A story about the weather

This is the second blog post of my project WaterMyPlants. You can find the first blog post here


This time, I just wanted to share a little about the process of going through one task in TFS from the very beginning until the task was pegged “done” – all using BDD and TDD, of course – there is no other way!

Image 1: The task for Collecting weather data from api.yr.no is now resolved

Since I am the only developer on this project, and also project owner, the project architect, and project code monkey, my scrum board tends to look like the teeth of a shark. My backlog is wafer-thin, and the user stories often come about AFTER the tasks have been described. Normally, you would have a well-defined backlog of user stories and for each sprint, a set of tasks for every user story planned.

User Story and Scenario

In order to know where to start, I always and without exception define scenarios for the task at hand based on the user story. This time, the story was about collecting wetaher data from an external source – I do not own a weather station, so the next-best thing is to grab the weather from a trusted source: 

The user story

Feature: There is a component that can retrieve weather information from Yr.no

	As a system developer
	I can obtain information about the local weather from api.yr.no
	So that I can find patterns between plant thirst and outside weather
@task61 @performsIO
Scenario: The component retrieves data from api.yr.no based on provided GPS location
	Given that the system has implemented weather retrieval component for Yr.No
	When I ask the system to retrieve weather data for my gps position
	Then the system responds with some arbitrary weather data

Code: User story 62 is about getting weather information from an external source

The tag performsIO needs some explanation: What it does is basically tell SpecFlow to use a runtime configuration prior to running this scenario. I use Structuremap as my IoC container to keep things simple.

public void BeforeMockedEnpointsScenarios()
	ObjectFactory.Initialize(init => init.AddRegistry(new WebRuntimeRegistry()));	
I usually have one “real” registry that I provide the applications with, and one registry 
where all the IO performing classes are replaced with mocks.


Implementing the scenario

All that was left to do was to write the code for each scenario step and “discover” 
my components methods: 

[Given(@"that the system has implemented weather retrieval component for Yr\.No")]
public void GivenThatTheSystemHasImplementedWeatherRetrievalComponentForYr_No()
   // No code required for this step

[When(@"I ask the system to retrieve weather data for my gps position")]
public void WhenIAskTheSystemToRetrieveWeatherDataForMyGpsPosition()
    var collector = ObjectFactory.GetInstance<IWeatherCollector>();            
    var measurement = collector.GetWeather(new GpsLocation());
[Then(@"the system responds with some arbitrary weather data")]
public void ThenTheSystemRespondsWithSomeArbitraryWeatherData()
    var weatherMeasurement = ScenarioContext.Current.Get<WeatherMeasurement>();

   // Inspection… 


I often write steps that do not require code. This is simply because I deem the scenario text 
to be a first class citizen, and seeing as it promotes understandability of the system, I 
opt for verbosity.
The GpsLocation class defaults to use the longitude and latitude of my house, which is why it 
only requires instanciation. 
Lastly, the inspection step simply verifies that the values of the weathermeasurement look ok. 
I’ve hidden the implementation details behind the comment “// Inspection”

The Test Driven part

BDD has now driven forth the need for an IWeatherCollector with the method GetWeather(GpsLocation). Additionally, it also specifies that it the collector needs to return some form of WeatherMeasurement class.

It is time to bring out the SOLID principles from the closet and do some test driven work. I will spare you the code details (do email me if you want them), but here are some of the points that I would like to make:

Image 2: Test explorer could use a “document order” sorting option

As you can tell, I am using Roy Osherove’s naming system for my unit tests. Since I see these as micro-specifications, I just love the way these work as fine-grained API documentation for the method I just described. Unfortunately, Visual Studio does not show me the tests in document-order!

This would give the most meaning to anyone looking at the unit-test explorer. A workaroundis to hit the shortcut-key ctrl+m+o between two unit tests in VS2012 to contract all methods:

Image 3: Collapsed view of my unit tests using Roy Osherove’s naming convention

Reading the unit-tests in document-order is, in my view, the best way to understand a method.

TDD is also about discovering contracts

Following the SOLID principles of object-oriented design, it quickly became clear during the implementation of  IWeatherCollector that the Single Responsability Principle drove me to use the following contracts: 

Image 4: Requirements of the WeatherCollector class identified during TDD

Why: The WeatherCollector class is no more than a service class that requests some xml from an external source and then translates that xml into a WeatherMeasurement object. The single responsability of the collector, is simply to combine the result of a reader and pass it along to the proper converter if all looks ok. This could possibly lead to using the name WeatherRepository instead, however, Collector was a term I felt more at ease with. Readability > patterns!

I won’t bother you with the details, but the implementations of the WebReader and Converter followed the same TDD approach – one after the other.

Geen tests lead to green story!

