Some key ideas:
- These build off of each other -
- Unit --> Integration: Don't bother with complex integration tests if you can't even have a simple unit test.
- Integration --> UI: It's going to be near impossible to do a UI test (which usually has poor APIs) if you can't at least integrate the backend (with at least has APIs - like web services, SQL, or C# calls).
- UI --> Performance: If you can't at least functionally run the code from end-to-end, then you can't expect reliable performance measures on it. Yes, there are always exceptions, and semantics (one may consider "UI" to be fronted integration, or one may test performance on just the backend APIs and bypass the UI). But in general, these 4 tests are a very natural path to follow.
- The higher you go, the more expensive: Unit tests (low-level) are cheapest, performance tests (high-level) are most expensive. So it's bad business to pay for an integration test to do the work of a unit test. It's like using an armani suit as a dish rag.
- These 4 types of tests should be separated. You can call any code from a unit test (depending on security, you could even call APIs to shutdown the server), so you could mix all your tests into one test harness. But don't do this - it will burn you. For example, unit tests are generally fast (they're all in-memory), whereas UI and integration are much slower (databases, web services, IIS hosts, etc...) So you don't want them coupled together because the slow integration tests will bog down your fast unit tests, and then developers never run unit tests before check-in because "it takes too long".
- Unit testing is but one tool. There is different types of code (algorithms, data containers, plumbing, installation scripts, UI, persistence plumbing, etc...). This requires an arsenal of developer skills, of which unit testing is one tool. With respect to unit testing and code coverage, the goal isn't N% coverage of all code, but rather N% coverage of unit-testable code. (You can get better coverage tools, like NCover, which can provide coverage when running integration, UI, and even manual tests run by QA, but that's a different story).
|Test Type||Good For||Bad For|
|Integration ("backend")||Ensuring high-level flows work, such as you can |
call a web service that loads or saves data to a database and writes
something to a file.
|Anything that can be handled with a unit test |
instead. For example, you likely wouldn't use an integration test to verify
every input combination for a text field.
|UI ("frontend integration")||Very-high level, functional tests.||Anything that can be handled via backend |
integration or unit tests.
|Performance||Identifying performance problems that could be |
costly to the business.
|Any functional testing|