Experience-Based Testing

What is Experience- based testing technique?

  • In experience-based techniques, people’s knowledge, skills and background are of prime importance to the test conditions and test cases.
  • The experience of both technical and business people is required, as they bring different perspectives to the test analysis and design process. Because of the previous experience with similar systems, they may have an idea as what could go wrong, which is very useful for testing.
  • Experience-based techniques go together with specification-based and structure-based techniques, and are also used when there is no specification, or if the specification is inadequate or out of date.
  • This may be the only type of technique used for low-risk systems, but this approach may be particularly useful under extreme time pressure – in fact this is one of the factors leading to exploratory testing.

Type(s) of Experienced-Based Testing

1. What is Error guessing?

  • The Error guessing is a technique where the experienced and good testers are encouraged to think of situations in which the software may not be able to cope. Some people seem to be naturally good at testing and others are good testers because they have a lot of experience either as a tester or working with a particular system and so are able to find out its weaknesses. This is why an error guessing approach, used after more formal techniques have been applied to some extent, can be very effective. It also saves a lot of time because of the assumptions and guessing made by the experienced testers to find out the defects which otherwise won’t be able to find.
  • The success of error guessing is very much dependent on the skill of the tester, as good testers know where the defects are most likely to be.
  • This is why an error guessing approach, used after more formal techniques have been applied to some extent, can be very effective. In using more formal techniques, the tester is likely to gain a better understanding of the system, what it does and how it works. With this better understanding, he or she is likely to be better at guessing ways in which the system may not work properly.
  • Typical conditions to try include division by zero, blank (or no) input, empty files and the wrong kind of data (e.g. alphabetic characters where numeric are required). If anyone ever says of a system or the environment in which it is to operate ‘That could never happen’, it might be a good idea to test that condition, as such assumptions about what will and will not happen in the live environment are often the cause of failures.
  • A structured approach to the error-guessing technique is to list possible defects or failures and to design tests that attempt to produce them. These defect and failure lists can be built based on the tester’s own experience or that of other people, available defect and failure data, and from common knowledge about why software fails.

2. What is Exploratory testing?

  • As its name implies, exploratory testing is about exploring, finding out about the software, what it does, what it doesn’t do, what works and what doesn’t work. The tester is constantly making decisions about what to test next and where to spend the (limited) time. This is an approach that is most useful when there are no or poor specifications and when time is severely limited.
  • Exploratory testing is a hands-on approach in which testers are involved in minimum planning and maximum test execution.
  • The planning involves the creation of a test charter, a short declaration of the scope of a short (1 to 2 hour) time-boxed test effort, the objectives and possible approaches to be used.
  • The test design and test execution activities are performed in parallel typically without formally documenting the test conditions, test cases or test scripts. This does not mean that other, more formal testing techniques will not be used. For example, the tester may decide to use boundary value analysis but will think through and test the most important boundary values without necessarily writing them down. Some notes will be written during the exploratory-testing session, so that a report can be produced afterwards.
  • Test logging is undertaken as test execution is performed, documenting the key aspects of what is tested, any defects found and any thoughts about possible further testing.
  • It can also serve to complement other, more formal testing, helping to establish greater confidence in the software. In this way, exploratory testing can be used as a check on the formal test process by helping to ensure that the most serious defects have been found.