An Overview of Regression Testing

Ust Oldfield gives us a primer on regression testing:

There are a variety of methods and techniques that can be used in the design and execution of regression tests. These are:
– Retest All
– Test Selection
– Test Case Prioritisation

Regression testing is really nice to have in place because it keeps you from looking like a buffoon for accidentally reintroducing a bug you’ve previously quashed.

Generating Fake Data

Rich Benner shows us how to use the Faker library in Python to generate test data:

There are far more options when using Faker. Looking at the official documentation you’ll see the list of different data types you can generate as well as options such as region specific data.

Go have fun trying this, it’s a small setup for a large amount of time saved.

These types of tools can be great for generating a bunch of data but come with a couple of risks. One is that in the fake addresses Rich shows, ZIP codes don’t match their states at all, so if your application needs valid combos, it can cause issues. The other problem comes from distributions: generated data often gets created off of a uniform distribution, so you might not find skewness-related problems (e.g., parameter sniffing issues) strictly in your test data.

That said, easily generating test data is powerful and I don’t want to let the good be the enemy of the great.

Database Integration Testing With Pester

Ust Oldfield shows us an example of how we can perform database integration testing using Pester:

In a previous post, I gave an overview to integration tests and documenting integration points. In this post, I will give a practical example of developing and performing integration tests with the Pester framework for PowerShell. With a data platform, especially one hosted in Azure, it’s important to test that the Azure resources in your environment have been deployed and configured correctly. After we’ve done this, we can test the integration points on the platform, confident that all the components have been deployed.

The code for performing integration tests is written in PowerShell using the Pester Framework. The tests are run through Azure DevOps pipelines and are designed to test documented integration points. The PowerShell scripts, which contain the mechanism for executing tests, rely upon receiving the actual test definitions from a metadata database.

Click through for the script.

Getting CSV Row Counts

Dave Mason shares a few techniques for getting row counts of CSV files:

I was reminded of this recently as I was working with R, trying to read a nearly 2 GB data file. I wanted to read in 5% of the data and output it to a smaller file that would make the test code run faster. The particular function I was working with needed a row count as one of its parameters. For me, that meant I had to determine the number of rows in the source file and multiply by 0.05. I tied the code for all of those tasks into one script block.
Now, none to my surprise, it was slow. In my short experience, I’ve found R isn’t particularly snappy–even when the data can fit comfortably in memory. I was pretty sure I could beat R’s record count performance handily with C#. And I did. I found some related questions on StackOverflow. A small handful of answers discussed the efficiency of various approaches. I only tried two C# variations: my original attempt, and a second version that was supposed to be faster (the improvement was nominal).

To fact-check Dave (because this blog is about nothing other than making sure Dave is right), I checked the source code to the wc command. That command also streams through the entire file, so Dave’s premise looks good.

Testing Kafka Streams Applications

Yeva Byzek continues her series on testing Kafka-based streaming applications:

When you create a stream processing application with Kafka’s Streams API, you create a Topologyeither using the StreamsBuilder DSL or the low-level Processor API. Normally, the topology runs with the KafkaStreams class, which connects to a Kafka cluster and begins processing when you call start(). For testing though, connecting to a running Kafka cluster and making sure to clean up state between tests adds a lot of complexity and time.

Instead, developers can unit test their Kafka Streams applications with utilities provided by kafka-streams-test-utils. Introduced in KIP-247, this artifact was specifically created to help developers test their code, and it can be added into your continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline.

Streaming applications need tested just like any other.

The Difficulties Of Database Load Testing

Brent Ozar shares some of the trouble you might run into when database load testing:

Managers think that to simulate more load, they can just take the production queries and replay them multiple times, simultaneously, from the replay tool. We’ve already talked about how you can’t reliably replay deletes, but even inserts and updates cause a problem.
Say we’re load testing Stack Overflow queries, and our app does this:

UPDATE dbo.Users
  SET Reputation = Reputation + 1
  WHERE Id = 22656;

If try to simulate more load by running that exact same query from 100 different sessions simultaneously, we’re just going to end up with lock contention on that particular user’s row. We’ll be troubleshooting a blocking problem, not the problem we really have when 100 different users run that same query.

Click through for several issues you can run into and Brent’s advice.

Simulating Load With Powershell

Grant Fritchey builds a quick script to simulate load using PowerShell:

The idea is to be able to easily do one of several different things. By commenting out different sections of the code, I can change the general behavior. Most of the work is done in the  # Run forever section of the code.
First, I’ll randomly pick a modulus comparison. When that hits and the remainder is 0, then I randomly wait between 3 and 13 seconds. Clearly, any of these can be adjusted.
The query gets executed. Then, I have to options for dealing with the query in cache. I can clear cache on every execution. I’ve found this very useful when dealing with bad parameter sniffing (testing or generation). Or, I can use another random set of code to occasionally remove the procedure from cache.

Click through for the script and some more notes from Grant.

Building Test Data Following A Normal Distribution In T-SQL

I (finally) have a technical blog post:

In order to show you the solution, I want to build up a reasonable sized sample.  Any solution looks great when reading five records, but let’s kick that up a notch.  Or, more specifically, a million notches:  I’m going to use a CTE tally table and load 5 million rows.
I want some realistic looking data, so I’ve adapted Dallas Snider’s strategy to build a data set which approximates a normal distribution.
Because this is a little complicated, I wanted to take the time and explain the data load process in detail in its own post, and then apply it in the follow-up post.  We’ll start with a relatively small number of records for this demonstration:  50,000.  The reason is that you can generate 50K records almost instantaneously but once you start getting a couple orders of magnitude larger, things slow down some.

If you do custom data generation for lower environments, I’d recommend checking this out. Your production data probably doesn’t follow a normal distribution exactly, but a normal distribution is probably closer to reality than the uniform distribution you get with functions like RAND().

Reporting On Unit Tests In R With covrpage

Kevin Feasel

2018-12-11

R, Testing

Maelle Salmon recaps Locke Data’s involvement with the covrpage package:

To read more about getting started with covrpage in your own package in a few lines of code only, we recommend checking out the “get started” vignette. It explains more how to setup the Travis deploy, mentions which functions power the covrpage report, and gives more motivation for using covrpage.
And to learn how the information provided by covrpage should be read, read the “How to read the covrpage report” vignette.

Check it out.

Test Data Generation In SQL Server

Ahmad Yaseen walks through a couple techniques for creating test data in SQL Server:

Generating test data to fill the development database tables can also be performed easily and without wasting time for writing scripts for each data type or using third party tools. You can find various tools in the market that can be used to generate testing data. One of these wonderful tools is the dbForge Data Generator for SQL Server . It is a powerful GUI tool for a fast generation of meaningful test data for the development databases. dbForge data generation tool includes 200+ predefined data generators with sensible configuration options that allow you to emulate column-intelligent random data. The tool also allows generating demo data for SQL Server databases already filled with data and creating your own custom test data generators. dbForge Data Generator for SQL Server can save your time and effort spent on demo data generation by populating SQL Server tables with millions of rows of sample data that look just like real data. dbForge Data Generator for SQL Server helps to populate tables with most frequently used data types such as Basic, Business, Health, IT, Location, Payment and Person data types.

I have a love-hate relationship with test data generation tools, as they tend not to create reasonable data, where reasonable is a combination of domain (hi, birth date in the early 1800s!) and distribution.

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