Still doing the code first, tests after at work and I’m really starting to see the benefits from it. Test driven development is fine, but most of our recent issues — excess logging or errors that are false positives — have nothing to do with buggy business logic. It’s true that you can catch these in unit tests (although I find them to be the worst possible tests to write) but I think you gain a lot more just from launching the application and seeing it run.

Now granted, it’s not always possible to do this with micro-services. There’s always some dependency you need, and setting all these up is a bit of a pain. That’s probably why I deferred all my manual testing to the end, when I’ve pushed my changes to get them reviewed and deployed it to the environment. Do a quick cursory test from the frontend just to make sure it hasn’t broken anything, then move on to the next task.

I think this way of working was a mistake. This is something frontend developments get right: you need to run your software while you’re working on it. It’s so important to see not just how well it works, but how it feels to work1: what goes to the log, how fast it performs, etc. You don’t get this feeling from just depending on unit tests.

Plus, there’s always a nice buzz to see the thing you’re working on run for the first time. That magic seems to decay the further you are from where it’s running. It just becomes another cog in the system. And maybe that’s what it’s destined to be, but it doesn’t need to be this way while you’re working on it.

  1. I don’t know of a better way to say this other than “how it feels to work”. I suppose I could use boring words like “tight iteration loop” but there are too many boring words on the blog already. ↩︎