Tests are Theoretically Overhyped, Practically Under-Adopted

Test Driven or Behavior Driven Development has become enough of an orthodoxy that a small parade of posts like this one routinely make the front page of Hacker News.  Which is as it should be: orthodoxies ought to be questioned.

That said, in reading that post and all the others, I find myself underwhelmed.  Sure, it’s possible to imagine a world of crushing costs imposed by ridiculous testing burdens.  But at least in the Ruby world, with the ease of writing rspec tests, I don’t see it in practice.  The overwhelming practical problem remains getting developers to actually write tests for tricky, bug-prone behavior, and not “wasting time and money on pointless testing demanded by an out-of-touch dogma.”

There is a brand of developer who just deeply resents on an emotional level being made to write tests, and there is another brand of developer who would probably be fine with it, but doesn’t know how to write effective tests (it’s a skill!  And while it’s one that probably any otherwise decent developer can learn, you do have to actually learn it, it doesn’t just come to you instantly), and feels paralyzed and helpless when called to do so.  My experience is that those two types of developers currently make up a majority of all developers, so a dogma of insisting on testing remains practical, rather than constricting.


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