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· 10 min read

⏳ And just like that, 2023 draws near

We at the Pact team love nothing more than making microservices testing easier, our community and churning out the code. This year has been no exception. As many of you have wrapped up for your christmas break, we thought we would take some time to reflect on the year and the communities achievements.

Pact Open Source Community Survey

Our new survey is now open! The purpose of this survey is a pulse check on the community. In order to serve you in the best possible way, we'd love to understand how you use Pact and engage in our ecosystem. If you have contributed to any Pact Open Source projects or have engaged with Pact social media and Slack chats, you are welcome to share us your thoughts! The data collected in this survey is anonymous. We intend to use the data to better serve you and to promote the Pact community. Complete the survey here.

Brought to Life through Visualizations

Earlier in the year we mentioned we rolled out Orbit.love to help us track activities across the Pact Foundation's many open doors.

I would login into GitHub, Slack, YouTube, Slack Overflow, Twitter, check my emails, all before I could get down to any work. I imagine the story is much the same for our maintainers, when they get that precious free time to code, it can be exhausting. Orbit gives me a single view I can go to every day, and see who is posting asking for help, or where the activity is, so I can come jump in a help out.

We’re still in the process of determining the most effective usage and views of the data, in a wider context rather than just helping us on the day to day. We are thinking about ways we can expose the dataset (as it’s all publicly available information from GitHub), so that you can tell us what you make of it. Think of it as an interactive state of open-source survey if you will! The good news is that we’ll be doing so together with our friends over at the Cucumber and Swagger communities. We even hope to extend it over the SmartBear GitHub account too.

Pact community engagement in 2022

Community growth in 2022

We saw over 3,000 of you interacting with us via our open source channels, and introduced 2.7k more into the fold.

The 2022 community heroes.

Thank you for participating in the Pact community, we couldn’t do it without you.

We really couldn't resist taking a look at what organizations are using (and we hope loving) Pact. The list below is ordered by organization employee count.

We're a small team at Pact, so we also rely and appreciate contributions by teams and individuals leveraging Pact. Below is a list of organizations ordered by the active members using Pact who have interacted with our public repos. In most cases, these are individual people, or small teams often giving back improvements to the Pact framework from time out in the field. Why not read some of their testimonials and case studies here and add one of your own 🥰

Community growth since 2013

We looked back on the history as Pact, as we near 10 years, over 12 thousand of you have followed along.

I wrote an interactive history lesson of Pact which you can check out here

Big innovations: the Pact Plugin Framework

We were pleased to launch the Pact Plugin Framework to the masses. As with all our major initiatives, it is true to our open source roots and we hope that unlock new capabilities to a community of builders.

Our first plugin provides support for testing gRPC with Pact, and Pacts core, built in Rust, provides a Foreign Function Interface, unlocking Pact’s capabilities in supporting languages.We look forward to 2023 and the introduction of Pact’s feature-set to a few more languages, some of which are waiting to be built.

Hopefully by you!

In the meantime, why not get powered by Pact plugins and create your own?

Find out how to get started

Supporters of Pact

Pact’s biggest sponsor got even bigger this year.

SbHeartPact

Pact arose while PactFlow's Co-Founders Beth Skurrie, Ron Holshausen and Matt Fellows were employed by Australian technology consultancy, DiUS, supporting companies of all sizes to transition to cloud-native application development and to accelerate their digital initiatives.

PactFlow is now part of a much wider quality initiative after being acquired by SmartBear. We care so much for OSS and are so pleased that SmartBear has a strong and demonstrated commitment to OSS — as proven through the support and scale of Cucumber and Swagger. Through our partnership, we will be able to take contract testing to new heights and help deliver key milestones in Pact’s OSS roadmap, and bring closer alignments between our now larger family of open source tools, and smooth pathways between our open source and commercial tools. Providing you a seamless, and wonderful experience, whichever tool you are using.

We are always on the look-out for new contributors, across any of our languages, and if you have interest or have used Swagger, Cucumber or BDD principles in the past, we would love to hear from you. Drop me a note in Slack.

We would also love to wish our DiUS family thanks for all the support, and helping us reach bigger heights, and ultimately help more people. We'll slip an extra shrimp on the barbie for you.

What's in store for Pact in 2023?

With a successful 2022 under our belts, I am so excited for what 2023 has instore! You can check out Canny, our public feature board for the latest run down on upcoming initiatives.

If you feel like something is missing, why not request it, or come talk to us in our Slack?

