Monday, January 24, 2011

Lean Development : Build Quality In

This is the fourth post in my mini-series about Lean Development.

The bullet point I'm going to be writing about today is:
  • Mistake-Proof with TDD; Write No New Legacy; Continuous Integration
TDD is "Test Driven Design". This means not only testing all your code, but writing your tests before you code. And letting your design be driven by the issues that arise while making these tests pass. This also holds for bug fixing -- create a test case that reproduces and narrows down the bug, then make that test pass.

"Write No New Legacy" means don't write code that is hard to maintain. This means modular and easily testable code. Make sure the hard bits of the code are documented.

Continuous Integration means that your code should be being built and tested on every check in. Broken builds should be addressed immediately. Implicit in this is some kind of version control system. Often this is a larger batch of tests than the specific unit / functional tests used while designing a single feature. Ideally this will run on multiple test systems, for each system you deploy to.

One idea behind these points is to make it hard for an unnoticed error to reach production. TDD makes it difficult to make the error in the first place. "Write No New Legacy" means you shouldn't have tricky untestable code paths to trip you up. "Continuous Integration" means you should never have a "broken system" on your hands.

The bigger idea behind these points is continuous improvement of the code-base. If all your tests from TDD get plugged into the continuous integration tests, then you should never have a bug reappear.This should give you confidence that your code is doing what it is supposed to do.

The final point is that these processes make it fast to track down a bug, less time hunting bugs means more time delivering real product.

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