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AllForOne stops child processes hanging around when your parent process stops.
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Say goodbye to pesky hanging processes on your Build Server.

What does AllForOne do?

AllForOne ensures that child processes which are started by your application end when your application ends.

Why is this useful?

Browser automation frameworks, such as Selenium or Watin, need an instance of a browser to work with. Sometimes an intermediary process, which acts as a shim between the browser and the browser automation framework, also needs to be started.

Your Test Fixture Setup code would usually take care of this. For example, to automate browser testing using Google Chrome and Selenium, your Integration Test Fixture Setup code will need to start child processes for both Chrome Browser and Selenium Chrome Driver instances.

Additionally, your Test Fixture Teardown will (hopefully!) contain code which kills any processes which were started in your Test Fixture Setup. This is important, as otherwise each time you run your tests you'll start another browser instance, and another, and another...

So, you've got code in your Test Fixture Teardown to sort this out, so there's no problem, right? True... but only if your Test Fixture Teardown gets to run.

###Why might your Test Fixture Teardown not run?

  1. You abort a test run

    You're running your integration tests in Visual Studio. You realise something's not right so you click on the Stop button in your test runner. Your tests stop, but the Test Fixture Teardown code never has a chance to run. Therefore, your test browser instance is still running.

    Okay, this is not the end of the world. You can see the test browser is still running and you can kill it. But what a hassle, having to kill the test browser (and possibly something else like Chrome Driver) every time you stop a test run!

    And sometimes you start the test run again, forgetting to kill the test browser and only remembering when your test code complains that a browser is already running. So you stop the tests again, and have to close the original test browser, and the second one that just got started, and maybe two Chrome Driver instances too...

  2. Your test run crashes on your Build Server

    Integration tests crash on Build Servers for all sorts of reasons. Perhaps there is a 32 vs 64 bit mismatch. Maybe there is a permissions problem. Whatever the cause, you really don't want any test related processes hanging around after a build has stopped, especially as the problem won't be immediately obvious.

    If you're using Continuous Integration your integration tests will be running on your Build Server automatically, hopefully when you check code in several times a day. If something is going wrong with each run, you could end up with tens, if not hundreds of test browser instances running on your Build Server. You'll only know there's a problem the next time you log on and see a screen filled with browsers, or when a co-worker complains that you're using up all the Build Server resources with your crazy Integration Tests.

How does AllForOne work?

AllForOne uses Job Object voodoo to ensure a set of processes are managed as a unit. More detail can be found here:

This StackOverflow answer inspired much of the code:

However, the 'LimitFlags' setting used is '0x3000' rather than '0x2000'. This applies 'JOB_OBJECT_LIMIT_SILENT_BREAKAWAY_OK', as well as 'JOB_OBJECT_LIMIT_KILL_ON_JOB_CLOSE'. Without it, any further child processes spawned, such as those which Chrome creates itself, get assigned and locked to the same Job. Thereafter, Chrome cannot use it's own Job Management strategies and, therefore, crashes.

The differences are further explained here:

How do I use AllForOne?

AllForOne is straightforward to use. Simply install it using the package available on NuGet, and then use the Process Extension Method provided to register your child processes as soon as possible after they are created:

var childProcess = new Process { StartInfo = myStartInfo };


Now, when the parent process stops, either because you have killed it or because it crashes, the child process is guaranteed to stop as well.

Just call TieLifecycleToParentProcess() on any child processes you spawn in your test code and no longer will you have to worry about hanging processes on your Build Server.

A note about the project structure

AllForOne contains the main App project, a Unit Test project, and two Console Application projects which the Unit Tests use. Both of these Console Apps spawn a child Chrome Driver instance, but only one uses TieLifecycleToParentProcess().

The Unit Test project starts each of these Console Applications and then kills them, testing that child processes are also killed if TieLifecycleToParentProcess() has been used.

The projects make liberal use of Visual Studio linked items. You'll see that there is a 'chromedriver.exe' linked item in each of the test projects; these all point to a 'chromedriver.exe' file in the Chrome Driver NuGet Package folder. However, this file gets copied to the project bin folders as 'testChromedriver.exe', to prevent the Unit Tests interfering with any legitimate Chrome Driver processes that may already be running on your Build Server.

This trick was acheived by manually changing the <Link>chromedriver.exe</Link> entry in the project files to <Link>testChromedriver.exe</Link>. Unfortunately this is not reflected in the Solution Explorer entry in Visual Studio, which is why I draw attention to this here.

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