Most developers are familiar with test-driven development, but other team members may not be fully onboard. Product managers and stakeholders may think it adds unnecessary work and cost to a product, while designers, support teams, and other personnel may not feel like there’s any value added to their specific roles.
Let’s take a look at why these assumptions couldn’t be further from the truth and how you can get everyone on the same page.
Most developers are onboard with test-driven development, but it can be challenging to convince others of the benefits.
Imagine that you start work on a web application designed to track clients. At first, the requirements are very simple — you input clients and their projects. There is very little room for error and writing tests may seem like a waste of time. So, you decide to forgo writing tests in the interest of launching the application quickly.
Next month, there’s a request to add invoicing functionality to the application. These features significantly increase the complexity of the code and involve several third-party services, and suddenly, errors start appearing in production. Many of these errors stem from the code that you originally wrote — the simple code that seemingly had very little room for error.
Test-driven development, or TDD, avoids these problems by having developers write tests before writing code. As an application becomes more complex, these tests are automated to ensure that any new changes don’t break anything. Developers spend a lot more time focused on feature development rather than tracking down bugs.
Studies have shown that TDD increases initial development time by 15 to 35 percent, but development teams experience a 40 to 90 percent reduction in pre-release defects as a result of the improved approach. The reduction in bugs can significantly cut down on development timelines as bugs can be much more time-consuming than features.
Developers are the most obvious beneficiaries of test-driven development. While they have to write more code at an early stage, they save time over the long run by avoiding the introduction of defects. Quality assurance engineers and test engineers also benefit by having automated ways to identify defects rather than relying on manual processes.
Product managers benefit from greater visibility into development timelines. By minimizing regressions, there’s less of a chance that a random defect will pull a developer away from another task and derail the project timeline. Managers can have much greater confidence that a product can be delivered on-time, on-budget and free from defects.
Stakeholders benefit from lower long-term costs and a superior product with fewer defects. While testing costs more upfront, it minimizes the amount of time that developers spend addressing bugs, reduces the number of bugs reaching production and makes project timelines more predictable to keep a launch on schedule.
Other beneficiaries of software testing include:
- Domain Experts ensure that the functionality they request is correctly communicated, properly implemented and fully functional.
- Users experience a product that has fewer defects and accomplishes the tasks that they actually need.
- UX Designers experience more stable requirements that don’t change as frequently since everyone is on the same page.
Behavior-driven development, or BDD, can amplify the benefits of testing software by improving communication. Like TDD, BDD processes involve an extra setup before development begins, but this step ensures that everyone is on the same page before development work begins on a feature — saving time and money.
The BDD process is typically divided into two steps:
- Deliberate Discovery
- Test-Driven Development
Many software projects go awry because there are differing opinions about how the software should behave. Using deliberate discovery meetings, team members can ensure that they’re on the same page by coming up with concrete examples. This is often done using processes like Example Mapping to brainstorm any possible miscommunications.
Next, test-driven development principles are applied to convert these concrete examples into executable specifications. Using a BDD framework, such as Cucumber, and a domain specific language, like Gherkin, you can automatically run these executable specifications like you would any other tests, such as unit tests or integration tests.
The BDD process ensures that the software’s features are always tied to specific user goals and benefits. In addition, it ensures that everyone on the team has the same understanding of how the software should behave. This helps minimize the odds of writing any necessary or incorrect code that needs to be rewritten down the road.
HipTest is a collaboration platform designed to empower behavior-driven development. Within the web-based platform, anyone can define acceptance criteria, execute automated tests, and generate living documentation — all without the need to know how to read code. This opens the door to much easier collaboration with non-technical team members.
HipTest also helps development teams cut down on the time it takes to translate meeting insights into actionable BDD processes. Rather than spending hours translating requirements, tests can be input in plain English and exported to executable code using HipTest Publisher. You can spend minutes doing what used to take hours.
Screenshot of the HipTest Platform – Source: HipTest
HipTest also integrates with over 20 different testing frameworks, including Cucumber, Specflow, Java/Junit, Selenium, TestComplete, and others. You can even integrate the tests with Jenkins, Bamboo, TravisCI, Shippable, and other CI/CD pipelines to bring all of your tests under a single umbrella and ensure nothing breaks in production.
The living documentation feature also makes it easy for anyone to understand what a product does and verify that everything is working. For example, a product manager can easily see where development is at with key features, while support personnel can see if a particular piece of functionality is done when communicating with customers.
Software testing may seem like a waste of time, but it actually benefits almost everyone inside of an organization — and even end users. Behavior-driven development amplifies these benefits by improving communication and getting everyone on the same page before a single line of code is written, which reduces long-term time and cost.
By minimizing misunderstandings and knowing that everything is working, you can create a much better user experience and spend less time troubleshooting bugs.
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