Exploratory Testing Tutorial: A Comprehensive Guide With Examples and Best Practices
Learn about Exploratory Testing with our comprehensive tutorial. Discover what it is, why it's important, its benefits, and how to perform it with real-life examples.
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Exploratory testing is a type of software testing that is performed in an unstructured and ad-hoc manner. Testers explore the software and try different scenarios, inputs, and interactions to identify bugs and issues without using pre-written test cases. In exploratory testing, the goal is to uncover as many defects as possible and provide valuable feedback to the development team.
Regardless of how much time is spent testing using rigorous manual and automated test scripts, errors still manage to make their way into every release. Due to technological improvements, all businesses are relocating their operations from physical locations to websites and web apps. Many intricate testing methodologies have evolved to provide the greatest product or services to the end user.
Instead of having a rigid set of practices that the tester must adhere to, Exploratory testing gives the tester complete flexibility to explore the product or service to improve it over time.
What Is Exploratory Testing?
Exploratory testing combines the tester experience and a structured testing approach used during testing phases of intense time pressure. Exploratory testing involves concurrent test case design and test execution of an application or system under test.
Here, the testers' job is not based on previously written test cases. They test a system mindlessly to find flaws that consumers might run into when visiting a website or app without a clear goal or direction in mind.
In essence, Exploratory testing seeks to replicate the individual freedom and preferences of end users. It's all about learning, researching, and being curious. In a contemporary approach, testers utilize the program on their initiative to gauge the level of the user experience it offers.
Exploratory testing requires minimal planning. Testers continually choose their next course of action. It all depends on the tester's way of thinking.
When it comes to identifying more subtle flaws that formal testing may miss, this testing method can occasionally be more helpful.
When Is Exploratory Testing Necessary?
In software development, Exploratory testing typically occurs at the unit or integration level. During such activities, the tester determines what facilities are available at each step of the development process. It tests them by inputting various data or commands and observing or checking for output or errors. The resulting observations may suggest additional tests that should be performed. Because the tester has control over choosing what to test and when to stop testing (known as "acceptance criteria"), Exploratory testing techniques tend to be less labor-intensive than scripted techniques.
Exploratory testing can also be performed during system or acceptance testing if there is time remaining or if problems are found that were not addressed by previous scripted test cases.
However, Exploratory testing is necessary for situations like this:
- It comprehends how the application functions, what tasks it does, and what the interface looks like.
- To find application functionality that is problematic and has not been well tested.
- To force the application to show proof of its ability to perform the functions for which it was designed.
- To cut down on creating test scripts.
- To discover new issues and fresh knowledge.
- When the early iteration is necessary.
- When new testers are added to the project.
- The testing team is made up of skilled testers.
- When the use case is important enough.
Advantages of Exploratory Testing
There are many advantages to performing Exploratory testing over traditional testing strategies. Still, they mainly amount to the fact that this type of testing will give you a much more complete picture of what people are experiencing within your product/website/application, etc.
- It offers prompt input during the initial phases of development.
- It aids in finding a wide variety of bugs.
- Exploratory testing doesn't need a script; therefore, it may be done by developers, testers, designers, or other project stakeholders.
- When required documentation is unavailable or just partially available, this testing is helpful.
- More flaws are discovered during the investigation process than through standard testing.
- Encounter faults are typically missed by conventional testing methods.
- Real user intelligence and experience are used in this human approach to testing, which cannot be automated. Rather than working on a pass-or-fail basis, it truly considers the application's user-friendliness, usability, and ease of use aspects.
Stages of Exploratory Testing
You need to have a foundational plan in place before getting started on Exploratory testing. Make the test a priority in your time and attention, and think about the test's goals, time constraints, and how you'll present your findings.
Classification of the Bug Taxonomy
- Sort the typical flaws in previous projects into categories.
- Investigate the root causes of the issues or flaws.
- Find the risks and create concepts for application testing.
Create the Test Charter
Test charter should include:
- The first step in exploration testing is to develop test ideas.
- What should be tested, and how it should be specified in the test charter?
- What should be examined?
- How the end-user might use the system is determined by the test charter.
The Time Box's purpose is to allow testers to test and react to system replies. It entails the subsequent actions during a specific time window.
- Testers work on the tests mentioned above for a set time (usually 90 minutes).
- There should be no disruptions throughout this time.
- The timebox can be increased or decreased as needed (depending on test progression).
