4.4 Experience-based Test Techniques

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When applying experience-based test techniques, the test cases are derived from the tester’s skill and intuition, and their experience with similar applications and technologies. Depending on the tester’s approach and experience, these techniques may achieve widely varying degrees of coverage and effectiveness. Coverage can be difficult to assess and may not be measurable with these techniques.

4.4.1 Error Guessing

Error guessing is a technique used to anticipate the occurrence of mistakes, defects, and failures, based on the tester’s knowledge, including:

  • How the application has worked in the past
  • What types of mistakes the developers tend to make
  • Failures that have occurred in other applications

A methodical approach to the error guessing technique is to create a list of possible mistakes, defects, and failures, and design tests that will expose those failures and the defects that caused them. These mistake, defect, failure lists can be built based on experience, defect and failure data, or from common knowledge about why software fails.

4.4.2 Exploratory Testing

In exploratory testing, informal (not pre-defined) tests are designed, executed, logged, and evaluated dynamically during test execution. The test results are used to learn more about the component or system, and to create tests for the areas that may need more testing.
Exploratory testing is sometimes conducted using session-based testing to structure the activity. In session-based testing, exploratory testing is conducted within a defined time-box, and the tester uses a test charter containing test objectives to guide the testing. The tester may use test session sheets to document the steps followed and the discoveries made.

Exploratory testing is most useful when there are few or inadequate specifications or significant time pressure on testing. Exploratory testing is also useful to complement other more formal testing techniques.

Exploratory testing is strongly associated with reactive test strategies. Exploratory
testing can incorporate the use of other black-box, white-box, and experience-based techniques.

4.4.3 Checklist-based Testing

In checklist-based testing, testers design, implement, and execute tests to cover test conditions found in a checklist. As part of analysis, testers create a new checklist or expand an existing checklist, but testers may also use an existing checklist without modification. Such checklists can be built based on experience, knowledge about what is important for the user, or an understanding of why and how software fails.

Checklists can be created to support various test types, including functional and non-functional testing. In the absence of detailed test cases, checklist-based testing can provide guidelines and a degree of consistency. As these are high-level lists, some variability in the actual testing is likely to occur, resulting in potentially greater coverage but less repeatability.

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