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Weighing the Pros & Cons of Test-Driven Development

Over the last decade, Agile Development Methodology has gained a lot of momentum. The rapid changes in technology and consumerism have also compelled the developers to increasingly focus on the speed-to-market and boost the efficiency and frequency of the software releases. As a result, the trend is slowly moving towards continuous delivery. This requires greater efficiency in the process. Making many developers rely on automated unit tests or going a step further with Test Driven Development. 

What is Test Driven Development or TDD?

The meaning of TDD - The basic idea behind Test-Driven Development is to write the tests before writing the code. This encourages the developers to remain focused on their goal by building the functionality to pass the test. The notion is to fail at those tests first and then start writing enough code to pass one test at a time. Passing all the tests could be a measure of the done criteria (dev-done). Thereby, increasing the confidence in the quality of the code as well. To get an in-depth introduction of TDD, please read our quick guide on TDD for small and medium businesses.

That said, just like any other development methodologies, there are some pros and cons associated with TDD. In this blog, we dig deeper into the potential advantages and pitfalls of this development methodology.

What are the Pros and Cons of Test Driven Development (TDD)?

Pros of Test Driven Development

  • Writing small tests at a time forces the code to be more modular, which would otherwise be hard to test. Test Driven Development helps you to learn, understand and imbibe the pivotal principles of good modular design.
  • TDD also powers good architecture and ensures proper modularization that makes your code unit-testable as writing the tests first tends to surface the architectural problems earlier in the development cycle.
  • TDD documents your code better than documentation. Also, there is no question of it going out-of-date since it is being run all the time
  • Test Driven Development makes maintenance and refactoring of code much easier. TDD helps to provide clarity during the implementation process and provides a safety-net when you want to refactor the code you’ve just written.
  • With TDD, collaboration becomes much easier and efficient. Moreover, team members can edit each other’s code with confidence as the tests notify them if the changes affect the code in unexpected ways.
  • TDD also helps in keeping defects at bay – in terms of helping you catch design or requirement issues right at the beginning, when they are much easier to fix.
  • TDD creates an automated regression test suite, saving you time on writing unit tests to test the implementation code, for free!
  • Requirements are clarified at the very beginning since you have to figure out concretely what inputs you have to feed and what outputs you expect.
  • Testing while writing also ensures that your interfaces are clean enough to be tested.

 Cons of Test Driven Development

  • The tests may be difficult to write, especially beyond the level of unit testing.
  • In the beginning, it may slow down development, but in the long run, it actually speeds up development.
  • The whole team needs to buy into Unit testing for it to work well.
  • TDD can be slightly challenging and intimidating to learn, especially on your own. Understanding it completely requires a lot of dedication, practice, persistence
  • Difficult to apply to existing and/or legacy code.
  • It can be easy to get distracted by the fancy features in the unit testing framework and lose sight of the simplicity of tests and their execution.
  • Even though it is absolutely necessary, building tests for failures can be tiresome, but it pays off big time in the end.
  • Early stage refactoring requires refactoring test classes as well.
  • Unless everyone on the team preserves their tests properly, the entire system can rapidly degrade.

Eliminating monotonous work has favorable effects for your team. It permits the team member to focus on performing the core activities needed for his/her work. Nevertheless, the choice depends on your context.

Need help with test driven development? Enlist the help of experts today!