How can I test Rust methods that depend on environment variables?


I am building a library that interrogates its running environment to return values to the asking program. Sometimes as simple as

pub fn func_name() -> Option<String> { match env::var("ENVIRONMENT_VARIABLE") { Ok(s) => Some(s), Err(e) => None } }

but sometimes a good bit more complicated, or even having a result composed of various environment variables. How can I test that these methods are functioning as expected?


"How do I test X" is almost always answered with "by controlling X". In this case, you need to control the environment variables:

use std::env; fn env_is_set() -> bool { match env::var("ENVIRONMENT_VARIABLE") { Ok(s) => s == "yes", _ => false } } #[test] fn when_set_yes() { env::set_var("ENVIRONMENT_VARIABLE", "yes"); assert!(env_is_set()); } #[test] fn when_set_no() { env::set_var("ENVIRONMENT_VARIABLE", "no"); assert!(!env_is_set()); } #[test] fn when_unset() { env::remove_var("ENVIRONMENT_VARIABLE"); assert!(!env_is_set()); }

However, you need to be aware that environment variables are a shared resource. From <a href="http://doc.rust-lang.org/std/env/fn.set_var.html" rel="nofollow">the docs for set_var</a>, emphasis mine:


Sets the environment variable k to the value v for the <strong>currently running process</strong>.


You may also need to be aware that the Rust test runner runs tests in parallel by default, so it's possible to have one test clobber another.

Additionally, you may wish to "reset" your environment variables to a known good state after the test.


Your other option (if you don't want to mess around with actually setting environment variables) is to abstract the call away. I am only just learning Rust and so I am not sure if this is "the Rust way(tm)" to do it... but this is certainly how I would do it in another language/environment:

use std::env; pub trait QueryEnvironment { fn get_var(&self, var: &'static str) -> Result<String, std::env::VarError>; } struct MockQuery; struct ActualQuery; impl QueryEnvironment for MockQuery { #[allow(unused_variables)] fn get_var(&self, var: &'static str) -> Result<String, std::env::VarError> { Ok("Some Mocked Result".to_string()) // Returns a mocked response } } impl QueryEnvironment for ActualQuery { fn get_var(&self, var: &'static str) -> Result<String, std::env::VarError> { env::var(var) // Returns an actual response } } fn main() { let mocked_query = MockQuery; let actual_query = ActualQuery; println!("The mocked environment value is: {}", func_name(mocked_query).unwrap()); println!("The actual environment value is: {}", func_name(actual_query).unwrap()); } pub fn func_name<T: QueryEnvironment>(query: T) -> Option<String> { match query.get_var("ENVIRONMENT_VARIABLE") { Ok(s) => Some(s), Err(_) => None } }

Example on the playpen: <a href="http://is.gd/QhUlDW" rel="nofollow">http://is.gd/QhUlDW</a>

Notice how the <em>actual</em> call panics. This is the implementation you would use in <em>actual</em> code. For your tests, you would use the mocked ones.


A third option, and one I think is better, is to pass in the existing type - rather than creating a new abstraction that everyone would have to coerce to.

pub fn new<I>(vars: I) where I: Iterator<Item = (String, String)> { for (x, y) in vars { println!("{}: {}", x, y) } } #[test] fn trivial_call() { let vars = [("fred".to_string(), "jones".to_string())]; new(vars.iter().cloned()); }

Thanks to qrlpz on #rust for helping me get this sorted for my program, just sharing the result to help others :)


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