Why Unit Test Is Essential for Your WordPress Plugin

Why Unit Test Is Essential for Your WordPress Plugin?

If you are a startup business and have plans to create your website using a CMS, then WordPress is your requirement.  But you may be looking for great functionalities that are specific to your needs and can offer a great experience to your customers.

It is here that you have to choose some WordPress plugins or start developing your own to ensure that they perform the way you actually intend them to use. What is important here is to test the codes properly with unit tests so that the codes are perfect without any errors and bugs.

Working as a developer, I have realized that the biggest argument is against unit testing as it involves too much time to write them. But, I would say that though it may add overhead to your development, but the amount of hassles you will save in the long run by having a tested application will surely outweigh the initial cost and time of writing the tests.

Before you get started with unit testing of WordPress plugin, you need to do few things:

  1. You need a working copy of WordPress. Though this is strictly not essential for Unit testing, but if you are writing the plugin, then you might need this for obvious reasons.
  2. If you are planning to test a plugin, then you will need to have it to test. In case, if you don’t have one, clone, or fork SimpleNonce as it is the simplest coder that you can have as a plugin.
  3. Install PHPUnit and there are various methods of installing them. Set it up the best way so that the end result is that you can type phpunit into a shell window and get the screen for help.
  4. Access to a MySQL database
  5. Wp-cli is very handy and helps to set up your testing scaffolding and also helps to create a sample test for you.

Prime reasons why you should do a unit test of WordPress plugins

It helps to eliminate both existing and future bugs:

It is by writing unit test cases that you can both test your code in its present state and also make sure that it works exactly the way it is supposed to do in future.  The test cases can also be used over and over again to ensure that your code functions in the same manner as you add on more functionality.

I have myself experienced many times that while checking a piece of code in a WordPress plugin that was not tested, it was not actually doing what it was supposed to do. If that code was released in its pre-test ready state, then it would have surely resulted in frustrated customers.

Unit test makes refactoring the codes much easier:

While creating a WordPress plugin, you will have to refactor your codes many times and you might realize later that your refactoring broke some of the functionalities in your plugin. It may be that the code your refactored was not written for the feature you were refactoring, but for something else. This often happens if you are not doing your unit tests. With a decent unit test coverage for your WordPress plugin, you will exactly know if your piece of code has broken some other parts of your code as the tests will fail.

Unit tests help in documenting your code:

Whenever I look at any piece of code, I try to find out if there are any tests so that I can read them as the writing tells you exactly what the code is doing and what it should not. By writing unit tests, you will also create a document for other developers who may need to work on the same code base. Leave aside other developers, have you ever gone back to your own codes and found everything confusing?

Good tests are very effective at explaining the ins and outs of the code, so that it can be clearly understood in future.

Unit test are very important for your WordPress plugins as they help to fix bugs early and also maintains a clear document about what the plugin should do and what it should not.

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