Test-Driven Development: The Video Game

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Table of Contents

Introduction

A coworker and I recently presented this at our bi-weekly technical talk internally and I thought I’d share it as well.

The reasons for Test-Driven Development (TDD) are many - it helps a team maintain sustainable pace (an agile principle), it reduces cycle time when a bug arises, it provides code-as-documentation, helps create designs that conform to coding principles, makes refactoring a lot easier, and on and on and on

But how do we drive our development with tests?

The Theoretical

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Test-Driven Development: The Video Game

Roles

Ideally, you have two players, one who plays the role of the Forces of Order and one who plays the Forces of Chaos. If possible, physically pass the keyboard to the other player when your role is not in play. If you’re practicing this by yourself, try and switch mindsets by doing something like putting on a hat (or changing it), changing VS color schemes, or sitting in a different position.

Forces of Order (red)

  • Writes the test that brings ‘order’ to the application by placing constraints on the application from the business rules.
  • The test will fail because the production code is not yet written.

Forces of Chaos (green)

  • Writes the minimum amount of production code to make the test pass.
    • We’re serious, the minimum. Chaos is only concerned with getting the test to the green state.
  • “Quick and dirty” is okay here. We want to make our cycle time from red to green as short as possible.

Forces of Harmony (refactor)

  • Both forces of Order and Chaos come together to refactor the production code that was written.
  • Immediately commit the code - we want to be able to walk back any further changes in case things go in a direction Harmony doesn’t like.
  • Because the test is green, changing the quick and dirty solution into a clean and elegant solution is really easy. The test can be rerun to make sure it still (and other tests) does what we programmed it to do.
  • Don your original hats, themes, or sitting position and move to the next item.

Hints

  • The cycle time can be as low as seconds. The lower, the better!
  • Switch roles for double experience point gains.
  • Taking larger steps is okay when you’re comfortable with what you’re doing.

The Practical

View the repo here. The problem domain is simply the FizzBuzz common problem. Can you test drive a similar solution?

Lore

Our business needs some way to determine if a given number is a just a simple number, is capable of being Fizz, is capable of being Buzz, or if it’s a grand slam and is a complete FizzBuzz.

Bosses

  • Print the numbers 1 to 100.
  • If given a number divisible by three, the program should return the word “Fizz”.
    • 3, 6, 9, etc.
  • If given a number divisible by five, the program should return the word “Buzz”.
    • 5, 10, etc.
  • If given a number divisible by both three and five, the program should return the word “FizzBuzz”.
    • 15, 30, 45, etc.
  • Otherwise, just return the number itself.
    • 1, 2, 4, 6, etc.

Loot

  • Experience Points
  • Tower Shield of Test Coverage
  • Platemail of Dexterity
  • Barbute of Foresight
  • Boots of Velocity
  • Sword of Insect Slaying + 1
  • Legendary Scroll of Code Documentation

Some Notes

It’s absolutely okay to walk into TDD instead of run. By that, I mean write your production code first and then write your test. After all, having tests is always better than no tests at all. When you’re comfortable, try swapping the order that you do them in to train your mind to think about the problem from the opposite angle. Using techniques like writing out a list of test criteria before actually writing any code at all tends to help me visualize what needs accomplished.

Senior Application Developer

I’m a web developer who focuses mostly in the ASP.NET Core sphere. When not playing hard I enjoy reading, building computers, and spending time with my family.

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