Exploratory Software Testing: Tips, Tricks, Tours, and Techniques to Guide Test Design

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While there is no training there, that idea contains the nugget, the first step to getting started.

Getting Started With Exploratory Testing

In a very small program, with one screen or workflow, it might be possible to cover a reasonable combination of the workflows through play. Once the application is complex enough to require more than a frantic burst of work for an hour or so, testers need some structure and guidance to help them decide what to test next and when to stop.

That is, dive into one piece of the application, explore it until the energy is exhausted. Take a break, look at the bugs found, the areas of the software untested, find a new area, and dive into that. These are exploratory approaches by definition, because what the tester learns helps them understand the software and inform where to go next. For now, we are talking about ways to explore. Below outlines the four more methods of exploratory testing.

Most test design approaches assume the tester has some background on the project.


They might not even get a brief-in. Quick attacks are a series of techniques that create tests from nearly any user interface when the attacker has little to no background. The tester generally inputs valid data first name, for example, should be short and contain regular characters then attempts to discover problems in the software by sending in invalid data such as a blank field, an incredibly long name, a name with special characters, HTML codes, spaces, or other invalid data.

Quick attacks for responsive design include using tools like browsershots to see thumbnails of screen renderings in dozens of browsers in seconds, or manually resizing the browser quickly to find rendering errors at specific resolutions. Classic hardware quick attacks include yanking out the mouse during a mouse operation, closing and opening the screen of a laptop without going into hibernate mode, or trying to print to a printer with no paper.

Quick attacks are born from common platform problems. These are issues that tend to crop up in textboxes, or with search screens or checkout screens.

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These sorts of user interfaces have patterns of error. Quick attacks are just collections of these common platform errors. The power of quick attacks is that they tend to provide a large number of bugs quickly. They can also be performed almost instantly after the tester comes up with an idea.

The problem with quick attacks is the argument that the bug finds may not be important. Instead, the power in quick attacks is its ability to provide information about the status of the software. Quick attacks, after all, represent extreme situations. If the programmer handles those situations well, the programmer probably handled the happy path well. If not, testers know they will have a great deal of testing to do.

What are Testing Tours?

Best of all, once quick attack testing is complete, the testers likely know enough about the software to recognize the happy path, with or without advice. For an email system, this is composing, sending, and reading email, along with search and related functions.

Follow the Data One more useful technique for working with data-hungry applications is to create a piece of data and then watch it as it goes through its lifecycle. Is all information presented correctly? Can user A see what user B is up to? What happens if someone tries to edit something they should not be able to? Naturally, these are only a few of the very many ideas you can use while doing exploratory testing. We understand that creating a product is a challenging and risky endeavor and believe that having a partner with experience and know-how is a critical first step.

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Close Menu. What is Exploratory Testing?


When to Use Exploratory Testing? Getting out of a Rut When you have gone over all of your scripted tests, you have run your automated ones, and you are running out of ideas what else can be tested… you may be tempted to think there are no bugs left! Creating Test Scripts for an Already Existing Product Exploring is perfect when you need to create a test plan and a set of test cases for a product already on the market.

Tours I first heard about the idea of testing tours from James A. Most Read 1 Mobile payments security. What should developers know about it? Want to stay tuned to our FM Blog? The tours are strategies or patterns used to uncover certain kinds of defects.

Following the metaphor of a tourist who explores an unknown area, a tester explores the code using various techniques or tours. In this tip, I'll explore six tours from Whittaker's book which are part of what Whittaker describes as the Business District: that area where "business gets done. Any guidebook will highlight the main attractions for tourists.


Exploratory Software Testing: Tips, Tricks, Tours, and Techniques to Guide Test Design

This is where the money is made. In software terms, the money tour covers those features and functions that are highlighted in marketing literature. These are the primary functions that seen on commercials or demos when the product is getting ready for release. In preparing to do exploratory testing for the Money Tour, it's recommended that the testers meet with the sales and marketing staff, watch demo videos, attend customer visits and figure out the best ways to show off the primary features and functions of the application. Execute tests that would demonstrate those "back-of-the-box" features.

View the tests from the perspective of the sales staff. Are you able to easily show the functions of the application? Does the application execute as described by the literature? A variation of this tour is called the Skeptical Customer tour in which the tester would get in the mind of a customer asking a lot of questions about what is being demoed.

This tour should test variations of the main functions, answering such questions such as "what if we did this? What kind of questions would be asked? Perform the tests that will answer those questions. Landmarks are used to get you from place to place as you travel. You look for certain spots to visit and then, from there, go to your next destination, often using a map to orient yourself.

In software as well, we navigate through an application. We go from function to function, performing different types of activities.

Six tours for exploratory testing the business district of your application

In exploratory testing using the landmark tour, the tester would determine various key features that are to be visited. The navigation to these features may vary. Perhaps you can get to them using keystrokes or through menus. Often by changing the order in which you navigate from place to place, you can change conditions and uncover some underlying defects with the application. Imagine the intellectual that is on a city tour and asks questions of the guide. The Intellectual tour, similar to the Skeptical Customer tour, involves getting into the mind of someone that would be asking a lot of tough questions.

In this tour, the tester needs to be asking the hardest questions. What is the most complicated function that can be executed? Test the limits. What inputs would cause the most processing? Which queries would be the most complex? The questions, of course, will depend on the application under test, but the idea is to test for the most complex situations. Use the maximums for fields, files, sizes or anything that has a limit. Execute the functions of the power user.

FedEx is responsible for picking up a package and delivering it somewhere, tracking its progress along the way. Similarly, the FedEx Tour is the tracking of data from a start point to an end point.