Inching Towards Test-Driven Development (TDD)

The most striking part about MPJ’s series on unit testing is his biting and hilarious incarnating and characterization of the three most familiar voices in many developer’s minds: the anxious, the judge, and the over-engineer. Just watch one of the videos. Those names are my own, by the way. (Challenge: figure out which voice is which name I’ve given it!). Developing this further, I like to call them the Office of Sabotage. I actually thought of Amanda Palmer’s “fraud police” as I watched MPJ’s video for the first time.

I really could engage with the anxious voice today as I hunkered down to write some tests for a feature I’m pretty much done with. Yeah, I know, real TDD would have entailed to do it first! Baby steps, bro…

It wasn’t easy and felt clumsy as I tried to write the first suite. I wanted to start out with writing the tests straight in the testrunner (I’m starting out with mocha right now), but I had no idea how to start. Watching someone code doesn’t always translate to doing it myself. So, I took a step back and started thinking about the test cases by writing them in the same JavaScript file I wanted to test.

This became easier. I could see the code I was testing and it made it easier to work backwards.

Context: I’m writing tests for a feature that sends text messages using our internal system. There are three components:

  • the front end controller
  • the front end factory that calls the API controller
  • and, the API controller that consumes the back-end endpoint

As I ignored the Office of Sabotage’s attempts to… erm… sabotage me, a couple things occurred to me:

  1. We just assume that the API controller will always receive the POST parameters, there are no checks at all. Something I should cater for in a test…
  2. The error handling is a little clunky and not harmonized. It almost feels too brittle. Something to be dealt with in a test and maybe reworked in the refactor!

Today was just day 1. Tomorrow was a new day. When I got stuck, I fired up the video and just coded along.

Will report back (and write more about TDD)!


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