Unit testing is cost-effective, reliable, and often reveals insidious bugs that may not turn up when a system is tested against requirements. But what exactly is it, and how do you do it? What level of formality and documentation is required? This paper provides an overview of these practical, ground-level concerns for use in developing your own unit testing procedures.
What this is
This paper is an overview of software unit testing. It defines unit testing, and discusses many of the issues which must be addressed when planning for unit testing. It also makes suggestions for appropriate levels of formality and thoroughness of unit testing on typical development projects.
Why it's useful
For any system of more than trivial complexity, it is highly inefficient and ineffective to test the system solely as a "big black box." Any attempt to do so quickly gets lost in a mire of assumptions and potential interactions. The only viable approach is to perform a hierarchy of tests, with higher level tests assuming "reasonable and consistent behaviour" by the lower level components, and separate lower level tests to demonstrate these assumptions.
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