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Mocking and Patching Pitfalls


Mocking and patching are powerful techniques for testing, but they can be easily abused, with negative effects on code quality, maintenance, and application architecture. These pain-points can be hard to verbalize, and consequently hard to address. If your unit tests are a PITA, but you cannot explain why, this talk may be for you.

Mocking as a technique has deep roots within OOD and TDD, going back 20+ years, but many Python developers know mocks and patches merely as a technique to isolate code under test. In the absence of knowledge around OOD and TDD, best practices around mocking are completely unknown, misunderstood, or ignored. Developers who use mocks and patches without doing TDD or OOD are susceptible to falling into many well-understood and documented traps.

This talk will draw a historical connection between the way mocks are taught today, and their origins in TDD, OOD, and Java. It will also demonstrate some pitfalls, and provide some guidance and alternatives to mocking and patching (e.g., dependency injection, test doubles, functional style).

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