A quantitative comparison of test-first and test-last code in an industrial project

Burak Turhan, Ayse Bener, Pasi Kuvaja, Markku Oivo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents a comparison of test-first and test-last development approaches on a customer account management software of a telecommunication company. While the management had plans for initiating a process that enforces test-first development over test-last, they also had concerns about the tradeoffs. Therefore, an exploratory case study with quantitative analysis is carried out on a pilot project where the code metrics and estimated manual inspection efforts of both approaches are compared. Our results indicate no statistical difference between the two approaches in terms of design (CK) metrics. On the other hand, we observe that test-last development yields significantly simpler code in terms of cyclomatic complexity and less (though not significant) manual inspection effort. Hence, our initial results indicate no superiority of test-first over test-last development in the described industrial context.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAgile Processes in Software Engineering and Extreme Programming - 11th International Conference, XP 2010, Proceedings
PublisherSpringer-Verlag London Ltd.
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9783642130533
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes
EventConference on Agile Software Development 2010 - Trondheim, Norway
Duration: 1 Jun 20104 Jun 2010
Conference number: 11th

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Business Information Processing
Volume48 LNBIP
ISSN (Print)1865-1348


ConferenceConference on Agile Software Development 2010
Abbreviated titleXP 2010
Internet address


  • Case study
  • Code metrics
  • Test first
  • Test last

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