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Monday, August 11, 2014

What is Test Driven development?

The test driven development (or TDD in short) is a type of software development process that emphasizes on the use of repetitive development cycles. These development cycles are quite short when compared to the cycles followed in other development processes. Initially an automated test case i.e., an initially failing one is written by the developer defining a new function or improvement that is required. Next a code is produced (as small and as efficient as possible) for passing the test. Lastly, this code refactored so as to make it standard compliant. This technique was discovered by Kent Beck in the year of 2003. He stated that this software development technique is an inspiration for confidence and produces simple designs.
There is a similarity between extreme programming’s concepts of test – first programming and this test – driven development process. However, lately TDD has developed a general interest for its own. The concept behind the test driven development is also applied to the debugging and improvement of the legacy code that has been produced using some older methods. There are a number of aspects in which test – driven development can be used. For instance, TDD principles such as YAGNI (you aren’t gonna need it) and KISS (keep it simple stupid) are used in general context too. Since the focus is on producing only the required amount of code necessary to pass the test, the code that is developed is much clear and clean than what is developed by other methods. Another famous principle of TDD is “fake it till you make it”. For achieving some concepts including advanced design (for example, design pattern), the tests that would produce this design have to be written. The code may be simpler than the actual target code but would still pass all the tests.  At first, you might seem to disagree with it but, on the positive side it allows the developer to focus on the important things.

The first thing that should be done is to write the tests even before the functionality that has to be tested. This approach has a number of benefits:
- It helps in ensuring that the application is test ready making it easy on the developers on how to test it from outset. It eliminates the scene of worrying later.
- It makes sure that for every feature there is a test.
- This approach facilitates an early understanding of the product requirements. Thus, ensuring the test code’s effectiveness. Also the product quality can be focused up on continually.

On the other hand, the feature – first code pattern in development organizations may push the developer to the next feature which results in negligence in full testing. Also the compilation for the first test might not even take place because the classes and functions it requires might not exist then. But, even then the first tests are treated as executable specifications.
The test cases are first failed for ensuring that the test is working and is able to catch the fault or error. Once this is established, we can proceed with the implementation of the underlying functionality. This strategy is called the “test driven development mantra”. Also known as the red/green refactor where red stands for failing and green stands for passing. In TDD we repeat the process of adding the failing test cases and then passing them and again refactoring. When at each stage the programmer receives the expected results, his mental code model keeps getting stronger and reinforced. Further this boosts his productivity and instills in him a sense of self - confidence. This is the development style that TDD follows.

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