Big call outs to get excited about

  • Pact Plugin ecosystem – we look forward to helping the community build plugins for the most requested content and transport types
  • V4 + Plugin support in all Pact foundation supported languages
  • Support networks provided to help the community build new plugins, and language implementations
  • Improved governance and project planning
    • The Pact project is depended on, by millions. In order to improve the quality of life for maintainers and contributors, we would like to bring some best practice open source engineers principles to the Pact project, to help it evolve in a vendor neutral fashion, and live for many years for come.
  • Revised documentation, training materials and examples
    • We are on a journey to help not only simplify the adoption of contract testing, but with SmartBear’s support, to help provide you patterns and techniques to building quality, scalable software, that moves as quickly as your customers do. We would love your support in helping to smooth the path.
  • Help us design real-world example applications, that we can use to demonstrate not just Pact, but other testing tools, to show you can pick n mix your way to success.
  • More community events
    • Pact's 10th Birthday Bash
    • Local Pact community events
    • SmartBear Dev Rels’ Celebration of open source
    • Hackathons
    • Code Alongs
    • Summer of Source
    • CukenFest - A BDD Conference
    • Pact + Swagger + Cucumber meetups

Pact Almanac 2022

I always love the idea of Almanac’s, probably from being sucked into Back to the Future as a kid!

image

So here is my go, a veritable buffet, corralling of some of the best bits of the year, mainly in your own words. There is so much good juice out there, for this Devo Avo to squeeze. I won’t focus on any of the big milestones centrally in the project, but rather your individual contributions and wins, you can go through our blogs bi-monthly updates, or check the GitHub repo’s themselves for an immutable source of truth. 🕵️

January

Feb

Mar

  • Lewis Prescott, the Pactman himself, started his blog series and Podcast dedicated to our favourite topic with some of the players in the industry helping you calm the chaos.

Apr

May

  • Marie Drake again, delivering a contract testing 101 at her previous employer Zoopla where she evangelised Pact, she now works as a Developer Advocate as k6.io and is always putting out great content.
  • Tamerlan Gudabayev delivers a great post that helps what contract testing is, and where it fits in in your testing lifecycle.

June

July

  • Bas Dijkstra has been helping individuals, teams and organisations build quality systems for years with automation. This in-depth 6-parter are words from a sage.

Aug

Whilst this feature in a Pact Broker, exists only in PactFlow (our commercial sponsor and guardian) the source code is open source and lives here for the underlying tool. If you want to help make improvements or use it to aid and augment your testing efforts with your OSS Broker, or if you use other mechanisms bar a broker to share pacts. If you do, we would love to what you are up to!

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

Pact Broker Graph

Pact saves the holidays, by ensuring those in charge of getting the turkeys to your table are deploying safely!

If you've done something great, and want to share it, get it listed - the site is open source and you can edit any page, we want to give you a platform to help amplify your voice!

Maybe there is time to get one last in before crimbo! No, only joking, that’s a wrap for this year's Pact Open Source Almanac, pop your feet up, enjoy your puds and hope to see your name in the book next year.

· 13 min read

Did you know, Pact is nearly 10 years old!

As the de-facto leader in contract-testing, the eco-system has grown to be vast, just take a look below

image

However today, I am going to take you on a little journey of how it came to be, and show you what is to come.

TL;DR

A lot happens in 10 years. We’ve seen it all here at Pact, from the proliferation of micro services, to ever increasing protocols like ProtobufsGraphQL, transports such as gRPCWebsockets and MQTTEventDrivenArchitectures and data pipelines or emerging standards such as OpenAPI, AsyncAPI and CloudEvents.

As we launch our Pact Plugin Framework bringing you new possibilities to the Pact eco-system, I’d like to invite you to try an interactive history lesson of Pact, from past, to present and beyond!

Pact and the Pact-Plugin Framework will unlock the possibility of testing multiple transport and content types. You will see Pact used for gRPC, Protobuf and CSV based messages. Hope it feeds your imagination of the possiblities, it certainly has for me!

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If it piques your interest, you should sign up for our upcoming webinar to hear more about our exciting news and what it means for you and the software development community.

The birth of Pact Ruby

Pact was originally written by a development team at realestate.com.au in 2013, born out of trying to solve the problem of how to do integration testing for their new Ruby microservices architecture. They threw together a codebase that was to become the first Pact implementation.

git add . && git commit -m 'Gem skeleton' && git push by James Fraser

Screenshot 2022-11-16 at 14 16 59

Ron Holshausen (at the time at DiUS, still one of the present day maintainers of Pact, and co-founder of PactFlow), first commit came shortly after.

