Unit testing Cocoa code with MacRuby

Announcing RCRunner, a GUI test runner for MacRuby and Cocoa.

Cocoa unit testing can be a pain. In addition to the usual difficulties of writing tests for user interface heavy code, the Apple sanctioned solution, SenTestingKit, can isn't the greatest testing framework around and the default way of using it rules out debugger.

GHUnit helps somewhat. It's a GUI test runner with additional testing methods. However, with it you are still writing your tests in Objective-C. On the plus side it's the same language you're probably writing your app in. On the minus side Objective-C can be verbose and sometimes, especially when writing test code, brevity would be welcome.

Enter MacRuby. You get the conciseness of Ruby with full access to your Objective-C classes. And Ruby probably has the greatest density of testing frameworks per active programmer among all the languages in popular use today.

There's a nice article about TDD, Objective-C and MacRuby on the MacRuby site. However, the approach taken in it still uses a Xcode build phase script to accomplish testing. That makes debugging hard and you have to hunt through the build logs for your errors.

RCRunner is a separate GUI program you run. You tell it names of Ruby modules and it uses any test cases it finds[1]. You can breakpoint your code and thanks to Ruby, reload the test code. You can inspect errors and log output test by test.


[1] At the moment it supports only MiniTest but adding support for other frameworks isn't difficult.

Using Firefox as Flash playing Safari fallback

If you want to go Flashless on Mac and Safari, it's possible to use Firefox as a fallback, too, not just Chrome. While Firefox does load Plugins from /Library/Internet Plug-Ins and ~/Library/Internet Plug-Ins, it looks in other places too. I just tested and it seems to work fine from ~/Library/Application Support/Firefox/Profiles/<profile name>/plugins and I suspect /Applications/Firefox.app/Contents/MacOS/plugins would work too.

So you can copy Flash Player.plugin, NP-PPC-Dir-Shockwave and flashplayer.xpt to one of the Firefox specific folders and launch Firefox from Safari's Developer menu. Chrome starts up faster, though.

xibgraph: Interface Builder overviews

When putting together user interfaces with Interface Builder, you connect things together with bindings, actions and outlets and it's good. Understanding the result later on is a completely different matter. It can be time consuming and difficult to browse the objects inside one by one, trying to comprehend the whole. Even more so if you're trying to read someone else's work.

Out of that frustration came xibgraph. It takes a XIB file and outputs the connections contained inside:

Example xibgraph output

At the moment it supports bindings and actions. Outlets are next.

xibgraph supports a couple of different output formats. JSON is supported out of the box and if you install pydot, you get DOT, the format understood by Graphviz and OmniGraffle too.

It hasn't been tested on a particularly wide variety of XIBs, so it's very plausible it will produce wonky results or just outright refuse to work with your files. If so, patches and bug reports are welcome.

xibgraph is MIT licensed and written in Python. It requires PyObjC (it seemed like the easiest way to get XPath support on OS X) and probably Python 2.6. Everything but the DOT support should work without additional requirements on OS X 10.6.

© Juri Pakaste 2021