Software Testing 101: All About Test Cases

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Software Testing 101: All About Test Cases

Software testing is an essential aspect of software development to ensure that a high-quality product is produced. It must be performed before the software’s launch to its end-users. One of the most critical elements of software testing is documentation. Do you think it is needed in software testing?

If you are new or just want to refresh your knowledge in software testing and its elements, this article is a good read for you.

The Importance of Documentation in Software Testing

Documentation is record keeping of all information or data in a process. It plays a crucial role in software testing. It can help as a basis to generate reports, act as proof for various purposes, and even shield a company from any legalities. These are three of many reasons why it is a MUST for software testing processes in an organization.

For example, a software development company, Company XYZ, submitted a completed project to its client, Client ABC. During trial runs just before the product launch, an issue surfaced. It created a chaotic situation for Company XYZ because it is just days before the big day.

How can the developers and testers find the issue? It is by going through its records to check if something was left out. Eventually, the problem was resolved fast without causing any damages, financially and professionally, towards the provider company and the client. It is how documentation can help to solve any issue that may arise unexpectedly.

There are various kinds of documentation in software testing:

  1. Test Scenario: A straightforward narrative of things a user might encounter when testing.
  2. Test Case: Provides the details of an idea set for testing, without telling the specific steps to follow or data to utilize. 
  3. Test Script: A comprehensive description of the tasks to perform and data to use for the testing.

In this article, we will put the highlight on what is a test case and the role it plays on software testing

Test Case in Software Testing: The Basics

A test case is a record under a list of conditions that have to be executed on the software product to test and confirm if the expected outcome will show when running the application.

A test case is the next most comprehensive approach of process documentation after a test script. It provides an outline of the specified idea for testing, without giving too much information, such a step by a step action plan or anything about the data to be used.

Let’s look at it this way. Using a test case, you describe it as something like this statement: Test if a discount can be used on a sale price. The idea did not tell the ways to apply the deal or how to apply it. It did not inform if the tester should use a promo code or a link to apply it. There is also no information if a tester needs to coordinate with a customer service representative for approval as it is already a sale price.

A test case offers better flexibility to the testing team to determine how they will perform the test.

The Advantages of Test Cases

Again, the goal of writing a test case is for verification if the features of the software work as the testers expect them to do. Test cases allow faster validation if the product is error and bug-free. Other known advantages of utilizing test cases are the following.

  • Test cases secure reliable coverage.
  • They enhance software quality.
  • They lower the testing support and maintenance expenses.
  • They help confirm if the software works on par with the agreed end-user requirements.
  • They permit the testing team to approach the testing process holistically.
  • Test cases are flexible and reusable, which means they can be used as a reference in future software testing cycles. 

Test cases can be a useful reference for testing how a system will run without a specific guideline. Because of this particular characteristic, it allows better flexibility and coverage than a test script.

The Test Case Format: What You Need To Know

In software testing, test case formats are like the ingredients in a food recipe. You need the correct components to create a perfect outcome. So, what are the items that you need to know?

  • Test Case Name: It is the test case title.
  • Test Case Description: It is a straightforward narrative containing what the tester needs to test.
  • Pre-conditions: Any presumptive conditions that might apply during the test execution. It may also include other premises that need to be met before running the test.
  • Test Case Steps: It is a brief description of the steps to incorporate, including the information on how to run the test. 
  • Test Data: It is critical to choose a data set that provides adequate coverage. Pick a group that identifies both positive and negative scenarios for testing.
  • Expected Outcome: These are what the testers expect the result to be.
  • Actual Outcome: It shows the actual result of the test case execution.
  • Comments: Other pertinent information that the testing team wants to include, which they think might be useful during other test runs.

The above list is the most common test case format that most testers follow. Some testers also include other elements, such as type of test case, priority level, bug information, etc.

What Design Techniques Can You Apply?

A reliable test case design approach is critical to every testing process that employs test cases because a successful design will boost the software testing process’s quality. Moreover, it will assist the testers in ensuring the effectiveness and trustworthiness of the released product.

There are three main classifications for test case design techniques.

  • Specification-based Design Technique

This approach, otherwise known as the black box technique, is best used for test cases in a systematic format. It can help testers to formulate test cases that lower the processing time while improving the test coverage. A specification-based design technique utilizes the software’s external structure like technical descriptions, client’s needs, etc. to understand the test’s requirements.

  • Structure-based Design Technique

This design technique is also called the white box technique. Its design depends on the internal structure of the software. The testing team checks the details of the formulated code and checks each one. 

  • Experience-based Design Technique

This approach is based on the testing member’s experience to grasp the software’s essential elements. It depends on the training, skills, and professional expertise of those involved in the project.

Writing a Test Case: A Quick Tutorial

Preparing and writing a test case needs the tester’s full attention and focus. Here is a simplified step-by-step tutorial on writing a test case.

Step 1: Prepare.

Step 2: Write the test case.

It seems easy, right? Well, it all boils down to these two steps.

Preparation requires two of the most in-demand resources in a testing process: time and effort.

So, how should you prepare?

  1. Assess if the test case is already present. If yes, check if you can update the test case instead of creating a new one.
  2. Ensure the completeness of the test case attributes, such as repetition, independence, reliability, and reusability.
  3. Deliberate with the testing team on brainstorming various scenarios possible to happen before writing the test case.
  4. Give yourself sufficient time to write.

Once you are confident with your preparation, start writing your test case.

  1. Choose a dependable tool for writing a test case.
  2. Write it according to the format we talked about above.
  3. Fill in the essential test elements.
  4. Do an in-depth evaluation of your written test case.

The ability to properly prepare and write a good test case is critical for testers. Keep in mind that the idea’s formation needs to provide information on what needs to be tested without putting too many details as in a test script.

What Test Case Practices Should You Try?

A test case is crucial for all software testing projects because it is one of the first requirements to begin a testing cycle. If a mishap happens at this stage, it might create negative repercussions as you move on to the next steps of the STLC (software testing life cycle). Below are the best practices in writing a test case that you and your team might want to consider.

  • Practice prioritization. Assess which test case you need to write depending on the testing timeline and risks.
  • Use the 80/20 rule for wider coverage. 80% should be based on your application, and 20% should go to the tests.
  • Improvise and adjust test cases as the testing life cycle progresses. Do not rely on a single test case. 
  • Create a list of your test cases. Categorize them according to your formulated scenarios and software features.
  • Ensure that your test case steps are granular and modular at the same time.
  • Write your test cases in a simple manner for easy-to-understand communication with other team members. 
  • Always include an end user’s perspective in writing a test case. Through this approach, you can think of other areas and scenarios to consider.
  • Choose a well-founded test case management tool for accurate and dependable monitoring, reporting, and a regular release cycle.
  • Keep track of your test cases. Try to write as unique as possible, and eliminate duplicate ideas.

Final Thought

A test case is something that a tester needs to know thoroughly. Like any other skill, continuous practice is a must. Keep practicing on writing as many test cases as you can. You can use our tips above to guide you along the way. Remember, software testing is to boost the product’s quality. Therefore, every element, even small ones like a test case, is critical.

Author’s Bio

Patrick is an IT expert with in-depth training and expertise in software testing. He works with the SQA team to ensure product quality. On the side, he conducts training for beginner testers and offers refresher courses to veteran software developers.