Using Ponicode: tools to boost shift left

Following up with our previous article introducing the shift left approach we wanted to make a quick stop to go through the benefits of Ponicode when it comes to shifting left.

Ponicode started its developer boosting platform in 2020 with a first tool called Ponicode Unit test. We built that first tool with the certainty that helping to detect bugs and defects as early as possible in the development lifecycle was a key success criteria to make robust software at scale. We make it sound obvious now but it certainly was not always like this. Let’s look back at shifting left in an agile world and where Ponicode fits in all of this

Are you wondering why shift left hasn’t been in place since the get-go?

Let me grab my history teacher glasses and take you on a little coding history journey.

On the first day, God created annual product releases.

The representation of the traditional product development lifecycle we shared in the previous post can feel a bit old school: and it is. 20 years ago, a software product had an annual update release; the team was working all year long to deliver an entirely new version of the product that was to be presented to the public. The process was a waterfall sequence, each team throwing the ball to the next one along with heavy piles of requirement briefs until it reached the hands of QA (which usually had little to no time to do their work before the release date) and then launching the baby into space.

One huge update with all the bugs and regression risks that you can imagine. This was due to the technology's limitations of course. We could not ask users to download a new version from the internet every other day like we do now. Indeed, new releases had to be distributed on cd-roms or other hardware.

On the second day, God became agile

Increasing competition, quickly-evolving needs, new usage and new technology suddenly had the software industry scrambling to find new processes in order to keep up. In an attempt to increase velocity and to be able to update the product continuously, the agile method was born. A smooth back and forth where feedback and new commits dance an elaborate waltz. A world of continuous development and continuous integration.

Figure 3. The agile software development lifecycle

​​Where does shift left fit into this new world?

​​Well, don’t be scared, you can still see that the left part of the agile flow matches the early stages of development. So, even here we can shift the testing phase to the left and remove as much as possible from the release, deployment and operating side of things. Shift left is the answer to the neanderthal developer just as much as it is for the post-modern engineer. 

Why does Ponicode talk about shift left?

We believe, and are advocates of, the shift left approach. We are a team of software engineers who want to set the new gold standard for code quality. We believe that using the shift left approach as a foundation for the product development life cycle is the healthiest way to build great software.

Ponicode can not only be used in a shift-left-friendly product development life cycle, it can also help to ease the risks and difficulties of shifting left.

What? Shifting left is not just a happy ever after story?

No, the shift left methodology is not as easy as one might think.

Shifting isn’t easy for any team; getting out of your comfort zone is always a leap of faith. Especially with deadlines and management pressure hanging over you. So, you would probably want tools to help you do things properly.

One of the biggest fears is dealing with legacy code flaws.

Your company or product has millions of lines of code it has inherited over the years, decades maybe, of software development. This legacy code is often filled with bugs and inconsistencies and if it is not already affecting your product it might at any time. As you might know, most team members are too scared of the domino effect that fixing those inconsistencies could trigger. They are reluctant to get their hands dirty reviewing legacy code.

With Ponicode you can make an assessment of all of your legacy code and monitor where your weak spots are using the dashboard. Moreover, you can complete your suite of unit tests to increase the code coverage of all of your legacy code quickly, allowing you to safely move forward with product development.

Huge amount of early issues incoming

When you start shifting left you will have to deal with a big increase in early anomaly detection and consequently an increase in time spent on unit testing and early stage testing. This can be overwhelming for your team. You want to be sure to give your team all the help they need to clear this pile of tests quickly. This is why the automation part of shifting left is key to your success. With a unit testing tool like Ponicode, you can generate test files within seconds, avoiding the bottleneck effect.

Get yourself equipped and give yourself the chance to successfully shift left.

Unit testing automation tools come in handy. A developer friendly solution like Ponicode is meant to remove the repetition and tediousness of unit testing while avoiding the risks of automation. Artificial intelligence assists you while requiring monitoring from the developer only to get the best value out of the unit testing phase. It becomes easy to meet the shift left targets without deprecating the developer experience or the benefits of the approach.

Beyond these direct benefits, we know that unit testing tools help free up developers time so they can refocus on the architecture and creative design of their codebase.

Better software made by happier developers. Does it sound too good to be true? I guess you’ll have to give our free extension a go and find out if you can be part of this new unit testing journey.

To sum it up here’s why you should Unit test more and use Ponicode Unit test to do so

  • Bottleneck effect avoided thanks to quicker and more exhaustive unit test production
  • Quicker assessment of the distance to code coverage targets
  • Make legacy code coverage assessment fast and fix weak spots efficiently
  • Testing-as-you-code is less of a burden and reduces context shifting
  • Increase the developer experience around testing
  • Give your management tools to monitor and the impact of the shift left.

Not yet convinced? You should try it for yourself. Our VS Code extension is available for free today.

Green blobred blob