2014/06/the-test.html, is more approachable.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are open to all, please make it constructive.