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Follow your bliss, then write your tests

_why suggested that

…chaos is an essential component of writing code. The system is too big for you to fathom. So you are always finding yourself in unfamiliar territory. And once you fathom the system, it becomes too boring and tedious to pay attention to details…

…Unit testing, in particular, is designed to reel in spontaneous hacking. It is like framing a picture before it has been painted. Hacking, at heart, will continue to be something of spontaneous order, something of anarchy, and the landscape of hacking is something which comes from human action but is not of human design.

I, as you already know, am a huge advocate of unit testing, constantly poking my coworkers to get off their asses and cover all of ours by writing the tests I believe our code so desperately needs…

But unit testing doesn’t have to be an either or proposition, and I am in full agreement with the essence of _why’s message. Some of the greatest hacks, like some of the greatest stories, have come from simply opening yourself up to possibilities and seeing where they take you. There are many good arguments to be made for Test Driven Development, but when I’m writing the really cool code, I frequently haven’t a clue where the methods will take me. But that’s not a valid excuse for blowing off tests. Sure, follow your bliss. See where it takes you, but, when you get there you will have time to look back upon your creation while it’s still fresh in your mind and decide if it’s something worth keeping. If it is, then it’s probably worth making sure it works correctly, especially if it was written in the midst of an endorphin high.

And… if, when looking back upon your creation, you think it’s good enough to share, is it not ever more worth testing, so that your entirely human errors don’t trip others up too? So that you can be sure that things really work for others the way you claimed they did? How inconsiderate of your fellow men would it be to foist untested and potentially buggy code upon them?

There is no binary in this world; not in code or computers. Beauty and motion lie not within the ones or zeros but the infinite layers of transition between them.