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This man is corrupting the next generation….

Cay Horstmann, Professor of CS at San Jose State University, Sun Java Champion, and consultant in Internet Programming, says

I perform an occasional unit test after I’ve encountered a failure that I don’t want to have recur, but I rarely write the tests first. If so many experienced developers don’t write unit tests, what does that say? Maybe they would be even better developers if they followed Heinz’s advice. Maybe they don’t make many mistakes that unit tests would catch because they’re already experienced. The truth is probably somewhere in between.

What that says is that we work in a horribly inefficient industry where too many developers spend their time fixing bugs (using the debugger) sent back upstream by the testers, and it looks like there’s evidence to prove it.

via Kerry Jones


  1. Martin Cron says:

    There was a time when so many experienced surgeons didn’t wash their hands or sterilize instruments. So many experienced software developers don’t write tests because they got their experience when writing tests wasn’t a mainstream technique.

    That said, I think he’s just looking at it from a different perspective.

    For me, unit tests aren’t about making/finding mistakes. It’s about having a tight feedback loop to help me work on small, more easily understood pieces in isolation to help me prevent mistakes and encourage more robust code. I can’t hold the whole stack in my brain all at once so coding/testing in smaller pieces helps me overcome that limitation. Perhaps the super-brilliant developers don’t need that sort of enabling crutch. I know I do.

  2. True, and those surgeons killed a lot of people and ridiculed the people who did sterilise. Personally, I think he’s just out of date.

    I’ve only ever met one developer who could think for a while and then just type the code in. He worked on really hard stuff like constraint systems. The rest of us ought to write unit tests.

  3. Giovanni Asproni says:

    I think all developers should write unit tests, no matter how good they are. If the system stays around for enough time, somebody will have to add and remove functionality and fix bugs. The absence of unit tests can make maintanance a nightmare, even in the presence of some sort of system tests.

  4. This reminds me of an April 1st article in SDTimes… sort of scary when real life reminds you of an April fool’s joke 😉

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