Tag Archives: testing

Team of One

I have been writing programs of varying complexity since I was in the 6th grade, so, call it 39 years. For a portion of that time, call it 14 years, I worked on code that had other people contributing to it. During that, what, 36% percent of my programming life, I learned many lessons that I’ve carried into my solo programming.

Tools, best practices, all kinds of work patterns and code idioms show up in my personal projects not because they’re the most efficient way to get the project done, but because I’ve learned that if I ever do want to collaborate with someone, then that’s made a heck of a lot easier if I do some planning in the beginning. Also, because I love future me, I don’t want to give future me some big pile of spaghetti code with all kinds of undocumented special cases just built in.

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Here’s A Useful Testing Application

So, a few years back, I consulted at NASA doing some work on a really cool system for storing and retrieving documentation on systems in flight. Basically, it was a very customized Bugzilla that winds up saving the American taxpayer millions of dollars every year. There’s a post I wrote at the time about how to print to PDF from Perl that is still the single most popular blog post I’ve ever written. It still gets traffic, and that tells me that the library is still terrible at telling you how to use it. Anyway, that’s not what I want to talk about today. Today, I’m advertising another application that arose from the same gig: a dummy SMTP/POP3 server.

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Hey, I Built a Thing

My new job involves hacking on Bugzilla and part of that involves email. Bug email, system administration email, yadda yadda. I wanted a way to test that email without it ever leaving my development system. We had a mechanism in place where the emails would just get written to a plain file, but that doesn’t help with HTML email. I wanted to be able to see the email rendered all nice and tidy in Mail.app. A couple of jobs ago, one of my coworkers put something together out of Python and it worked great, but I couldn’t find an already-done example online anywhere. Other servers were GUI or Mac-only and therefore wouldn’t work on a headless Linux test server. Whatever solution I picked, I’d have to write some code.

Well, I found a Java SMTP test server and wrote a simple POP3 server into it. So now I’ve modified dumbster and made my modifications available to the world. Use it, improve it, do as you like. It’ll make my life easier, and I hope it makes yours a little better, too.