Using Artifice to Stub Server Responses

In a recent project I needed a way to fake a response from a server in my Cucumber features. Specifically, I was testing integration with a payment gateway and wanted to stub it’s responses based on different requests.

In the past I have used FakeWeb, however it becomes a little hairy when you need to stub a response based on request body. I came across a couple of alternatives, firstly WebMock which looks promising but then Artifice from the mighty Yehuda Katz caught my eye…

Artifice lets you “replace the Net::HTTP subsystem of Ruby with an equivalent that routes all requests to a Rack application”. I like the simplicity of this solution as you can in essence use a Rack application to replace the responses of the service you are testing.

An Example

First we create a simple Rack application to stand in for the server we are interacting with.

app = proc do |env|
  [200, { "Content-Type"  => "text/html" },
    ["Hello world: #{env.inspect}"]

Then we simply use Artifice’s “activate_with” method to wrap any requests.

Artifice.activate_with(app) do
  response = Net::HTTP.start("") do |http|"/the_url", "foo=bar")
  puts response.body

This allows for a Rack app to be used as a stand in for a complete API, it could be a Sinatra app for example allowing for easy route handling. We could go so far as to have a series of Rack apps that can be used as stand-ins for common API’s.

Why I stopped using Pickle with Cucumber

…no, not because it leaves a bitter aftertaste, I’m talking about the Pickle step definitions for Cucumber.

I have lately been using Pickle when writing Cucumber features, however I have come to the conclusion that this is a bad idea. The reason being that when using Pickle, you create entries directly, whereas the whole point of Cucumber is that it is for high level integration testing.

What I do now, is to create any entries by filling out and submitting the relevant forms with a step definition, for example I may have the following:

Given an admin has created the following products
  | Name    | Variants                                  | Featured |
  | T-Shirt | Small: 10.99, Medium: 12.99, Large: 14.99 | Yes      |
  | Keyring | Default: 2.99                             | Yes      |

I would then write a step definition for this that would log in as the admin user, break this table apart and fill in the relevant forms.

I would go so far as to say that using factories at all in features is a bad idea and instead everything should happen via the user interface for better coverage. For any data that is known to exist when the app is deployed via ‘rake db:seed’, this can be loaded in the ‘env.rb’ file e.g.

load 'seeds.rb'

Update 11/2/2010: Sometimes this is simply not practical due to slowdown which is a shame, as noted by Amos in the comments.