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Communicating with Business Using FIT and FitNesse

by Geoffrey Wiseman on Nov 21, 2007 |

Although both FIT (Framework for Integrated Test) and FitNesse are used for performing integration and acceptance testing on agile projects, many people have tried to use these as general-purpose testing frameworks, with mixed results. Others have suggested that FIT should be used almost exclusively for cross-functional tests where communicating with the business, or with a customer, is of paramount importance.

If FIT and FitNesse are being mis-applied, perhaps this is due to the relatively limited amount of shared experiences on the subject.
Naresh Jain suggested there aren't enough well-established patterns and anti-patterns:

Should we use statics to share data between fixtures? How to design Fixtures [to inherit or not to inherit]?

In the past few months, a few people have been sharing their experiences with both FIT and FitNesse. James Shore described Five Ways to Misuse FIT, in which he argued that people attempt to use FIT for automation, which it isn't good at, instead of communicating with customers, which it is good at:

Sure, it's called "Framework for Integrated Test". The key word there, though, is "Integrated", not "Test". Fit is actually a fairly weak test automation tool. There are dozens tools (xUnit, Watir, Selenium, not to mention all the high-priced screen scrapers) that do test automation. They do it better than Fit does.

Fit's strength--the one thing it does better than any other tool I know--is that customers are comfortable providing examples in tables. It's a great tool for communicating with customers. If you use it to automate your regression tests, you will come to regret it. If you use it to enhance your collaboration with customers, you'll be much happier.

He concludes with the following points:

  • Fit is good for communication, weak for test automation.
  • People mostly use Fit for test automation, less for communication.

For FitNesse, Naresh Jain shared some Patterns and Anti-Patterns. Mirroring James Shore's opinion of FIT, Naresh suggested that FIT should not be used as a generalized replacement for unit testing:

FitNesse is not a QA testing tool. They can use it to write acceptance tests. But not other types of tests. Keep the tool simple and let it do one job well. With lack of support for test maintenance, it really becomes a big issue for QAs to use this tool effectively.

Instead he recommended that FIT be used for cross-functional testing:

Using FitNesse based acceptance tests for collaboration between cross-functional team members is a great way to help communication within the team. It also encourages every one on the team to talk about the domain entities and hence domain language at the very beginning of the story.

Both Naresh Jain and James Shore have suggested other patterns and anti-patterns, but they both agree on the role that FIT tools play in a software project.

InfoQ has previously covered FIT and FitNesse, including DbFit, FitNesse with .NET and Ruby and a FIT Acceptance Testing Primer.

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