Sunday, August 30, 2009

The reverese dependency problem. TDD

When building the word chain app, , I quickly identify that there are multiple problem domains involved. One is the generic question of finding the shorter path in a mesh of connected nodes.

Then the question is: do you build this functionality with its own set of unit tests or not?

I would like to say "not". I don't want to take "time out" from my real business problem to build a different class library in some BDUF venture. I want to refactor into this design.

However, let us say that I proceeded with this, and elegantly refactored a utility class library that was generic and succinct.

And then this class library is so generic that I have more client apps that should be consuming it. And new clients warrant more functionality.
I may not be able to express new client requirements from my wordchain problem, and therefore I need to TDD from the unit tests of the new client apps.

However, then the class library, slowly becomes "dependent" of a growing number of its clients, because that is where its unit tests are. It wont get coverage unless you run the unit tests of its clients.

I realize that at some point you must recognize that the new class library is a new "deliverable" and thus you need extract its own tests. This will however result in duplication and longer release cycle for the word chain app, because it is a separate release item. New word chain app requirements will have longer development time because new requirements to the class library must be TDD'ed through unit tests of the class library, parallel to the unit tests of the word chain app.

Theoretically, you should have 200% percent coverage in the class library. One "100" through the sum of its clients unit tests, and one "100" through its own unit tests.

Interesting problem. It becomes sort of a reverse dependency problem. Stabile components become dependant of unit tests of less stabile components.

Do you find that you get test duplication because you don't want some internal class libraries to be "depending" on the unit tests of its consumers?

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