31 Testing

PEcAn uses the testthat package developed by Hadley Wickham. Hadley has written instructions for using this pakcage in his Testing chapter.

31.1 Rationale

31.2 Tests makes development easier and less error prone

Testing makes it easier to develop by organizing everything you are already doing anyway - but integrating it into the testing and documentation. With a codebase like PEcAn, it is often difficult to get started. You have to figure out

  • what was I doing yesterday?
  • what do I want to do today?
  • what existing functions do I need to edit?
  • what are the arguements to these functions (and what are examples of valid arguments)
  • what packages are affected
  • where is a logical place to put files used in testing

31.3 Quick Start:

  • decide what you want to do today
  • identify the issue in redmine or github (if none exists, create one)
  • to work on issue 99, create a new branch called “redmine99”, “github99” or some descriptive name… Today we will add enable an existing function, make.cheas to make goat.cheddar. We will know that we are done by the color and taste.
    git branch goat-cheddar
    git checkout goat-cheddar
* open existing (or create new) file in `inst/tests/`. If working on code in "myfunction" or a set of functions in "R/myfile.R", the file should be named accordingly, e.g. "inst/tests/test.myfile.R"
* if you are lucky, the function has already been tested and has some examples.
* if not, you may need to create a minimal example, often requiring a settings file. The default settings file can be obtained in this way:
  settings <- read.settings(system.file("extdata/test.settings.xml", package = "PEcAn.utils"))
* write what you want to do
      test_that("make.cheas can make cheese",{
        goat.cheddar <- make.cheas(source = 'goat', style = 'cheddar')
        expect_equal(color(goat.cheddar), "orange")
        expect_is(object = goat.cheddar, class = "cheese")
        expect_true(all(c("sharp", "creamy") %in% taste(goat.cheddar)))
* now edit the goat.cheddar function until it makes savory, creamy, orange cheese.
* commit often
* update documentation and test
* commit again
* when complete, merge, and push
  git commit -m "make.cheas makes goat.cheddar now"
  git checkout master
  git merge goat-cheddar
  git push

31.4 Test files

Many of PEcAn’s functions require inputs that are provided as data. These can be in the /data or the /inst/extdata folders of a package. Data that are not package specific should be placed in the PEcAn.all or PEcAn.utils files.

Some useful conventions:

31.4.1 Settings

  • A generic settings can be found in the PEcAn.all package

    settings.xml <- system.file("pecan.biocro.xml", package = "PEcAn.BIOCRO")
    settings <- read.settings(settings.xml)
  • database settings can be specified, and tests run only if a connection is available

We currently use the following database to run tests against; tests that require access to a database should be enclosed by if(db.exists()) to avoid failed tests on systems that do not have the database installed.

settings$database <- list(userid = "bety", 
                          passwd = "bety", 
                          name = "bety",     # database name 
                          host = "localhost" # server name)
  test_that(... ## write tests here
  • instructions for installing this are available on the VM creation wiki
  • examples can be found in the PEcAn.DB package (db/inst/tests/).

  • Model specific settings can go in the model-specific module, for example:

settings.xml <- system.file("pecan.biocro.xml", package = "PEcAn.BIOCRO")
settings <- read.settings(settings.xml)
  • test-specific settings:
  • settings text can be specified inline:
  settings.text <- "
  <nocheck>nope</nocheck> ## allows bypass of checks in the read.settings functions 
settings <- read.settings(settings.text)
  • values in settings can be updated:

    settings <- read.settings(settings.text)
    settings$outdir <- "/tmp" ## or any other settings

31.4.2 Helper functions created to make testing easier

  • tryl returns FALSE if function gives error
  • temp.settings creates temporary settings file
  • test.remote returns TRUE if remote connection is available
  • db.exists returns TRUE if connection to database is available

31.4.3 When should I test?

A test should be written for each of the following situations:

  1. Each bug should get a regression test.
  • The first step in handling a bug is to write code that reproduces the error
  • This code becomes the test
  • most important when error could re-appear
  • essential when error silently produces invalid results
  1. Every time a (non-trivial) function is created or edited
  • Write tests that indicate how the function should perform
    • example: expect_equal(sum(1,1), 2) indicates that the sum function should take the sum of its arguments
  • Write tests for cases under which the function should throw an error
  • example: expect_error(sum("foo")
  • better : expect_error(sum("foo"), "invalid 'type' (character)")

