Object References

<objs><obj id="myId" type="my.class.Type" refid="myRefClass"</obj><objs>

This implementation is just a first draft and will be subject to change in the future.
Any ideas, feature requests and error reports are welcome on this subject!

Why using References anyway?

One question I was ask during a short presentation of the framework
Why use references anyway? - Is'nt it just to complicated and error prone to use ? I think there are always two sides of a medal. On one hand you have the possibility to do a lot of shorthand writing through the use of referencing. And on the other hand you have to know what you are dealing with in terms of implementation details and their influence on the execution model and the lifespan of object instances.

Upside of the Medal

So lets start with the obvious benefit of extracting common object definitions to the global cluster/objs section and reference these objects throughout different tests.
The idea for this example was provided by Ted Velkoff who provided to me a lot of valuable input and discussion on the use of DDTUnit.
Lets say we are using a complex data structure to manage calendar date/time functionality by with range considerations. E.g.

public class CompositeDateTime{
  private CompositeDate date;
  private CompositeTime time;
// a lot of special processing methods on date and time
The first field splits up into a number of fields as well:
public class CompositeDate{
  public CompositeDate(){}
  private int day;
  private int month;
  private int year;
// a lot of specific methods on date processsing
So if I have to specify such a nested structure in an DDTUnit xml resource it could become quite tiring to do so without using references. Especially if you have to use specific date/time objects again and again because these where the ones you identified during equivalence class analysis of your test data.

The idea now is to specify a set of objects in the resources/objs or cluster/objs section of the DDTUnit xml resource and reference these.
If you change your mind on the specified objects later, you only have to change these globally defined objects but not the whole xml resource.
To get back to the example:

  <cluster id="RangeCompositeDateTimeDDTUnitTest">
      <obj id="date20060401" type="com.velkoff.articles.ddtunit.example.CompositeDate">
   <test id="testUpperLower">
     <obj refid="upper" type="com.velkoff.articles.ddtunit.example.CompositeDateTime">
      <date refid="date20060401" type="com.velkoff.articles.ddtunit.example.CompositeDate" />
      <time reftype="" com.velkoff.articles.ddtunit.example.CompositeTime" />
       <hours type="int">15</hours>
       <minutes type="int">3</minutes>
       <seconds type="int">27</seconds>
       <millis type="int">348</millis>

Downside of the Medal

The other side of the medel contains details about the lifespan of object instances.
Because DDTUnit implements an object repository that can contain objects that have longer lifespans than a single test it is important to check the use of objects that are used as global or even resource.

If you are sure these objects will not be modified during test execution there will be no problem at all. But if you are not sure about this of sometimes willingly provide objects that should be modified during a number of test executions - like in the standard case of a functional test - you have to double check if your expectations on the provided object hold true any more.

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