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Test Scripting Vs Exploratory Testing: Who Wins?

Are you searching for the best way to test your latest software and not sure whether test scripting or exploratory testing fits the bill?

Lately, the latter has become the darling of agile development. However, test scripts have proven their effectiveness over time.

As a software engineer or test manager, it is up to you to compare the two and decide.

We’ve gone ahead and done the work for you. Read on for a concise comparison of these two popular methods to help you decide which is best for you.

Test Scripting and Exploratory Testing – the Basics

A test script is a complex set of instructions that testers must follow to see if the desired outcome is achieved.

Provided intensive preparation is done, this method should cover all the bases when it comes to uncovering software errors. It is so detailed that you could even get a machine to do it for you.

What is exploratory testing used for then? This procedure relies on the experience and intuition of the testers to root out errors for themselves. They are not provided with the expected outcomes in advance.

In this way, off script testing has the benefit of creating scenarios that the script writer may have overlooked.

Comparative studies have proven that exploratory testing exposes more errors faster than test scripting does.

Blow by Blow Comparison

The following is revealed when taking the most important testing factors into account:

Domain Knowledge

This is imperative for effective exploratory testing. This is not a factor when the rigid procedures of scripted testing are employed.

Test dependencies are better managed with test scripting. Unscripted testing relies on the skill sets of the testers to manage these.

A high level of documentation and a significant lead time are required for scripted tests. Exploratory testing requires neither, provided domain knowledge is adequate.

When it comes to efficiency, it is time-consuming and laborious to create detailed scripts. There is no comparison with the speedy off-the-cuff nature of unscripted testing.

Exploratory testing

This provides no clear and measurable coverage. It relies on the testers to document their findings. Scripted tests involve detailed, formal record keeping.

Scripted tests formally verify the results against set specifications. Unscripted testing is based on the tester’s expectations and domain knowledge.

High-risk areas can be covered in minute detail with scripted tests. There is a chance these may be overlooked by exploratory testers.

Tests can be reproduced accurately with test scripting. Only defects can be reproduced with the less formal approach.

The Winner Is?

When deadlines are looming and you need to test the major aspects of your software quickly, exploratory testing is the answer. It is a cost effective method if your project is fairly straightforward, such as a simple informational website.

Often it is a good idea to do complex testing at first and then follow up with unscripted testing. Exploratory testing closely mimics end-user interaction with the software. It also allows for the vagaries of human interaction.

As for who wins? You do. You have the benefit of selecting from two proven tactics for each stage of your software development.

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