Monday, February 19, 2007

A test-driven chocolate cake?

Are there disciplines other than software development that implement something like Test Driven Development? And how effective would this approach be in other disciplines?

  • Can I know before my cake batter is ever mixed up what my cake is going to taste like?
  • Can I know before my dress design hits the runway that Milan will be absolutely beside itself?
  • And it would be really nice next season when hemlines rise or fall to be able to change the hem without worrying about whether or not you were going to pop another seam and ruin the whole dress.
  • Can I know before I cut my ear off and send it to a woman in an act of rage and desparation, and eventually take my own life in a lonely wheat field, that my paintings will one day be considered among the best ever created?
  • etc.

It would be really nice to know ahead of time that things are going to turn out ok, or at least like you planned them. We can achieve a measure of that in software development with discipline. And using a solid infrastructure of tests, we can have the confidence to make changes to our applications as the business demands it.

But how do other disciplines do it? We've been making things since the dawn of history. How have we historically tackled the problem of quality assurance?

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