How I Use Autotest
During the Q&A portion of my talk, I was asked a very important question about autotest, something like “How often do you save when using autotest?” I save all the time when using autotest. There was a followup question, something like “Don’t you get syntax errors?” and I don’t.
Before I wrote autotest I was making fine-grained saves that were syntactically correct. I wrote autotest to automate the running of tests so I wouldn’t have to choose which tests to run. My changes were so small that I spent an annoying fraction of my time editing my command line.
When I’m using autotest, rather than writing all of a method’s tests, I start by performing the setup (which should cause an error), add a flunk, and save, which is usually four lines:
def test_blah result = @thingy.blah flunk end
When the tests run they’ll see the method
blah doesn’t exist and fail, so I define the method, (the
def blah and
end lines), and save. Then I write an assertion and save the test, which will fail, so I implement what I need to make the assertion pass, and save. Now I repeatedly perform the minimum changes to go from failure to flunking until my test is complete, remove the flunk, and start over with the next method.
Each save I do is a handful of lines, so it’s easy to keep them syntactically correct. I know I’m going from working state to working state as I work towards my end goal so I can easily roll back my changes with undo.comment
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