Daniel Hoelbling-Inzko talks about programming

Good ideas worth spreading: SystemDateTime abstractions

Posted by Daniel Hölbling on September 16, 2010

I brought this example up a lot on this blog, but while looking at the code of Mark Nijhof yesterday I noticed a rather nice solution to my ongoing problem of abstracting away System.DateTime.Now calls for testing purposes.

As stated before: Don’t make your tests depend on external factors like the current time or Date, and I even had a solution until now that solved the problem rather nicely through a static factory that returns an instance to your DateProvider.
Why a global factory? Simple: having your IDateProvider be a mandatory dependency on all your objects and services will quite simply clutter up your design. IDateProvider is by no means a really important dependency, and modeling it the same way as say IImportantBusinessRule would not only require you to think about that DateTimeProvider in every test that you run against your object, but also reduce the readability of your constructors dramatically.

What I didn’t think about when writing my IDateProvider abstraction almost a year ago was that with C# 3.5 and lambdas, passing around a function is essentially the same as using a strategy class, but with a lot less ceremony. And obviously so thought Mark Nijhof when he wrote Fohjin (a very nice CQRS example you really should check out on GitHub).

public static class SystemDateTime
    public static Func<DateTime> Now = () => DateTime.Now;
    public static void Reset()
        Now = () => DateTime.Now;

So simple yet so elegant. In your tests you hardly have to think about this stuff, but if there is a test that depends on the date you can just go ahead and set it like this:

public void ctor_SetsDateAddedTo_CurrentDate()
    SystemDateTime.Now = () => DateTime.MaxValue;
    var orderLine = new OrderLine(TestData.Product, 1);

    Assert.Equal(DateTime.MaxValue, orderLine.DateAdded); }

It’s just a small touch, but it saves you 2 classes and still solves the problem nicely.

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