Christoph Gockel

I couldn't see the Wood for the Trees

30 Nov 2014

Apart from getting into Clojure this week, I had a code review with my mentor for my HTTP server.

I struggled with testing the part where the blocking server socket accepts new connections and spawns a new thread.

A solution to that however was as simple as brilliant.

The code I had looked similar to the following:

final Socket clientSocket = socket.accept();
WorkerThread thread = new WorkerThread(clientSocket);

Line one is a blocking call, as it waits until the server sockets gets a new connection. When a new connection has been accepted, this connection is passed to a worker thread do to further work with it.

So, how to test that?

One approach could be to use Mockito – but I will not go into that here. Mostly because you shouldn’t mock what you don’t own.

Another approach is to invert the dependencies to the sockets (and maybe on the thread pool). By using custom ServerSocket and ClientSocket classes, calls to methods like accept() can easily be stubbed out for testing. The implementation of ServerSocket for the production environment would include simple delegating methods to the real object.

After my mentor proposed this approach to me, it felt like I knew nothing or had forgotten everything I knew so far. Of course you should invert the dependency to “hard” dependencies like sockets!

As I said in the beginning, this is brilliant yet simple.

I do know why it is important to invert dependencies, but not thinking of that myself before, makes this another eye opening experience for me.

Which is what I really enjoy about the apprenticeship here at 8th Light. Even though I have a few years of experience in software development, I keep getting Aha! moments regularly.