A test type is focused on a particular test objective, which could be the testing of a function to be performed by the component or system; a nonfunctional quality characteristic, such as reliability or usability; the structure or architecture of the component or system; or related to changes, i.e. confirming that defects have been fixed (confirmation testing, or re-testing) and looking for unintended changes (regression testing). Depending on its objectives, testing will be organized differently. For example, component testing aimed at performance would be quite different to component testing aimed at achieving decision coverage.
With the testing concept in mind the techniques have to be selected wisely depend upon the requirement or the software being tested. In context of testing process the techniques can be divided into two broad categories as “Static and Dynamic” where they have various techniques under them.
Both of them are meant to find the defects and defaults in the software in their own way but they are not alternatives for each other because the characteristic varies widely. In static method the testing process is carried out without executing the code but in the case of dynamic the code will be thoroughly executed and the faults are identified. Both of them are complementary methods as they tend to find different types of defects effectively and efficiently.
Structure-based (white-box) testing techniques
Structure-based testing techniques (which are also dynamic rather than static) use the internal structure of the software to derive test cases. They are commonly called 'white-box' or 'glass-box' techniques (implying you can see into the system) since they require knowledge of how the software is implemented, that is, how it works. For example, a structural technique may be concerned with exercising loops in the software. Different test cases may be derived to exercise the loop once, twice, and many times. This may be done regardless of the functionality of the software.
Specification-based (black-box) testing techniques
The first of the dynamic testing techniques we will look at are the specification based testing techniques. These are also known as 'black-box' or input/output driven testing techniques because they view the software as a black-box with inputs and outputs, but they have no knowledge of how the system or component is structured inside the box. In essence, the tester is concentrating on what the software does, not how it does it.
Experience-based testing techniques
In experience-based techniques, people's knowledge, skills and background are a prime contributor to the test conditions and test cases. The experience of both technical and business people is important, as they bring different perspectives to the test analysis and design process. Due to previous experience with similar systems, they may have insights into what could go wrong, which is very useful for testing.
Where to apply the different categories of techniques
Specification-based techniques are appropriate at all levels of testing (component testing through to acceptance testing) where a specification exists. When performing system or acceptance testing, the requirements specification or functional specification may form the basis of the tests. When performing component or integration testing, a design document or low-level specification Forms the basis of the tests.
Structure-based techniques can also be used at all levels of testing. Developers use structure-based techniques in component testing and component integration testing, especially where there is good tool support for code coverage. Structure-based techniques are also used in system and acceptance testing, but the structures are different. For example, the coverage of menu options or major business transactions could be the structural element in system or acceptance testing.
The function of a system (or component) is 'what it does'. This is typically described in a requirements specification, a functional specification, or in use cases. There may be some functions that are 'assumed' to be provided those are not documented that are also part of the requirement for a system, though it is difficult to test against undocumented and implicit requirements. Functional tests are based on these functions, described in SRS documents or understood by the testers and may be performed at all test levels (e.g. test for components may be based on a component specification).
Functional testing considers the specified behavior and is often also referred to as black-box testing. This is not entirely true, since black-box testing also includes non-functional testing. Functional testing can be done focusing on suitability, interoperability, security, accuracy and compliance. Security testing, for example, investigates the functions (e.g. a firewall) relating to detection of threats, such as viruses, from malicious outsiders.
Testing functionality can be done from two perspectives:
Requirements-based testing uses a specification of the functional requirements for the system as the basis for designing tests. A good way to start is to use the table of contents of the requirements specification as an initial test inventory or list of items to test (or not to test). We should also prioritize the requirements based on risk criteria (if this is not already done in the specification) and use this to prioritize the tests. This will ensure that the most important and most critical tests are included in the testing effort.
Business-process-based testing uses knowledge of the business processes. Business processes describe the scenarios involved in the day-to-day business use of the system. Use cases originate from object-oriented development, but are nowadays popular in many development life cycles. They also take the business processes as a starting point, although they start from tasks to be performed by users. Use cases are a very useful basis for test cases from a business perspective. The techniques used for functional testing are often specification-based, but experienced-based techniques can also be used. Test conditions and test cases are derived from the functionality of the component or system. As part of test designing, a model may be developed, such as a process model, state transition model or a plain-language specification.
A second target for testing is the testing of the quality characteristics, or nonfunctional attributes of the system (or component or integration group). Here we are interested in how well or how fast something is done. We are testing something that we need to measure on a scale of measurement, for example time to respond.
Non-functional testing, as functional testing, is performed at all test levels. Non-functional testing includes, but is not limited to, performance testing, load testing, stress testing, usability testing, maintainability testing, reliability testing and portability testing. It is the testing of 'how well' the system works. Many have tried to capture software quality in a collection of characteristics and related sub-characteristics. In these models some elementary characteristics keep on reappearing, although their place in the hierarchy can differ.
The characteristics and their sub-characteristics are, respectively:
Functionality: This consists of five sub-characteristics: suitability, accuracy, security, interoperability and compliance.
Efficiency: is divided into time behavior (performance), resource utilization and compliance;
Portability: This also consists of five sub-characteristics: adaptability, installability, co-existence, replaceability and compliance.
Reliability: further into the sub-characteristics maturity (robustness), fault-tolerance, recoverability and compliance.