- Analysis of the flaws.
- Studying the testing's results.
- Analysis of the coverage areas.
- Assemble the outcomes.
- Compare the test charter's expected results to the actual results.
- Determine if more testing is necessary.
Differences Between Scripted and Exploratory Testing
Scripted vs. Exploratory testing is a bit of an issue in software testing, particularly regarding agile development and test-driven development. Many people strongly believe in the difference between the two and which method is better for finding bugs. Still, a few key differences set Scripted and Exploratory testing apart from each other.
Types of Exploratory Testing
Exploratory testing is often used when there are many unknowns about what exactly the software is meant to do or how it should be used in real-world situations. In these cases, the goal is to explore the software rather than follow a rigid plan or test a specific set of features. The tester may choose to perform Exploratory testing with no plan at all or may adjust their approach based on what they are learning while exploring.
- Freestyle Exploratory Testing: There are no guidelines, no coverage accounts, etc., in this type of Exploratory testing. However, this testing is useful when you need to rapidly become acquainted with the application, when you want to check the other testers' work, when you want to look into a bug, or when you just want to perform a brief smoke test.
- Scenario-based Exploratory Testing: This type of testing is based on real-world user scenarios, as the name suggests. Testers thoroughly examine each scenario before testing the program in all relevant ways. This form of testing's primary goal is to investigate the software for potential scenarios and make sure to increase test coverage.
- Strategy-based Exploratory Testing: Exploratory testing is paired with well-known testing methods, including boundary value analysis, equivalence testing, and risk-based testing. For this kind of testing, an experienced tester familiar with the application is chosen.
Agile Exploratory Testing
In an Agile test environment, Exploratory testing is a crucial activity because it enables software testers to keep up with the rapid development of agile software projects. Exploratory testing allows testers to become familiar with the application and the domain. With each iteration, this knowledge grows, making testers more effective.
Agile projects benefit from using effective Exploratory testers who use these techniques to alert the project team to potential product flaws. They have the option of managing their ad-hoc testing free-form manner or with charters and test sessions. Exploratory testing might concentrate on high-risk regions to uncover possible issues because testing is inherently risk-driven due to short development intervals.
Exploratory testing and agile methodologies are complementary techniques that, when used together, can significantly enhance the testing process.
Advantages of Exploratory Testing in Agile Development
- Scouting in Exploratory testing helps discover new areas and identify severe issues.
- When an application is being developed iteratively, the testers may concentrate on testing new features while the automation handles regression and backward compatibility testing.
- When requirements are unstable, Exploratory testing can assist in quickly testing new requirements.
- Giving developers input as quickly as feasible.
- Defects of a broader range are discovered.
- Since there are no predefined test cases and each resource provides a unique perspective, a broad set of resources, such as a developer, tester, business analyst, and designers, can execute Exploratory testing.
Skills Required to Perform Exploratory Testing
To perform Exploratory testing, testers must be acquainted with some of the following skills:
Efficient Time Management Techniques
The tester should be able to pick things up quickly and adhere to deadlines. He should be aware of the essential areas of applications and devote more time to them.
When you use a creative, indirect approach to tackle a problem, you use lateral thinking, which typically entails viewing the situation more smartly. The essence of lateral thinking is approaching an issue from a creative perspective. Exploratory testing success depends on this kind of innovative and lateral thinking.
One crucial talent that a specialist in exploratory testing must possess is the ability to convey a story. The next step after finding a bug is to explain to the developers why fixing it is crucial for the project's success. It would be your responsibility to create a fictional user and convey to the audience how that user would feel if he were unable to use a particular functionality.
The capacity for reasoning and analytical thought is known as critical thinking. You can find a hidden relationship between various variables by thinking this way. Because of this, critical thinking also raises the likelihood of discovering high-risk bugs that would otherwise go undetected. People with critical thinking abilities can consider the risks and repercussions of any decision, including the hunt for bugs, and are always prepared to offer actionable solutions.
Before you begin conducting exploratory testing, you must have effective communication abilities. Good communication skills are necessary for informing other testers about the defects you discovered, how important they are to the company, and how they should be given the appropriate level of priority. You would be able to describe your findings in-depth and pertinently with excellent communication as well. Communication skills are a game-changer for exploratory testers.