Screenshot 2022-11-16 at 14 27 47

A few months later Beth Skurrie (then at DiUS, still one of the present day maintainers of Pact and co-founder of PactFlow ), joined one of the teams that was working with the Pact authors' team.

She had recently seen a talk by J.B.Rainsberger entitled "Integration tests are a scam", which promoted the concept of "collaboration" and "contract" tests, so she was immediately interested when she was introduced to Pact.

J. B. has since softed his message, as have we, I think we all mellow as we get older :)

Beth's first commit in Pact Ruby

Screenshot 2022-11-16 at 14 33 02

After trying (as most people do) to convince the authors that the provider should be the contract writer, she was soon convinced by Brent Snook, one of the original authors of Pact, of the value of consumer driven contracts. At this stage, she realised that what was missing in the current implementation was the ability to run the same request under different conditions, and "provider states" were born.

Viva la Pact Broker

Screenshot 2022-11-16 at 14 28 48

What the heck is a Pact Broker anyway, Saf?

The Pact Broker (as Pact was) being written to solve our own problem, which was trying to coordinate pact versions between projects.

It is an application that allows you to release customer value quickly and confidently by deploying your services independently and avoiding the bottleneck of integration tests, introducing a pact matrix.

It looks a little like this

image

By testing the Pact Matrix, you can be confident to deploy any service at any time, because your standalone CI tests have told you whether or not you are backwards compatible – no “certification environment” needed. And when there are multiple services in a context, this approach scales linearly, not exponentially like the certification environment approach.

Preaching the message

Soon after, Beth decided that Pact idea was the best thing since sliced bread, and she hasn't stopped yacking on about it since. Hear Beth, Jon Eaves from REA and Evan Bottcher from ThoughtWorks speak at YOW!2014 in this YouTube video

Want a bit more of Beth? we told you she couldn't stop yakking

Ron began spreading the message, read a blog post from 2014 here

The birth of Pact JVM

Pact spread around the codebases in the wider program of work at realestate.com.au, until it hit its first Java microservice. realestate.com.au had many JVM projects, so a group of DiUS consultants (including Ron Holshausen again) started the pact-jvm project on a hack day.

Screenshot 2022-11-16 at 14 37 32

Ron raised his first issue, https://github.com/pact-foundation/pact-jvm/issues/31, which led to his first PR

Screenshot 2022-11-16 at 14 43 27

You can watch a talk from Ron here talking about pact and Pact JVM

Like all grown up frameworks, processes are needed, and a Pact Specification was born.

Beth penned the first Pact test cases, which came to be Pact Specification v1.0.0

Screenshot 2022-11-16 at 14 45 42

It was at this stage that the authors realised that the Rubyisms in the format were going to have to be replaced by a non-language specific format, and the idea of the v2 pact-specification arose on Mar 27, 2014 though it would take a while (just over a year) before it became reality.

Screenshot 2022-11-16 at 14 53 18

Soon it became obvious that Javascript UIs would benefit greatly from using Pact with their backend APIs.

After tossing around the idea of implementing Pact yet again in another language, a decision was made to wrap the Ruby implementation (which was packaged as a standalone executable) to avoid the maintenance burden and potential of implementation mismatches. This became the pattern that was used for most of the following Pact implementations. Each language implemented a Pact DSL and mock service/verifier client, and called out to the Ruby mock service process/verifier in the background. The original Ruby JSON syntax was often used between the native clients and the mock service, as it was simpler to implement, however, the mock service took care of writing the actual pact in the v2 format.

The birth of Pact JS

Three versions of Pact-JS have existed, Fuying created the first commit of DiUS/pact-consumer-js-dsl. A familiar face Beth pops along for her first commit.

A few days apart, DiUS/pactjs0 was created, the first commit by Jeff Cann. Ron dropped his first commit ultimately deprecating it a little while later.

Enter Matt Fellows, dropping his first commit. A man of many talents, Matt is still one of the present day maintainers of Pact, as well as co-founding PactFlow.

It's funny, JavaScript is akin to the bus service, you wait for ages and then three turn up at once 🤯.

Enter the still current Library, Pact-JS. It's first commit by Tarcio Saraiva.

A few months later, Pact-JS became the sole library going forward

This multi-language capability gave us the ability to start building cross-platform contract testing suites, as demonstrated below with JSON/HTTP interactions in laser focus

image

You can out HTTP based Pact in our interactive tutorial here, in either Java or JavaScript

Pact proliferates - Lead by example

Since the implementation of the v2 format, newer features have been added, and the v3 and v4 formats add support for handing multiple provider states, messaging, and 'generators'.

