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Shift Left

Defining the term shift left to mean testing earlier in the development cycle feels antiquated since waiting until development is “complete” before testing is a plain ol’ anti-pattern at this point.

A better definition could be testing earlier and more frequently. Writing tests each sprint, and running those tests with every commit.

Perhaps better still is thinking of shift left as a movement of testing to earlier in the pipeline. Favor unit tests, which typically run in the pipeline first and fast. Heavier-weight tests, such as UI based and end-to-end tests, which are typically harder to write, slower to run, and run later in the pipeline, do have a place but should be used sparingly.

Another way to look at this is that shift left means shifting down the testing pyramid.


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