Triggered Versus Continual

Execution cadence is another distinguishing factor between fitness functions. Triggered fitness functions run based on a particular event, such as a developer executing a unit test, a deployment pipeline running unit tests, or a QA person performing exploratory testing. This encompasses traditional testing such as unit, functional, behavior-driven development (BDD), and other tests developers.

Continual tests don’t run on a schedule, but instead execute constant verification of architectural aspect(s) such as transaction speed. For example, consider a microservices architecture where the architects want to build a fitness function around transaction time — how long does it take for a transaction to complete on average? Building any kind of triggered test provides sparse information about real-world behavior. Thus, instead of using a triggered test, developers build a fitness function that simulates a transaction in production while all the other real transactions run. This allows developers to verify behavior and gather real data about the system “in the wild.”

Monitoring-driven development (MDD) is another testing technique gaining popularity. Rather than relying solely on tests to verify system results, MDD uses monitors in production to assess both technical and business health. These continual fitness functions are more dynamic than standard triggered tests.

 
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