Learn To Test Like A Grumpy Programmer - Part 1

December 18th, 2018

(You can see more stuff like this blog post if you buy my "Learn To Test Like A Grumpy Programmer" course over at LeanPub)

I wanted to show folks how someone who has been writing tests for PHP in anger since 2003 actually implements new features for a web site, driving them with tests.

More importantly, I want you to focus on how deliberate and methodical I am in doing this work. I know it's an overused word, but discipline is a key factor in successfully using a TDD approach for your tests. Skipping steps or taking short cuts is a great way to end up with weird errors that you spend a very long time debugging.

I am building [OpenCFP Central])(https://opencfpcentral.com), which is a companion web application for OpenCFP. OpenCFP is a PHP web application that conference organizers can install and use to collect talk submissions from prospective speakers.

OpenCFP Central is a 100% free service.

Right now you can register for an account with OpenCFP Central. For conference organizers, you can obtain OAuth tokens so that people can use their OpenCFP Central account to login and submit talk ideas to OpenCFP. This helps to reduce one of the biggest complaints, which was "why do I have to keep creating OpenCFP accounts?!?"

The next feature I am building is allowing OpenCFP Central users to create talks and store them there. Once I've built that out, then I will add functionality to OpenCFP itself to retrieve a list of talks for a user who authenticated using OpenCFP Central and allow one-click submission of the talk to that OpenCFP instance.

OpenCFP Central is being built using Laravel starting with version 5.7. This is my first Laravel app but so many of the concepts it presents are not revolutionary or even unexpected for folks who have been doing web development with these "front controller style" web application frameworks.

So, with all that out of the way, let me show you how I implemented the first bit of functionality of the new feature: displaying an empty talk creation form for an authenticated user.

I started with a test that assumed everything was working:

namespace Tests\Feature\Feature;

use App\User;
use Tests\TestCase;

class TalkPage extends TestCase
{
    /**
     * @test
     */
    public function it_displays_the_talk_form()
    {
        /**
         * As a logged-in user
         * When I follow the route for "click here to create a talk"
         * I should see the talk form being displayed
         */
        $user = Factory(User::class)->create();
        $response = $this->actingAs($user)
            ->get(route('create_talk'));
        $response->assertStatus(200);
        $response->assertSeeText('Create A Talk');
        $response->assertSeeText('Title');
        $response->assertSeeText('Description');
        $response->assertSeeText('Other Details');
    }
}

Of course, it failed because I did not have the route created. So I went and added this route to routes/web.php

Route::get('/talk/create', 'TalkController@create')->name('create_talk');

Now the test fails because I don't have a TalkController. I used the artisan CLI tool to create an empty TalkController and modified it to use the auth middleware.

namespace App\Http\Controllers;

use Illuminate\Support\Facades\Auth;
use Illuminate\View\View;

class TalkController extends Controller
{
    /**
     * Create a new controller instance.
     *
     * @return void
     */
    public function __construct()
    {
        $this->middleware('auth');
    }
}

The test fails because I do not have the expected method for TalkController created yet. Let's add that in:

namespace App\Http\Controllers;

use Illuminate\Support\Facades\Auth;
use Illuminate\View\View;

class TalkController extends Controller
{
    /**
     * Create a new controller instance.
     *
     * @return void
     */
    public function __construct()
    {
        $this->middleware('auth');
    }

    /**
     * Show the application dashboard.
     *
     * @return \Illuminate\View\View
     */
    public function create(): View
    {
    }
}

Test still failing (as expected) because it's not doing anything. I'll add some code where I grab our authenticated user and ask it to display a specific view.

<?php

namespace App\Http\Controllers;

use Illuminate\Support\Facades\Auth;
use Illuminate\View\View;

class TalkController extends Controller
{
    /**
     * Create a new controller instance.
     *
     * @return void
     */
    public function __construct()
    {
        $this->middleware('auth');
    }

    /**
     * Show the application dashboard.
     *
     * @return \Illuminate\View\View
     */
    public function create(): View
    {
        $user = Auth::user();
        return view('talk.create')
            ->with('user', Auth::user());
    }
}

Now the test fails because that view does not exist. I need to create the appropriate directory structure to group views related to talks and create a blank one that uses our existing layout.

