What's the point of @Before and @BeforeClass?

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Instead of using these JUnit 4 annotations, why don't we just use static and instance initializer blocks? The following code shows that a @BeforeClass method runs whenever a static initializer block runs, and a @Before methods runs whenever an instance initializer block runs. So why do we need them?

public class DemoTest {

    static {
        System.out.println("init static");
    }

    {
        System.out.println("init instance");
    }

    @BeforeClass
    public static void setUpAll() {
        System.out.println("beforeClass");
    }

    @Before
    public void setUp() {
        System.out.println("before");
    }

    @Test
    public void test1() {
        System.out.println("test1");
    }

    @Test
    public void test2() {
        System.out.println("test2");
    }
}

You are of course free to use those if your test cases do not require the additional functionality provided by @Before, etc.

Since you can't do the same thing as @After and @AfterClass with these constructs however, it makes sense for symmetry, reusability and readability to include them in the same format.

Additionally, for things like @Rule and @ClassRule annotated fields (as well as @Mock annotated if you're using MockitoJUnit4Runner or @Autowired if you're using SpringJUnitRunner), these are guaranteed to have been initialised by the time you enter the appropriate @Before, etc. method in JUnit. There's no such guarantee (in fact, there's a guarantee that they won't have been) if you're using static/instance initialiser blocks.

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First and foremost to enable declarative programming; using annotations is just "how you do things" in JUnit, so it makes sense to use these constructs here, too.

And note: this is also for symmetry. You have @After and @AfterClass which you really couldn't express using (static) code blocks within the class!

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@BeforeClass method runs whenever a static initializer block runs

The important caveat here is that this statement is wrong. Static initializer block runs when the class is loaded, which is not necessarily when you are meant to execute the tests.

Moving @BeforeClass into static-init block means it is invoked only once per classload, meaning you can no longer execute your test multiple times without reloading the class first (which is a tricky thing to do).

It is important to also note that @BeforeClass are not meant to prepare your test class for use - they are meant to prepare the rest of your system for running tests - and, for that reason, usually every @BeforeClass and @Before needs to be complemented with an appropriate @AfterClass and @After respectively, so that after all tests run, the system is cleaned up.

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Here is a link to the junit 4 javadocs; the reasoning behind each annotation is included in the description of the annotation.

Straight out of the JUnit JavaDocs:

For @Before

When writing tests, it is common to find that several tests need similar objects created before they can run. Annotating a public void method with @Before causes that method to be run before the Test method. The @Before methods of superclasses will be run before those of the current class, unless they are overridden in the current class. No other ordering is defined.

For @BeforeClass

Sometimes several tests need to share computationally expensive setup (like logging into a database). While this can compromise the independence of tests, sometimes it is a necessary optimization. Annotating a public static void no-arg method with @BeforeClass causes it to be run once before any of the test methods in the class. The @BeforeClass methods of superclasses will be run before those of the current class, unless they are shadowed in the current class.

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