Sometimes I find myself wanting to write tests (or stubs) for a private method. It recently occurred to me that I should consider that impulse an indicator that there is another object hiding in my code. If the private method is sufficiently complicated that it requires direct testing, then the class is probably doing too much.
Imagine customer class that performs a credit check before possibly offering a loan.
Trying to test the credit score method directly is an anti-pattern. We could
just make it public, but doing that only exposes an implementation detail. In this
domain, clients of the
Customer class don’t need to know the customer’s credit score:
its only used to determine if the customer is eligible for the loan.
CreditCheck class gives another object that can be tested
directly and in isolation. Its also now far easier to stub out the web-service and database calls
to allow faster tests.
Before reaching for a stub, or making a method needlessly public, consider if there is another object hiding out and waiting to be given a life of its own.