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Wed, 03 Dec 2003

This is an archived blog post. I've switched to using WordPress as my blogging software and have not migrated all my old posts. I believe strongly in not letting an old link die, so this page continues to work. Please do visit mikemason.ca/blog to read newer posts.

Fastest Developer in the West

Yesterday was XP Day here in London, and although I didn’t make it along during the day, I did get to the most important event – drinking in a pub afterwards. One of my colleagues was describing his experiences at one of ThoughtWorks’ clients, a large online banking organisation. He said that for every ten projects, only two will ever go live, and only one of those will survive long-term. How does that affect a team’s development strategy?

It was suggested that the fastest way of getting a prototype out of the door was to abandon XP practices like Test Driven Development, and revert back to just hacking the code until it works. I have to disagree – I really think that doing proper TDD and unit testing helps me write code fastest. If I don’t have tests, I will get lost, assuming the code I’m writing is even vaguely challenging. Maybe I can just bash out the code, but how long will testing it manually take? Probably at least as long as writing my unit tests. I could just hand the “completed” code to QA when I think I’m done, without performing any testing, but then they’re going to find glaring bugs in it and hand it back. Probably two weeks later when I’ve forgotten what I wrote. A long feedback cycle doesn’t help me deliver code quickly, and unit testing is the quickest way to get feedback.

We realised that ThoughtWorks isn’t a consultancy — it’s a self-help group for developers who are really testers. We should have these meetings where we sit round in a circle and say stuff like “My name’s Mike and I’m test infected.” I’ve been writing code with lots of tests ever since joining ThoughtWorks, and I don’t think I could go back…

Posted 17:41, 03 Dec 2003.  

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