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Coverage is the degree, expressed as a percentage, to which a specified dimension of coverage has been exercised by your tests. Typical dimensions of coverage are requirements, risks, supported configurations, role-based security, and user personas, among others.
When I talk to senior project and product stakeholders outside of test teams, confidence in the system—especially, confidence that it will have a sufficient level of quality—is one benefit they want from a test team involved in system and system integration testing. Another key benefit such stakeholders commonly mention is providing timely, credible information about quality, including our level of confidence in system quality.
Reporting their level of confidence in system quality often proves difficult to many testers. Some testers resort to reporting confidence in terms of their gut feel. Next to major functional areas, they draw smiley faces and frowny faces on a whiteboard, and say things like, “I’ve got a bad feeling about function XYZ.” When management decides to release the product anyway, the hapless testers either suffer the Curse of Cassandra if function XYZ fails in production, or watch their credibility evaporate if there are no problems with function XYZ in production.
The Testing performed by our Test Group is Black Box Testing. This paper will discuss the following areas of our test effort in more detail:
This is an excerpt from my book, Expert Test Manager, written with James Rommens and Leo van der Aalst. I hope it helps you think more clearly about the test strategies you use.
A test policy contains the mission and objectives of testing along with metrics and goals associated with the effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction with which we achieve those objectives. In short, the policy defines why we test. While it might also include some high-level description of the fundamental test process, in general the test policy does not talk about how we test.
The document that describes how we test is the test strategy. In the test strategy, the test group explains how the test policy will be implemented. This document should be a general description that spans multiple projects. While the test strategy can describe how testing is done for all projects, organizations might choose to have separate documents for various types of projects. For example, an organization might have a sequential lifecycle test strategy, an Agile test strategy, and a maintenance test strategy.
[Note: This is an excerpt from Agile Testing Foundations: An ISTQB Foundation Level Agile Tester Guide, by Rex Black, Marie Walsh, Gerry Coleman, Bertrand Cornanguer, Istvan Forgacs, Kari Kakkonen, and Jan Sabak, published July 2017. Kari Kakkonen wrote this selection. The authors are all members of the ISTQB Working Group that wrote the ISTQB Agile Tester Foundation syllabus.]
The traditional way of developing code is to write the code first, and then test it. Some of the major challenges of this approach are that testing is generally conducted late in the process and it is difficult to achieve adequate test coverage. Test-first practices can help solve these challenges. In this environment, tests are designed first, in a collaboration between business stakeholders, testers, and developers. Their knowledge of what will be tested helps developers write code that fulfils the tests. A test-first approach allows the team to focus on and clarify the expressed needs through a discussion of how to test the resulting code. Developers can use these tests to guide their development. Developers, testers, and business stakeholders can use these tests to verify the code once it is developed.
A number of test-first practices have been created for Agile projects, as mentioned in section 2.1 of this book. They tend to be called X Driven Development, where X stands for the driving force for the development. In Test Driven Development (TDD), the driving force is testing. In Acceptance Test-Driven Development (ATDD), it is the acceptance tests that will verify the implemented user story. In Behaviour-Driven Development (BDD), it is the behaviour of the software that the user will experience. Common to all these approaches is that the tests are written before the code is developed, i.e., they are test-first approaches. The approaches are usually better known by their acronyms. This subsection describes these test-first approaches and information on how to apply them is contained in section 3.3.
Test-Driven Development was the first of these approaches to appear. It was introduced as one of the practices within Extreme Programming (XP) back in 1990. It has been practiced for two decades and has been adopted by many software developers, in Agile and traditional projects. However, it is also a good example of an Agile practice that is not used in all projects. One limitation with TDD is that if the developer misunderstands what the software is to do, the unit tests will also include the same misunderstandings, giving passing results even though the software is not working properly. There is some controversy over whether TDD delivers the benefits it promises. Some, such as Jim Coplien, even suggest that unit testing is mostly waste.
TDD is mostly for unit testing by developers. Agile teams soon came up with the question: What if we could have a way to get the benefits of test-first development for acceptance tests and higher level testing in general? And thus Acceptance Test-Driven Development was born. (There are also other names for similar higher-level test-first methods; for example, Specification by Example (SBE) from Gojko Adzic.) Later, Dan North wanted to emphasize the behaviours from a business perspective, leading him to give his technique the name Behaviour-Driven Development. ATDD and BDD are in practice very similar concepts.
