Tag Archives: Invisible Hands

The Common Cold, Common Stock, and TDD; Or: the ‘Cargo-Culting’ of Automated Testing

Nearly everyone in software engineering, whether they use automated testing and/or TDD (test-driven development) or not, should read Test Double’s post on “The Failures of ‘Intro to TDD'”. It encapsulates quite nicely the best intentions of TDD, and demonstrates that Test Double are smart people working hard at the Craft of Software.

But… here’s my problem with it: saying that “TDD is about solving problems incrementally with a side effect of total regression safety” is a lot like saying that “Airplanes are about having 5 hours of distraction-free work time with a side-effect of getting you from one place to another.” Both statements are true independently, but it confuses the purpose with the side-effect, even if the side-effect is overall more important to the success of the system. (There are days when having 5 hours of distraction-free work time does indeed feel like it changed my life more than did merely getting from New York to San Francisco. But it’s still merely a side-effect of my trip, not its purpose.) Continue reading

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