Roy makes a number of accusations about the Alt.net community, particularly centred around their espoused ideals clashing with their comments and blogs. I respect Roy greatly, his blog was one of my first real sources for great TDD information, and he has consitently put out great blog posts and software. Largely his complaints come down to TypeMock (who he now works for) not getting an overly warm welcome by many people in the Alt.net world.
I don't for one second question Roy's sincerity, he really has shifted his view on how testing and mocking should work, for what he sees as all the right reasons, and now he seeks to convert others to the same cause.
I'm not what you might call a "paid up member" of the Alt.net movement, my blog address appears on altnetpedia.com, I frequent the Alt.net mailing list, but I have never attended one of the conferences, nor do I put the Alt.net logo on my site. I read a few dozen blogs, probably a third would be classed as Alt.net people, most would not be. I guess I have a foot in Alt.net but dance with the devil.
I am however one of the people that has commented a number of times on TypeMock and its suitability as a mocking framework (for my needs), and Roy's obvious frustration comes down largely to his perception that people are bashing TypeMock unfairly, or out of dogma, and not seeing his vision for a better way to write software that TypeMock can help with.
That is perhaps the case with some people. TypeMock has some fervent supporters, and there are some people that think TypeMock encourages bad practices and should be avoided - software for some reason is one of those things people become almost religious about. I suspect that most people, myself included, are somewhere in the middle.
TypeMock is to me largely irrelevant. It has some plus sides (debugger support, mocking legacy and framework classes easily), and it has some down sides (it makes it "ok" to couple your code, or to use concretions over abstractions)
But mostly I just cannot see the point of TypeMock as it exists. It is, if you exclude the plus and minus points I just listed for a moment, basically the same as Moq or Rhino Mocks. It does more or less the same things, in more or less the same way, except both of those options are free, and TypeMock is one of the most costly development tools you could own.
I'm certainly not against commercial software, I own personal licences for all the software I use on a daily basis, but those products I choose to purchase are the best in their class, or solve a particular problem I face. I also weigh up the cost to value benefit.
The best comparison would be against unit testing frameworks, which are all to the best of my knowledge open source. There are commercial tools which make them easier to use, but there is no need for a commercial unit testing framework, as they are at least 95% feature complete.
The same could be said of mocking frameworks, Rhino and Moq are at least 95% feature complete, and pretty much (in all day to day ways) the same as TypeMock. There is for me, no one "killer feature" that TypeMock has that justifies it's price or putting a dependency upon it within a code base.
So is Alt.Net guilty of the duplicitous charge that Roy has made?
Expecting all people who frequent the Alt.net world to be constantly flicking between technology and tool choices is not going to hold water. A typical software project may last weeks, months and possibly years. You cannot switch and change that frequently, you have to make choices and go with them. That doesn't stop Alt.Net people wanting to become aware of more options, but it also means that new options have to get compared to existing options, and even when a better option comes along, it is frequently not going to be used because of historical reasons. People still have their favourites, they still have their personal biases, and they still consider themselves as capable individuals who can evaluate these things.
I honestly don't think TypeMock in it's current form is that revolutionary that we should be sitting up and rushing to use it. The few new things it brings to the mocking party are different, not much better or that much worse. So picking the right tool for the job, means most of the time I prefer to write a wrapper or abstraction (a few wasted minutes) as opposed to changing an entire mocking strategy, all for the sake of a shinier toy. Others make take another approach. When I encounter a real world scenario where I need the power that TypeMock has, I'll re-evaluate.
Sometimes, the newer tool isn't the right tool for the job.
05-21-2008 10:54 AM