Testing backwards

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It's taken me almost a month but I'm finally back to working on integrating the multiple servo move command into the rest of the code. Well, the integration was done long ago, unfortunately the debugging was the bit that was taking up my time.

I decided that putting 'printf' style debug output into the routine to attempt to debug it from my PC based control software was just the wrong way to go about finding the problems and so I set off on a mission to finally get some unit testing into my code. This worked out well and I now have over 80 tests for all of the serial command code. I found a few subtle bugs and I'm in a much better position for reactoring away some duplicate code and other design smells. I also feel much more confident about making the other wide ranging changes that I will eventually make when I switch to using interrupt driven serial comms and move to a 16bit control value for the PWM signals...

So now I have to write the tests for the code that I know has some bugs in it... The problem I have with the code under test is that it's quite big. In fact it's quite a bit bigger, and more complex, than all of the other serial protocol routines that I've tested. The initial tests are easy enough, parameter validation etc, but the main tests involve me testing a large block of code that appears to have at least one 'oh dear I've gone off into an infinite loop' bug in it somewhere under some input data conditions... At first I thought I would have to break the code down into smaller functions that were easier to test and then I realised that I can already test the code in smaller sections, just as long as I do so backwards.

The code is one long function that we jump into and which jumps back out to the command accumulation loop. Throughout the code there are various labels that break up the various sections of the code. If I structure my tests so that I test the code from the end back towards the front I can simply set up the environment with the data that each stage expects and then jump to a label that processes the data. So, if the code takes input data at A and then processes it via B, C, D, E and F, I can first test pushing the kind of data that E should produce by jumping to F. Once that's works I can test E with the data that D would produce, etc... Once I get to A the whole thing is tested...

We'll see how it goes...

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This page contains a single entry by Len published on November 16, 2009 4:48 PM.

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