Sometimes embedded developers have to use inline assembler instructions to get better control of the processor, or to improve performance. How should we deal with those when we’re doing TDD and testing off the target?
What’s the problem? The embedded asm statements cause compilation errors if the assembler instructions are not part of the off-target test platform instruction set. Also some of the instructions might not be legal in the test environment. This article shows how to insert a test double for the asm directives with gcc and CppUTest.
Here is a legacy code change policy for a team adopting TDD that has a legacy code base:
Test-drive new code
Add tests to legacy code before modification
Test-drive changes to legacy code
Refactoring without tests is dangerous; with all the details we must keep straight, a mistake is easy to make. How many code reviews have you been in where the recommended design changes are not made because “we already tested it”? You avoid the change because it’s dangerous to change code without tests. So, the Boy Scout adds tests too. For more on Boy Scouts, see previous post.
One important realization on the journey from a BDUF approach to an iterative and agile approach is that design is never done. Designs evolve. The waterfall emphasis has been to unnaturally try to control software physics by imposing requirements freezes and burdensome change control. The process of developing software is part science and part creative. You are applying science toward the invention of something. Design is capturing knowledge both about what the end user need is, and one solution to that need. Continue reading →
Constrained Memory is the reality for many embedded developers. Running tests in the development system won’t suffer the same memory constraints found in the target. Here are a few things to help TDD in constrained memory situations. Continue reading →
Embedded software has all the challenges of “regular” software, like poor quality and unreliable schedules. It is just software with some additional challenges. The additional challenges do not disqualify TDD for embedded. TDD even helps with some of those uniquely embedded challenges. Continue reading →
Prior to the Deep Agile conference, I received a number of questions about getting people to change, to try new things. Change is hard. People need to be motivated to change. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” they say. But there is always some things that are broken.
First there needs to be awareness/acceptance that there are problems to solve. Do a retrospective of the last release. Find the problems that people are passionate about. Try not have blame session. Build a logic chain from the problem to some solution you think will help. Get people to sign up to try the new approach for a month or two, not the rest of their lives. Iterations give a great opportunity for this kind of experimentation.
You have to try things, rather than just talk about them. I am not sure where this quote is from, but it is profound:
“It’s easier to act your way into thinking differently than to think your way into acting differently”
During my TDD session at the Embedded Systems Conference yesterday, I did a demo. Before the demo, I make the case for TDD as a way to prevent bugs (see Physics of TDD). For the live demo I usually code on my mac and run the tests there as well. The question always comes up: “You are running tests on your PC, can you run them on the target?” or maybe “Sure you can TDD on a PC, but what about the real hardware?” Continue reading →