BDD without Friction?

[From the Behavior-Driven Development session]

I could not discern a clear why from this session. Despite that, I think I agree with the tenets of capturing user stories using business-y language and executable code, at least to give your project an executable to-do list.

The debate swirled around whether codifying user stories was better than note cards, should replace note cards, or was just a way to translate human language into something developers could understand (which left me wondering what species developers are, then). I can't speak to BDD's relative merits, but I know a thing or two about having conversations with humans.

Above all, we want to avoid the scenario where the business user says they've changed their mind (their process, their requirements...), and we roll our eyes. We express frustration with their so-called indecisiveness because we're mentally translating that into a big pile of work. A note card has nothing invested in it—throw it away! whatever—but code, a test, a requirements doc, these things all introduce overhead. Overhead = friction = resistance to change = not building the highest priority thing. Your strategic advantage hinges on your ability to change.

Where is the middle ground here?

Because I can surmise benefits in favor of BDD. I love automated unit tests and the confidence they give me to refactor and create code with speed. I'm not alone in hating the maintenance of requirements docs, so they invariably become out-of-date and worse than useless. Executable requirements sound like an appealing alternative. Thinking in the business domain while coding, bringing code and user needs closer together, sound like important contributors to success. I get the impression that BDD brings a change in paradigm that is too subtle to explain to someone not experiencing it, but profound in the way it overhauls your perspective. But I just don't know yet.


Jimmy Bogard said...

It was unfortunate (to me at least) that the discussion fell into executable stories. BDD is a very wide, very nascent topic, with many ideas still being hammered out. That was probably a discussion that should have been taken offline between Scott Bellware, Joe Ocampo, me and whoever else was interested. I would have rather this discussion been about BDD than about NBehave.

Sharon said...

Cool, it sounds like you have some definitive thoughts on BDD, Jimmy. I'd love to chat with you about it; maybe bring it up at one of our agile luncheons.