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Wednesday, May 09, 2007


TDD in academia: a brief review

The new millenium has seen growing academic interest in test-driven development. Here, I'll review the papers I've seen so far, as a starting point for further research, a reference for on-line discussions, and a source for resolving bar bets. I've squashed some interesting nuances in each study regarding the exact processes compared, and I'm happy to revise if any reader feels I've mis-quoted or over-simplified.

First, a couple studies, both using students, have found either no significant difference, or just slight improvement, in quality and productivity from using TDD.

Laurie Williams' group at North Carolina State has conducted several studies of TDD using professional programmers.

Other groups have also found productivity and quality gains from using TDD.

Many of these papers are well-summarized by Janzen and Saiedian, in a survey paper that takes a positive view of TDD and predicts growing acceptance. Janzen and Saiedian also suggest test-driven learning, an application of TDD to the software engineering classroom.

To draw some tentative conclusions:

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