Saturday, August 11, 2007

Unit Testing Primer

(Breaking this article into smaller, more readable fragments. Blog-style!)

Unit-testing deals with the verification of what an unit can achieve on its own, without help from other units. In other words, assuming all the other modules required by the unit are available, can the unit achieve what it claims to do? This is the question that unit-testing seeks to answer.

I started off a skeptic, regarding the usefulness of having unit tests, seemed to be such a waste of time. What won me over? Simply put, it helps us to avoid stupid, elementary mistakes. But god knows (as do we!) how common those are, especially during bug-fixes!

My primary motivation to write this series of articles is to-
1) define the scope of a unit-test - There seems to be misconceptions about what unit-testing is all about, what a unit-test should and should not do,
2) list the benefits of unit-testing - there's more to it than meets the eye at first sight. All love is not at first-sight!
3) share my understanding(s) - I had great fun exploring unit-testing, especially regarding what could be achieved with dummy or mock versions of external functions (Harnesses)

Here goes...

Unit testing = Claim Validation

Diagnosis Limits

Unit Testing Environment

Test Scripts

Test Harnesses

Example (Read this first if you will!)

Unit-Testing Frameworks

Run the unit-test suite frequently and regularly, especially at integration-points to ensure that development is proceeding in the right direction. Unit-testing can go a long way in -
1) making your team's code bullet-proof and,
2) importantly, avoiding last-minute-release-time-chaos-induced bloopers.

I must also add here that I am not a fan (yet?) of test-driven development. I would recommend unit-testing for finding errors that could easily escape visual checks or code walk-throughs..

- Thomas Jay Cubb

Please also read Learning To Love Unit Testing.

TODO - Diagrams

1 comment:

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