Do these unit tests cover my method under test?

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I’ve written an extension method to truncate strings:

/// <summary>
/// Returns the string, or a substring of the string with a length of <paramref name="maxLength"/> if the string is longer than maxLength. 
/// </summary>
/// <param name="maxLength">The maximum length of the string to return.</param>
/// <exception cref="ArgumentException">If <paramref name="maxLength"/> is smaller than zero, an ArgumentException is raised.</exception>
/// <![CDATA[ Documentation:
/// If the string is null or an empty string, the input is returned.
/// If the string is shorter than or equal to maxLength, the input is returned.
/// If the string is longer than maxLength, the first N (where N=maxLength) characters of the string are returned. 
/// ]]>
public static String Truncate(this String input, int maxLength)
    if (maxLength < 0)
        throw new ArgumentException("Must be >= 0", "maxLength");

    if (String.IsNullOrEmpty(input) || input.Length <= maxLength)
        return input;

    return input.Substring(0, maxLength);

I have written these test cases:

public class TruncateTests
    String longString = "ABC";
    String shortString = "A";
    String nullOrEmptyString = null;
    String output = "";

    public void LessThanOrEqual()
        // If input is shorter than or equal to maxLength, the input is returned.
        output = longString.Truncate(longString.Length + 5);
        Assert.AreEqual(longString, output);

        output = longString.Truncate(longString.Length);
        Assert.AreEqual(longString, output);

    public void GreaterThan()
        // If input is longer than maxLength, the first N (where N=maxLength) characters of input are returned.
        output = longString.Truncate(1);
        Assert.AreEqual(shortString, output);

    public void NullOrEmpty()
        // If input is null or an empty string, input is returned.
        output = nullOrEmptyString.Truncate(42);
        Assert.AreEqual(output, nullOrEmptyString);

        nullOrEmptyString = "";
        output = nullOrEmptyString.Truncate(42);
        Assert.AreEqual(output, nullOrEmptyString);

    public void MaxLengthException()
        // If maxLength is smaller than zero, an ArgumentException is raised.

    string multiByteString = "x1F3BC";

    public void MultiByte()
        Assert.IsTrue(multiByteString.Length == 2);

        output = multiByteString.Truncate(1);

        Assert.IsTrue(output.Length == 1);

Now how can I confirm that:

  1. The method Truncate() does what it is supposed to do?
  2. I have written test code to test al promises made?
  3. This test code follows practices and guidelines valid for unit testing?

I’m especially curious about the last one. I’ve written a few tests in my time, but I’m never sure whether I’m testing enough and not too much at the same time. Can anyone shed a general light on this and maybe point me towards invaluable resources about unit testing?


  1. About the function comment:

    You’re over-complicating the summary. As of how I understand the function does Get the first <paramref="maxLength"> characters as a summary. Special conditions are mentioned bellow. Those should be simplified as well.

  2. For maxLength I’d check for min/max integer as well as for -1/0/1 (does the function behave correctly at the limits?)

  3. Check input for null and additionally for those combinations:

    • input.length < maxLength
    • input.length = maxLength
    • input.length > maxLength
  4. You’re not testing your code when testing for MB-functionality.

  5. Test one thing at a time. If NullOrEmpty fails, how to you know which of those assertions failed? Does it fail if input is empty or if it is null?

  6. Remove comments, make the test-names more clear instead. Tests are simple and easy to understand (at least they should be :)). Safe your time of writing comments and improve the test instead.

    • For most of the functions you’re just repeating the behavior asserted. However this is already written down by the assertion itself. The comment just duplicates the code.
    • In my opinion, test names should be speaking of what they do. NullOrEmpty doesn’t state anything about what actually happens. NullInputReturnsNull and EmptyInputReturnsEmptyString do however. Furthermore speaking test-names can be used as a documentation (i.e testdox).
  7. When are you done? Never. Eventually you (or someone else) will find bugs, misbehavior, … (e.g. during integration). It’s more important to keep the tests up to date at those times as well.


On 2. I’m testing for MAX_INT because your promise is this functions accepts integer values between [0, MAX_INT]. Imagine at some time there is a maxLength + 1 statement for some reason. As a rule of thumb: always test the border values of parameters. Further reading: equivalence partitioning and boundary value analysis

On 3. That’d be four tests. You should split those.

On 4. The point is your are testing the c# library, not your code. You don’t have any code dedicated for MB handling. What you are actually doing is testing the Substring method and Length property for MB handling.

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