“Test Driven Development by Example”

Kent Beck

‘By example’ books really aren’t my cup of tea—going back and forth between a book and the actual thing in order to follow along is too much overhead for either activity to work well, and just reading along without doing it myself leaves the book feeling rather anemic a lot of the time. That said, this book wasn’t terrible; I enjoyed Beck’s writing style throughout the whole first part, he did a good job livening it up with some personality so it didn’t feel like reading a WikiHow article. But where my interest really kicked in was in the third part, where it switched to more of a traditional Programming Book style, just dispensing a bunch of condensed advice.

There’s some good little tidbits in the earlier part, though; I think my favorite one was:

[Automated] tests are the Programmer’s Stone, transforming fear into boredom.

A great way to think about it! Write tests so that instead of worrying something will break as you continue working on it, you just go ‘meh, now I’ve gotta wait for the tests to run.’1

This was a quick read; if you’ve been doing some form of TDD, it probably won’t continua much that’s new, but it’s a nice way to get an overview. And if you aren’t doing TDD, go ahead and read it; as I said, it’s quick, and Beck makes a better case for TDD than I will in a single blog post. It’s available in the O’Reilly Library.

  1. Although, ideally, it’s not much of a wait – this is the benefit of unit tests, in particular, that you make them small and very quick to run, and with that you’re able to run the relevant segment of them after every change.