In my previous post I described what it took to add SQL support and a simple command line client to a NoSQL storage. However, I needed not just ad-hoc testing with a client, but a framework to automatically run and manage many tests.

I expect that automated tests are easy to understand, extend, and maintain. When a test breaks, finding and debugging what broke should be easy. Such qualities can not be met in a heterogeneous test environment. Rather, it would be best if some common language and toolkit was used. It’s easiest for all when a failing test can be run directly under a debugger.

In MySQL, this task is solved with a combination of ‘mysqltest’ client-side testing tool and ‘mysql-test-run’, an automation environment for functional tests.

‘mysqltest’ is a C program that simply reads lines from its standard input, sends them to the server, formats received results, and sends them to the standard output. It also has "control statements", encrypted in SQL comments.

These control statements, for example, allow to create a loop, open a new connection to the server, change the current connection, move or delete a file, rewrite server output.

The test runner, ‘mysql-test-run’, prepares server environment, such as data directory and default configuration, starts and stops the server, collects test scripts, feeds them to mysqltest, records mysqltest ouptut.

When a new .test file with SQL statements is created, a developer can grab mysqltest output and put it into a .result file. When mysql-test-run later runs the .test script through mysqltest, it compares the new output with the old one.

A set of .test and corresponding .result files, which needed to be run in a certain server configuration, comprise a test collection.

‘make test’, in turn, is aliased to mysql-test-run running several mandatory collections, containing regression tests.

I liked mysql-test-run approach so much I almost forked the script. Unfortunately, while having a pretty lean design when it comes to test management, all parts related to working with MySQL were hard to encapsulate. Support for non-default storage engines, replication, MySQL-specific installation procedure were hard to remove – it was easier to duplicate important features in a new tool.

But even with the new tool I re-used mysql-test-run layout and options. This way, the first version of test automation was built very soon. It used ‘tarantool’ command line client and a simple Python script (./, copying the most basic functions of mysql-test-run. Such approach, however, worked only thus far.

If one comes back to mysqltest and the testing language it supports, a big advantage of it lays in SQL language extensions that allow a test writer to manipulate with execution environment.

For example, one of important recurring bugs in Tarantool was that it would fail to start from an existing snapshot. A possible test for such bug is to create a snapshot, restart the server, and then SELECT all keys to verify that the snapshot is correct.

In other words, almost immediately the implemented automation functionality wasn’t sufficient: in the course of test execution, I needed to manipulate with the execution environment, i.e. start and stop the server.

Since I spent so much time working with mysqltest, I almost added support for the required commands to my SQL dialect. But then the need for some type of remote procedure calls arose, since it was necessary to pass requests from the command line client to the test runner. The whole thing started to look too complicated :-(

Thankfully, after a discussion with delamonpansie a simpler and more flexible solution emerged. Indeed, instead of trying to extend the SQL client with control flow and environment management statements, it was easier to extend the test-runner interpreter (Python) to be able to understand SQL.

In other words, it was decided to:

  • move from SQL to Python as the base language for testing
  • find a way to execute a Python script in the runtime environment of the test framework. E.g. imagine a test script which contains:

    server.start() server.stop()

Executing this script in the runtime environment of the test runner would execute methods start() and stop() of local variable ‘server’. This approach automatically provides a test writer with operating system and hardware independent access to test environment, file manipulation, logging, control flow, basically everything a modern portable scripting language provides you with! Fortunately, Python came in very handy with its execfile() function.

  • find a way to nicely embed SQL statements into Python. Ideally, I needed to be able to write:

    server.start() select * from t0 where k0 = 1 sever.stop() …

This goal was harder to reach. Ideally, I wanted to have a dialect of Python, which would allow me to embed SQL constructs into it. That would make my old pure-SQL tests directly usable with the new tool. Unfortunately (for me, but good for Python, according to #python freenode community :)) the language grammar could not be extended. Best I could do was modifying Python’s preprocessor and/or tokenizer (these objects of the interpreter runtime are available to the script via an API). This is what I indeed have done, by providing a custom "codec" to the interpreter.

In the end, my testing language looks like this:

# encoding "tarantool"
exec sql "select * from t0 where k0 = 1"

Not ideal (I would love to make SQL a complex part of the language grammar, and not use the pre-processor), but having its strenghts too:

for i in range(0,10):
  exec sql "select * from t0 where k0 = {0}".format(i)

I’m very pleased with the end result: it turned out to be way more flexible than the limited SQL extensions I had with mysqltest!