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Will Automated Unit Tests Fit in My Process?

Both the waterfall model and the processes described earlier involve unit tests in one way or another. The benefit of local error removal can be equally achieved in all models. If the process supports test-first development, then we have the additional benefit of a strong design improvement. In contrast, there are differences in the automation cost-benefit ratio. Automation pays off increasingly the more often we can repeat test cases as regression tests. For this reason, the benefit is lowest in strongly sequential models, such as the waterfall model, but these models are retreating, mainly due to the high risk involved in late integration. Undoubtedly, people will empirically determine the limits of automation for the different variants of incremental and evolutionary models. With continuous integration, as requested by all agile processes, and test-first programming, full automation of unit tests is a must.

Unit tests and the test-first approach can be used meaningfully in the modern process models we've discussed. Although they have actually come into fashion thanks to XP, their use is by no means limited to XP.


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