Let’s look at these three test-first techniques, TDD, ATDD, and BDD, more closely in the following subsections.
Webinar: White-box Coverage and Automotive Testing
Recorded May 26, 2020
Webinar: One Key Idea: Pairwise Testing with ACTS
Recorded March 25, 2020
Webinar: Myths of Exploratory Testing
Recorded September 25, 2019
Webinar: One Key Idea: Pairwise Testing Using ACTS 2/16/17
Recorded February 16, 2017
Recorded August 6, 2015
Recorded March 12, 2013
Webinar: Dimensions of Test Coverage 8/6/15
Length: 1h 7m 9s
You hear people talk about “coverage” a lot in testing, but what exactly do they mean? Three different people could mean three—or more—different things when they use this word. It’s not that those different meanings are wrong, they’re just—different. Test coverage is a powerful and important topic, and it’s time we all got clear on what it means and how to use it. So, in this free webinar, Rex will explore the various dimensions of test coverage and how you can make those dimensions work for you on your next testing project.
One Key Idea: Pairwise Testing Using ACTS 2/16/17
Length: 0h 38m 45s
If you’ve been testing for any length of time, you know that the number of possible test cases is enormous if you try to test all possible combinations of inputs, configuration values, types of data, and so forth. It’s like the mythical monster, the many-headed Hydra, which would sprout two or more new heads for each head that was cut off. Two simple approaches to dealing with combinatorial explosions such as this are equivalence partitioning and boundary value analysis, but those techniques don’t check for interactions between factors. A reasonable, manageable way to test combinations is called pairwise testing, but to do it you’ll need a tool. In this inaugural One Key Idea session, Rex will demonstrate the use of a free tool, ACTS, built by the US NIST and available for download worldwide. We can’t promise to turn you into Hercules, but you will definitely walk away able to slay the combinatorial Hydra.
Length: 1h 1m 51s
Exploratory testing is a name given for a technique of using knowledge, experience, and skills to test software in a non-linear, investigatory fashion. Is it a powerful and important part of each professional tester’s repertoire, or actually magic quality pixie dust? Is this the only real way of testing, or is there room for other forms of validation as well as verification? What are the origins of exploratory testing, and who actually invented the technique (as opposed to coining the current name)? Does it always degrade into an unmanageable, unaccountable, random bug hunt, or are there ways to instill order, measure coverage, and build confidence with it? In this webinar, Rex will explore and burst some of the myths of exploratory testing.
One Key Idea: Pairwise Testing Using ACTS
Length: 0h 38m 7s
If you’ve been testing for any length of time, you know that the number of possible test cases is enormous if you try to test all possible combinations of inputs, configuration values, types of data, and so forth. It’s like the mythical monster, the many-headed Hydra, which would sprout two or more new heads for each head that was cut off. Two simple approaches to dealing with combinatorial explosions such as this are equivalence partitioning and boundary value analysis, but those techniques don’t check for interactions between factors. A reasonable, manageable way to test combinations is called pairwise testing, but to do it you’ll need a tool. In this One Key Idea session, Rex will demonstrate the use of a free tool, ACTS, built by the US NIST and available for download worldwide. We can’t promise to turn you into Hercules, but you will definitely walk away able to slay the combinatorial Hydra.
Free Webinar: White-Box Coverage and Automotive Testing
Length: 0h 58m 38s
Automobiles can have millions of lines of code in them, and some of that code can have safety-critical implications. Various standards apply to safety-critical automotive code, dictating the level of code coverage required: statement, decision (or branch), or modified condition/decision coverage. To celebrate the launch of our new Automotive Software Testing course, we’re offering this free webinar. If you build or test automotive software, attend to get a taste of what you could learn in this course.
In this free RBCS webinar, join Rex Black, President of RBCS, as he describes in detail what each of these levels of coverage means, how you can achieve it, and how to understand what code coverage tools are telling you.
Rex Black as keynote speaker at TMMi America 2022
Length: 0h 45m 23s
If you are looking to spend one day learning powerful test techniques in a hands-on way using real apps, and having fun while doing so in a friendly yet competitive setting, this black-box bug-a-thon is for you.