Advantages & Disadvantages of Test-Driven Development - PerfectionGeeks

What are the advantages and disadvantages of test-driven development?

April 12, 2023 04:40 PM

Driven Development

Over the last decade and a quarter, Agile methodologies have seen tremendous growth. Companies in custom software development and tech-dependent industries are increasingly focused on continuous delivery to stay competitive. To stay ahead of competitors, products must be updated frequently, requiring greater efficiency during both the development and release processes.

Extreme Programming (XP), a methodology designed to produce better code and make deployments simpler, is one such technique. Test-driven development (TDD), originally part of extreme programming (XP), was previously known by its former name of "Test First".

What is TDD?

TDD encourages developers to write tests before they create code, in contrast to the traditional practise of creating functional codes and then testing them.

Testing code often entails testing the paths testers anticipate the user will take, also known as the "Happy Path."

TDD allows developers and testers to focus on the user's requirements, while code is written specifically to fulfil those needs.

TDD Steps

The initial step in creating user requirements is defining them. These specifications can then be used to generate acceptance tests, which verify that the code meets the user's specifications. After this stage is complete, work can begin on one functionality at a time. Once identified, a unit test can be created to verify its functionality. Unfortunately, there is no code necessary to make it pass; rather, its requirements are detailed in the unit test itself. This ensures you avoid over-coding or imagining functionality later on. The objective is to guarantee that tests pass.

Once these have been passed and the desired functionality has been achieved, code refactoring can take place according to industry best practises. It is essential to remember that if unit tests pass, any code changes made during refactoring will be immediately detected and corrected when the tests are run again. This significantly reduces the time and effort necessary for refactoring code. Furthermore, if new bugs are discovered during this process, they will be included in unit tests before code development can begin to address them.

TDD has its advantages and drawbacks, just like any other development method.

Advantages of TDD

Modular Design

TDD helps developers gain insight and master the principles of modular design when writing tests for small features. This enables them to detect issues early in their development.

Easy Refactoring/Maintenance

Test-Driven Development (TDD) simplifies maintenance and refactoring tasks. As all functionality is tested, any code change that could introduce errors is quickly identified when unit tests start failing. Developers can rest assured that changes made to code from previous versions won't break anything! Make changes with confidence!

Modular code minimises the chance of breaking other pieces of code, leading to lower project costs when maintenance becomes more efficient and bugs are detected sooner.

Regression Testing with High Test Coverage

With one test per functionality, code can be thoroughly examined. Regression tests will follow if TDD is properly implemented.

Code Documentation

Giving unit tests descriptive names is a wise idea. Doing so allows future developers to quickly comprehend the purpose of the tests and associated code.

TDD ensures only necessary code is created and that each production code passes its tests successfully. Over-coding is discouraged in favour of code that passes tests successfully.

Clarifying Requirements

TDD requires that the team define functionalities as precisely and comprehensively as possible from the beginning, since these features are essential for creating tests.


Extreme programming is the origin of TDD. This methodology emphasises team-based programming and, more specifically, pair programming. Collaboration is at the core of TDD; any member of the team can work on code from another member, as tests serve to identify any issues and serve as documentation too. As previously mentioned, tests also serve as guidelines for development.

Disadvantages of TDD

Driven Development

The TDD process' slow development can be one of its greatest drawbacks. While it takes longer to launch a project with TDD than conventional development, the benefits outweigh this in the long run. If release velocity is your primary concern, TDD may provide benefits in both cost and quality over time.

Maintenance Test

Updating test code is essential when working with TDD. It helps guarantee the code remains error-free and prevents product requirements from changing suddenly. Depending on the system size, there may also be opportunities to enhance or remove redundant tests.

Learning Curve

TDD is a challenging process that necessitates commitment and practice. It presents an entirely new paradigm to software engineers, and although initially it may seem like a time-consuming challenge, over time it will prove beneficial in saving them precious hours of work.

Reduce test numbers and make them as simple and straightforward as possible, though this requires experience. Writing quality test code should be seen as no different than producing quality production code; the focus should also be put on metrics (code coverage) rather than just the tests themselves; the quality of testing may not always reflect its production counterpart.

Committed Team

TDD requires the participation of all team members. It's not just developers who should adopt TDD; everyone on the team needs to be aware and committed. Without proper alignment and commitment from everyone on the team, things could quickly go awry and complicate maintenance tasks.


TDD is an efficient method for creating good and sustainable code. Additionally, it speeds up the testing process considerably. TDD works best in teams that believe in Agile methods and Extreme Programming tools; its advantages can be seen in code quality, delivery speed, bug count and severity ratios, etc.

On the other hand, if there are doubts about TDD's efficiency or the need for time-saving measures, then Scrum or Kanban may be preferable options.

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