Ctrl-S Rapid Feedback Loop

Kent Beck, inventor of Extreme Programming and TDD guru, did a short video on how he went about learning CoffeeScript. The beauty of what he described didn’t have much to do with what he learned, but how. He based the video off of his “Making Making Manefesto” and some example of Making Making that inspired him.

What he did was create a quick little test framework that gave him instant feedback on the quality of his code every time he saved his code (Ctrl-S on Windows). This in effect gave him feedback on not only the code he was writing, but his making making thought process while learning CoffeeScript all at the same time.

I have seen rapid test feedback with MightyMoose for .Net, but that is slow in comparison to what he was able to achieve. It helps that JavaScript, even with CoffeeScript in the middle, doesn’t have a heavy compilation step as it is an interpreted language. I have also seen the benefits of file watchers when working with SASS and LESS for CSS to speed up feedback loops in UI development. I have played with rapid feedback with HTML changes in Chrome Developer tools (very fast). Yet, the context of using it to learn a new language never dawned on me. I have used numerous scripting sites, like CodeAcademy, to learn the basics of Perl, Ruby and others by following a set guide to learning the language. I have never seen it done like this with such ease, expressiveness, and ability to experiment and wander while maintaining a constant sense that you are on the right path.

Anyway, with my intense, somewhat obsessive, focus on improving feedback loops in software delivery, this was a great example of how automation can help increase efficiency. I wish we could do this in Visual Studio with similar speed.

  1. A test window to write tests for new code or code changes I want to write.
  2. A code window to write the new code or code changes.
  3. A result window to view instant results of the tests after saving either the test or code window.

Does a solution with similar speed as Kent’s example, but for C#, reside somewhere in Roslyn, maybe. It’s possible that MightMoose is the answer and is faster than when I first tried it years back. Will I find time to explore it, probably not, but I would really like to.

Making Making Coffee

.Net Continuous Test

Chrome Developer Tools Live Editing

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