Do Not Mock

All APIs created in Jetpack must have a testing story: how developers should write tests for their code that relies on a library, this story should not be “use Mockito to mock class Foo”. Your goal as an API owner is to create better alternatives to mocking.

Why can't I suggest mocks as testing strategy?

Frequently, mocks don't follow guarantees outlined in the API they mock. That leads to:

  • Significant difference in the behavior that diminishes test value.

  • Brittle tests, that make hard to evolve both apps and libraries, because new code may start to rely on the guarantees broken in a mock. Let‘s take a look at a simplified example. So, let’s say you mocked a bundle and getString in it:

    Bundle mock = mock(Bundle.class);

    But you don't mock it to simply call getString() in your test. A goal is not to test a mock, the goal is always to test your app code, so your app code always interacts with a mock in some way:

    Bundle bundle = mock(Bundle.class);

    Originally the test worked fine, but over time component.consume is evolving, and, for example, it may start to call containsKey on the given bundle. But our test passes a mock that don't expect such call and, boom, test is broken. However, component code is completely valid and has nothing to do with the broken test. We observed a lot of issues like that during updates of Android SDK and Jetpack libraries to newer versions internally at google. Suggesting to mock our own components is shooting ourselves in the foot, it will make adoption of newer version of libraries even slower.

  • Messy tests. It always starts with simple mock with one method, but then this mock grows with the project, and as a result test code has sub-optimal half-baked class implementation of on top of the mock.

But it is okay to mock interfaces, right?

It depends. There are interfaces that don't imply any behavior guarantees and they are ok to be mocked. However, not all interfaces are like that: for example, Map is an interface but it has a lot of contracts required from correct implementation. Examples of interfaces that are ok to mock are callback interfaces in general, for example: View.OnClickListener, Runnable.

What about spying?

Spying on these classes is banned as well - Mockito spies permit stubbing of methods just like mocks do, and interaction verification is brittle and unnecessary for these classes. Rather than verifying an interaction with a class, developers should observe the result of an interaction - the effect of a task submitted to an Executor, or the presence of a fragment added to your layout. If an API in your library misses a way to have such checks, you should add methods to do that.

Avoid Mockito in your own tests.

One of the things that would help you to identify if your library is testable without Mockito is not using Mockito yourself. Yes, historically we heavily relied on Mockito ourselves and old tests are not rewritten, but new tests shouldn‘t follow up that and should take as an example good citizens, for example, -ktx modules. These modules don’t rely on Mockito and have concise expressive tests.

One of the popular and legit patterns for Mockito usage were tests that verify that a simple callback-like interface receives correct parameters.

class MyApi {
   interface Callback {
     void onFoo(Value value);
  void foo() {  }
  void registerFooCallback(Callback callback) {...}

In API like the one above, in Java 7 tests for value received in Callback tended to become very wordy without Mockito. But now in your tests you can use Kotlin and test will be as short as with Mockito:

fun test() {
    var receivedValue = null
    myApi.registerCallback { value -> receivedValue = value }
   // verify receivedValue

Don't compromise in API to enable Mockito

Mockito on Android had an issue with mocking final classes. Moreover, internally at Google this feature is disabled even for non-Android code. So you may hear complaints that some of your classes are not mockable, however it is not a reason for open up a class for extension. What you should instead is verify that is possible to write the same test without mocking, if not, again you should provide better alternative in your API.

How do I approach testing story for my API?

Best way is to step into developer's shoes and write a sample app that is a showcase for your API, then go to the next step - test that code also. If you are able to implement tests for your demo app, then users of your API will also be able to implement tests for functionalities where your API is also used.