The Evolution of Traditional Test Cases in Quality Assurance
December 8 - 23
Historically, the conventional method of writing test cases has been a laborious process, filled with an abundance of information, steps, and data already known to everyone on the project. This method often failed at distilling relevant information, making it challenging for the reader to focus on the main features. In contrast, checklists, renowned for their simplicity and speed of execution, have emerged as a valuable tool for quality assurance (QA) professionals. They offer a degree of flexibility that allows quality professionals to apply their expertise and judgment, rather than strictly adhere to a predefined script.
What is a test case?
Traditional test cases are specific scenarios or conditions that are designed to test a particular aspect or functionality of a software application or system. Test cases are typically written based on requirements, specifications, or user stories and follow a detailed format. They include test objectives, steps to reproduce the scenario, expected results, and sometimes even test data or preconditions.
What is a checklist?
A testing checklist is a list of items or tasks that need to be verified or evaluated during the testing process to ensure quality and accuracy. It serves as a quick reference guide for testers to ensure that all important aspects of testing are covered. The checklist can include steps such as verifying specific requirements, checking for user interface consistency, reviewing performance metrics, ensuring error handling, among other relevant testing activities.
How do they differ from one another?
Test cases and testing checklists are two different approaches to ensuring software quality, each serving a unique purpose in the software testing process.
Traditional test cases are detailed and predefined, step-by-step instructions that are executed to validate specific functionalities of the software. They are typically documented in a test case management system and cover various scenarios to ensure thorough testing coverage. Traditional test cases are designed to be repeatable and can be executed multiple times to verify that the software behaves as expected. They are often used in complex systems requiring a high level of precision. Test results must be extensively documented for future reference.
Testing checklists, on the other hand, are a more informal approach to software testing. They are typically used as a quick reminder or a supplemental tool to ensure that certain critical tasks or considerations have been addressed during testing. Checklists consist of a list of items or questions that need to be verified or validated during testing. Unlike traditional test cases, checklists are not as detailed or step-by-step in nature. They are more flexible and can be modified or expanded based on the specific needs of the testing process. Testing checklists are often used for routine tasks, sanity checks, or as a mechanism to ensure that all necessary steps have been covered before a software release.
A picture is worth a thousand words
Traditional test case
As you can see from the reference image, the traditional test case style is very detailed and informative. While this format provides a comprehensive overview of the test scenario it is important to note that it can be time consuming to create and maintain. The intricate nature of traditional test cases requires a significant investment of time and effort, not just in documenting the tests initially, but also in keeping them up to date as the system evolves. Consequently, teams often find it challenging to maintain an extensive library of test cases, necessitating a more efficient approach for testing.
Checklist style test cases
In contrast to the detailed nature of traditional test cases, the checklist-style test cases, as shown in the reference image, offer a more concise and straightforward approach to testing. This streamlined format proves to be more time-efficient, particularly in scenarios where test case descriptions are relatively obvious or self-explanatory and can be clearly represented in the test case's title. With the checklist-style, testers can quickly scan and comprehend the primary objectives of the test without the need for extensive documentation. Additionally, the checklist style of test cases is often easier to maintain than their traditional counterparts. As changes occur within the system, updating and managing the checklist-style test cases becomes a simpler task, as modifications typically involve minimal changes to the test title or criteria. Overall, the checklist-style test cases offer a more efficient and manageable testing approach, especially when the cases' descriptions are relatively straightforward.