31.4.4 What types of testing are important to understand?

31.4.5 Unit Testing / Test Driven Development

Tests are only as good as the test

  1. write test
  2. write code

31.4.6 Regression Testing

When a bug is found,

  1. write a test that finds the bug (the minimum test required to make the test fail)
  2. fix the bug
  3. bug is fixed when test passes

31.4.7 How should I test in R? The testthat package.

tests are found in ~/pecan/<packagename>/inst/tests, for example utils/inst/tests/

See attached file and https://github.com/hadley/devtools/wiki/Testing for details on how to use the testthat package. List of Expectations

Full Abbreviation
expect_that(x, is_true()) expect_true(x)
expect_that(x, is_false()) expect_false(x)
expect_that(x, is_a(y)) expect_is(x, y)
expect_that(x, equals(y)) expect_equal(x, y)
expect_that(x, is_equivalent_to(y)) expect_equivalent(x, y)
expect_that(x, is_identical_to(y)) expect_identical(x, y)
expect_that(x, matches(y)) expect_matches(x, y)
expect_that(x, prints_text(y)) expect_output(x, y)
expect_that(x, shows_message(y)) expect_message(x, y)
expect_that(x, gives_warning(y)) expect_warning(x, y)
expect_that(x, throws_error(y)) expect_error(x, y) How to run tests

add the following to “pecan/tests/run.all.R”



31.4.8 basic use of the testthat package

Here is an example of tests (these should be placed in <packagename>/inst/tests/test_<sourcefilename>.R:

test_that("mathematical operators plus and minus work as expected",{
  expect_equal(sum(1,1), 2)
  expect_equal(sum(-1,-1), -2)
  expect_equal(sum(1,NA), NA)
  expect_equal(sum(matrix(1:100)), sum(data.frame(1:100)))

test_that("different testing functions work, giving excuse to demonstrate",{
  expect_identical(1, 1)
  expect_identical(numeric(1), integer(1))
  expect_equivalent(numeric(1), integer(1))
  expect_that(mean('1'), gives_warning("argument is not numeric or logical: returning NA"))
  expect_warning(mean('1'), "argument is not numeric or logical: returning NA")
  expect_message(message("a"), "a")
}) Script testing

It is useful to add tests to a script during development. This allows you to test that the code is doing what you expect it to do.

* here is a fake script using the iris data set

test_that("the iris data set has the same basic features as before",{
  expect_equal(dim(iris), c(150,5))
  expect_that(iris$Sepal.Length, is_a("numeric"))
  expect_is(iris$Sepal.Length, "numeric")#equivalent to prev. line
  expect_is(iris$Species, "factor")

iris.color <- data.frame(Species = c("setosa", "versicolor", "virginica"),
                         color = c("pink", "blue", "orange"))

newiris <- merge(iris, iris.color)
iris.model <- lm(Petal.Length ~ color, data = newiris)

test_that("changes to Iris code occurred as expected",{
  expect_that(dim(newiris), equals(c(150, 6)))
  expect_equivalent(iris.model$coefficients["(Intercept)"], 4.26)
}) Function testing

Testing of a new function, as.sequence. The function and documentation are in source:R/utils.R and the tests are in source:tests/test.utils.R.

Recently, I made the function as.sequence to turn any vector into a sequence, with custom handling of NA’s:

function(x, na.rm = TRUE){
  x2 <- as.integer(factor(x, unique(x)))
    x2 <- rep(1, length(x2))
  if(na.rm == TRUE){
    x2[is.na(x2)] <- max(x2, na.rm = TRUE) + 1

The next step was to add documentation and test. Many people find it more efficient to write tests before writing the function. This is true, but it also requires more discipline. I wrote these tests to handle the variety of cases that I had observed.

As currently used, the function is exposed to a fairly restricted set of options - results of downloads from the database and transformations.

test_that(“as.sequence works”;{
 expect_identical(as.sequence(c(“a”, “b”)), 1:2)
 expect_identical(as.sequence(c(“a”, NA)), 1:2)
 expect_equal(as.sequence(c(“a”, NA), na.rm = FALSE), c(1,NA))
 expect_equal(as.sequence(c(NA,NA)), c(1,1))