Scripted Testing vs Exploratory Testing

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As a set of instructions, test scripts are designed and used by testing professionals to check if a software application or system functions as expected. The software QA testers can write test scripts in a number of programming languages and scripting languages. Also, they can execute the test cases either manually or using automated tools. Hence, scripted testing has two distinct phases, i.e., test planning and design, and test execution. But exploratory or context-driven testing is completely different from scripted software testing. It is very important for software testing professionals to understand scripted testing vs exploratory testing to use them effectively in the project.

The testing approach requires testing professionals to design and execute tests simultaneously. Hence it does not have separate test designing and execution phases. In addition to making testers more productive, exploratory testing also enables them to test software in a more flexible way. Also, the testing approach allows testing professionals to test various aspects of the software and look for bugs using their imagination. The testing professionals must understand important points of distinction between scripted testing and exploratory testing to choose the right testing approach for their project.

Scripted Testing vs Exploratory Testing: Major Points of Distinction 

Number of Bugs Identified in the Software

A number of studies have highlighted the effectiveness of exploratory testing to identify more bugs or defects in the software under test. The testing style allows testers to design and execute test cases simultaneously, and identify bugs using analytical skills and deductive reasoning. So the testers can assess all aspects of the software without any prior planning. Also, they can design and execute tests cases to identify all issues in an application early. On the other hand, test scripts ensure that all aspects of the software are tested according to both quality guidelines and client requirements. But the testers cannot identify new bugs in the software by executing the same test scripts repeatedly.

Division of Testing Activities

The script-based testing style requires organizations to deploy a skilled test-designer along with other testers. The skilled test-designer designed test cases, while the other testing professionals execute these test cases. Hence, the testing style requires businesses to divide all testing activities based on the role of testers and time constraints. But exploratory testing enables testers to write and execute test cases at once. Further, they can design test cases based on the test results. The testing approach does not require businesses to divide testing activities based on the roles and responsibilities of testers.

Skill Level of Software QA Testers

The division of testing activities makes it easier for businesses to work with new and inexperienced software QA testers. A business can deploy a skilled test-designer to design test cases, and get the test cases executed by inexperienced testers. Hence, scripted testing style helps enterprises to reduce overall project overheads. But exploratory testing requires testers to design and execute test cases at once. The businesses need to deploy skilled testing professionals with ability to write custom test cases. Also, the outcome of an exploratory testing project depends on the qualification and creativity of the testing professionals. Here are 12 software testing tips to enhance the productivity of QA testers.

Flexibility to Accommodate Changes

Exploratory testing is considered to be much more flexible than script-based testing. As the testing professionals design and execute test cases simultaneously, it becomes easier for them cover additional test scenario and test the changes made to the application. The testers further keep test suites in mind, and make the changes required to deliver more relevant test results. But scripted testing requires the test-designed to make changes to the script, and testers to execute the modified test scripts. Hence, the team requires additional time to assess the changes made to the software and covering new test scenarios.

Keeping Testing Process Organized

Nowadays, businesses are required to plan the software testing process in advance, and convey details of the project to various stakeholders in the project. That is why; they explore ways to test the software in a planned, organized and predictable way. The test scenarios make it easier for manager to estimate the testing efforts based on resources and time. But exploratory testing does not emphasise on proper planning and structuring of software testing efforts. The lack of a comprehensive test plan further increase the chances of crucial tests remain unexecuted. That is why; many businesses opt for scripted testing style to plan and schedule testing efforts efficiently.

Taking Advantage of Tester’s Imagination and Creativity

The testers have option to execute pre-designed test cases manually or automatically. Also, they can use the same test scripts to assess the quality of the software under different conditions and scenarios. But the test scripts do not allow testers to identify bugs by using their imagination. Exploratory testing emphasises on detecting all flaws in the application through an uninterrupted intellectual processes. It enables QA testers to identify the aspects of the software for testing, design test cases, and execute the test cases using their imagination. Hence, the testers can easily implement their test ideas, and create test cases to identify all important issues in the application. Also, the outcome of the exploratory testing is restricted by the imagination of individual testers.

Quality of Documentation

Often businesses require testers to prepare elaborate documentation covering all aspects of the software testing project. The documentation helps decision makers to assess the performance of the entire software testing project and individual testers. When the testing efforts are planned in advanced, it becomes easier for managers to prepare quality documentation. The test scenarios and reports help managers to prepare and provide quality documentation and monitor the progress of the project. But exploratory testing does not focus on generating quality documentation. The absence of test planning further makes it difficult to managers to monitor the progress of the software testing process.

Keeping Testers Interested and Motivated

Often software QA testing professionals find it boring and monotonous to execute test cases again and again. The pre-designed test scripts do not allow testers to use their analytical skills and imagination. But exploratory testing keeps the testing professionals motivated and interested. As a tester designs and executes tests almost simultaneously, he gets opportunity to use his analytical skills and imagination for identifying bugs in the application. Also, he feels like doing something different each day due not now following a predefined routine.

On the whole, both scripted testing and exploratory testing have their own pros and cons. So the test manager must keep in mind the major differences between the two testing approaches while planning the software testing project. They can even consider blending scripted and exploratory testing to reap benefits of these distinct testing styles.

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