Microsoft Cloud Authors: Nick Basinger, Kevin Benedict, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Lori MacVittie

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Microsoft Cloud: Article

Test-Driven C# Designed to Improve Design and Flexibility

Tools Available for C++ and Java As Well

Wouldn't you just love to create code that becomes easier to work with as the project matures rather than more difficult? This is the question posed by authors Will Stott and James Newkirk in a new article published by MSDN, the Microsoft Journal for Developers.

The authors say that test-driven development (TDD) alters the process of writing code so that change is not only possible, but desirable. Development revolves around three basic activities: writing a test, writing code to pass the test, and refactoring the code to banish duplication to make it simpler, more flexible, and easier to understand.

This cycle is repeated frequently, each time running all the tests in order to ensure that the product is kept in a working state. The long gaps between the design, coding, and testing phases are gone, thus making for a much better learning environment. Therefore, your design (and code) actually improves rather than degrades as the project matures.

What makes TDD so effective is the automation of your programmer (unit) tests, they say, "and the great news" is that the only tools you need are available for free on the Internet.

These are not reduced functionality versions of a commercial product, but high-quality software made available by fellow developers. This article explains how you can obtain and use NUnit to practice TDD for development with C# (or any Microsoft .NET Framework-based language). Note that similar tools are available for C++ and Java developers, as they are for most other languages and operating systems. The ready availability of such tools gives TDD a universal appeal which, combined with its close association with extreme programming, has done much to encourage its use.

The authors go on to say that most traditional software processes are based on the assumption that you can get the design right in the beginning and then pass it through the development machine to generate a perfect product. This is a production-line mentality that values uniformity and minimizes variation. Such processes don't value communication and feedback in the same way that TDD does, so they are less effective at both generating information (failing tests) and allowing people to learn from it (fixing the design).

The full article can be found at http://msdn.microsoft.com/msdnmag/issues/04/04/ExtremeProgramming/

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