How to unit test and practice test-driven development
How to unit test and practice test-driven development?
A developer wastes an average of 17.3 hours every week for code maintenance
Improving code quality is not easy at all, and managing code for smells, security vulnerabilities and duplications takes forever if not written right. But one thing that consumes most of the time is testing. Developers approach programming by writing code, completing the project and then testing the whole software for bugs and issues. This increases the technical debt, costs, and inefficiency. While this may look bad, testing is the most important part of software development. That’s why we discuss how to get a greater advantage by performing unit tests and following a test-driven environment.
Unit test is when separate or a single block of code is tested. This is done during the process of development by the developer and not afterward. It has the aim of analyzing a section of code to verify it’s correctness. A unit test is the first level testing done before integration testing. If a developer thinks that evading unit testing is acceptable, then they are wrong as it will only create problems in future testing.
Unit tests are crucial as they are used to create the early documentation of code. It helps us find bugs early and hence reduce the cost of bug fixing as we know that bugs become more expensive to fix as the code becomes bigger later in a software lifecycle.
Unit tests are easy and simple to perform.
They follow these three practices:
- Collect and Arrange: Unit tests are all about focussing on one section of code. Before writing the tests make a perimeter around the section you want to test.
- Write test: Self-explanatory but not to forget that tests should only involve one assertion. In simple words that means they should only target one function. It makes checking code an easier task. Also, remember not to write bulky tests as unit tests also contribute to your technical debt.
- Recognize and Report: Once the results of tests are available, make appropriate changes and document into logs for future help.
While these steps look easier to implement, there is a better way to write code. We have been doing write and test so far but not to forget that tests itself involve writing more code. For better results and efficient coding, developers use the method of test and write which is also known as test-driven development (TDD).
TDD is a part of agile development where developers write code only when a test fails. A programmer writes a test first, even for the smallest of functionality and runs it to get an obvious fail. Then the programmer writes code only to satisfy the test. The tests are simple and define only one thing – what the code will do. It helps to avoid code smells, mainly the duplicate code as the tests are written for single functionality and are themselves minimal. This type of programming came to practice because of an observation that tests are nothing but a list of requirements conditions. Our code passes when it fulfills all conditions.
TDD follows an agile method of developing code and here we list down 6 practices to follow while using TDD:
- Plan the series of tests: Test first programming is beneficial to write cleaner codes because we know what are the conditions we need to fulfill. To get greater results from TDD, create a whole roadmap of how the code will be written. This involves identifying functionality and then devising separate tests for all.
- Use significant names: Good names are important to any function and hence are important to tests as well. Methods, classes, and objects with good names are identifiable easily and highly readable. We use the right names for tests for the same reason, so that when the time they can be removed. The name of a test must be similar to the name of the class or the method you’re testing. For example, if the method is getID then the test name should be getIDtest.
- Avoid Complexity: Simpler tests are easy to read and also write. As discussed above, the test is still a technical debt as they are extra lines of code that do no get removed till the last stage of development. Though being simple, tests still need to cover all the functionality conditions that a block of code contains.
- One Functionality, One Test: TDD is a form of Unit Test. The driven in the TDD means that to write code, you need to write the test first. And the best way to do is by focussing on only single functionality. Create a test that focuses on only one cause but sometimes one test is not enough. For some functionalities, there have to be multiple tests.
- Only write code when a test fails: The first step after creating a test is to run it blank and get obvious errors. These errors become a checklist for you to write code that can solve them. But stick to fulfilling the checklist strictly and don’t sway away with your writing skills. The whole point of TDD is to write minimal code that does the total and only thing asked them off.
- Keep TDD Automated: Writing tests can be time-consuming especially if you are working on a big project. That’s why use an automated code testing tool that finds errors from the code like. An example of such an automated tool is Codegrip.
Sign Up with GitHub, Bitbucket or Gitlab to get a free trial of our automated code review tool, Codegrip
CodeGrip reads your code line by line and word by word to figure out where the issue is located. Once that error is found , developers can fix this or use CodeGrip’s suggested answers to know what type of error. It also allows deeper detail and fixes for your code. Automation saves time and energy, and softwares like CodeGrip which fits prefectly.
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