Mocking whole classes

Has anyone tried to mock whole classes (instead of mocking only the

Classes are, like everything else in Ruby, just objects. This allows
us to mock them just like we would mock any other object. I have been
working on a Rails application (that will be shared with you as soon
as I get it translated, I promise) in which I needed to do exactly

The class I wanted to mock is responsible for communicating to my
back-end database and fetching the appropriate objects (instances of
itself). The object-finding functionality is implemented as class
level methods. If I need the N latest headlines from a reporter named
‘johnson’, I just need to call `Headline.latest(N, “johnson”).

If I need to test a class that needs to do a Headline.latest call as
part of its job, I don’t want to populate the database with real data
(and slow down my tests as I wait for a connection) because I mostly
trust that Headline works. It has its own tests to assure that. So I
mock the Headline class to make sure my class under test makes the
correct calls.

I have come up with a simple way to that in Ruby and I am mostly
satisfied with the results, but I would like to get some feedback from
the community. The source is here:

class CacheReporter < MotiroReporter
def initialize(headlines_source=Headline)
@headlines_source = headlines_source

def latest_headlines
    return @headlines_source.latest(3, 'mail_list')


class CacheReporterTest < Test::Unit::TestCase
def test_reads_from_database
FlexMock.use do |mock_headline_class|
with(3, ‘mail_list’).

        reporter =


The main change here can be seen on the CacheReporter constructor. If
I were not testing, it wouldn’t even be written, I would just use the
Headline class wherever I wanted. But instead of directly using the
Headline class inside its methods, it receives it on the constructor.
This is what allows us to mock the behavior.

Has anyone done anything similar? Can the code be made simpler?


Thiago A.

On Apr 3, 2006, at 6:37 AM, Thiago A. wrote:

Has anyone tried to mock whole classes (instead of mocking only the

I’ve found it more pain than its worth because I change the
implementation then have to go change all my mocks. No fun.

‘johnson’, I just need to call `Headline.latest(N, “johnson”).
When I need that kind of behavior I tend to do something like this:

require ‘flickr’

class Flickr

attr_accessor :responses, :uris

def open(uri)
@uris << uri


I’m using open-uri so I inject a new open into my class that shadows
Kernel’s open. My tests prime it with a bunch of responses and when
I call open I just record the URI and return the in-order response.
For my test I check that the right URIs were accessed and the right
data came back.

Here’s a test:

class FlickrTest < Test::Unit::TestCase

def setup
@flickr = ‘API_KEY’
@flickr.responses = []
@flickr.uris = []

def test_find_email
@flickr.responses << <<-EOF

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?> drbrain EOF
 nsid = @flickr.find_email :find_email => '[email protected]'

 assert_equal 1, @flickr.uris.length
 assert_equal '


 assert_equal '[email protected]', nsid



Eric H. - [email protected] -
This implementation is HODEL-HASH-9600 compliant

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