Software Development Testing. What is the problem?

The Software Development Testing Problem

No one would argue that testing is important.   But among the people that I speak with regularly, the prevailing opinion is that it is never done enough.  So, what is the

1. We Write Tests After Coding

Well, firstly, people tend to write tests AFTER the coding is complete.  This leads (typically) to superficial testing – testing the “happy path”.  And since it’s at the end, there’s never enough time to really complete this extra effort of testing.  Test Driven Development (TDD) or at least Test First Development (TFD) is generally accepted as the way to ensure that the tests are meaningful, extensive, effective and completed.  I’ll speak more to the value of TFD/TDD in later posts.

2. Software Testing is Boring!

Secondly, testing isn’t really fun.  Or exciting.  Or even seen as completely necessary sometimes. (“We have a QA group don’t we?”)  The fact is, developers don’t naturally like to do it.  As a veteran of software development, I must confess that I have shared these feelings too.

The Software Development Testing Solution

People like Kent Beck speak about becoming “test infected.”  That would be the condition where developers have used TFD/TDD enough and seen the successes enough that they don’t want to code without it.  They’ve gone through a cycle of writing tests first, then coding and refactoring — and seeing the bug counts go down and the code get better as a result.  It becomes second nature.  They have a hard time going back to traditional Code First development.

So really the question is: “What can be done to get developers ‘test infected’?”  Let’s look at that question next week – I have one idea that has worked for our team.

Rod Bray,
Web Financial Solutions (WFS) Partner, Agile Coach, Certified ScrumMaster, Software Architect and Principal Agile Training Instructor

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