Saturday, January 27, 2007

One activity that is inherently productive: unit testing

In a post today in his blog, Larry O'Brien states: "...let's be clear that of all the things we know about software development, there are only two things that we know to be inherently highly productive: Well-treated talented programmers and iterative development incorporating client feedback"

I find it hard not to add unit testing to this list.

Of all the things that have changed in how I program during the last six or seven years, nothing comes close to unit testing in terms of making me more productive. In addition, it has made me a better programmer, because as I write code I am thinking about how to test it. And the changes that result are almost always improvements.

2 comments:

David Dossot said...

Interestingly, while adding new features to one of my open source projects today, I was contemplating how much unit testing has modified my way of doing things (and this, of course, for the better).

For example, as I was adding features to the main API, I went like this:
- modify the interface,
- add empty stub methods in implementation,
- write tests for the new features, which all fail,
- replace the stubs with actual methods,
- enjoy green lights.

God knows how I would have done this a few years ago... I simply might have not dared touching anything!

Andy said...

Yeah, I agree with you, Andrew. As Martin Fowler said of JUnit-- "Never in the field of software development was so much owed by so many to so few lines of code."