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remi bourgarel
remi bourgarel

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Moving from unit test to integration/system test

Moving from unit test to integration/system test

This post is not directly about Blazor but I wanted to blog about this technical change.

On my Toss project I decided to move from a Unit Test approach to an Integration test approach. In this blog post I'll try to explain the reasons and the technique employed.

How I build my unit test

I build my unit test this way : a method (unit) has input (parameters and dependencies) and output (return, dependencies and exceptions).

A unit test will "arrange" the input :

  • the parameters are forced
  • the dependencies are setup via a mocking framework (Setup() in Moq) And "assert" the output :
  • the expected return and exceptions are checked
  • the dependencies are validated via the mocking framework (Verify() in Moq)

In theory this is perfect :

  • only production code is executed at test assert, I don't depend on other systems.
  • if one test fails, the reason will be easy to find.
  • every piece of code will be writen following the red/green process (create test and add code until tests passes).

Problems with unit tests

This approach has drawbacks that lead me to getting rid of it :

  • Because of the mandatory mocking/faking of dependencies, you are not testing an interface but an implementation. And a method is the lower block of implementation. Every time I'll do a small change in my implementation (for instance I change a loop on "SaveOne" for a call to "SaveAll") I will need to change my tests.
  • Setting up everything is a lot of code, look at this file I had to create to mock the ASPNET Core Identity dependencies. If I have the simple formula "1 LoC = X bugs", we can say that I will spend more time debugging my tests (and that's what happened) than my actual code !
  • Because you are not testing everything altogether you can have problem at runtime : you didn't setup DI the right way, because your class doesn't implement the good interface, your configuration is not set ...

Technical solution

The solution is system test, we could call it integration test but for some of them there might be no dependency involved. Here I want to test my system as a whole.

Use the ASPNET Core DI setup

Here is my class setting up this :

public class TestFixture
    public const string DataBaseName = "Tests";
    public const string UserName = "username";
    private static ServiceProvider _provider;
    //only mock we need :)
    private static Mock<IHttpContextAccessor> _httpContextAccessor;

    public static ClaimsPrincipal ClaimPrincipal { get; set; }

    static TestFixture()

        var dict = new Dictionary<string, string>
             { "GoogleClientId", ""},
             { "GoogleClientSecret", ""},
             { "MailJetApiKey", ""},
             { "MailJetApiSecret", ""},
             { "MailJetSender", ""},
             { "CosmosDBEndpoint", "https://localhost:8081"},
             { "CosmosDBKey", "C2y6yDjf5/R+ob0N8A7Cgv30VRDJIWEHLM+4QDU5DE2nQ9nDuVTqobD4b8mGGyPMbIZnqyMsEcaGQy67XIw/Jw=="},
             { "StripeSecretKey", ""},
             {"test","true" },
             {"dataBaseName",DataBaseName }

        var config = new ConfigurationBuilder()
        var startup = new Startup(config);
        var services = new ServiceCollection();
        _httpContextAccessor = new Mock<IHttpContextAccessor>();

        services.AddScoped(typeof(ILoggerFactory), typeof(LoggerFactory));
        services.AddScoped(typeof(ILogger<>), typeof(Logger<>));

        _provider = services.BuildServiceProvider();


    public async static Task CreateTestUser()
        var userManager =  _provider.GetService<UserManager<ApplicationUser>>();
        ApplicationUser user = new ApplicationUser()
            UserName = UserName,
            Email = "",
            EmailConfirmed = true
        await userManager.CreateAsync(user);
        ClaimPrincipal = new ClaimsPrincipal(
                  new ClaimsIdentity(new Claim[]
                                new Claim(ClaimTypes.Name, UserName)
        (ClaimPrincipal.Identity as ClaimsIdentity).AddClaim(new Claim(ClaimTypes.NameIdentifier, user.Id));
          .SetupGet(h => h.HttpContext)
          .Returns(() =>
          new DefaultHttpContext()
              User = ClaimPrincipal


    public static void SetControllerContext(Controller controller)
        controller.ControllerContext = new ControllerContext
            HttpContext = _httpContextAccessor.Object.HttpContext

    public static void SetControllerContext(ControllerBase controller)
        controller.ControllerContext = new ControllerContext
            HttpContext  = _httpContextAccessor.Object.HttpContext

    public static T GetInstance<T>()
        T result = _provider.GetRequiredService<T>();
        ControllerBase controllerBase = result as ControllerBase;
        if (controllerBase != null)
        Controller controller = result as Controller;
        if (controller != null)
        return result;

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  • I have to mock the HttpContextAccessor as there is no Http Query and I need it for knowing who is the connected user
  • I pass "test" "true" to the config so I can setup my fake/mock in Configure()
  • I had to force the logger DI setup, I guess it's set by something in ConfigureService

Choosing the tested layer

I chose to test at the mediator layer (from MediatR), my controller layer is very thin so I prefer to test my app here.

My test setup are really simple, they are basically like this :

 var mediator = TestFixture.GetInstance<IMediator>();

 mediator.Send(new MyCommand());

 var res = mediator.Send(new MyQuery());


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  • This test will uses both the command and query so with this 4 LoC I test a lot of code : DI setup, interface declaration, interface implementation ...

External dependencies

I still need to mock some dependencies that I don't manage : Stripe or MailJet or even Random.
Here is how I setup the fake

// Add application services.
if (Configuration.GetValue<string>("test") == null)
    services.AddTransient<IEmailSender, EmailSender>();
    services.AddSingleton<IStripeClient, StripeClient>(s => new StripeClient(Configuration.GetValue<string>("StripeSecretKey")));
    //We had it as singleton so we can get the content later during the asset phase
    services.AddSingleton<IEmailSender, FakeEmailSender>();
    services.AddSingleton<IStripeClient, FakeStripeClient>();
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  • The fake code are very simple (you can find it in my Toss repo) they just record the received parameters and have a static property for giving the next expected result

Internal dependencies

I call internal dependencies, dependencies that I manage entirely like CosmosDB. CosmosDB doesn't support transaction with multiple client request like SQL Server(you have to create a server side sp for using transactions) so I have to clean up the database after each tests. Here is my base class for doing this :

public class BaseCosmosTest : IAsyncLifetime
    public BaseCosmosTest()

    public async Task InitializeAsync()

    public async Task DisposeAsync()
        var _client = TestFixture.GetInstance<DocumentClient>();
        var collections = _client.CreateDocumentCollectionQuery(UriFactory.CreateDatabaseUri(TestFixture.DataBaseName)).ToList();
        foreach (var item in collections)
            var docs = _client.CreateDocumentQuery(item.SelfLink);
            foreach (var doc in docs)
                await _client.DeleteDocumentAsync(doc.SelfLink);
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  • I only remove the document not the collections, so my test will run faster
  • IAsyncLifetime is here for having an async Dispose method
  • I cannot clean the DB before the test as the DB will not be created until the Startup.Configure method is called
  • I need to force the test to run non parallel (don't know if this term is correct in english but you get my point) as they all use the same DB/Collections here is the xunit.runner.json needed (you need to Copy it in output directory) :
  "parallelizeTestCollections": false
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New problems

There is of course drawbacks in this way of testing :

  • A test can fail for many reason, so in the long term debugging failing test my be more difficult than with a unit test approach.
  • You have to be able to clean all the dependencies between each test, if not they will fall in the external category. This mean writing "test only" code.
  • The test will take longer to run.
  • I don't test as much as I want : route, controller ... I could do only E2E test but they are too much pain to create, so I only have a few of them.


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