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Mini-Review of Kent Beck’s TDD Screencast Episode 1: Starter Test

2010 October 14
by Nayan Hajratwala

Yesterday, I picked up the “box set” of Kent Beck‘s Test Driven Development screencast series. For $25, you get about 1.5 hours of “over the shoulder” perspective from one of the masters. I figured that even if it was horrible (unlikely), it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

Here then, are some observations I had after watching the first screencast:

I was immediately surprised to see Kent’s Eclipse setup. He uses a non-monospaced font in the java editor, which I had not seen before. It seems a little easier on the eyes than the monospaced”Menlo” that I use in my editor. After watching, I played around with some new fonts, but couldn’t find one that looked good. I should probably find out which one he uses.

Kent also keeps his JUnit view minimized, and simply monitors it’s progress by the red/green color of the icon. I’m used to keeping the view open so I can see the errors that show up. Maybe that’s a smell that I’m having too much red during my TDD.

I was interested to see that Kent described TDD as having the following 3 steps:

  1. Developers write automated tests as they go
  2. Tests are written in advance of the code
  3. Design a little at a time

I’ve always described the TDD steps as Red/Green/Refactor and I found his description to be a little harder to think of as “steps of the process”. During the screencast, he also didn’t emphasize things like “now let’s write a failing test”, “let’s get it to pass”, etc. It was much more casual. Perhaps this style makes it more accessible to newcomers.

The first test that Kent wrote was actually what I consider an “Integration Test”, as it hit a network resource. It sounds like he’s going to address this in “part 2″, and I suppose it wouldn’t make much sense to immediately introduce mocks when trying to explain the basics.

Kent appears to use something like the “TDD like you meant it” approach, which I’ve also begun to favor recently.

Overall, it was really nice seeing how fluid and natural his style of development was and I’m looking forward to picking up some more tips from the next episode (in a few minutes).