Pairing with Coraline, Entry 3: Recommendations for “Spiking” and the Skeleton of a Ruby Project

Over Thanksgiving break, I once again had the opportunity to pair with the lovely Coraline Ada Ehmke. This time, instead of working on an existing code base, we started from scratch on something I had spiked out: a CSV parser! The original version worked, but the design contained some duplicate code and included no tests.

I had spent so much time on the original version that I could not imagine letting go of it: I intended to go back and add tests after the fact. The problem with this approach is that it gives the test suite no opportunity to help figure out which code isn’t needed: we write tests, one by one, before we implement them to ensure that we aren’t adding extra code, and also to keep the code’s design flexible and modular: that is, easily testable (well-written code should have a passing test suite regardless of the order in which the tests are run). For that reason, Coraline recommended that we start over from scratch, suggesting that, if there were any really important implementation details that I had learned while spiking, I would remember them.

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