[TIP] testing: why bother?

Alfredo Deza alfredodeza at gmail.com
Wed Mar 23 07:40:53 PDT 2011

On Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 10:22 AM, Jonathan Lange <jml at mumak.net> wrote:

> On Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 2:09 PM, C. Titus Brown <ctb at msu.edu> wrote:
> ...
> > (Since I like to argue with Michael...)
> >
> > IMO, TDD is too big a leap for people without a fair amount of
> > programming experience.  However, once you have a bit of testing
> > under your belt, TDD becomes much easier to justify.
> >
> What makes you say that, other than an entirely understandable desire
> to argue with Michael?
> I have actually been thinking recently that if I were to have the
> opportunity to teach programming to a beginner then I would like to
> try starting with TDD (& probably also VCS) from the very beginning. I
> have recently watched a couple of novice programmers suffer through
> their formal instruction, largely because they were always piling
> uncertainty upon uncertainty. When doing assignments, they would add
> some code that they thought worked, then some more code that they
> thought worked, then some more, and then after a few hours of
> difficult thinking and coding they would try to run the code and then
> see that it doesn't work and then be very upset.

That might work for someone who is starting out as a programmer and has
hard-wired bad practices in its head.

I would've loved to have taken that road when I started learning but
unfortunately I learned
the hard way tripping over my mistakes.

*That* is the crowd I have: they have learned mostly by themselves with
little guidance and obviously
with no one to tell them why they should be writing tests.

TDD will probably not have the effect I want on them because of the coding
level they are. My guess is that if they are
able to try it out then they can evolve to TDD (like Titus says) later on.

> My hypotheses are that if they were taught to do TDD, this would be
> much less of a problem, and that the relatively rigid discipline of
> TDD makes it teachable even to programming novices.
> I guess this is wandering rather far off topic, but I would be very
> interested to hear from anyone who has tried this.
> jml
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