The Clean Coder: A Code of Conduct for Professional Programmers
Estimate = Distribution
List Of Warnings For Software Professionals
Design patterns. You ought to be able to describe all 24 patterns in the GOF book and have a working knowledge of many of the patterns in the POSA books.
Design principles. You should know the SOLID principles and have a good understanding of the component principles.
Methods. You should understand XP, Scrum, Lean, Kanban, Waterfall, Structured Analysis, and Structured Design.
Disciplines. You should practice TDD, Object-Oriented design, Structured Programming, Continuous Integration, and Pair Programming.
Artifacts: You should know how to use: UML, DFDs, Structure Charts, Petri Nets, State Transition Diagrams and Tables, flow charts, and decision tables.
Test, Test and Test Again
First, your code must work. You must understand what problem you are solving and understand how to solve that problem. You must ensure that the code you write is a faithful representation of that solution. You must manage every detail of that solution while remaining consistent within the language, platform, current architecture, and all the warts of the current system.
Your code must solve the problem set for you by the customer. Often the customer’s requirements do not actually solve the customer’s problems. It is up to you to see this and negotiate with the customer to ensure that the customer’s true needs are met.
Your code must fit well into the existing system. It should not increase the rigidity, fragility, or opacity of that system. The dependencies must be well-managed. In short, your code needs to follow solid engineering principles.
Your code must be readable by other programmers. This is not simply a matter of writing nice comments. Rather, it requires that you craft the code in such a way that it reveals your intent. This is hard to do. Indeed, this may be the most difficult thing a programmer can master.If you are tired or distracted,do not code. You’ll only wind up redoing what you did. Instead, find a way to eliminate the distractions and settle your mind.
Stop The Presses!
Acceptance Tests and Unit TestsAcceptance tests are not unit tests. Unit tests are written by programmers for programmers. They are formal design documents that describe the lowest level structure and behavior of the code. The audience is programmers, not business.Acceptance tests are written by the business for the business (even when you, the developer, end up writing them). They are formal requirements documents that specify how the system should behave from the business’ point of view. The audience is the business and the programmers.It can be tempting to try to eliminate “extra work” by assuming that the two kinds of tests are redundant. Although it is true that unit and acceptance tests often test the same things, they are not redundant at all.First, although they may test the same things, they do so through different mechanisms and pathways. Unit tests dig into the guts of the system making calls to methods in particular classes. Acceptance tests invoke the system much farther out, at the API or sometimes even UI level. So the execution pathways that these tests take are very different.But the real reason these tests aren’t redundant is that their primary function is not testing. The fact that they are tests is incidental. Unit tests and acceptance tests are documents first, and tests second. Their primary purpose is to formally document the design, structure, and behavior of the system. The fact that they automatically verify the design, structure, and behavior that they specify is wildly useful, but the specification is their true purpose.
GUIs and Other ComplicationsIt is hard to specify GUIs up front. It can be done, but it is seldom done well. The reason is that the aesthetics are subjective and therefore volatile. People want to fiddle with GUIs. They want to massage and manipulate them. They want to try different fonts, colors, page-layouts, and workflows. GUIs are constantly in flux.This makes it challenging to write acceptance tests for GUIs. The trick is to design the system so that you can treat the GUI as though it were an API rather than a set of buttons, sliders, grids, and menus. This may sound strange, but it’s really just good design.There is a design principle called the Single Responsibility Principle (SRP). This principle states that you should separate those things that change for different reasons, and group together those things that change for the same reasons. GUIs are no exception.The layout, format, and workflow of the GUI will change for aesthetic and efficiency reasons, but the underlying capability of the GUI will remain the same despite these changes. Therefore, when writing acceptance tests for a GUI you take advantage of the underlying abstractions that don’t change very frequently.For example, there may be several buttons on a page. Rather than creating tests that click on those buttons based on their positions on the page, you may be able to click on them based on their names. Better yet, perhaps they each have a unique IDthat you can use. It is much better to write a test that selects the button whose ID is ok_button than it is to select the button in column 3 of row 4 of the control grid.
Testing through the Right InterfaceBetter still is to write tests that invoke the features of the underlying system through a real API rather than through the GUI. This API should be the same API used by the GUI. This is nothing new. Design experts have been telling us for decades to separate our GUIs from our business rules.Testing through the GUI is always problematic unless you are testing just the GUI. The reason is that the GUI is likely to change, making the tests very fragile. When every GUI change breaks a thousand tests, you are either going to start throwing the tests away or you are going to stop changing the GUI. Neither of those are good options. So write your business rule tests to go through an API just below the GUI.Some acceptance tests specify the behavior of the GUI itself. These tests must go through the GUI. However, these tests do not test business rules and therefore don’t require the business rules to be connected to the GUI. Therefore, it is a good idea to decouple the GUI and the business rules and replace the business rules with stubs while testing the GUI itself.Keep the GUI tests to a minimum. They are fragile, because the GUI is volatile. The more GUI tests you have the less likely you are to keep them.
Continuous IntegrationMake sure that all your unit tests and acceptance tests are run several times per day in a continuous integration system. This system should be triggered by your source code control system. Every time someone commits a module, the CI system should kick off a build, and then run all the tests in the system. The results of that run should be emailed to everyone on the team.
Stop the PressesIt is very important to keep the CI tests running at all times. They should never fail. If they fail, then the whole team should stop what they are doing and focus on getting the broken tests to pass again. A broken build in the CI system should be viewed as an emergency, a “stop the presses” event.I have consulted for teams that failed to take broken tests seriously. They were “too busy” to fix the broken tests so they set them aside, promising to fix them later. In one case the team actually took the broken tests out of the build because it was so inconvenient to see them fail. Later, after releasing to the customer, they realized that they had forgotten to put those tests back into the build. They learned this because an angry customer was calling them with bug reports.
Communication about details is hard. This is especially true for programmers and stakeholders communicating about the details of an application. It is too easy for each party to wave their hands and assume that the other party understands. All too often both parties agree that they understand and leave with completely different ideas.
The only way I know of to effectively eliminate communication errors between programmers and stakeholders is to write automated acceptance tests. These tests are so formal that they execute. They are completely unambiguous, and they cannot get out of sync with the application. They are the perfect requirements document.
The Test Automation Pyramid
Manual Exploratory Tests
These are notes I made after reading this book. See more book notes
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