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Working with shared dependencies in ZIO Test

ZIO Test is a testing library in which all suites and individual tests are regular ZIO values. This means that all composition features that apply to ZIO also apply to tests, in particular—dependency management via the environment.

In this post, I will explain how dependencies are used in ZIO Test, how to provide shared dependencies between tests, and how to modify them using Test Aspects. But first, let’s understand how ZIO Test works under the hood.

If you’re already familiar with ZIO Test and Test Aspects, feel free to skip to the last section.

Introduction to ZIO Test

Note: the following applies to ZIO 1.x. ZIO 2.0 introduces significant syntactic changes to the structure of the tests, though most details about the internals still apply.

While ZIO Test (zio-test) is the library name, the tests themselves are broken into two categories: Suites and Tests. Suites are containers of tests; each suite may contain 0 or more tests inside of it.

Here is the canonical “Hello world” ZIO Test. Let’s break it down:

import zio.console._
import zio.test._
import zio.test.environment.TestConsole

object MySpec extends DefaultRunnableSpec { // (1)
def spec = suite("My spec")( // (2)
testM("Hello world") { // (3)
for {
_ <- putStrLn("Hello world!")
lines <- TestConsole.output // (4)
} yield assertTrue(lines.contains("Hello world!\n")) // (5)
},
... // (6)
)
}
  1. In ZIO Test, it’s common to refer to suites of tests as Specs, here we extend DefaultRunnableSpec which is responsible for several things. More on that later.
  2. The abstract value spec must be implemented here by providing it with a suite containing tests or additional (nested) suites.
  3. The test/testM definition describes tests that perform or don’t any ZIO effects, respectively.
  4. Part of ZIO Test’s in-memory implementations of base services, here—a test console allowing to capture the output as a Vector[String]
  5. The assertion syntax of Smart Assertions, which are technically a part of ZIO 2.0, but were backported to ZIO 1.x due to their extreme usefulness.
  6. Additional tests or suites, separated by commas.

Anatomy of a ZIO Test

Most specs will typically extend DefaultRunnableSpec, a base class provided by the ZIO Test library, which is, in fact, a standalone application, implementing a main() method, which means it can be executed on the command line from java --jar. DefaultRunnableSpec extends a base trait RunnableSpec[R, E], providing it with a common TestEnvironment in R:

type TestEnvironment =
Annotations
with Live
with Sized
with TestClock
with TestConfig
with TestConsole
with TestRandom
with TestSystem
with ZEnv

The TestEnvironment is comprised of test implementations for all services required by ZEnv, in addition to test-specific services such as a TestConsole for capturing and manipulating console output, TestClock for setting and controlling the passage of time, and others.

Under the hood, the RunnableSpec implementation calls the actual TestRunner instance associated with it, which runs the tests in the spec in parallel (with up to 4 tests by default), and each test is executed by a TestExecutor:

def run(spec: ZSpec[R, E], defExec: ExecutionStrategy): UIO[ExecutedSpec[E]] =
spec.annotated
.provideLayer(environment)
.foreachExec(defExec) ...
...

Here, the environment is the “live” instance of our TestEnvironment, and it is provided to the spec using provideLayer (non-shared), which means that each test gets a fresh copy of the environment! It makes sense since we don’t want to re-use the Random instance, for example, between two tests, so each test gets a fresh copy of Random.

If we want to share a (stateful) value/service between the tests in the suite (for integration purposes, for instance), we need to provide it as shared, using one of the provide*Shared variants.

