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More Test-Driven Development in Python
Pages: 1, 2, 3

More Patterns

Because it's so easy and fun, I want to add another pattern:

class NthWeekdayPatternTests(unittest.TestCase):
    def setUp(self):
        self.pattern = NthWeekdayPattern(1, WEDNESDAY)

    def testMatches(self):
        firstWedOfSep2004 = datetime.date(2004, 9, 1)
        self.failUnless(self.pattern.matches(firstWedOfSep2004))

    def testNotMatches(self):
        secondWedOfSep2004 = datetime.date(2004, 9, 8)
        self.failIf(self.pattern.matches(secondWedOfSep2004))

red

I don't have an example of this in my use cases as listed at the beginning of this article, but it's a feature that both calendar and pal support, so I expected to add it at some point.

Making these tests pass shouldn't be too hard:

class NthWeekdayPattern:
    def __init__(self, n, weekday):
        self.n = n
        self.weekday = weekday

    def matches(self, date):
        if self.weekday != date.weekday():
            return False
        n = 1
        while True:
            previousDate = date - datetime.timedelta(7 * n)
            if previousDate.month == date.month:
                n += 1
            else:
                break
        return self.n == n

green

OK, it was harder than I thought. I'm not a huge fan of the way that algorithm looks, but it's OK for now. I really should at least extract it into its own method so I can give it an intention-revealing name:

def matches(self, date):
    if self.weekday != date.weekday():
        return False
    return self.n == self.getWeekdayNumber(date)

def getWeekdayNumber(self, date):
    n = 1
    while True:
        previousDate = date - datetime.timedelta(7 * n)
        if previousDate.month == date.month:
            n += 1
        else:
            break
    return n

green

Better.

The last example I do have at the beginning of this article is the "last day of the month" case. That should match days "in reverse." I could modify the existing DayPattern class, but instead I want to add a new pattern class:

class LastDayInMonthPatternTests(unittest.TestCase):
    def testMatches(self):
        lastDayInSep2004 = datetime.date(2004, 9, 30)
        pattern = LastDayInMonthPattern()
        self.failUnless(pattern.matches(lastDayInSep2004))

red

While typing in that test, I decided that I couldn't think of a reason to support the second-to-last day in a month, or the third-to-last day, and so on. Can you? I made it easy on myself and decided to implement a class called LastDayInMonthPattern. People usually argue that writing tests up front takes too much work, but writing a test first this time actually saved me from writing code I would never use!

The implementation of this new pattern is:

class LastDayInMonthPattern:
    def matches(self, date):
        tomorrow = date + datetime.timedelta(1)
        return tomorrow.month != date.month

green

Nice.

Although I just realized I'm cheating again. Here's how the fixture should have looked (after extracting out the setUp method) before fully implementing the matches method:

class LastDayInMonthPatternTests(unittest.TestCase):
    def setUp(self):
        self.pattern = LastDayInMonthPattern()

    def testMatches(self):
        lastDayInSep2004 = datetime.date(2004, 9, 30)
        self.failUnless(self.pattern.matches(lastDayInSep2004))

    def testNotMatches(self):
        secondToLastDayInSep2004 = datetime.date(2004, 9, 29)
        self.failIf(self.pattern.matches(secondToLastDayInSep2004))

green

I feel pretty good about myself right now. That usually means it's time to refactor. Now I really want to do some renaming.

For the last pattern I implemented, I was very explicit about what it did: LastDayInMonthPattern only matches the last day in a month and there's no further clarification needed. What about NthWeekdayPattern and LastWeekdayPattern? I really want to add InMonth to the end of both of those class names. Yes, I'm that picky.

Related Reading

Learning Python
By Mark Lutz, David Ascher

I also took this time to rename a few of the test cases and reorder some of the class definitions. I won't bore you with the details, but you can see the final results for yourself if you download the code at the end of the article.

This type of tidying up may seem trivial but it's extremely important. If your code doesn't look clean, you (and others who find themselves working on your code) won't have any incentive to keep it clean. The Pragmatic Programmers call this the Broken Window Theory. If you live with broken windows, don't be surprised when your neighbors start using your lawn as a junk yard.

Conclusion

I have about 60 non-blank lines of code so far, spread across eight classes. That's not too much, but the code is very simple and yet highly flexible. I seriously doubt I would have been able to conceive of this design without writing my tests first.

What's even cooler is that I have about 90 non-blank lines of test code. Yes, I have more test code than I have "real" code. Is that wrong? Absolutely not. That's wonderful! I feel extremely confident about the quality of the code that I have so far. Is it perfect? I doubt it. When I discover a bug, though, I can add a new test to demonstrate it and fix it so that it never happens again. If I need to perform an optimization, I'll have a suite of tests I can use to verify that I didn't screw anything up while applying the optimization.

What's also interesting to note is that the design that emerged from this work. I spent zero time in front of a modeling tool trying to create a design that would both meet my needs today and still be elegant enough to (hopefully) meet all of tomorrow's needs, as well. I didn't intend for this to happen. It just magically happened that way. This isn't rare--this almost always happens when I do test-driven development.

How is this design more flexible than I originally intended? Suppose that I want to create a pattern that matches every Friday the 13th. That wasn't one of my original use cases, and I gave no thought to it while writing the tests. The classes I came up have no trouble representing that pattern:

>>> import DatePatterns
>>> fri13 = DatePatterns.CompositePattern()
>>> fri13.add(DatePatterns.WeekdayPattern(DatePatterns.FRIDAY))
>>> fri13.add(DatePatterns.DayPattern(13))
>>> import datetime
>>> aug13 = datetime.date(2004, 8, 13)
>>> aug13.strftime('%A')
'Friday'
>>> fri13.matches(aug13)
True
>>> sep13 = datetime.date(2004, 9, 13)
>>> sep13.strftime('%A')
'Monday'
>>> fri13.matches(sep13)
False

While I'm not done with the application yet, I do have a solid foundation to build on. Next, I need to add some parsing code so that I can read a file containing events in order to construct and use the patterns I implemented above. I'll visit that task next time.

The code and tests are available for download and inspection.

Jason Diamond is a consultant specializing in C++, C#, and XML, and is located in sunny Southern California.


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