Test or It Did Not Happen

What if someone as a programming would strictly act by the following simple rule:

Untested code does not exist!

What I mean by ‘does not exist’ is, what if the programmer would just pretend that the untested code is not available to him. He acts as if the code literaly is not there! In other words he ignores it, when he downloads the code from his source repository. And he will not perform a code review on the untested code, even if a code review was assigned to him, because the code does not exist in his mind! The programmer would just act as if the code was not there. He could not see it, smell it, use it, modify it, compile it, ship it nor deploy it.

Beside probably getting into trouble with his boss, this would make the programmers life substantially more easy.

I assume that this programmer writes tests for all of his own code, so he is able to validate that his own code does work, in other words, his own code does in fact exist! Now I know this is not a very realistic assumption because code is often hard to test and often there are time limitations of financial limitations. Would you work for free writing tests if those tests are not paid for by the customer?

Now imagine the programmer is responsible for an application that others contribute code to. If other programmers commit errneous code, the programmer is the one who has to fix those bugs, not the one that commitet buggy features. At this point if the programmer receives untested code, he would just act as if this code did not exist. If he is assigned the code review, he will say: “Which code do you mean? I can’t perform a code review of code that does not exist! I do not see any code in this merge request you assigned to me! Please check your code again and let me know when your tests are ready!”. As a consequence the untested code won’t be merged!

If someone else is dumb enough to merge the code, the programmer could just say: “Well, the code that is supposed to implement the much requested feature X does obviously not exist, since there are no unit tests! I will have to implement feature X again! Such a shame!”. He would then take the time to write code and test the code. He is then convinced that his code works and can ship quality code to the customer.

How do you even come up with this concept of “code does not exist”? Well, think about it. If someone sends you code and there is no unit test for it, how do you know that the code works? It might be possible, that the author of the untested code did not run the code even once! It is possible, that the code does not even compile! It is possible that the code is not even a real computer programm! Parts of the code might be missing! Without a test, you actually know nothing about the characters in the text file you have received! Not only can you not trust the code, there is no proof of the functionality of the code! The code does not even exist!

I am sure I am breaking a few rules of logic here and there, but just imagine how much better your life would be, if you could just pretend untested code did not exist!

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