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Archive for the ‘Testing’ Category

MockingBird Futures – Mock BizTalk Adapters

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MockingBird v2 has almost reached RTM. Just a few more days to make some final touches and it will be ready. The team has been discussing how to take it further and one thing that’s been on my mind for a long time is the topic of mock BizTalk adapters. What I would like to do is write some adapters with the WCF LOB Adapter SDK that link up with MockingBird’s simulation engine so we can then simulate various protocols such as SQL, Oracle, MSMQ, MQSeries etc.

The first question that anyone would ask me is “Why? “. Currently MockingBird works decently as a receiver from BizTalk in one way and solicit response mode. (It also supports duplex channels). If you have a one way message from BizTalk or a solicit response, then all you need is to replace the URL of the endpoint with the MB url and with the right config, the system will send back the messages you were expecting. So, why do we need to mock an adapter when we can simply avail of the WCF-Custom adapter?

While the first thing that comes to mind is that MB only handles the send side and does nothing on the receive side, i do think that there are many other reasons to go down the adapter route (on both the send and receive sides)

For the send side

  1. Adapters will allow us to manipulate & use context properties. For situations where transport level correlation is being used (MQSeries, MSMQ etc), the adapter will let us force copy correlation identifiers to the response. Without this, we would need to have a queue listener that understood the MQ/MSMQ protocols and set properties accordingly.
  2. Adapters will allow us to simulate transactional behaviour.
  3. Minimizes the ‘intrusion footprint’ of the tool. Currently even if you were targeting SQL you would need to switch to WCF Custom and make a lot more binding changes. If we could adhere to the SQL adapter properties, it would reduce the amount of work. In fact all we should require is a change of url (eg: mbsql:// )
  4. If an application interface doesn’t support web services, then piggy-backing on WCF LOB adapters will allow us to mock that system (assuming we are wrapping that system with the WCF LOB Adapter, we could potentially leverage that adapter to direct messages into mockingbird). So if there is a SQL/Oracle database, because we can connect to that via WCF-SQL , WCF-Oracle etc, we can just add the mock flavors of the same otherwise we would have to mock the entire SQL/Oracle protocols which is not feasible.

For the receive side

  1. Although we can always create a test receive location with the file adapter, this is limited to ‘unit tests’. We cannot simulate other transport protocols (for example, polling sql. Also with queues (MQ/MSMQ) we would need an app that could send to the queue to activate the receive location.
  2. We could extend an adapter to use the ‘Submit Direct’SDK  sample to send messages into BizTalk directly and configure this.
  3. The context properties argument also applies here. A lot can be set artificially on the message. Similarly transactional behaviour could also be applied.

So, what about other current tools in this general area ?

  1. Some of this kind of testing can be done with BizUnit (example : sending messages to a queue or reading from a queue). BizUnit could also be extended (example : a correlation aware queue listener) but BizUnit’s focus is on distinct steps that verify behaviour rather than on causing/forcing some behaviour which we can do via the adapters. The adapter approach also keeps this testing ‘within the boundary of Biztalk’ . while BizUnit will complement this nicely from the outside.
  2. LoadGen can also help on the receive side. Again, LoadGen’s focus is on load/stress testing rather than functional behaviour. I think it may be possible to use LoadGen with Mockingbird (maybe as part of these adapters).
  3. BizMock is another tool that is in similar territory. But having discussed MockingBird with Pierre Milet Llobet, the author of BizMock, I don’t see any overlap here. BizMock is focussed on providing a fluent interface to help with a TDD approach to BizTalk testing and on providing a mock adapter that is used within that test scope, but MockingBird’s adapters will be ‘proper’ infrastructure and integration test faciliators rather than a unit test tool.

Okay, so these are my thoughts on extending MockingBird into the arena of mock BizTalk adapters and I would really like to get feedback from the BizTalk community on this. What do you think of the idea? If you have some experience with the WCF LOB Adapter SDK (which I’ve only played with briefly) perhaps there’s some suggestions you can make or tips/gotchas you can make us aware of ? Is this an area you could get involved with (not necessarily have to contribute code, there are bandwidth constraints on all of us, but potentially send us suggestions, design ideas , maybe be an early tester etc?) .

Let me know. All feedback would be greatly appreciated.


Written by santoshbenjamin

June 20, 2010 at 1:28 PM

BizTalk LoadGen vNext – Your input solicited

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I’m doing a little groundwork for the team that is now developing and maintaining the BizTalk LoadGen tool. The team is planning for vNext and we would like to know from BizTalk developers what your thoughts are on features/functionality that could be added on. This will be added to the planning list and depending on demand, priorities, budget etc (all the usual balancing factors) it may turn up in the next version.

