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Proof of Unit Testing's Time Savings

At Visual Studio Magazine, we're big proponents of unit testing as a means of writing better, more efficient code. Yes, that can come under the heading of "Duh!", as in "Duh, Ward, that ain't exactly breaking news, is it?"

True though that may be, it's my suspicion (based solely on anecdotal evidence, it must be pointed out) that many, many developers don't do it as a regular practice. I'd suspect the reasons are fear of the unknown, or the inertia we all experience when it comes to changing our routines.

But if you're not doing unit testing, you're seriously slowing down your productivity. That's according to some numbers that came across my desk (OK, monitor) in a press release from Typemock, which makes unit testing products. According to Typemock,

Over 50% of the largest European banks and over 35% of global leading financial institutions consider unit testing critical

Now, aside from the spin that will naturally be applied to those figures, they're still pretty significant. And it backs up what we've been saying for years now -- that unit testing saves time, which of course saves money. How much time? Well, the release estimates a 70-80 percent reduction in debugging time. Again, I'm not sure that most developers are seeing quite that level of time savings, but maybe some of you are. I'd love it if you unit testers would give me some feedback related to this: how much time do you save over your non-unit-testing days?

I wonder if the new emphasis on time-to-market that's been spurred by the explosion of mobile development is leading to a similar uptake in unit testing; I suspect it's having a large impact in that realm. Again, let me know.

If you're not using unit testing, I'd also be interested in hearing why.

Posted by Keith Ward on 02/07/2012


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