Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Stubs are the boring, old-fashioned cousins of moles. They don’t break any rules and don’t do anything you couldn’t technically do yourself. However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t have their place. I’m going to be talking about stubs in this post, largely because I’ve used the word “mole” so much in the last few days that it’s starting to lose meaning!

If you look back to the post about rules for generating moles and stubs, you’ll see that you can only generate stubs for interfaces and for classes that can be derived from and instantiated: this means no sealed classes and no static classes. A stub type by itself is useless – you have to create an instance of it, and then set delegates for methods and set properties on that instance for it to be useful. You can then hand that stub in as a parameter to a constructor for a class under test, or as a parameter for a method under test.

The basic behavior of a stub when you call a method on it is as follows:

1. If a custom delegate has been set for the method, that’s what gets called.
2. If not, and if the CallBase property on the stub is set to true, the base implementation will be called. This only applies to virtual methods that your stub overrides: abstract method declarations and method declarations in interfaces have no implementation.
3. If neither of the above applies, the Behavior of the instance is used to determine the course of action.

Like moles, stubs have behaviors too. They are in the BehavedBehaviors class and there are only a couple: DefaultValue and NotImplemented. These behave just like the behaviors with the same names on moles. Unlike static methods on mole types, the default behavior for a stub instance is NotImplemented, so if you forget to mole an instance method that gets called, your test will fail with an exception. Also, if you want, you can set the BehavedBehaviors.Current property to a given behavior to globally set behaviors for all stubs whose behavior hasn’t been explicitly set.

Stubs seem a lot less powerful than moles, so why would you ever use them? See the next post!

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