I’ll get the ball rolling here. One of the things that people have asked for in the past is a UI  to simplify adoption. Once you get familiar with the tool , the command line is all you need, which is the reason why the very early UI which you can see on a post by Richard Seroter was dropped. However, it may be useful to have some sort of UI to get people over the initial learning curve. But what kind of a UI should it be? The early UI was pretty much a simple property grid and a window to view the execution. Given that the XSD is available, it should be a simple matter for anyone writing a UI to plug a property grid that serializes out the XML. So is it worth the product team investing time in re-releasing a bog standard UI? How about wizards? Let me know and i’ll pass the info on.

BizUnit has LoadGen steps and the Performance Optimization Guide goes into a lot of detail on how to use BizUnit with LoadGen to test one of the BizTalk SDK end to end scenarios.

What other features would you like to see ? Do let me know via the comments on this post or the contact form and i’ll pass the requests on and keep you all updated.

Written by santoshbenjamin

May 3, 2010 at 8:54 PM


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The UK SOA BPM User Group (SBUG) is holding a series of mini-meetings over the next few months. These are short live meetings / webcasts. I’m delighted to be presenting my web-service mocking tool , MockingBird at the next mini-meeting to be held on the 29th July.

I will be discussing how MockingBird assists and simplifies integration testing with web services, how it is used in Biztalk and non Biztalk scenarios, how the system works, how it can be extended and the roadmap.

Please check the event link on the SBUG site for details.  All are welcome to join (no membership needed). Hope to see a good turnout 🙂

Written by santoshbenjamin

July 25, 2009 at 1:31 PM

BizUnit 3.1

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BizUnit 3.1 is now released. (Actually its been out for over a week). There are a few bug fixes in this release and most notable is the addition of the following steps that Bram Veldhoen contributed.

  • BizTalkSteps/ExecuteMapStep
  • BizTalkSteps/ExecuteReceivePipelineStep
  • BizTalkSteps/ExecuteSendPipelineStep

The Pipeline steps use Tomas Restrepo’s Pipeline Testing Library.

I had originally planned on incorporating Bram’s steps into Extensions as I wrote previously.  However after discussing with Kevin, those plans changed so its now in the core BizUnit.

There is a similar MapExecutingStep in Extensions that has been around for a while now and when I get some time I’ll take a closer look at Bram’s step and see if there are any differences that are worth keeping or retire the Extensions step if not required anymore. I have had a couple of bugs reported on Extensions beta-1 which I shall fix soon and get the RTM released which will be compiled against BizUnit 3.1.

Written by santoshbenjamin

July 16, 2009 at 4:25 PM

Posted in BizUnit, Testing

BizUnitExtensions_v3.0 Beta-1

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Finally made some progress on BizUnitExtensions and have released Beta-1 for the new version which now complies with BizUnit 3.0’s object model. This release specifically centres around the main Extensions and the Extensions.BizTalk  libraries.

Main changes

  • The Altova library has now been deprecated as there is much better xml validation support in the .NET Framework so the altova library is redundant.
  • The steps for manipulating applications, receive locations and send ports have now been completely overhauled, so there is a separate ApplicationConductorStep, ApplicationGetStatusStep and ApplicationVerifyStatus step and likewise for ReceiveLocations and Send Ports. The GetStatus steps will load the current status into the context which can be useful when we need to use that info in subsequent steps. VerfyStatus will check the status against a given value.
  • The ReceivePortConductorEx step in the old code-base has been transitioned to the above mentioned set of ReceiveLocation steps as it really was dealing with locations rather than the ports. There is a new ReceivePortConductor step which allows the bulk enabling and disabling of all the locations in that port.
  • Updates to the Orchestration Conductor allowing a STOP action on an orchestration.
  • The namespaces and assembly names have all been revised (for example, using the Biztalk steps requires the assembly name to be BizUnit.Extensions.BizTalk.dll) so your existing test cases will need to be updated.

Forthcoming Updates and Releases

  • Bram Veldhoen has contributed a fair amount of code including steps to link in with the Pipeline Testing Library. I will incorporate that into Beta-2 as I need to work through all the steps and the associated helpers and utility classes.
  • I have updated the Oracle and EntLib libraries as well, but haven’t had any time to test them. As I now have Oracle XE, I should be able to make some progress on that pretty soon. With EntLib, its a little more complicated. As I didnt write those steps myself, I am not too familiar with the code, so it will take a while to update. So for the present, its still using EntLib 3.1. 

Workspace Updates

  • The codeplex workspace has also been cleaned up and slimmed down drastically. A lot of the pointers to tutorials etc are all largely redundant anyway.
  • The Roadmap page has been completely rewritten. The framework has come a long way since that material was written. The only stuff left there is a list of probable new steps and some ideas for tooling around BizUnit which may make it into some future version of the framework.

Hope you find the updates useful. Let me know if you encounter any bugs or if you have any suggestions.

