By Akshay Iyer
As an agile scrum master, Test Driven Development (TDD) is a process that is present in many of the projects that I’ve been a part of in my career. TDD is important in development as it improves specific code and requirements, assuring that the development cycles are successful. As a team, using TDD comes with its advantages, disadvantages, and overall successes. Continue reading to find out more about how TDD drives efficiency in agile development.
The Importance of TDD
In agile, and especially scrum, the idea is to have work delivered iteratively. The main focus is on delivering a minimum viable product in every sprint. So essentially, my team delivers small chunks of the application in phases. That apart, since scrum is time-boxed, and design, development and testing happen altogether in a sprint, it is pivotal that the code is robust and has a bug-free design. Delivering in this way saves the team time in rework and prevents rollovers. This is where TDD comes in. TDD is important in this process because it reduces bugs and boosts the code’s quality. When we begin using TDD, we write a negative test case and only then write our production code. We would only write enough code necessary to pass the “failed test”. Once this is complete, we refactor the code as needed.
Advantages and Successes of Using TDD
One of the biggest advantages in using TDD in a project is that it significantly reduces the time used for debugging code. In a typical agile and/or scrum environment, design, development and testing occurs in two weeks. In the process of application development, the developer writes and tests the code before passing it on to QA. QA is responsible for testing and finding any defects within the code. If any issues are found, the code is sent back to the developer to be revised. It sometimes becomes a problem to complete everything on time within the two-week interval. The advantage of TDD, in this scenario, is that it decreases the time needed to debug the code if necessary because it promises a reliable and robust design to start with.
Another advantage of using TDD is that it provides better traction and control of the code. Overall, it makes the coding modular and promotes a good architecture. For instance, when we have an improved design, TDD helps us understand the architecture better because we are focusing on specific functionalities. It helps developers understand the code before they even start building it. As a consequence, it exposes the possible problems that the code may have. The overall process helps with the comprehension of requirements and with refactoring as well.
Using TDD to pinpoint the bugs and issues with code drives success for the developer. TDD helps developers comprehend the requirements and code more efficiently. It ensures success in the long run.
Disadvantages of TDD
With TDD, there is an initial downtime. There are also issues with non-deterministic testing and writing quality unit-tests that can be relatively hard. When implementing TDD for the first time, it takes some time to comprehend and implement. This seems like a nuisance at first, as the benefit of TDD is only seen much later on in the process. It takes practice to perfect TDD, and the entire team needs to adopt the process, or else we won’t see tangible benefits.
TDD also requires frequent maintenance of the test suite. In agile, requirements are constantly changing and evolving. TDD faces possible disadvantages in agile due to these changes. When a new requirement comes in, the code and tests must change with it. This constraints the developers with more work if this occurs.
How TDD Drives Efficiency
When adopting agile principles, there is the possibility of mounting technical debt that could impact the scrum process. Test Driven Development helps with efficiency in a way that it reduces these technical debts and defects significantly, thus streamlining the process. It supports code changes much quicker as well. There is an incremental improvement in the software quality and repeating short cycles of testing for a particular feature aids in reducing significant resource effort and time later. Holistically speaking, the use of TDD drives efficiency and allows one to see quantifiable and tangible results.
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