Debugging unit-tests with Honeycomb

Since last week we’re collecting unit-test results and acceptance test runs in honeycomb, a tool for introspecting and interrogating production systems. In our team’s case, CI is the “production” environment we manage. Today Daniel pointed out that there was a curious issue with one of our test suites:

undefined method `message_lines' for #<RSpec::Core::Notifications::SkippedExampleNotification:0x00007f8407ac3018>
# /Users/danielcarabas/.rvm/gems/ruby-2.6.3/gems/rspec_honeycomb_formatter-0.2.0/lib/rspec_honeycomb_formatter.rb:95:in `example_pending'

That clearly rings a bell, but a trivial try at reproducing this using pending brought up a weird issue:

From: /home/david/git/rspec_honeycomb_formatter/lib/rspec_honeycomb_formatter.rb @ line 99 RSpecHoneycombFormatter#example_pending:

     95: def example_pending(notification)
     96:   @example_span.add_field('rspec.result', 'pending')
     97:   @example_span.add_field('name', notification.example.description)
     98:   @example_span.add_field('rspec.description', notification.example.description)
 =>  99:   require'pry';binding.pry
    100:   @example_span.add_field('rspec.message', strip_ansi(notification.message_lines.join("\n")))
    101:   @example_span.add_field('rspec.backtrace', notification.formatted_backtrace.join("\n"))
    102:   @example_span.send
    103: end

[1] pry(#<RSpecHoneycombFormatter>)> notification.class
=> RSpec::Core::Notifications::PendingExampleFailedAsExpectedNotification
[2] pry(#<RSpecHoneycombFormatter>)>

The class here is not the same as the initial report is complaining about. And this does not fail. PendingExampleFailedAsExpectedNotification does have message_lines. Since the original report didn’t have any more information attached (and for the sake of the pacing of this blog post) I went to honeycomb to see if other modules were exhibiting the same problem. After a couple of clicks this was what I had:

honeycomb heatmap screenshot

The query selects by the error message and returns all examples with that error message. Clearly this has been going on for a while. Clicking through to the raw data I could jump to the full log of one of the runs:

honeycomb raw data screenshot

Which brings us to this failure on github actions:

================, win-2008r2-x86_64

Pending: (Failures listed here are expected and do not affect your suite's status)

  1) package task install installs pry
     # Don't run on Windows
     On host `'
     Failure/Error: @example_span.add_field('rspec.message', strip_ansi(notification.message_lines.join("\n")))
       undefined method `message_lines' for #<RSpec::Core::Notifications::SkippedExampleNotification:0x00007fe474773368>

This in turn I can look up in the source code. I’m assuming the following clause is the issue:

before(:each) do
  skip "Don't run on Windows" if operating_system_fact == 'windows'

Putting that into the manual test case quickly confirmed that this was indeed the problem. After being able to reproduce this locally, it was a matter of poking pry to figure out what needs to be done about it. The SkippedExampleNotification doesn’t have a message_lines method, and needs to be handled differently. The result has been posted in the “Fix missing message_lines method” PR and should be merged and released by the time you read this post.

Finally, to cross-check that this is the only problem we’ve been seeing, I’ve added a rspec.message does-not-contain SkippedExampleNotification clause to the honeycomb query. That new query did not return any results, increasing my confidence in having addressed all currently visible issues with the formatter.