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The World’s Shortest Article on Behavior-Driven Development, revisited

4 years ago

I added more to this article on September 18, 2009.

On May 21, 2006, I wrote the world’s shortest article on Behavior-Driven Development. Although the title links to the entire article, it is so short that I can reproduce it here.

What is Behavior-Driven Development (BDD)?

It is Test-Driven Development (TDD) practiced correctly; nothing more.

At the time, I wrote this in anger, for reasons that I’m too tired to get in to just now (it is 4:30 AM on the last day of Agile 2006), but I wanted to share with you that my anger is changing to some more positive emotion regarding this topic.

The fact that BDD and TDD are equivalent—isomorphic, even—has its good points and bad points. I am unclear at the present moment whether the good outweigh the bad or the other way around.

What I dislike about the existence of two (perhaps three or more) different names for the same thing is that it can confuse people and divide them. Think of a single language written in two alphabets: while the speakers understand one another, they cannot read one another’s literature. I would hate to see that happen.

What I like about it is that we have two (perhaps three or more) standard approaches to explaining the technique that suit different audiences. To some, the word “test” resonates well, and to others, the words “behavior” or “example” resonate well. Rather than haphazardly sprinkling the word “behavior” into conversations about TDD, we can use an entire, cohesive vocabulary to explain TDD to someone who prefers to talk about behaviors over tests. I imagine this would help.

I would like to thank the people in room 2411 of the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis for their willingness to participate in a spirited debate on this topic. It was tiring, and it was late, but I found it worth the effort.

Times have changed

In the time since I first wrote this article, BDD has evolved and my opinion of it has evolved as well. I now see how BDD ideas map well to the way I deliver features, complete with Feature Injection and the inner BDD design cycle. The BDD community have described how they set up a pull system for features, which I’ve been doing for years. As always seems the case, we had much more in common with one another than we originally thought!

Thanks to all the BDDers who have patiently worked with me on this unification, even when they didn’t know they were doing it: Dan North, Chris Matts, Olav Maassen, Aslak Hellesøy and Liz Keough.

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