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Arnon Rotem-Gal-Oz

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

TDD: Test Driven Debugging

November 22, 2008

Even if you don't write your tests first on a regular basis, you probably want to adopt that at least for debugging.

All the developers I know want to repro a bug before they make any changes to a the code (I know I do). When you write your test before you debug you do just that and you get several other benefits since you can 

  1. Make sure that the bug is indeed reproducable
  2. Easily (and repeatedly) step through your code to pinpoint the bug
  3. Verify that the bug is fixed
  4. Get a regression test to make sure the bug isn't reintroduced
The only question now is what is the difference between a bug and a new feature? 
One of my favorite things about UserVoice -- which we use for Stack Overflow -- is the way it intentionally blurs the line between bugs and feature requests. Users never understand the difference anyway, and what's worse, developers tend to use that division as a wedge against users. Nudge things you don't want to do into that "feature request" bucket, and proceed to ignore them forever. Argue strongly and loudly enough that something reported as a "bug" clearly isn't, and you may not have to to do any work to fix it. Stop dividing the world into Bugs and Feature Requests, and both of these project pathologies go away. (coding horror)

But that's something for another post :)

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