It doesn't need much technical expertise to test in areas like accessibility or visual testing. Exploratory testing, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter. Although you won't need to code, you should have the skills of a full-stack developer. You must be able to comprehend what the code means and how the various interface levels are generally coded, starting with the user interface and finishing with the database architecture. There is a potential that if you lack proper technical understanding, you may miss some severe bugs.
When Should Businesses Take Up Exploratory Testing?
To get the most value out of testing efforts, most testing engagements necessitate the fusion of different testing techniques.
Creating a functional decomposition of the application area in a spreadsheet or test management tool captures the application's basic functionality during the casual Exploratory testing phase. The appropriate adjustments are then made after this practical breakdown has been confirmed by the development, production, and business support teams.
- Makes testing more efficient: Since there is no need for predefined test plans with this testing approach, testers can get started testing earlier and more quickly.
- Provides quicker feedback: Testers carry out this testing procedure in real-time, allowing for quicker feedback.
- Encourages an agile atmosphere: This unique testing type can be carried out in an agile context since it permits requirement changes with quicker responses.
- Identifies unforeseen flaws: This testing technique aids in identifying unanticipated flaws or behaviors that go undetected by conventional testing techniques.
- Encourages real-time thinking: Exploratory testing incorporates the human aspect into software testing as testers examine the application from various perspectives while employing human intelligence and real-time reasoning.
- Facilitates learning in real-time: With this testing approach, testers may both learn and test the software at the same time. As a result, testers with limited product expertise can also run this test and gain knowledge of the software as they test it.
- Takes less time to prepare: With this testing approach, there is little setup or documentation needed before the test. Testers can get started testing right away.
- Time-Saving: This unique testing type can be carried out in an agile context since it permits requirement changes with quicker responses. This testing strategy saves testers and stakeholders time because it is quicker than other techniques and enables quick choices.
Helpful Tips for Exploratory Testing
Exploratory testing is great for many reasons, but it's not a one-size-fits-all approach. It can be used in many situations and with different goals, and you want to tailor your Exploratory testing session to your needs.
We'll look at a few general approaches to Exploratory testing, but remember that this isn't a comprehensive list! If you're looking for more ideas, look at our blog on getting started with Exploratory testing.
- The application should be divided into modules and then divided into pages. Start reading the pages for your Exploratory testing. This will provide appropriate coverage.
- Make a list of every feature and mark each item off as you complete it.
- Start with a straightforward scenario, then gradually add more features to test it.
- Check each input field.
- Examine the message for errors.
- Record any difficulties that were brought up during the tests.
- For efficient testing, pair together the testers.
- As much documentation as you can create.
- For maximum test coverage, run as many tests as you can.
Tools for Exploratory Testing
Here is a list of the Top Exploratory Testing Tools, along with a description of their most popular features.
The flexible test plan format offered by Testpad is an excellent method to keep track of your Exploratory testing. Get the most out of your people by allowing them to painstakingly search for bugs while being guided by a functional checklist. With keyboard-driven editing, Testpad provides a sleek, contemporary user interface. The reporting process is straightforward but surprisingly efficient, and JIRA and other issue trackers may be easily integrated.
PractiTest is a test management tool with an integral Exploratory testing feature. It describes charters, lists several types of annotations, and lets you easily report errors from your runs. For complete QA coverage, add session-based testing to your testing efforts effortlessly.
Exploratory Testing Chrome Extension
The capabilities of the Chrome Extension facilitate web exploratory testing. Throughout the session, screenshots are taken. You will find it simple to report bugs, ideas, comments, and inquiries. The URL will be automatically tracked. You can import and save the session. The session can be exported as JSON, CSV, or HTML. This add-on reports errors, suggestions, notes, etc.
Bug Magnet is a session tester for Chrome and Firefox. You can incorporate frequent issue values and edge cases with the aid of the tool. It is one of the easiest tools to use during Exploratory test sessions. The Bug-magnet has a very low overhead per page. It is independent of any external libraries. Through Bug Magnet, the user may quickly expand their configuration files. The same domain's input fields, text areas, and multi-frames are all supported by Bug-Magnet.
A straightforward and cost-free Exploratory testing tool is the session tester. It controls and keeps track of session-based testing. One aspect of the session tester is the timer, which enables you to customize the test session length to suit your needs. Using a Session tester, you can quickly and easily capture session notes in XML format. This XML format can be changed.
