What are the alternatives to unit tests?
K 👓 Jun 22
When I was in university, I had a lecturer who didn't like unit tests. He was an eldery man who worked at IBM and gave lectures about mainframes. He always said, the hype about unit tests would simply double the amout of code written and do nothing for its safety.
When I did my first big project in 2009, a HTTP API, nobody in the company I worked for (the company was founded in 2001) had written any unit tests. They had huge C/C++ and PHP code-bases. They did integration tests, but the project I had been given was the first that used unit-tests.
I heard about it at university and wanted to make my first project look good right from the start. So I wrote a bunch of unit tests for every
class, ending up with about 200 tests after the first version was released. Trying to hit that famous 100% coverage. Only a few months later the architecture of the API changed and somebody new at the project hat to rewrite more than 100 tests.
In the lifetime of the project, the unit tests didn't prevent any major bugs, just the stuff I had in mind while testing the code, but they slowed down the development progress tremendously. Also, they forced some style on the code that was mostly there to ease the writing of the tests and not the resulting application.
So what is your opinion about this? Did I do unit tests wrong? Is there an alternative? Are integration tests (black- or grey-box) enough when automated? Is TDD a placebo? Are type-systems the way to go?
Lets discuss! :)