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Why We Refactored JUnit
The Story of an Open Source Endeavor
by Bill Venners, with Matt Gerrans and Frank Sommers
January 27, 2003

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Rethinking JUnit

Originally, I intended to create a tool that generated signature tests for conformance test kits using JUnit. Frank Sommers originally intended to test the reliability of network services and the distributed system they composed using JUnit. Both of us ran into trouble. The beauty of open source is that when a tool doesn't quite fit your needs, you have the option to morph the code into a new form that better solves your problem. Open source projects are occasionally forked, and you can consider Artima SuiteRunner to be a fork of JUnit. But it is a design fork not a code fork, because we didn't reuse any JUnit code. We rethought and reworked JUnit's ideas, and wrote Artima SuiteRunner's code from scratch.

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Coming Soon to Refactoring Tales

In the coming weeks and months, I will publish a series of "Refactoring Tales" articles on, each of which focuses narrowly on one aspect of the JUnit and Artima SuiteRunner APIs. Each Refactoring Tales article will in effect be a highly focused design review of one aspect of both JUnit and Artima SuiteRunner. Through these articles I hope to stimulate discussion about API design in the Artima Forums. If you would like to be notified each week of new articles at, including the Refactoring Tales series, please subscribe to the Artima Newsletter.

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Discuss this article in the News & Ideas Forum topic, Why We Refactored JUnit


JUnit is available at:

Getting Started with Artima SuiteRunner, How to Run the Simple Example Included in the Distribution:

Artima SuiteRunner Tutorial, Building Conformance and Unit Tests with Artima SuiteRunner:

Runnning JUnit Tests with Artima SuiteRunner, how to use Artima SuiteRunner as a JUnit runner to run your existing JUnit test suites:

Create an XML Reporter for Your Unit Tests, how to create a customer reporter for Artima SuiteRunner that formats unit test results in XML:

Artima SuiteRunner home page:

Artima SuiteRunner download page (You must log onto to download the release):

The SuiteRunner Forum:

ANTLR, a translater generator from Terence Parr and friends:

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