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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Upgrade your installation of NAnt for .NET

Upgrade your installation of NAnt

My colleague, Greg, and I spent all day debugging a build break in some unit tests that exercise a webservice interface in legacy .NET 1.1 code. Last night, the tests stopped working on our CruiseControl.NET build server. We couldn't understand it. The tests had been working for months. Now we were getting timeouts in SOAP. The tests essentially mock a SOAP service using the soap.inproc transport and a stub implementation that signaled an event to acknowledge a method being called.

The only thing that had changed in the code tree was that another colleague, Pavel, had discovered that two of our .csproj files somehow shared the same GUID, and had repaired that. But that could hardly have any effect on the WSE2 runtime. Could it?

Turns out that it was the cause of the break. NAnt 0.85 rc2 and rc3 silently failed to build the NUnit assembly because of the duplicated GUIDs. The assembly was not getting propagated to the directory where all the other NUnit assemblies are placed. The CC.NET task that ran the tests never noticed the missing assembly because the test was couched in terms of *.NUnit.dll. And we never noticed that the test hadn't been run in months because we have ~20 such NUnit assemblies, and the NUnit summary output goes on for several screens in CC.NET.

Morals of the story

  1. Use NAnt 0.85 rc4, which detects the GUID collision and treats it as a fatal error.

  2. Create .csproj files through the IDE, not by taking an existing file and hacking on it. (At least, that's we assume happened.)

  3. Assumptions can bite you. We assumed that the code was being run all along, so it took us several hours to draw the connection between Pavel's checkin and the failing NUnit assembly.

  4. Don't mock a webservice by implementing a dummy SoapReceiver, hauling in the WSE runtime and a boatload of non-determinism. (Instead, make fun of its dress sense.) For our newer code, we've been taking an approach like this, using partial classes and Rhino Mocks.

  5. We have also taken to including our test fixtures in the same assemblies as the code they test. I have mixed feelings about this: it offends my sensibilities to have all this test code compiled into production code. But it would certainly have been hard to miss the build break in production code.

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