Swizec Teller - a geek with a hatswizec.com

    Unit testing is anti-productive

    • Salish Mist
      Salish Mist

      Image by ecstaticist via Flickr

    Today I finally got my feet wet with something I've been meaning to try on for size ever since reading Clean Code, during my trip to Vienna last autumn; wow has it really been that long already, where'd winter and spring hide?

    Anyway, so at about midnight last night I finally embarked on the process of coding up a new feature for Twitulater, or at least its server-side bits, after some prep work. Now since this is a rather mission critical system that I'd very much like to be somewhat reliable and rock-solid, unit testing seemed to be the way to go.

    Downloading PHPUnit gave me some headaches, because ubuntu's package managers fucked something up. Why is it I can't install Pear if there are broken packages for something completely different? Then came the figuring out of how to actually do unit testing and I must say, it was incredibly simple. Of course I did have eight months' time for the principles grokked from Clean Code to seep in, but still.

    Mostly I was suprised to finally confirm that I have been doing test driven development (TDD for you acronym junkies) for a long while. Just in reverse. Whereas now, with automated unit tests, I first write a test, then the code, I used to write the code then test the hell out of it. With PHPUnit testing has become much less of a hassle - run a command, make sure everything works. Nice!

    However, unit testing has one large drawback. It took me a solid six hours of coding to produce ... nothing. I have in my possession now 200 lines of real code that doesn't implement much other than making sure users exist and authenticating them, and a bunch of tests taking up a full ... 170 lines of code. This is of course after some refactoring and whatnot, the original ratio was always that there were twice as many tests as there was actual code. Yummie.

    Now I'm sure many of you will bash me for being such a dirty little blasphemer, but fuck it. Despite all the headaches saved with testing, despite making testing a lot simpler and quicker. It still took me SIX BLOODY HOURS to create some functionality that never used to take more than two hours to code and debug.

    Did you enjoy this article?

    Published on June 23rd, 2009 in food for thought, Programming, testing, Twitulater, Uncategorized,

    Learned something new?
    Read more Software Engineering Lessons from Production

    I write mindblowing emails with real insight into the career and skills of a modern software engineer. "Raw and honest from the heart!" as one reader described them. Fueled by lessons learned over 20 years of building production code for side-projects, small businesses, and hyper growth startups. Both successful and not.

    Subscribe below 👇

    Software Engineering Lessons from Production

    Join Swizec's Newsletter and get mindblowing emails 💌 on mindsets, tactics, and technical skills for your career. Real lessons from building production software. No bullshit.

    "Man, love your simple writing! Yours is the only newsletter I open and only blog that I give a fuck to read & scroll till the end. And wow always take away lessons with me. Inspiring! And very relatable. 👌"

    ~ Ashish Kumar

    Join 15,883+ engineers learning lessons from my "raw and honest from the heart" emails.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨
    4.5 stars average rating

    Have a burning question that you think I can answer? Hit me up on twitter and I'll do my best.

    Who am I and who do I help? I'm Swizec Teller and I turn coders into engineers with "Raw and honest from the heart!" writing. No bullshit. Real insights into the career and skills of a modern software engineer.

    Want to become a true senior engineer? Take ownership, have autonomy, and be a force multiplier on your team. The Senior Engineer Mindset ebook can help 👉 swizec.com/senior-mindset. These are the shifts in mindset that unlocked my career.

    Curious about Serverless and the modern backend? Check out Serverless Handbook, for frontend engineers 👉 ServerlessHandbook.dev

    Want to Stop copy pasting D3 examples and create data visualizations of your own? Learn how to build scalable dataviz React components your whole team can understand with React for Data Visualization

    Want to get my best emails on JavaScript, React, Serverless, Fullstack Web, or Indie Hacking? Check out swizec.com/collections

    Want to brush up on modern JavaScript syntax? Check out my interactive cheatsheet: es6cheatsheet.com

    Did someone amazing share this letter with you? Wonderful! You can sign up for my weekly letters for software engineers on their path to greatness, here: swizec.com/blog

    Want to brush up on your modern JavaScript syntax? Check out my interactive cheatsheet: es6cheatsheet.com

    By the way, just in case no one has told you it yet today: I love and appreciate you for who you are ❤️

    Created by Swizec with ❤️