Exploring Auto-Generation of .NET Unit Tests

Exploring Auto-Generation of .NET Unit Tests

21 May 2024 Stephan Petzl Leave a comment Tech-Help

Unit testing is a crucial aspect of software development, ensuring that individual components of an application function correctly. A common question among developers is whether unit tests can be auto-generated and if such a practice is beneficial. This article explores the concept of auto-generating unit tests in the .NET ecosystem, the tools available, and the potential advantages and disadvantages.

Understanding Auto-Generated Unit Tests

Auto-generation of unit tests involves using tools to create test cases automatically based on the existing codebase. This can significantly reduce the time and effort required to write tests manually. However, it is essential to understand the limitations and appropriate use cases for such tools.

Tools for Auto-Generating .NET Unit Tests

There are several tools available for generating unit tests in .NET. Below, we discuss some of the most notable ones:

  • IntelliTest: Originally known as Pex, IntelliTest is a feature of Visual Studio Enterprise Edition. It generates unit tests from hand-written parameterized tests through automated exploratory testing based on dynamic symbolic execution. IntelliTest supports emitting tests in MSTest, MSTest V2, NUnit, and xUnit formats. However, it is limited to C# code targeting the .NET Framework and does not support x64 configurations.
  • Unit Test Boilerplate Generator: This tool is available for Visual Studio 2015-2017 and helps in generating boilerplate code for unit tests. It simplifies the creation of unit tests by providing templates and is actively maintained.
  • Parasoft .TEST: This tool uses the NUnit framework for test descriptions and assertions evaluation. It allows for the automated generation of regression test suites by constructing inputs, calling tested methods, and creating assertions based on the current code base behavior.

Advantages and Disadvantages

While auto-generating unit tests can offer several advantages, it also comes with certain drawbacks:


  • Time-Saving: Auto-generating tests can significantly reduce the time required to write tests manually, allowing developers to focus on other critical tasks.</
  • Increased Coverage: These tools can help achieve higher code coverage by generating tests for various code paths that might be overlooked manually.


  • Limited Contextual Understanding: Automated tools lack the contextual understanding of the application’s business logic, leading to tests that may not fully capture the intended behavior.
  • Maintenance Overhead: Generated tests can become a maintenance burden if the codebase evolves rapidly, requiring frequent updates to the tests.

Best Practices for Using Auto-Generated Unit Tests

To maximize the benefits of auto-generated unit tests, consider the following best practices:

  • Combine with Manual Tests: Use auto-generated tests to complement manually written tests, ensuring that critical business logic is thoroughly tested.
  • Regularly Review and Update: Periodically review the generated tests to ensure they remain relevant and up-to-date with the current codebase.
  • Focus on High-Risk Areas: Use automated tools to generate tests for complex and high-risk areas of the application where manual testing might be insufficient.

Enhancing Testing with Repeato

While auto-generated unit tests can be a valuable addition to your testing strategy, they are not a silver bullet. For comprehensive testing of mobile applications, consider using Repeato. Repeato is a no-code test automation tool for iOS and Android, leveraging computer vision and AI to create, run, and maintain automated tests efficiently.

Repeato’s intuitive test recorder and no-code interface make it easy for developers to set up tests quickly. Additionally, its scripting interface supports advanced use cases, making it suitable for both novice and experienced testers. With Repeato, you can ensure your mobile applications are thoroughly tested, enhancing overall software quality.

For more information on how Repeato can help streamline your testing processes, visit our documentation or contact us for a demo.

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