Written by santoshbenjamin

May 25, 2009 at 10:56 PM

MockingBird- Beta 2

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MockingBird – Beta 2 is now available.

The changes/ fixes are as follows
(1) The system can handle remote WSDL’s now (using DiscoveryClientProtocol). [But this will use the Default network credentials to get the WSDL. There are no facilities as yet for providing this information as settings for the tool).
(2) Fixed the WSDL Browser which crashed when loading WSDLs into the tree view where there were one way operations in the WSDL.
(3) Xml Instance Generator now allows an overloaded constructor where a GeneratorSettings instance can be passed in to control the output.
(4) Documentation has now been split into a User Guide and Technical Documentation and thoroughly revised.

As mentioned in previous posts, the system is very stable (at least for the WSDLs and services I have tested and used it with) , so the fact that it is still officially a beta-2 shouldnt prevent anyone from using it.

Things that need to be done for RTM are

  • some additional entry points into the XmlInstanceGenerator,
  • adding some “settings” forms where users can set things such as network credentials when dealing with remote WSDLs etc.
  • Update the class library documentation
  • Use Unity in the Service Studio
  • Run the code-base through StyleCop and FxCop. (This last part has me worried :-). How much am I going to need to rewrite?))

Check it out and, as always, feel free to send feedback.

Written by santoshbenjamin

May 22, 2009 at 2:55 PM

MockingBird – Beta

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Whew! I’ve finally managed to get the first beta release of MockingBird out the door, almost 3 months after the alpha. The past 3 months have gone by in a blur with my first major project in MCS and the associated tight deadlines and long hours. Technically its been a good learning experience, but it doesnt leave any time at all for side projects like this one, but I’ve managed to steal the odd weekend here and there and get this done.

The key elements of the beta release are

  • The branding and naming is now beginning to work out quite well. As I had written earlier, it started life as MockWeb, then became MockingBird and now I have decided that I like the name “MockingBird” so much its worth promoting to the ‘brand’ or the name of the toolset. The constituent applications now have their own names. The web application with the HttpHandler is now called the “Service Simulator” and the main WinForms application is now called the “Service Studio” which will hold many modules and plugins.
  • The Service Simulator has been completely revised using Unity IoC. I feel a lot happier with the design now and i think its more loosely coupled and the DI /IoC has a good side effect in increasing the test surface. The Service Studio doesnt use the Unity configuration yet, but will do so by RTM.
  • The little ‘Driver’ GUI of the alpha has now been rolled into the “Service Studio” and is officially called the “Service Invoker”. The layout has changed and now uses tabs so occupies less screen real estate.
  • There is a new “WSDL Browser” module in the service studio that allows you to load up a WSDL and it will parse the WSDL for you and list all the operations and allow you to generate sample request and response messages.
  • The WSDL  Browser in turn makes use of an Xml Instance Generator module that provides a more usable facade over a sample from the MSDN archives. The XIG module can stand on its own and will grow in future releases.

The design principle of the Service Studio is that every piece of functionality must be accessible independently and not depend on a UI. This is one of the reasons it took so long to get this done. I came across quite a few samples of WSDL handling where the authors were willing to share and/or the license permitted extension, but the code was simply too deeply hooked into the UI and did not have any “API” to speak of. In the end I wrote the whole thing myself. I’m still looking for ways to plug it into related tools such as WSCF which I also participate in developing.

There are some limitations in the beta especially with regard to WSDL Parsing.

  • The first limitation is that it cannot handle WCF multi-part WSDLs. This will be done by around RTM time or along with the V2 release as V2 should be fully WCF based.
  • While developing i tested it with different types of WSDLs but in the final push I focussed on testing it with a local monolithic WSDL and so it may fall over with complex WSDL documents. The WSDL spec allows for a wide variation in the actual WSDLs so its not possible for me to cater to all possible kinds of WSDLs. I hope that if you come across an issue, then the source is easy to fix or that you can share the WSDL with me and I will try and sort out the parsing.
  • I also only finalised the testing with a “local” WSDL on the file system. The “SimpleWSDLRetriever” class that I have implemented does not use DiscoveryClientProtocol (although i shall plug in a new class soon that does this) so it cant handle connecting to a non local service and downloading the contract and associated metadata. (As you can see, I know how to address the limitation – just havent had the time to write it 🙂  ).

Anyway, those limitations aside, I’m happy with the code base so far and it really is quite stable and if you need to extend and use the source, i think the current structure is easy to understand. On the codeplex space I have written more documentation on how the internals of the system work so hopefully that will be useful to you. If you do end up extending it, I hope you will let me know what you are doing with it and maybe I can incorporate some of those extensions if it will make the product more generic.

As always, please send me feedback, especially if you run into any bugs. Hope you like the new release.

Written by santoshbenjamin

May 7, 2009 at 10:39 PM