Getting started with BDD style Context/Specification base naming

I have received a number of good responses from people who have a couple of aesthetic issues with the BDD style naming that I am starting to use. Let me clarify, I have been using the natural sentence style test naming since Scott introduced me to it in earlier in the year. I have not used the context/specification style test naming on a project yet, though it is my intent to write each successive test from this point forward in that style and if I feel pain points I will let you know.

From my experience so far here are some tips that I think will resolve the issues that the people who are trying to use it will find:

Issue 1 – “I ended up really not liking those fixture names because I felt it was hard to find fixtures for specific classes, and navigate with Resharper Type navigation.  Was wondering what naming convention you came up with for fixtures?”

A: My recommendation for this is to create a single test class in your test project called $SystemUnderTest$Specs. Where SystemUnderTest corresponds to the name of the class that you will be testing. This is just a grouping construct for all of the “Contexts” that will be run against that fixture. Inside the “Specs” class, you will create classes for each of the different contexts. Here is an example of one that I just rewrote the tests for the ShoppingCart class is the project using this new style and I personally have to say that it was an awesome experience. One of the things that I found was that I could copy the body of one fixture and change the name to reflect the new context and I could focus solely on the interactions and behaviour that is pertinent to that particular context. Take a look at the Report that is generated when run against the specs in the ShoppingCartSpecs class:

  • When a product is added that is not already in the cart
    • The cart item factory should be used to create a cart item for the product being added.
  • When an item is added
    • The item count should be incremented
    • The item should be added to the underlying list
  • When the same product is added again
    • The item factory should not be leveraged
    • The quantity of the item should be incremented
  • When changing the quantity of a product in the cart
    • The item should be updated with the new quantity
  • When changing the quantity of a product causes the item to be empty
    • The item should be removed from the cart
  • When changing the quantity of a product that is not in the cart
    • Nothing should happen
  • When a product is removed from the cart
    • The item representing the product should be removed
    • The number of items in the cart should decrease
  • When asked to remove a product that is not already in the cart
    • Nothing should happen
  • When the cart is emptied
    • There should be no more items
  • When asked for the quantity of a product
    • The cart item representing the product should be asked for its quantity
    • The result should be the quantity of the item for the product
  • When asked to calculate the total cost
    • Should be the sum of the total cost for all items


One of the things you will notice about the tests in these fixtures compared to the others in the rest of the project (so far) is the use of Setup to stress the context setup. I added a virtual method to the AutoMockingTest base called because, which calls out the action being invoked on the SUT.

This actually resulted is some tests that contained no body whatsoever, and the ones with assertions actually only needed one assertion.

This is a learning experience for me to, but so far, I am loving the expressiveness and focus this style of testing brings to the table.

By grouping all of the fixtures into the ShoppingCartSpecs class, you can solve the navigability issue.


The second issue I received was:

“Quick question … while the idea is great, it doesn;t flow for me, as ReSharper keeps cutting in and completing my words for me – Intellisence is great, but in this context is is annoying as hell …


How do you avoid this problem?”



A – This is actually a ReSharper setting that I have had turned off pretty much since I started using ReSharper:

  • Go to ReSharper – Options
  • Select the Intellisense item in the left nav bar
  • Uncheck Letters and Digits in the Completion Behaviour pane on the right!!

That’s it. Now you can write you natural sentences without ReSharper getting in your way. Since I have been without this setting since ReSharpers inception, I have gotten quick at using ALT-SPACE/CTRL-ALT-SPACE a lot, this may take a bit of getting used to for the people who were use to the Letters and Digits autocompletion behaviour.


Again, as far as quickly navigating to the tests for a sut, you can just go CTRL-SHIFT-N and then start typing in the significant letters for the Spec class, in this case it would be:




Because all of the fixtures will be contained in the file but there will be no ShoppingCartSpecs type. I guess you could create one as a nesting construct, but that is what the file is for.


Again, let me stress that this Context/Specification style naming is a little new for me, and there is a possibility that the tests in the ShoppingCartSpecs that have no assertions could be a smell (I’ll get that verified by Scott in a little while), I already see the benefits from both the documentation perspective as well as the ability to truly only focus on one specific context at a time.


Develop With Passion.


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One Response to Getting started with BDD style Context/Specification base naming

  1. Dave Laribee says:

    this is awesome. i’m totally adopting this.

    goes to show: you and scott should collaborate more often!

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