Managing Unit Tests in a BDD Environment: Best Practices

Managing Unit Tests in a BDD Environment: Best Practices

3 July 2024 Stephan Petzl Leave a comment QA

In a Behavior-Driven Development (BDD) approach, it’s common for testers to create scenarios from a specification, which are then handed over to developers before any work begins. Occasionally, developers may write additional unit tests to help them ensure their code meets the scenario requirements. This practice raises several important questions, particularly about documentation and maintenance of these unit tests.

Key Considerations

1. Differentiating Between Scaffolding and Unit Tests

It’s crucial to distinguish between scaffolding and unit tests:

  • Scaffolding: These are temporary tests or code snippets a developer writes while creating a feature. They might test internal implementation details or produce data that helps in debugging. Once the feature is complete, scaffolding often becomes obsolete.
  • Unit Tests: These are tests written against an interface responding to a requirement or specification. They produce a pass/fail result and should remain valid even if the implementation changes, as long as the interface remains the same.

2. Documentation of Unit Tests

Unit tests should have some form of accompanying documentation. This can be achieved through:

  • Comments within the code itself, making it easier for developers to understand the purpose and scope of each test.
  • An external document that details the tests, although this requires regular updates to stay relevant.

3. Maintenance of Unit Tests

Unit tests should be maintained by the developer who wrote them or by any developer who touches the code. This principle ensures that tests remain valid and functional over time. The motto “You touch it, you own it” can be very effective in ensuring accountability.

Best Practices

To manage unit tests effectively in a BDD environment, consider the following best practices:

  • Encourage Developer-Written Tests: Developers have the best understanding of their code and can write valuable tests that cover implementation details. Encourage all developers to write and maintain these tests.
  • Document Tests in Code: Prefer in-code documentation to external documents. This approach ensures that tests are self-explanatory and easier to maintain.
  • Review and Integrate Tests: Regularly review additional tests to ensure they are relevant and valuable. Integrate these tests into your test suite to enhance overall coverage.


Balancing unit tests and BDD scenarios can be challenging, but with clear documentation and maintenance strategies, it can significantly enhance your development process. By encouraging developers to write and maintain their own tests, and by documenting these tests within the code, you can ensure a robust and reliable testing framework.

For those looking to streamline their testing processes, tools like Repeato can be highly beneficial. Repeato is a no-code test automation tool for iOS and Android that leverages computer vision and AI. It’s designed to be simple to set up and use, making it an excellent choice for quality assurance teams looking to create, run, and maintain automated tests efficiently.

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