The Resurgence of TDD in the Age of Large Language Models

In the ever-evolving landscape of software development, there are few constants. Yet, as the tech world becomes increasingly enamored with Large Language Models (LLMs) and their myriad applications, an old stalwart of software engineering is poised for a renaissance: Test Driven Development (TDD).

The Resurgence of TDD in the Age of Large Language Models
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The Rise of LLMs

LLMs, with their ability to generate human-like text, predict outcomes, and even write code, are being incorporated into a vast array of applications. From chatbots to content generators, and from predictive analytics to code assistance, LLMs are becoming ubiquitous. Companies, eager to harness the power of AI, are jumping on the LLM bandwagon.

However, with great power comes great responsibility. The very nature of LLMs — their ability to generate vast amounts of content or code — poses a challenge. How can we trust the output of these models? How can we ensure that the code or content they produce is not just accurate, but also safe and efficient?

The Trust Issue

The primary concern with LLM-generated code is trust. While these models can produce functional code snippets, there's no guarantee that the code is optimal, secure, or free from unintended side effects. Moreover, the "black box" nature of these models makes it difficult to understand the reasoning behind their outputs.

This is where TDD comes into play.

TDD: An Old Solution to a New Problem

Test Driven Development is a software development process where the developer writes tests for a piece of functionality before writing the actual code. The code is then written to pass the tests. This ensures that the code does exactly what it's intended to do, and nothing more.

In the context of LLMs, TDD offers a structured way to validate the code produced by these models. By defining the expected behavior of a piece of code through tests, developers can ensure that the LLM-generated code meets the specified requirements and doesn't introduce unexpected behaviors.

Benefits of TDD in the LLM Era

  • Confidence in Outputs: With TDD, developers can be confident that the code produced by LLMs meets the desired specifications. If the tests pass, the code is good to go.
  • Efficient Pipelines: LLMs can generate vast amounts of code. TDD ensures that only the necessary and correct code makes it to production, preventing bottlenecks and inefficiencies.
  • Safety: By catching issues early in the development process, TDD reduces the risk of deploying faulty or insecure code.
  • Improved Collaboration: TDD provides a clear specification for what the code should do, making it easier for human developers to understand and collaborate with LLM-generated code.


The rise of Large Language Models presents both opportunities and challenges for the software development community. While the power of these models is undeniable, it's crucial to approach their outputs with a healthy dose of skepticism. Test Driven Development, with its emphasis on validation and clarity, offers a robust framework for harnessing the power of LLMs responsibly. As we venture further into this brave new world of AI-driven development, TDD will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in ensuring that we can trust the code we deploy.

Tyler Orden

Tyler Orden

Senior Product Manager

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