Usability: This is classified into the sub-characteristics understandability, learnability, operability, attractiveness and compliance.
Maintainability: consists of five sub-characteristics: analyzability, changeability, stability, testability and compliance.
The third target of testing is the structure of the system or component. If we are talking about the structure of a system, we may call it the system architecture. Structural testing is often referred to as 'white-box' or 'glass-box' because we are interested in what is happening 'inside the box'.
Structural testing is most often used as a way of measuring the thoroughness of testing through the coverage of a set of structural elements or coverage items. It can occur at any test level, although is it true to say that it tends to be mostly applied at component and integration and generally is less likely at higher test levels, except for business-process testing.
At component integration level it may be based on the architecture of the system, such as a calling hierarchy. A system, system integration or acceptance testing test basis could be a business model or menu structure. At component level, and to a lesser extent at component integration testing, there is good tool support to measure code coverage.
Coverage measurement tools assess the percentage of executable elements (e.g. statements or decision outcomes) that have been exercised by a test suite. If coverage is not 100%, then additional tests may need to be written and run to cover those parts that have not yet been exercised. This of course depends on the exit criteria. The techniques used for structural testing are structure-based techniques, also referred to as white-box techniques. Control flow models are often used to support structural testing.
Confirmation and regression testing
The final target of testing is the testing of changes. This category is slightly different to the others because if you have made a change to the software, you will have changed the way it functions, the way it performs (or both) and its structure. However we are looking here at the specific types of tests relating to changes, even though they may include all of the other test types.
Confirmation testing or re-testing
When a test fails and we determine that the cause of the failure is a software defect, the defect is reported, and we can expect a new version of the software that has had the defect fixed. In this case we will need to execute the test again to confirm that the defect has indeed been fixed. This is known as confirmation testing.
When doing confirmation testing, it is important to ensure that the test is executed in exactly the same way as it was the first time, using the same inputs, data and environment. If the test now passes does this mean that the software is now correct? Well, we now know that at least one part of the software is correct - where the defect was. But this is not enough. The fix may have introduced or uncovered a different defect elsewhere in the software. The way to detect these 'unexpected side-effects' of fixes is to do regression testing.
Like confirmation testing, regression testing involves executing test cases that have been executed before. The difference is that, for regression testing, the test cases probably passed the last time they were executed (compare this with the test cases executed in confirmation testing - they failed the last time). The term 'regression testing' is something of a misnomer. More specifically, the purpose of regression testing is to verify that modifications in the software or the environment have not caused unintended adverse side effects and that the system still meets its requirements.
It is common for organizations to have what is usually called a regression test suite or regression test pack. This is a set of test cases that is specifically used for regression testing. They are designed to collectively exercise most functions (certainly the most important ones) in a system but not test any one in detail. It is appropriate to have a regression test suite at every level of testing (component testing, integration testing, system testing, etc.). All of the test cases in a regression test suite would be executed every time a new version of software is produced and this makes them ideal candidates for automation. If the regression test suite is very large it may be more appropriate to select a subset for execution. Regression tests are executed whenever the software changes, either as a result of fixes or new or changed functionality. It is also a good idea to execute them when some aspect of the environment changes, for example when a new version of a database management system is introduced or a new version of a source code compiler is used.
After the completion of the testing and other activities the system will be launched for live use in the operational environment and the testing done during this phase is called maintenance testing. There is plenty of difference between “maintenance testing” and “maintainability testing”.
A maintenance test begins on the receipt of the application for the change. The test manager then formulates the test plan for the maintenance or change for the particular software. The test cases are specified or adopted based on the changes requested. Upon the receipt of the test objects the new and modified tests and the regression tests are executed and the test ware is preserved once maintenance is complete.
One aspect which, in many cases, differs somewhat from the development situation is the test organization. New development and their appropriate test activities are usually carried out as parts of a project, whereas maintenance tests are normally executed as an activity in the regular organization. As a result, there is often some lack of resources and flexibility, and the test process may experience more competition from other activities.
A major and important activity within maintenance testing is impact analysis. During impact analysis, together with stakeholders, a decision is made on what parts of the system may be unintentionally affected and therefore need careful regression testing. Risk analysis will help to decide where to focus regression testing - it is unlikely that the team will have time to repeat all the existing tests.
The two levels of maintenance testing are,
1. Testing the changes
2. Regression tests to show that the rest of the system has not been affected by the maintenance work.
Reasons for carrying out maintenance testing
Most often maintenance tests are carried in existing operating systems when there are some modifications or changes are to be made based on the needs of the users or stake holders. Most often the maintenance testing comes into picture when there is modifications based on the below two categories.
- Modifications as per requirements
- Ad-hoc modifications
Modifications as per requirements:
The modifications that are pre planned can be classified as follows,
Enhancing the software as per customer needs, by adding new features and functions.
Changes that are required based on the operative environment and the level of ease of access to users.
The correction measures for the fixing of defects that are identified during the testing phase.
Ad-hoc corrective modifications
These types of modifications are usually carried out when there is an emergency fix required for the software. Although we have tested the software at different levels due to some unavoidable circumstances the software might not work or it will crash. So in order to make this failure work the emergency fixes are required. At this point the crash will be fixed and the correction measures are taken to avoid it in future. The risk factor is also considered in this case to avoid any future failures.