Acceptance Test-Driven Development: What Is It and Should I Be Using It?

Development teams who adopt an Agile method will often champion Acceptance Test-Driven Development (ATDD). This is a key driver in creating better, more user-centric software. But implementing ATDD requires a lot of technical work. It requires collaboration from everyone in the development team, as well as with the customer.

So, how do you decide whether it’s the right way to go? Here’s why we think ATDD is always worth the effort.

What is ATDD?

ATDD is not like Test-Driven Development (TDD), where tests are created from a developer’s perspective. ATDD involves writing automated tests from the user’s perspective. As part of the Agile methodology, it’s designed to assert and validate the functionality of the software developed. It also encourages collaboration between a functional expert and the development team. This provides development teams with the knowledge they need to make sure the software meets the acceptance criteria

When creating a new feature using ATDD, one or more acceptance-level tests are written before any working code for the feature itself. By doing it this way, developers already have ways to test their new code. This is based on conditions and triggers agreed with the product owner and wider team. Once the code passes all of these tests (acceptance), it can then be cleaned up to meet quality standards.

Here is an example of what 5 steps in the ATDD process may look like: 

Benefits of ATDD

Adopting ATDD into your workflow brings many benefits for both your own team, the client/business you are working with, and the end-user:

  • It gives development teams a predefined target to aim for that keeps everyone aligned and on track.
  • Projects will often run more productively and result in a focused outcome that all stakeholders were expecting from the beginning.
  • With a more collaborative and efficient process, new features will be of higher quality, showing fewer defects and regression issues.
  • An ATDD framework also promotes better communication in teams and distributes responsibility so that each person can take ownership of the high-quality outcome.

Have you tried using ATDD with your team in the past? Let us know how it worked out for you and if you found it useful in creating a new high-quality feature.

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