Context: One limitation of the empirical studies about test-driven development (TDD) is knowing whether the developers followed the advocated test-code-refactor cycle. Research dealt with the issue of process conformance only in terms of internal validity, while investigating the role of other confounding variables that might explain the controversial effects of TDD. None of the research included process conformance as a fundamental part of the analysis.
Goal: We aim to examine the impact of process conformance on the claimed effects of TDD on external quality, developers’ productivity and test quality.
Method: We used data collected during a previous study to create regression models in which the level of process conformance was used to predict external quality, productivity, and tests thoroughness.
Result: Based on our analysis of the available data (n = 22), we observe that neither quality (p — value = 0.21), productivity (p — value = 0.80), number of tests (p — value = 0.39) nor coverage (p — value = 0.09) was correlated with the level of TDD process conformance.
Conclusion: While based on a small sample, we raise concerns about how TDD is interpreted. We also question whether the cost of strictly following TDD will pay-off in terms of external quality, productivity, and tests thoroughness.
Davide Fucci, Burak Turhan, Markku Oivo (University of Oulu): Impact of process conformance on the effects of test-driven development