Acceptance Test-Driven Development 101: Keys to Success

Paul Carvalho is dedicated to helping development teams deliver high levels of quality with confidence. He inspires collaborative, agile, test-infected teams with a holistic approach to quality. Paul launched the company, Quality Driven Inc, to bring his quality development experience and knowledge to individuals and organizations through consulting, training, coaching, writing and speaking internationally. Paul is passionate about understanding human ecosystems for delivering great products that satisfy and delight customers, which he finds to be a natural fit with the agile community. Connect with him through Quality-Driven.com and say hello on Twitter @can_test.

A small mistake in the beginning can lead to a big mistake in the end. I recall the first time I saw the cartoon “How Projects Really Work”1--also known as the project management tree swing cartoon. I laughed, I cried, I even did a root cause analysis on it.

A common understanding of what the customer really wants and needs is fundamental for success. We all know this. But it doesn’t always happen. Why?

A Worst Practice to Watch Out For
In traditionally structured projects, the requirements are defined up front and it’s not until much later in the project when a group of testers come up with a set of acceptance tests (among many other types of tests) to check that the project acceptance criteria has been met. Unfortunately, one of the worst practices that has propagated through the software development industry is the notion that coming up with these tests must be done independent of the customer, as if somehow talking with your customers will taint your idea of what they really want or need.

Agile development changes that notion. Agile development is a team sport, and like other team sports the whole team works together to reach its goals.

Start with the User Story
When I see development teams transition to agile, one of the first things I often see happen is the adoption of user stories to replace formal requirements. Unfortunately, I …

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"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."

- Albert Einstein

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