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Behavior-Driven Development Catches On

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ThoughtWorks' Dan North

ThoughtWorks' Dan North: "BDD is about helping the customers."


A process that helps users be more involved in the development of applications, behavior-driven development (BDD) continues to become increasingly popular among developers, particularly in agile application development. BDD brings together application stakeholders, analysts, and testers to determine the requirements of an application.

Consultant Aslak Hellesoy says BDD is an evolution of test-driven development that involves customers in the process, enabling them to write tests everyone understands with the help of developers and testers. The BDD approach believes  a requirement can be turned into an implemented, tested, and production-ready program provided the requirement is specific enough that everyone involved knows how it will be implemented, says ThoughtWorks' Dan North, who is credited with coining the term "BDD" around 2003.

Obtaining this level of understanding demands a way of describing the requirement so everyone, including business people, analysts, developers, and testers, have a common understanding of the scope of the work, with all parties agreeing on a common definition of a final product. "BDD is about helping the customers, the stakeholders, have this slightly structured conversation with the delivery team," North says.  Hellesoy suggests not using BDD in a traditional, waterfall method of application development, and to only use BDD on an agile product because BDD treats the specification as a living and changing document.

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