Oct 8 2008

How to sell TDD

Category: Testing | Thoughtsfossmo @ 18:04

Everyone is into TDD these days. Right? If you want to call yourself a serious developer, you need to write unit tests. Blogs and seminars are filling your head with: "TDD or loose your night sleep". "TDD or write tons of documentation". "TDD or have a crappy design". I could go on forever...
Developers are eating this information provided raw, looking for the silver bullet.

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"Everybody is doing it, so I have to do it too".

I guess if you are a teenager, this is a very valid argument. It's hard to stand out of the crowd at young age. Just follow the rest and everything will work itself out.

But, your not a teenager, right?

I guess what I'm trying to say is; look into the pros and cons before deciding to start using it. Read some scientific research. You have a much better chance of succeeding then, as everything else in life.

I posted a question on an up and coming Q & A site called Stackoverflow. I asked if someone could point me to some information about scientific research done on TDD. I got one lousy answer and the guy answering just goggled for the answer. No one knew. I find this a bit disturbing. A lot of people throw themselves into TDD head first. Doing this was okay 6 years ago, when TDD was in its modest beginnings. But, not today. You can find a lot of scientific research on this area this days. Try goggling for it.

Does it really matter if you don't know of any research done in this area?
Probably not. If you really enjoy something, the chances are that you are good at it, and you should continue doing it. Blissfully ignorant. On your home projects. But, if you have swallowed the red pill and want to expand your use of TDD from your hobby project at your basement, and into your organization, you should know something about the research done in this area. How can you put up a good argument for TDD if you can't referee to good sources?

It's like going in to a wage negotiation with your boss and say:
"I want a higher salary!"
"Why?"
"Because!".
"Because, what?"
"Because!"
"Get out of my office!"
"But...."

This won't get you the 50" wide screen TV you always wanted, for sure!
You need some hard facts. A good starting point are these papers:

http://users.csc.calpoly.edu/~djanzen/pubs/janzenTDDSoftware08.pdf
http://iit-iti.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/iit-publications-iti/docs/NRC-47445.pdf
http://collaboration.csc.ncsu.edu/laurie/Papers/TDDpaperv8.pdf

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