Another helpful tool for exploratory testing is SmartBear Zephyr. It offers complete solutions for all sizes of agile teams. Additionally, it provides one-click interaction with JIRA, Jenkins, Bamboo, and other systems. Zephyr offers tools for test management. These tools will enhance the effectiveness and speed of software testing. Continuous testing agility is offered by Zephyr, from agile to automation and DevOps to analytics. With Atlassian tools, it operates natively inside JIRA.
An Exploratory testing solution for web and desktop apps on all versions of Windows is Telerik Test Studio. It is one of the greatest tools for Exploratory testing that enables you to evaluate the performance, load, and functionality of online and mobile applications. It also provides a plugin to check for cross-browser compatibility issues.
Testers may consolidate and accelerate test management with the help of qTest, an intuitive and scalable test management system. Every step of the QA process is made easier and more productive with the qTest exploratory testing tool. The enterprise's agile test management platform is called Tricentis qTest. It is an assortment of effective agile testing tools. You can grow test automation, improve collaboration, and accelerate time to market with the help of this platform.
A web-based tool for Exploratory testing and test case management, TestRail is incredibly extensive. The tool effectively manages tracks, and organizes your software testing efforts.
Azure Test Plans
Azure Test Plans is an Exploratory testing tool that aids in enhancing the quality of your app's code. Utilizing Exploratory test sessions enables you to simultaneously create and run tests to maximize quality in contemporary software development processes. As you run exploratory tests, it records detailed scenario data. You can test your application by running tests on both desktop and web applications.
Challenges of Exploratory Testing
Despite several advantages, there are a few challenges in Exploratory testing. Some of them are:
- Due to unstructured testing, actual steps are occasionally overlooked and cannot be recorded in the bug reproduction procedures, making it challenging to duplicate the issue.
- A novice or someone with no prior knowledge in the field shouldn't handle it because they won't be able to think from the user's perspective and will constantly report irrational issues that will waste the team's time.
- Automation testing is not feasible since few things depend entirely on the end user's perspective, intelligence, or thinking.
- Unsure of when to quit because Exploratory testing requires the execution of specific test cases.
How To Overcome Challenges Faced by Testers During Exploratory Testing?
Let's look at some common challenges in Exploratory testing and how you could overcome them.
Complete Product Knowledge
People without product understanding can undertake Exploratory testing. However, occasionally this poses a challenge. Without a thorough understanding of the product, it's possible to overlook some crucial instances. Therefore, it is suggested to involve experienced testers in the testing team to carry out this test to overcome this challenge. Pair testing works best when either or both testers are skilled, but ideally, both should be.
In fact, testers who adopt the method frequently exploit the absence of proof as justification for not recording their testing procedure! This should never be done.
You must consider how this may affect the testing procedure. Any testing project's productivity is a critical problem, and it is impossible to assess productivity without sufficient documentation and a defined timeframe.
Additionally, the number of problem reports produced for a tested system that is specified may be lower. In such a situation, it might be challenging for a particular tester to explain how his job has been going during the specified time frame. Now that we know this is yet another issue with Exploratory testing let's examine how we may lessen its effects on our productivity. Therefore, proper documentation is important.
In accordance with this testing approach, testers do not adhere to any predetermined test strategy, plan, or script. Additionally, its documentation is evolving. As a result, it lacks traceability, which presents a problem. Testers should report the test as it is run to get around this problem. Additionally, to keep stakeholders and other testers informed.
Proper Execution Time
Not knowing when to adjust to Exploratory testing is another typical problem while ensuring the best standards. In fact, knowing when to do Exploratory testing is more crucial than knowing how to. Due to a shortage of test cases, this is also significant. As a result, it may have a negative effect if implemented at an inappropriate moment. Businesses should use this test method to identify software issues when there is little time to overcome this challenge.
This testing approach can be used to confirm any bugs that have been fixed instantly. It shouldn't be applied to tasks that require more. This unique testing process relies heavily on human intelligence to function well. The topic of whether or not Exploratory testing can be automated persists despite enterprises' continued use of test automation.
How To Perform Exploratory Testing?
We'll now look at how to do Exploratory tests on our websites or web applications in this Exploratory Testing tutorial.
The ultimate goal of Exploratory testing is to observe user behavior in actual circumstances. Testing your web and mobile applications on real devices, operating systems, and browsers offers the best possible user experience.
