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InfoQ Homepage Presentations Testing is Overrated

Testing is Overrated

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Bio

Luke Francl is a developer at Slantwise Design (http://slantwisedesign.com) and sometimes tech writer. Luke is a frequent presenter at the Ruby Users of Minnesota, and has also presented at CodeCon, MinneBar, Ostrava on Rails, and acts_as_conference. He blogs at Rail Spikes (http://railspikes.com) and Just Looking (http://justlooking.recursion.org).

About the conference

RubyFringe is an avant-garde conference for developers that are excited about emerging Ruby projects and technologies. They're mounting a unique and eccentric gathering of the people and projects that are driving things forward in our community.

Recorded at:

Jan 02, 2009

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Community comments

  • Missed the point

    by Channing Walton /

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    TDD is not just about testing, it’s a design technique.

  • Interesting

    by Prajwal Tuladhar /

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    Interesting presentation and good sense of humor while presenting

  • Re: Missed the point

    by Clinton Begin /

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    Agreed.

  • Progress?

    by Christoph Henrici /

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    It is really astonishing where the scripting languages are getting too and selling it progress....

  • Re: Missed the point

    by Franz Allan See /

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    (Unit) Testing is not about getting all bugs at once. It's about getting (and fixing) bugs fast (even if you don't do TDD).

    When you write a code with test, other developers can go in and change it and see if they broke anything functionality that you did.

    And if during the course of usage, a bug arises, you can debug your code easier if you have tests all around. Because those states who are not tested are most likely be the suspect (thereby decreasing the states that you have to go through).

    Having unit tests will not guarantee a bug-free system. But it should speed things up in fixing them.

  • testing is just a substitute

    by Eirik Maus /

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    ... for real-world feedback. It is a substitute that is repeatable and instantaneous and with no damage done.

    Exposure to the real world is actually better, since it better (very effective, actually) to find errors in the specifications. However, making errors in the real world, when you are developing money-moving software with more than 10 digits for the amount, is not so practical.

  • Re: Missed the point

    by Markus Kohler /

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    Agreed.
    Without good unit testing, refactorings are suicide.

  • Value of testing

    by Tony Ambrozie /

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    I will take this (humorous but well argued) presentation as really a re-affirmation of the valuable but within-limits benefits of unit testing. As with any good thing, we have to be careful to clearly set expectations of its limitations: I agree that metrics get sometimes out of hand and become meaningless, I also agree that you can't test what wasn't implemented and should have and that unit code testing does not replace end-user testing.

    With that said, code testing does improve quality of implemented code and features (in my own experience), it provides a firm base to validate the aging code (as during refactoring) and new features against and, not lastly, provides a form of code documentation (most importantly the intention behind the code -- not just mere comments in code -- which will be valuable years later, as some code runs and it is maintained by many people for long periods of time.) I would not discard here the sense of confidence good tests passed inspire in developers, especially important during difficult project periods. I would also think that scripting/dynamic languages need more testing because of the absent/reduced compiler-supported validation. The problem with insufficient negative case testing -- testing for what could go wrong -- comes from the fact that, in reality, too little attention is given to that -- starting with requirements, use cases, etc -- at a project/product technical and management level, and that is something we can do something about.

    I have not seen code reviews ensure quality of code in a sustainable manner, either as a code reviewer or reviewee -- unless if that is part of pair-programming -- but that could be subjective.

    To conclude, I believe we should be doing (more) testing but understand and act upon its limitations and benefits vs. costs for each particular situation.

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