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The Importance of Unit Testing Database Code

Chris Johnson shares some thoughts on unit testing database code:

This is a topic that is quite close to me heart. I don’t come from a computing background before I started working with SQL Server, so I was quite ignorant when it came to a lot of best practices that other developers who have worked with other languages are aware of. Because of this, I had no idea about unit testing until I attended a talk at a SQL Saturday all about tSQLt. If anyone isn’t aware (as I wasn’t) tSQLt is a free open source unit testing framework for use in SQL Server databases. It is the basis of Redgate’s SQL Test software, and is the most used framework for writing unit tests in SQL Server.

Since then I’ve worked to try and get employers to adopt this as part of a standard development life cycle, with mixed success at best. My current employer is quite keen, but there are two major problems. First, we have a huge amount of legacy code that obviously has no unit tests in place; and second, the way people code is not conducive to unit testing.

Click through for additional thoughts on writing good tests and an example of modularizing code to make it more testable. I’m still in the camp of “test what you can, but you can’t test everything” with databases. There’s just too much state dependency.