@extends('layouts.app')

@section('content')
    <div class="container">
        <div class="row justify-content-center">
            <div class="col-md-8">
                <div class="card">
                    <div class="card-header">Create A Talk</div>
                    <div class="card-body">
                        <p>
                            Use the form below to create a talk that can be submitted to OpenCFP instances that are
                            using OpenCFP Central
                        </p>
                    </div>
                </div>
            </div>
        </div>
    </div>
@endsection

Test still fails because there is no form information in there. So I created a partial view that contains the form fields I want. I did it without the opening and closing form tags because I plan on reusing this form snippet elsewhere. As part of a future test I need to modify this snippet to set default values as part of verifying you can actually succesfully create or update a test. Sometimes it's okay to think a little bit ahead. This strikes me as a very minor detail.

<div class="form-group">
    <label for="talk_title">Title</label>
    <input type="text" class="form-control" name="talk_title" />
</div>
<div class="form-group">
    <label for="description">Description</label>
    <textarea class="form-control" name="talk_description"></textarea>
</div>
<div class="form-group">
    <label for="other">Other Details</label>
    <textarea class="form-control" name="talk_other"></textarea>
</div>

Next I updated the main "create talk" view to use this form and wrapped it form tags that POST the results to another method.

@extends('layouts.app')

@section('content')
    <div class="container">
        <div class="row justify-content-center">
            <div class="col-md-8">
                <div class="card">
                    <div class="card-header">Create A Talk</div>
                    <div class="card-body">
                        <p>
                            Use the form below to create a talk that can be submitted to OpenCFP instances that are
                            using OpenCFP Central
                        </p>
                            <form method="post" action="/talk/create">
                                @csrf
                                @include('talk.form')
                                <button type="submit" class="btn btn-primary">Create Talk</button>
                            </form>
                    </div>
                </div>
            </div>
        </div>
    </div>
@endsection

Now the test passes!

I hope this blog post helps you understand what a TDD flow with an app under real conditions looks like.

Why GrumpyConf Has No Sponsors

November 8th, 2018

GrumpyConf 2019 will mark the 7th conference I've been involved in running:

  • CakeFest in Orlando, Florida, USA in 2008
  • TrueNorthPHP in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada from 2012 until 2016
  • GrumpyConf in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada starting in 2018

As I helped organize these events, I quickly came to understand that the role of sponsors is to help offset the costs of running these events. In exchange, you promise to give them access to your attendees in a number of ways:

  • keynotes/talks/hackathons related to their products
  • booths or tables for outreach
  • paying for meals and/or snacks
  • swag to give to attendees and sometimes speakers

I have never been shy about asking for sponsorship of my events because they are expensive to run and I have certain ideas and standards I want to stick to.

But what do you do when the normal ways you have to reward sponsors aren't available? This is the dilemma I face with GrumpyConf.

The idea of GrumpyConf is to have a small event at a somewhat isolated location and set up conditions where the attendees mingle with speakers who have experience solving tough problems and have great personal skils. If you're looking for an event that will show you a path to "levelling up" your skills to further your career, this is the one for you.

The event is not cheap because it's at a nice resort and the ticket includes three nights' stay and meals. Plus I pay my speakers' travel expenses and hotel. So I set the prices to make sure I could break even if the same number of folks come who did last year. It's entirely funded out of my pocket through ticket sales and whatever other expenses I need to cover. As long as I don't have to put a lot of my own money into the event, I can continue to run it. I am not a charity and will not run an event at any kind of substantial loss.

I would love sponsorship of my event to defray the costs of my speakers. But I am at a lost to figure out what I can give these generous sponsors in exchange for their money.

If you are interested in sponsoring GrumpyConf 2019, please get in touch with me. My contact information is in the sidebar (on desktop) or all the way at the bottom in mobile versions.

Maybe This Book Isn't For You

October 22nd, 2018

(Author note -- I am trying to do more blogging and less long Twitter threads.)

Recently I had a very respectful conversation with someone who bought one of my books (The PHPUnit Cookbook) and is not happy with the book. They have pointed out the things they don't like and believe are wrong, and finished off one email with the phrase "sorry if I am coming across as harsh".

In my response I did say that I am not offended by feedback. Some feedback is helpful. Some is not. All I can control is how I choose to react to that feedback. Like my mother taught me: we're not losers, we're choosers.

I did finish off the conversation by pointing out that LeanPub offers a money-back guarantee on all their books. I am not offended by anyone taking LeanPub up on that offer. I would prefer to have happy customers rather than ones who felt they wasted their money on one of my books.

Maybe that book just isn't a good fit for them.