So, with all the specifications (unit-tests) now passing, and no more System.NotImplementedException() I ran SpecFlow to see if I had forgotten anything else:

Image 5: All done from SpecFlow. The user story was implemented as specified

General approach: Once you’re done with all the unit-tests for a method, you should run the user story to see if you have forgotten anything else. In my case, I only had one scenario, but I found out twice that I had to implement WebReader and then IConverter<XElement, WebMeasurement>. If you forget one, the SpecFlow report shines in red, telling you that sometihng is not yet implemented.  
– Do you still wonder why I love BDD?

Image 6: Looking at the details of the scenario; the real output from api.yr.no


In this second post, I wanted to share with you how I use BDD and TDD to drive code:

  • Drag the task to “In progress” on your scrum board
  • Find or create the SpecFlow feature file for the user story that the task belongs to
  • Write one or more scenarios required to deliver that single task
  • Implement the scenario steps and drive forth the interfaces, their methods and objects required by the task. One scenario at the time! Do not implement classes yet, just let the interfaces sit until you’re done writing the scenarios.
  • Once done with one scenario, proceed to implementing the interfaces and objects using TDD
    • Create the classes
    • Implement the methods using TDD
    • Discover additional objects and contracts, but do not implement them before you’re done with the method you’re working on.
  • Every time you’re done with the unit-tests for a method, run a complete SpecFlow report and see if you have more scenarios to implement
    • Implement the missing scenarios, one at the time until report is all green
  • On the scrum board, drag your task from “In progress” to done
  • Pick the next task


Writing this blog post took me far longer than actually doing the steps above. Without the blog post, I would’ve been done within the hour.

Profectus Est!

(It is started!)

Project Water my Plants has begun. This blog post marks the arrival of the first bits of electronics, and provides a simple overview of how the getting started with gadgeteer felt like.

White stripe spider plant
Image 1: The victim: A white stripe spider plant(Chlorophytum comosum ‘Vittatum’)

My box of Gadgeteer devices has arrived. I’ve found a suitable plant to experiment with and all of the software required to get started is now installed in two places (on my desktop and on my laptop (for field experimentation). As you can see from the brown bits, this plant is already suffering, and requires immediate attention of the highest technical quality to survive…

Overview of the project

The project has been set up using Visual Studio 2012 and will be managed by Team foundation Service, which will also function as my source control provider.

 Initial Solution Layout
Figure 1: Overview of project layout

The project structure follows the typical N-layered approach as seen on the image above. Within folder 10.10 (Application/Micro Framework) is where the electronics software are made – the rest of the folders are hosts to the Web page and Web Services. The Specifications folder contains screenshots and some frameworks for running the project in a BDD harness using a combination of SpecFlow and CasperJs 

Getting started with Gadgeteer

Image 2: The Gadgeteer Moisture sensor half buried in the plant soil

Installing the .Net gadgeteer project was straight forward, except for a couple of things:

  • You should install the entire 4.2 SDK, and then upgrade to 4.3
  • There is a Visual Studio 2012 compatible Core + Templates for Gadgeteer that you need to install once you’re done installing the 4.2 stuff, otherwise, you won’t be able to see the Gadgeteer application project types.


    Once installed, creating the project was as easy as adding a new project to the solution, choosing Gadgeteer Application and following the wizard:

    Gadgeteer Wizard
    Image 3: The first page of the wizard asks what type of mainboard you have

    The wizard starts by asking what type of mainboard you have, and then proceeds to create a diagram where the mainboard is visualized. From there, it is as simple as just dragging the components you want from the Toolbox onto the designer, and connecting them by clicking on the gates and drawing a line:

    Gadgeteer Designer in VS2012
    Image 4: Using the designer tool to drag the components and connect them to the board

    Auto-generated code

    Every time you save the designer, the auto-generated partial class Program is updated with the new components and port assignments. The generated code is clean and easy to understand. No cluttering or cryptic names here. The module names are default the same as the module type.

    OGadgeteer Designer Generated Code
    Image 5: Designer-generated code

  • Measure My Plant

    The first batch of electronics to arrive were needed for my first application, MeasureMyPlant.exe which is a device application that is going to do two things:

    1. Take readings of the environment that the plant is in (moisture, light, temperature)
    2. Transmit data over wifi to a cloud service in Azure


    Only part 1 was done in this stage, because I waited with the more expensive WiFi component to get a cheap proof of concept going. It turns out that I should’ve ordered everything at once. The electronics simply worked! Within 5 minutes of typing, I had the following program running on the Hydra board:

    Image 6: My first running program on the hydra board

    Time to order some more stuff!

    I will now proceed with some of the more expensive modules. While I await the arrival of these, I will be working on the website. There may be a blogpost or two about that soon…

    For now, a few more images of the protagonists of this blog post:

    Image 7: The modules used in this blog (click for larger image)

    Image 8: My Fez Hydra mainboard with all the connection ports(click for larger image)