When I started writing tests, around 2005, I was stoked just to have the tests.
When I started writing tests first, around 2006, I was excited because I was
Doing The TDD.
A couple of years later I found that writing tests was getting really painful.
Painful because they were so damn hard to set up, and painful because I had to
wait too damn long (on the order of 10-15 minutes) for the test suite to
run. I reacted to the pain by changing how I write my tests; I discovered mock
objects. My tests got faster, but they were still painful.
In 2008 I was talking with Corey Haines about test pain,
object-oriented design, and “listening” to the former to influence the latter.
Scott Bellware also contributed much insight, forcing me to really
think about what I hoped to gain from writing tests.
Those conversations help to crystallized it for me: the root cause of the pain
was not the tests, but the design of the code under test. I had been doing
test-first development, not test-driven design.
In the years since I’ve honed my technique for driving design by listening to
tests and I continue to seek out the ideas and experiences of other
fast test fanatics.
The Ruby and Rails communities have accelerated this path for many. I would
say it’s not uncommon for new folks to get started where I was in 2005 or
2006. What’s more exciting is the growing numbers who are starting to feel
some pain in how they test. The next step is to become more aware of that
pain; lower your pain threshold and then make it stop hurting!
It’s a journey
It was by no means an overnight endeavour. It literally took years of work for
me to figure this out, and I’m both happy and proud to say that I’m still
learning. I hope by putting my experience out there yours can be better,