by Leon Rosenshein

Missing Tests


Unit tests can do a lot of different things. Of course, they make sure things work the way you want them to at the beginning. They can provide documentation (and sample code) for your users. Your happy path tests are written the way the code should be used by customers, right? They can just look at the examples.

Unit tests are also great for debugging. If you’re going to be debugging you’re going to need a simple repro case so you can inspect the situation. One easy way to implement that repro case is with a unit test. After all, the fact that the bug got to users means that you missed an important unit test, so this is your chance to fill that gap.

Of course, now that you’re written the new unit test, your tests don’t pass anymore. So what’s a poor developer to do? You do the same thing you always do when a change in the code causes a test to fail. Just to be clear, that should not be to disable the test. No, you get out your favorite debugger and see where the problem is. Once you find the problem, you fix it. And make sure that your fix doesn’t cause any other tests to fail.

In case you were wondering, there’s a name for that style of development. It’s called Test Driven Development.

Finally, once you fix that bug, you’ll find that what you think is a bug is a feature to someone and they still want it to work the old way.