Rachel M. Carmena

Test-driven programming workflows

Once upon a time …

Have you seen the last idea by Kent Beck?

Do you understand it?

TCR? Must we stop doing TDD?

Those are the questions that a friend of mine asked me in a restaurant.

I find it difficult to explain certain things without a drawing and, in this case, the last idea by Kent Beck was a new thing for me as well.

So, I started drawing on the paper tablecloth.

Oh! Wait! It reminds me Taking Baby Steps by Adrian Bolboaca

After a few minutes:

We are used to seeing the TDD diagram with the 3 steps (RED, GREEN and REFACTOR), but different things can happen between those steps

I think it would be a good idea to have these workflows in a digital format

A few days later:

Oh! We read too quickly. TCR was formulated by Oddmund Strømme, Ole Tjensvoll Johannessen and Lars Barlindhaug during a code camp with Kent Beck

It comes from the idea of “test && commit” by Kent Beck

The goal

The goal is to see the differences between test-driven programming workflows clearly:

  • Test-driven development (TDD) by Kent Beck
  • Using constraints to force yourself to do small steps:

Recently I added 3 further workflows. They come from the idea of TCR, but trying not to miss the RED step:

The result

The diagrams to see the differences between the previous test-driven programming workflows:

Test-driven programming workflows

Test-driven programming workflows in PNG Test-driven programming workflows in SVG

Test-driven programming workflows with TCR variants

Test-driven programming workflows with TCR variants in PNG Test-driven programming workflows with TCR variants in SVG

And I recorded this short video to explain the diagram, because it’s invisible for some people with disabilities:

The video doesn’t have one detail between writing the test code and writing just enough code to pass the test, which is included in the last version of the diagram. With TDD without constraints and Taking Baby Steps constraint, we check the result of running tests after writing the test code:

  • RED: go to the next step, writing just enough code to pass the test
  • GREEN: rethink the test

However, the result of running tests is not checked with TCR, between writing the test code and writing just enough code to pass the test.

Other things

About missing the RED step with TCR

When Kent Beck shared this video about an example of TCR, Danil Suits pointed out his way of doing the RED step at Software Crafters Slack:

  • Inverting the conditional when introducing the broken test
  • Proving that the old implementation doesn’t pass the test

In this way, as Danil Suits said, “if you are wrong about the current implementation failing your new test, the test gets thrown out”.

Maybe we are not missing the RED step, because we have a way of knowing that our new test is right: if a new test is GREEN it’s as bad as if the negation of the new test is RED.

I would like to practice this idea in order to check if it can be widely applied. Meanwhile, here the diagrams with this idea:

On the other hand, Oddmund Strømme shared a TCR variant:

My proposal of TCR variant

Besides the concern with the RED step, I would like not to miss the feedback between:

  • RED: changes are reverted
  • Starting again
    • GREEN: now it works, but I don’t know the difference with previous step
    • or RED: it doesn’t still work, I see the result of tests before reverting, but I don’t know the difference with previous step

So, I’d prefer:

test && commit || stash

because stash implies a final git reset --hard as well (code will have to be written again), but we keep the feedback.

What would be the implementation of commit and stash steps to get that feedback?

commit step

#!/bin/sh

if [ -z "$(git stash list)" ]; then
    echo "*** NO PREVIOUS STASHED SOURCE CODE ***"
else
    echo "*** DIFF WITH PREVIOUS STASHED SOURCE CODE ***"
    git stash show
    echo "*** END OF DIFF ***"
    git stash clear
fi
git add .
git commit -m "Message doesn't matter here"

Message doesn’t matter in that step, because commits will be squashed with the right message before pushing.

stash step

#!/bin/sh

if [ -z "$(git stash list)" ]; then 
    echo "*** NO PREVIOUS STASHED SOURCE CODE ***"
    git stash
else
    echo "*** DIFF WITH PREVIOUS STASHED SOURCE CODE ***"
    git stash show
    echo "*** END OF DIFF ***"
    git stash clear
    git stash
fi

Further knowledge

Other resources

Acknowledgments

Thanks Software Crafters Community for all the received feedback.

Special thanks to Dave Schinkel, Fran Reyes, Rémy Sanlaville, Xavier Detant, Jeff Grigg and Danil Suits.

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Published: 13 November 2018
Last updated: 16 May 2019