Using shared dependencies in ZIO Test

For illustration, here’s what using a shared value between tests looks like:

object MySharedService {
val live: ULayer[Has[UUID]] = UIO(UUID.randomUUID()).toLayer // (1)
}

object MySpec extends DefaultRunnableSpec {
def spec = suite("My suite")(
testM("test1") {
for {
uuid <- ZIO.service[UUID] // (2)
_ <- putStrLn(uuid.toString)
} yield assertCompletes
},
testM("test2") {
for {
uuid <- ZIO.service[UUID] // (2)
_ <- putStrLn(uuid.toString)
} yield assertCompletes
}
).provideSomeLayerShared[TestEnvironment](MySharedService.live) // (3)

Here we’re doing the following:

  1. A service layer definition. Here we’re using UUID as the service for illustration
  2. Get the UUID service (causing the test to require Has[UUID] in addition to TestEnvironment) and print it out to the console
  3. Provide the UUID service layer as a partial shared layer, satisfying/eliminating the requirement for Has[UUID]

The last point is often a source of confusion, so let’s expand on it:

In ZIO, the provide*Some* variants are used to satisfy/eliminate partial requirements and specify the remainder to be satisfied by the caller, higher up. In our example above, our tests have the type

ZIO[TestEnvironment, Any , zio.test.TestResult]

but requiring Has[UUID] (due to the use of ZIO.service) caused it to be typed as:

ZIO[TestEnvironment with Has[UUID], Any , zio.test.TestResult]

To (partially) satisfy this requirement, we can provide the Has[UUID] part ourselves, and the remaining TestEnvironment will be provided by the DefaultRunnableSpec itself.

Finally, by using the provideSomeLayerShared variant on the suite level, we’re providing a layer that is shared between all the tests in that suite, and if we run this spec, we will see that the output is as follows:

Testing started at 15:20 ...
fc71c273-3824-46b2-8929-409544a19fa5
fc71c273-3824-46b2-8929-409544a19fa5

This means that the service layer was created just once (creating a single UUID value), and all tests now accessing this value get the same one! What actually happens is that each test in the suite gets a copy of the suite’s environment, along with any shared values in it.

Modifying shared dependencies for each test

Now that we know how to provide shared dependencies to tests, sometimes there’s a need to modify a value/service in the test before it’s executed (think of creating a fresh database per-test for Postgres Testcontiner integration tests, which is the subject of an upcoming post!).

This is done with Test Aspects. You can think of aspects as functions ZIO => ZIO, applying some transformation to the effect before/after its execution. Test Aspects cannot be used to provide or eliminate requirements from tests, but they can be used to modify the environment contained within the test!

Taking inspiration from the existing aspects, we can create the following per-test aspect called newUuid:

def newUuid = new PerTest.AtLeastR[Has[UUID]] {
override def perTest[R <: Has[UUID], E](test: ZIO[R, TestFailure[E], TestSuccess]) =
for {
randomUuid <- UIO(UUID.randomUUID())
updated <- test.updateService[UUID](_ => randomUuid)
} yield updated
}

This aspect states that an environment containing at least Has[UUID] is required (and recall that by using ZIO.service[UUID] in our tests, we now require it). In the perTest method of the aspect, we are given the test as a ZIO effect and can perform any operation on it!

In particular, we can call updateService on it, replacing the existing UUID service value with the one we created in the line above! This means that the original (shared) uuid is replaced with this fresh one, and because this is a per-test aspect, it will be applied to each test individually, resulting in:

Testing started at 15:23 ...
dc723d70-83c1-4c6c-9478-7a2087533bb4
728ed277-7d49-4b22-a5a3-6db3d32ff7b0

Meaning that each test got a fresh value for UUID, despite it being provided as shared initially.

Finally, putting it all together looks like this:

object MySharedService {
val live: ULayer[Has[UUID]] = UIO(UUID.randomUUID()).toLayer
}

object MySpec extends DefaultRunnableSpec {
def spec = (suite("My suite")(
testM("test1") {
for {
uuid <- ZIO.service[UUID]
_ <- putStrLn(uuid.toString)
} yield assertCompletes
},
testM("test2") {
for {
uuid <- ZIO.service[UUID]
_ <- putStrLn(uuid.toString)
} yield assertCompletes
}
) @@ newUuid).provideSomeLayerShared[TestEnvironment](MySharedService.live)

Summary

This post’s goal was to provide the background and motivation to using and modifying shared dependencies in ZIO Tests. In my upcoming post, I will explain how to take advantage of this technique to improve upon integration testing with Postgres Testcontainers by over 70%, by re-using a single Testcontainer instance for all the tests, giving each a fresh copy of the database for complete isolation!