Exploration Through Example

Example-driven development, Agile testing, context-driven testing, Agile programming, Ruby, and other things of interest to Brian Marick
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Sun, 16 Feb 2003

Test-first up close and personal

One thing I like to do (sometimes for pay, sometimes for fun) is to sit down with people and do some test-first programming. When I do it for pay, I try to have three people (including me) sit down around a terminal for three hours while we add some code test-first to their app. That works pretty well - I see the light go on in about half the people's eyes.

I did it for fun last week at Florida Tech. That really drove home, I think, what's right about the above approach:

  • By working on their app, their interest is immediately engaged. And it takes less time to explain their app to me than it does to explain my app to them. (That's partly that I'm better at knowing what I don't need to know, partly that my app is in Ruby and does use Ruby-isms. I enjoy explaining Ruby to people - and a lot of them get a Ruby-light in their eyes - but it's a bit off-topic.)
  • Three hours works better than an hour and a half. What with chatting, following digressions, and explaining background, an hour and a half isn't long enough to get through enough iterations. It makes the difference between something interesting they saw and something interesting they did.

It would be better to pair than triple, but there isn't usually enough of me to go around. I've found that more than a triple doesn't work - there's not enough physical space near the screen, so one person drifts to the edge of the group and doesn't get involved.

## Posted at 18:45 in category /testing [permalink] [top]

About Brian Marick
I consult mainly on Agile software development, with a special focus on how testing fits in.

Contact me here: marick@exampler.com.




Agile Testing Directions
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