[TIP] testing against HTTP services

Alfredo Deza alfredodeza at gmail.com
Sun Dec 9 11:49:10 PST 2012

For the longest time, I've been working with gigantic applications where
testing was slow because everything depended on the whole application

Even if you had an isolated, granular test that didn't need a database, a
database would be created for you. And you would have to wait for it.

Right now things are different in my current environment. A few of the core
functionalities of this application have been decoupled and are now
independent HTTP services. This is great for modularity, but poses a
problem for testing.

The current approach for running a test in application Foo that talks to
HTTP service Bar, is to run the Bar HTTP service as part of some setup.

This seems straightforward, it is only an HTTP service after all, but what
happens when that service become expensive to run? What if it needs a
database and other things in order to run properly? What if it gets to the
point where you need to wait for several seconds just to bring it up for
your test that takes 0.01 to complete?

If Bar keeps getting updated, having Foo test Bar against a number of
versions is a pain multiplier.

I've heard a few ideas, but I am interested in what you guys have
experienced as a good approach. Here are the list of things I've heard,
some of them include ones that I am using:

1. Bring the real HTTP service with whatever dependencies it needs to test
against it.
2. Mock everything against the HTTP service with canned responses
3. Use #1 for recording answers and run subsequent tests against it using
the recorded responses.
4. Have "official" mocks from the HTTP service where behavior is maintained
but setup is     minimum.

All of the above have some caveat I don't like: #1 is slow and painful to
deal with, #2 will always make your tests pass even if the HTTP service
changes behavior, #3 only works in certain situations and you still need at
least a few slow setups and deal with a proper setup of the whole HTTP
service, #4 is a problem if the HTTP service itself wasn't crafted with 3rd
party testing in mind, so that mocks can be provided without reproducing
the actual app again.

Any ideas or suggestions are greatly appreciated!

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