Lighting up the tunnErl Pt.8 – Testing processes

March 13, 2009

Well after months of trying to get my head around running units around a process I think I have it sussed.

Simple unit tests
Well I’m sure you have seen these type of erlang tests before

foo_test_() ->

The above code basically asserts that the method say returns what we expect. Okay so now what if we want to setup a process, lets say chatterl:start() and test its functionality, how would we do that? well it took me a while to get my head around this part.

I have noticed that if any processes are left alive during a unit test, the process will still be active whilst the other tests run, so if for some reason you find previous test cases failing where they were initially passing, first check that you have killed all the necessary processes in all units.

Creating simple units was a walk in the park and nothing really different from the standard units I’ve created in various C clones. The doozy was creating units that focus on a specific process rather than a method or function.

Testing processes

chatterl_mid_man_basics_test_() ->
[{setup, fun() ->
chatterl:start() end,
fun(_) ->
chatterl:stop() end,
[{timeout, 5000,
fun() ->
?assertEqual(<<"Illegal content type!">>,

The above test is from chatterl’s test cases, the test starts chatterl on setup, waits 5000 msecs using a timeout & runs the units within the final fun/0. Once our tests have run we need to stop chatterl (which will drop all its connected processes). I’ve used a timeout because it seems the processes I am working with need some time to be dropped before the next test is started, I’ve noticed that if this wasn’t done I’d get all kinds of unrelated errors or complaining that the process is still alive.

Though this process seems cumbersome, especially as I’m used to a single setup/teardown method which does the same thing each time a unit is run, the above handles our tests pretty well.

For the extra curious, you can find test cases used for chatterl/libs/chatter/src/chatterl_test.erl @ github.

You can also checkout Kevin Smith’s code as he seems pretty up to scratch with his tests membox is a good place to start.


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