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Years ago I worked with a legacy system that was particularly fragile in its deployment. While my team at the time and I made some serious improvements in the reliability of the automated deployment, the best thing we did was to add a set of environment tests to the deployment that verified that basic elements of the system were working like:

  • Could our code access the configured database?
  • Was a certain COM object registered on the server? (I hated COM then and the years haven't changed my mind)
  • Could we connect via remoting to another deployed application?

The deployments still frequently failed, but we were able to spot and diagnose the underlying problems much faster with our new environment tests than we could before by trying to run and debug the not-quite-valid application.

One of the mechanisms we used for these environment tests was StructureMap's ability to mark methods on configured types as environment tests with the [ValidationMethod] attribute as shown below:

public class Database : IDatabase
    public void TryToConnect()
        // try to open a connection to the configured
        // database connection string

        // throw an exception if the database cannot
        // be reached

Used in conjunction with StructureMap's ability to validate a container, you can use this technique to quickly support environment tests embedded into your system code.