[development] Drupal & automated testing

Tao Starbow starbow at citris-uc.org
Mon Mar 6 17:33:38 UTC 2006

I know I do not yet have much credibility in the Drupal community, so I 
apologize in advance for making sweeping statements.

I think the Drupal process could really benefit from a culture of 
obsessive automated testing.  I have been programming for over 15 years, 
and one of the most valuable mottoes I have heard is "If a feature is 
not covered by an automated test, it does not exist".

Practically, if something like Simpletest was in core, then the 
requirement for submitting a patch could be increased to also submitting 
a test that exposes the original bug & shows that it has been fixed. 
Skilled users could submit tests that expose the bug as part of the 
original issue submission.  And submitting original tests could be a 
great way for new users to contribute.

As the coverage of the submitted tests grows, developers will be able to 
have more and more confidence that the patch they are submitting does 
not cause regressions.  Programming on complex systems is just so much 
more fun, when you know you are not breaking someone else's hard work.  
A comprehensive test framework can become a safety net, supporting 
Drupal's rapid evolution.  Right now it seems like Drupal succeeds 
because it has such a robust community, which is willing to act as a 
test system, but that approach runs the risk of exhausting everyone 

I know everyone has way too much on there plates right now to really 
consider culture change, but I wanted to try and get this idea out 
there.  If there is one gift I can give to the Drupal community, out of 
half a lifetime of experience with many programming languages and 
cultures, this is it.

Thanks for listening.

Tao Starbow
Web Architect, CITRIS

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