I've got some code I use to take regular screenshots of my screen - it's useful to work out how much of any given day I'm spending on various activities. It looks like this:

 * Code modified from code given in
 * http://whileonefork.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/java-multi-monitor-screenshots.html following a SE
 * question at
 * http://stackoverflow.com/questions/10042086/screen-capture-in-java-not-capturing-whole-screen and
 * then modified by a code review at
 * http://codereview.stackexchange.com/questions/10783/java-screengrab
package com.tmc.personal;

import java.awt.*;
import java.awt.image.*;
import java.io.File;
import java.io.IOException;

import javax.imageio.ImageIO;

// TODO: improve screencapture tool by having it not take a photo when the mouse hasn't moved...

class ScreenCapture implements Runnable {

  private int minsBetweenScreenshots = 5;
  private String workingDirectory = "";

  public ScreenCapture(String string, int i) {
    workingDirectory = string;
    minsBetweenScreenshots = i;

  private void tryWritingScreenshotToFile(int indexOfPicture) {
    try {
      Image scaledImg = takeScreenshot();
      storeImageToFile(workingDirectory + "ScreenCapture" + indexOfPicture, scaledImg);
    } catch (IOException e1) {
      // skip, move to the next one
    } catch (AWTException e) {
      // photo didn't work skip and move on.

  private Image takeScreenshot() throws AWTException {
    Rectangle allScreenBounds = getAllScreenBounds();
    Robot robot = new Robot();
    BufferedImage img = robot.createScreenCapture(allScreenBounds);
    return scaleImage(img);

  private void storeImageToFile(String filename, Image scaledImg) throws IOException {
    ImageIO.write(toBufferedImage(scaledImg), "jpg",
        new File(filename + ActivityLogger.getDateTime() + ".jpg"));

  // code from
  // http://www.java-forums.org/new-java/2790-how-save-image-jpg.html
  private BufferedImage toBufferedImage(Image src) {
    int w = src.getWidth(null);
    int h = src.getHeight(null);
    int type = BufferedImage.TYPE_INT_RGB; // other options
    BufferedImage dest = new BufferedImage(w, h, type);
    Graphics2D g2 = dest.createGraphics();
    g2.drawImage(src, 0, 0, null);
    return dest;

  private Image scaleImage(BufferedImage img) {
    int scaledWidth = (int) (img.getWidth() * 0.5);
    int scaledHeight = (int) (img.getHeight() * 0.5);
    Image scaledImg =
        img.getScaledInstance(scaledWidth, scaledHeight, BufferedImage.SCALE_AREA_AVERAGING);
    return scaledImg;

   * Okay so all we have to do here is find the screen with the lowest x, the screen with the lowest
   * y, the screen with the higtest value of X+ width and the screen with the highest value of
   * Y+height
   * @return A rectangle that covers the all screens that might be nearby...
  private Rectangle getAllScreenBounds() {
    Rectangle allScreenBounds = new Rectangle();
    GraphicsEnvironment ge = GraphicsEnvironment.getLocalGraphicsEnvironment();
    GraphicsDevice[] screens = ge.getScreenDevices();

    int farx = 0;
    int fary = 0;
    for (GraphicsDevice screen : screens) {
      Rectangle screenBounds = screen.getDefaultConfiguration().getBounds();
      // finding the one corner
      if (allScreenBounds.x > screenBounds.x) {
        allScreenBounds.x = screenBounds.x;
      if (allScreenBounds.y > screenBounds.y) {
        allScreenBounds.y = screenBounds.y;
      // finding the other corner
      if (farx < (screenBounds.x + screenBounds.width)) {
        farx = screenBounds.x + screenBounds.width;
      if (fary < (screenBounds.y + screenBounds.height)) {
        fary = screenBounds.y + screenBounds.height;
      allScreenBounds.width = farx - allScreenBounds.x;
      allScreenBounds.height = fary - allScreenBounds.y;
    return allScreenBounds;

  public void run() {
    int indexOfPicture = 1000;
    while (true) {


The expected behavior of the class is that it takes a full-screen (including external monitors) screenshot every five minutes...

I've recently fallen in love with Test Driven Development on other projects and I've come back to this old code. But being honest - I have no idea where I would start with writing tests for it - everything is so tightly coupled to the outside world that simple tests seam impossible - is the a best-practice approach in such situations?

  • 5
    you mock the external features Mar 27, 2014 at 16:42
  • That's a very long code sample; consider shortening it or describing in words the various 'outside world' parts that are causing you trouble. Mar 27, 2014 at 17:05

1 Answer 1


Strictly speaking, you can't. You could mock the APIs, but you'd only be testing that you're calling them a certain way in the implementation. That doesn't prove the implementation is correct - if you make incorrect assumptions in the implementation, you're going to duplicate those mistakes in the tests. Moreover, your tests will be brittle, because you're testing implementation details. When the implementation changes, your tests will have to change too.

You could go the pure functional programming approach and build a new API that outputs IO commands to be executed (rather than actually performing the commands.) For example, you could write functions that return ScreenCapture objects that contain the details of what you're trying to do, e.g. the rectangle of the screen you want to capture. These are just data objects - they don't actually do anything. But you could test that the right command objects are being returned given certain arguments...

...However, at some point some code has to translate those command objects into actual Robot API calls. How do you prove that code is correct? You're back at square one. At the end of the day, you're going to need a proof somewhere. Peer reviews will help expose any details you might've missed.

Testing can expose the presence of bugs, but never their absence.

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