However, setting up an internal testing infrastructure is costly and fraught with operational difficulties and scalability problems. As a result, it is better and more economical to perform Exploratory testing using a real device cloud rather than an in-house device lab.
On its scalable cloud grid, a cross-browser testing platform like LambdaTest enables you to do Exploratory testing of your websites and apps.
Performing Automated Exploratory Testing
Step 1: Register on the LambdaTest website. You can sign up for free if you've never used the site before.
Step 2: Selecting the Automation tab from the left menu gives you the following choices:
- Test Archive
You can migrate your changes from either SauceLabs or BrowserStack. If not, you can select a language or testing framework from the options available on the UI.
Step 3: If Java is chosen as the language, you must use the following page to set up the project and the OS/Browser. After setting up the necessary information, you can run your test case.
Now that you know the dynamics behind automated testing, you can explore the LambdaTest platform for performing Exploratory Testing.
Performing Manual Exploratory Testing
Instead of relying on several testing frameworks, LambdaTest enables cross-browser testing utilizing various operating systems and browsers if you'd prefer to forgo automation testing. It can be completed more quickly in a few simple steps.
The following options are provided under Real Time Testing:
- Browser Testing
- Mobile App (Virtual)
- LT Browser
You can perform cross-browser testing on desktop or mobile devices. Follow these steps to perform online browser testing on virtual machines:
Step 1: Log in to the LambdaTest platform.
Step 2: Go to Real-Time Testing → Browser Testing. Select the browser, OS, and resolution from the available options.
Step 3: Once all the required details are entered, click START. You can now perform Exploratory testing on your selected website.
Best Practices for Exploratory Testing
Exploratory testing is an invaluable method for improving the quality of software products. It allows for better defect detection, helps to identify areas of improvement, and can be used as a way to evaluate different approaches during problem-solving. When appropriately used, Exploratory testing can provide value that outweighs any other testing method.
However, it is important to understand the best practices associated with Exploratory testing to ensure that it allows for maximum benefit. This tutorial explains some of these best practices, including how Exploratory testing can be used to identify defects and how it differs from other testing methods.
Acquire Sufficient Resources
Exploratory testing emphasizes the testers' autonomy, participation, and accountability because they choose where and how to conduct the tests on their own. They are free to concentrate on the features and paths that they value most.
Therefore, having the necessary resources is crucial to starting an Exploratory testing phase. Testers need extensive bug-hunting experience because it will help them comprehend and analyze the digital product being tested and detect and infer potential dangers. Making sure that testers are multi-skilled, imaginative, curious, and independent is essential. Additionally, they should be able to improvise and observe well. They will need to choose which additional experiments to do based on what they learn as their investigation goes further.
Choose the Testing Approach That Best Achieves Your Goals
Choosing a testing approach that will make it simple and easy for the tester to carry out the tests and for the stakeholders to analyze the results. Include in your calculations the availability of time, resources, and testing equipment for the test cycles.
Keeping a Clear and Concise Record
You don't need to document something if it has no value, but you should keep a clear and concise record of everything you do, how you do it, and what you find. This will show you how reliable the session was and enable you to improve the test procedure moving forward.
Identify Your Audience
The goal of any software testing is to ensure that a product meets the highest standards of user satisfaction. Exploratory testing is most successful when the customer's perspective is fully appreciated. It only makes sense to do Exploratory testing from the consumer's perspective.
But remember that understanding multiple client perspectives is necessary, not just one. It has several. Depending on their age, gender, economic situation, tastes, and other characteristics, various end users interact with the same software differently. Testers need to be able to approach the product from each user's perspective.
Know Your Competitors
Testers can identify potential flaws by being aware of what works and what doesn't for them. Naturally, this needs to start throughout the development phase. A tester can be careful to test the cart and make sure the same issue does not occur in the app they are testing when they are aware that users of a certain competitor app frequently complain about the clumsy design of the cart function.
Every software testing process should include Exploratory testing. Since it seeks to evaluate software from the user's perspective, it is best done manually. It becomes crucial to ensure that a website or app meets users' expectations when done appropriately at every stage. Include it in the testing process to ensure that the software you release will provide users with exactly what they desire.
Businesses should use Exploratory testing from a next-generation QA and independent software testing services provider for quicker releases of high-quality software and give customers a positive experience.
Moreover, it allows the tester the flexibility to test however they see fit, enhancing their knowledge and thinking.
Published at DZone with permission of Rhea Dube. See the original article here.
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