Durable Task Framework – Testing a TaskActivity

Problem

You’ve created an orchestration using the Service Bus Durable Task Framework that makes use of several tasks, but you want to be able to test out each task in isolation.

Solution

The Durable Task Test Framework provides you with a utility class that makes creating and executing a new orchestration with a single task painless and easy. Whilst this isn’t a unit test by any stretch of the imagination, the MSTest framework is perfect for running your tasks one by one and making sure everything is as it should be.

How it Works

Creating and configuring an orchestration is relatively simple, but involves quite a few lines of code. If you’re just testing a single TaskActivity, there’s no point in doing that over and over again, so I created a simple helper class to take care of the grunt work!
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Durable Task Framework – Complex Types as Task Input Parameters

In my last post, Using Unity With The Durable Task Framework, I mentioned that I had originally overlooked the fact that the data passed to and from your TaskActivity objects in an orchestration are serialized and sent over the wire. If you’re using simple types then this isn’t a problem, but usually we want to be able to pass in something with a little more information.

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Using Unity With The Durable Task Framework

The Durable Task Framework, created by¬†Abhishek Lal over at Microsoft, is fantastic. It allows you to leverage the Windows Azure Service Bus to create long running, durable workflows (orchestrations) comprised of one or more sub-tasks (activities) or even sub-workflows. If you’re not familiar with the framework, take a look at it first before continuing. The above link contains a download with some documentation and samples for using the framework.

It didn’t take long for me to get up and running with an orchestration and a few tasks, although I quickly realised that I had overlooked one key point. The input and output objects for each task are serialized and transmitted over the Azure Service Bus. Initially my inputs were complex types with a unity container reference so I could share a single instance of a unity container with all of my orchestrations and tasks. Serializing the unity container is out of the question, but it wasn’t obvious to me how I could use the framework to allow me to inject my unity container in to the orchestrations and tasks.

In this post, I present a solution to configuring your setup such that you can provide your task orchestrations and activities with whatever extra data you need.

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