Exploratory Testing vs. Scripted Testing — A Quick Guide
Learn the differences between exploratory and scripted testing and when to use each one for comprehensive application testing.
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In the past decade, there is an exponential growth in the number of applications released in the market. Quality of an application has become the main differentiating factor. This has significantly increased the importance of the Quality Assurance process for the business. The higher the quality of the application, the larger user base it will attract. To ensure the quality of the application, there are various software testing methods used.
The most prominent software testing methods are Exploratory Testing and Scripted Testing. In exploratory testing, the tester explores the app with a purpose whereas, in scripted testing, the tester writes the test with a purpose.
What Is Exploratory Testing?
Exploratory Testing is a style of software testing where there is less of a structure and a specified process. In this testing, the tester has more personal freedom and responsibility to utilize their skills and knowledge to optimize the quality of their work. The tester designs and executes the test simultaneously. In this approach, the testers try to uncover software issues which are unanticipated. The testers emphasize mirroring the user experience of the application. Exploratory testing is well-suited for the agile development approach as it is more adaptable to changes. There are certain formal methods developed for exploratory testing which are as follows:
The test charters are used to outline the areas and features or functionality of the application which are important. The testers are free to use their own testing approach within those parameters. There is no need to strictly follow those parameters but they act as a guideline.
The session-based testing includes a test charter but time rather than features or functionality bound it. The tester attempts to produce as many results, i.e. bugs as possible during a particular session. The underlying idea for this testing is that the ability to detect defects by a tester goes down with the time. This implicates that the longer the time a tester devotes for testing; the lower will be the productivity of the tester.
The mind maps are used before the actual testing begins to define the goals of a session or test charter. The relationships between applied tests, functions, features and discoveries during the testing are captured in a mind map.
What Is Scripted Testing?
In the Scripted Testing approach, the testers follow the script which includes well-documented test cases and test steps. There is no deviation from the script. The testers can write scripts in a number of programming and scripting languages. They can choose to execute the test cases manually or with the help of automated tools.
Comparison Between Exploratory and Scripted Testing
This type of testing requires in-depth domain knowledge. The testing cannot be conducted with insufficient domain knowledge.
The tester can overcome the lack of domain knowledge during test design phase. The testers can analyze the document as well as learn from the knowledge sharing sessions conducted by Subject Matter Experts.
Documentation in an exploratory environment can be found lacking.
A good level of documentation is required in Scripted Testing.
In this approach, little or no lead-in time before test execution is required.
A significant lead-in time before test execution is required in this approach.
There is no investment in preparation. There is no overhead related to reading the documentation.
There is a requirement of significant investment in preparing test scripts and creating documentation prior to test execution.
There is no clear and measurable test coverage in Exploratory Testing.
The test scripts can be traced back to the original requirements and specification to demonstrate test coverage.
The application is compared to the expectations and understanding of the tester on how the application is supposed to work.
The application is verified against the specifications.
In this, the testing cannot be reproduced only the defects can be reproduced.
The testing can be easily reproduced.
This approach emphasizes adaptability and learning.
This approach emphasizes prediction and decision making.
This approach focuses more on the improvement of test design.
This approach focuses more on controlling tests.
When to Use Exploratory Testing
In the early stages of software development when the code is undergoing rapid changes, exploratory testing can be highly effective. The developers can use this technique to perform unit tests while the testers can acquire familiarity with the application using this testing approach. The experience gained from exploratory testing can be valuable in formulating test scripts in the later stages.
In the agile environment, there is little or no time to develop formal test design and scripts. Exploratory testing which is a context-driven testing approach is well-suited for agile development as it keeps up with the short scrum cycles. The test outlines are developed on the fly that saves a lot of time. At the end of each agile cycle, critical exploratory tests can be captured for subsequent scrums.
When to Use Scripted Testing
Scripted testing is well-suited for testing high-risk applications such as financial applications. This approach is well-suited when there is enough time for documentation and planning. Scripted testing requires skilled resources and detailed coverage and verification. The instances when test coverage is necessary, high-level scripts provide testers with a set of actions to guarantee test coverage.
Pros and Cons of Exploratory Testing
Pros of Exploratory Testing
- Ability to analyze the application as it will be used when it is live
- Helps in finding usability & UI issues
- The testing outcomes depend on testers' creativity, experience, & skill
- Project owners can get insights which were not possible to get with scripted tests
Cons of Exploratory Testing
- There is no documentation for reference
- A bias depending on the tester can exist
- Critical bugs can be missed
Pros and Cons of Scripted Testing
Pros of Scripted Testing
- Well-suited for automation
- Good in finding functional defects
- Standardized documentation helps in repeatability and tracking
Cons of Scripted Testing
- There may be non-standard results across individual testers
- Fewer bugs are found
- Focuses on limited areas constrained by the script
For comprehensive testing of an application, the combination of exploratory testing and scripted testing should be used. This will help the testing team to harness the benefits of both the approaches and ensure a high-quality application is released to the market.
Published at DZone with permission of Ulf Eriksson, DZone MVB. See the original article here.
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