Test Attributes – Introduction

Standard

When we write tests, we focus on the scenario we want to test, and then write that test.

Pretty simple, right?

That’s how are are minds work. we can’t focus on many things at the same time.

TDD acknowledges that and its incremental nature is built around it.

TDD or not, when we have a passing test, we should do an evaluation.

Start with this table:

Property
Description
Validity Does it test a valid scenario? Is this scenario always valid?
Readability Of course I understand the test now, but will someone else understand the test a year from now?
Speed How quickly does it run? Will it slow down an entire suite?
Accuracy When it fails, can I easily find the problem is in the code, or do I need to debug?
Differentiation How is this case different than its brothers? Can I understand just by looking at the tests?
Maintenance How much work will I need to do around this test when requirements change? How fragile is it?
Footprint Does the test clean after itself? Or does it leave files, registry handles, threads, or a memory blob that can affect other tests?
Truthiness
How much of the code is really executed? Would this test report true, while hiding a real problem?
Deterministic Does this test have dependencies (the computer clock, CPU, files, data) that can alter its result based on when or where it runs?
Isolation Does the test rely on a state that was not specified explicitly in it? If not, will the implicit state always be true?

If something’s not up to your standards (I’m assuming you’re a high standard professional) fix it.

Now, I hear you asking: Do all this for every test?

Let’s put it this way: If the test fails the evaluation, there’s going to be work later to fix it. When would you rather do it – now, when the test is fresh in your head, or later, when you have to dive in again, into code that you haven’t seen in 6 months, instead of working on the new exciting feature you want to work on?

It’s testing economics 101. Do it now.

Update: I’ve removed robustness (since it’s close to Maintenance) and added Truthiness.

For training and coaching on topics like this, contact me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *