Written September 29, 2015

Testing Stored Procedure Return Code Control Flow in C# with Moq

When modifying legacy code, one of our bigger challenges can be getting tests and test harness worked into the existing structures. As I noted in my last post on Timing Method Execution in C#, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in our repository layer, and part of that work has been adding unit tests to old sections of the code base in preparation for some upcoming refactoring. Obviously, or maybe not so obviously, there is an art to adding unit tests to code that was not originally designed to be tested, and the older portions of our repository layer are no exception.

Think what you will of the approach, our data access is done nearly 100% through stored procedure calls, yielding two distinct challenges when attempting to test the code.

Challenge 1 The repository makes heavy use of return codes from the stored procedures to drive control flow after a database call. The return codes are occasionally passed back in ancillary tables, but more often than not they come back as output parameters supplied with the original call to the database, meaning setting the return code value to put post database call control flow under test is difficult at best.

Challenge 2 Again, and not unsurprisingly, the parameter lists for the stored procedure calls are built within the methods that need to be tested. Each method includes logic to determine whether or not to include a parameter, if so what should the value be, etc., etc. This is not as challenging as the return code issue, but it’s not insignificant in and of itself.

Enter Moq.

Moq is a wonderful testing framework for .Net that makes both mocking and stubbing a breeze. The library does have a steep initial learning curve and will likely be frustrating to those who are less familiar with lambdas, funcs and actions; but it’s power and ubiquity is worth the time investment to learn. The framework has been essential in helping me get my repository code under test without having to modify the original code base. So let’s look at a simple example:

Starting off the test are a few local consts that will be helpful to have as a single point of change, a dictionary to store our parameter list and our mock executor defined against the ISqlExecutor interface. Note that the ISqlExecutor interface simply does some lite wrapping of the SqlHelper Data Block from Microsoft to make things more consistent and simpler.

After mocking the interface we encounter a call to Setup for our mock sql executor. The setup method will provide a basic implementation of the interface method that is to be mocked, in this case the ExecuteNonQuery method. What we are basically doing here is registering a method, on our mock object called ExecuteNonQuery and telling the Moq framework that the method will be called with 3 parameters - two strings and a dictionary. For a lot of typical testing needs, particularly where you are just checking if a method was called, you would stop here appending only the Verifyable() method after the call to Setup; but in our case we need some more functionality.

Following the Setup method is a call to Callback, the block of code in this method is an Action() that can be taken when the mock method is called.
You’ll notice that the delegate signature mirrors that of the mock method and in this case we’ll use it to suck out the parameter list and store it locally for our following asserts, covering our needs in ‘Challenge 2’. Additionally, after copying out the parameter list from the call, we can inject a return code into the parameter dictionary allowing us to further test our post call control flow, exceptions and such from ‘Challenge 1’.

With the Setup and Callback put together we can then call the method under test and begin our stack of assertions - like the final line where we check that the return code meets expectations.

Lastly, this whole approach could also be mixed with the NUnit TestCase feature to put the method through its paces, exceptions and all.

Happy Coding!