One of the strengths of Pact is its specification, allowing anybody to create a new language binding in an interoperable way. Whilst this has been great at unifying compatibility, the sprawl of languages makes it hard to add significant new features/behaviour into the framework quickly (e.g. GraphQL or Protobuf support).

Wrapping the Ruby implementation allowed new languages to implement Pact quickly, however, it had its downsides. The standalone package worked by bundling the entire Ruby runtime with the codebase using Travelling Ruby, so it was large (~9MB). The native libraries also had to deal with the mock service process management, which could be fiddly on different platforms. It also made it difficult to run consumer tests in parallel, as each mock service process could only handle one thread at a time. The Ruby implementation was also lagging behind in feature development compared to the JVM, as Beth was spending more time on the Pact Broker.

To provide a single Pact implementation that could be used by all the required languages, the decision was made to create a reference implementation in Rust, that could be wrapped by each client language using FFI. The distributable package will be orders of magnitude smaller, and make it easier to run tests in parallel and avoid the process management issues, we have been slowly moving to our Rust core which solves many of the challenges that bundling Ruby presented.

It is worth noting that the "shared core" approach has largely been a successful exercise in this regard. There are many data points, but the implementation of WIP/Pending pacts was released (elapsed, not effort) in just a few weeks for the libraries that wrapped Ruby. In most cases, an update of the Ruby "binaries", mapping flags from the language specific API to dispatch to the underlying Ruby process, a README update and a release was all that was required. In many cases, new functionality is still published with an update to the Ruby binary, which has been automated through a script.

Beth often refers to the Ruby Goldberg machine, in a nod to Rube Goldberg.

image

We would love your engineering support in bringing efficiencies to our CI/CD processes used in our open source projects, or your artistic skills, if someone fancies drawing a Pact Rube Goldberg machine <3

Moving beyond HTTP

But, the industry has continued to innovate since Pact was created in 2013, and RESTful microservices are only one of the key use cases these days - protocols such as Protobufs and Graphql, transports such as TCP, UDP and HTTP/2 and interaction modes (e.g. streaming or server initiated) are starting to become the norm. Standards such as AsyncAPI and CloudEvent are also starting to emerge.

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For example, Pact has been a rather HTTP centric library, and the mixed success in retrofitting "message support" into all languages shows that extensions outside of this boundary aren't trivial, and in some respects are a second class citizen.

The reason is simple: HTTP doesn't change very often, so once a language has implemented a sensible DSL for it and integrated to the core, it's more a matter of fine tuning things. Adding message pact is a paradigm shift relative to HTTP, and requires a whole new developer experience of authoring tests, integrating to the core and so on, for the language author to consider.

You can read more about non-HTTP messaging with Pact 🔗 here

Please note this one is a pet-project work in progress but it does show off message testing in various pact languages (Java, JS, .NET, PHP, Python & Ruby)

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Pact Plugin Philosophy

Being able to mix and match protocol, transport and interaction mode would be helpful in expanding the use cases.

Further, being able to add custom contract testing behaviour for bespoke use cases would be helpful in situations where we can't justify the effort to build into the framework itself (custom protocols in banking such as AS2805 come to mind).

To give some sense of magnitude to the challenge, this table showed some of the Pact deficiencies across popular microservice deployments as of a couple of years ago

https://user-images.githubusercontent.com/53900/103729694-1e7e1400-5035-11eb-8d4e-641939791552.png

So the pact plug-in eco system was born, a way to allow new transport types, content matchers/generators and more to easily be added to the pact framework, without needing to wait for the core maintainers to roll it out. You can create your own, for public, private or commercial consumption!

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Enough blurb, show me da code

Whilst it may be quite technical for some, others will relish the possibilities this will unlock. If you want something or see a use case, but aren’t quite sure how to put it to reality, try out our demos and give us a shout via 🔗 canny, our feature request board, or 🔗 slack

To prove how easy it was, and as a nice little nod back to the Grandmother of Pact, Ruby. Your very own devo avo put his money where his mouth is and built his own.

Try out our pact plug-in framework here

This will allow you to see Pact and the Pact-Plugin Framework to test multiple transport and content types. You will see Pact used for gRPC, Protobuf and CSV based messages. Hope it feeds your imagination of the possiblities, it certainly has for me!

And to anchor it back to a picture you probably know from our Pact docs, plugins just sit in the middle and help extend the capabalities

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Choose Possibilities, Choose plugins, Choose Pact!

A thank you to those who got us here