Sunday, August 12, 2012

JUnit and Temporary Files

Oftentimes, an application interacts with the file system by reading from or creating files and directories. This functionality should, of course, be unit tested to ensure that it works as expected. Also, the unit tests should be self-contained, meaning that any files it reads from or creates should be located within the project itself and not at some location like "C:\unit-test-files". In addition, these temporary files and directories should be cleaned up when the test is done running because, well, they're temporary. And they definitely should not be commited to version control.

You could just throw the files in a location that you know is temporary, like the "target" directory if you use Maven or your operating system's temporary file directory. The problem with this is that if the files are not deleted between test runs, then it could skew your test results. No matter where you put them, they have to be cleaned up when the test is finished running.

You could write the cleanup code yourself OR you could use JUnit's TemporaryFolder class. This class takes care of cleaning up these files and directories after each test finishes running. It will always clean up the files, whether the test passes, fails, or throws an exception. It creates the temp folder when a test starts and deletes the temp folder when the test finishes. It does this for every test method in the class.

Under the covers, TemporaryFolder uses the File.createTempFile() method to create the directory, so it's storing the directory in your operating system's temp directory. It also assigns a unique name to the directory, so if the JVM crashes and TemporaryFolder does NOT clean up your files, the results of your next test run will not be skewed by the files from the previous run.

Here's a code sample demonstrating how the TemporaryFolder class works.

import org.junit.Rule;
import org.junit.Test;
import org.junit.rules.TemporaryFolder;

class FileTest {
  public TemporaryFolder temp = new TemporaryFolder();

  public void basicTest() throws IOException {
    //the temporary folder is created before this test method runs

    File fileWithoutName = temp.newFile();
    File fileWithName = temp.newFile("myfile.txt");

    File dirWithoutName = temp.newFolder();
    File dirWithName = temp.newFolder("myfolder");

    File fileInsideCreatedDir = new File(dirWithName, "myfile2.txt");

    //the temporary folder is deleted when this test method finishes

A class-level instance of TemporaryFolder is created and tagged with the @Rule annotation. This annotation instructs the class to create the temporary folder before a test runs and delete the temporary folder after the test finishes. This field MUST be "public".

The newFile() method creates a new file within the temporary directory. If a file name is not passed into the method, then it will generate a random file name.

The newFolder() method creates a new directory within the temporary directory. As with newFile(), if a name is not passed into the method, then it will generate a random name for the directory.

Note: The zero-argument versions of newFile() and newFolder() were added fairly recently to the API. If you get compilation errors trying to use these, update your JUnit library to the latest version (4.10 at the time of this writing).

You can, of course, create files and directories within a directory that is created with newFolder(). Just pass the File object that was returned by newFolder() into the first argument of the File constructor (as demonstrated with the fileInsideCreatedDir object).

This is a wonderful little gem that takes the pain out of unit testing file system code. I wish I had known about it sooner.

1 comment:

Monark said...

Tried this, but in my case files/folders aren't getting deleted