Software development is composed of individual components. As developers are building these units, they build tests to verify them for correctness. These tests can verify the environment, they can verify data, they can verify edge cases and include test harnesses. In essence they verify that the code meets the design specification.
There are a few key advantages to the unit testing approach:
- Self-Documenting – The tests themselves provide a type of documentation for the system as a whole.
- Advances Refactoring – At a later date you may need to repair, rewrite or refactor portions of code. Previously built unit tests provide a tremendous help to make sure your changes still meet the previous design specification.
- Simplifies Functional Testing – With unit testing as an ongoing concern, the final components will likely perform more reliably, and if not the tests & self-documentation may point to how or why they fail to meet some specification.