There are many subjective factors to consider when choosing between scripted testing and exploratory testing approaches and there is simply no universal right option. An easy way to understand this concept is to compare exploratory testing with improv in art. In certain scenarios, the artist’s talent could complement the improv method and enhance the art. But if used incorrectly in the wrong scenarios, it could degrade the art as well. So if software testing is the art, then the tester’s (artist’s) abilities and the scenario in which the exploratory testing approach is used also play a vital role. So in this blog, we will be pitting Scripted Testing vs Exploratory Testing to understand them better and use them in a way that suits your needs.
As a first step, we will clear any misconceptions if there are any as few might confuse exploratory testing with ad hoc testing. We all know that scripted testing is more like clockwork where we define the test cases with every single detail that is needed for a tester to test the software without any deviations from the expectation that has been set. Yes, thinking ahead is a great way to increase efficiency, but it is not always the best method to be thorough as it is almost impossible to think of all the possible scenarios beforehand. But on the other hand, we have ad hoc testing that lacks any form of structure or goal. So exploratory testing takes the best of both concepts as it does provide the flexibility that ad hoc has to offer despite remaining structured and goal-oriented.
Scripted Testing vs Exploratory Testing
Staying on track is one area that we should pay a lot of attention to while performing exploratory testing. So let’s take a look at a few concepts that can help you not just stay focused on your goals, but also increase the efficiency of your exploratory testing. In addition to that, we will also be using these concepts to highlight how exploratory testing differs from scripted testing.
Test charters help you define the goals for your exploratory testing sessions. But it is different from your goals in scripted testing as the goals can be changed as you move forward with your testing. Be it scripted or exploratory testing, we always start by analyzing the information we have at our disposal. So when you find something you didn’t expect when you begin your tests, you can redefine your goals based on the new findings and stay focused on them. But when it comes to scripted testing, finding something unexpected itself is not very likely as the approach increases the tendency to see only what you want to see. You begin your software testing with the mindset of finding the bugs you already anticipate. So assigning such fluidic test charters helps you overcome this issue and prevents you from going off the rails.
Test charters should only act like a guide that doesn’t restrict the tester too much. Flying blind is never an option, but restricting yourself too much defies the purpose of exploratory testing itself. So make sure to strike the right balance between both. For example, if you are going to test a certain feature of functionality after changes have been made, then you can define boundaries based on that and test it without having to spend too much lead time that will be needed for performing scripted testing. So you can go about performing your exploratory tests by targeting the different possible scenarios, or by using your experience and expertise to develop a strategy by performing boundary value analysis & risk analysis and by following the equivalence technique. In this Scripted Testing vs Exploratory Testing blog, we will be seeing tips for better implementation under each section as well.
Classifying the bugs you find while testing or the bugs you anticipate is a great way to help create an outline for your test charter. Use your experience in testing similar software or similar concepts to curate a list of commonly found bugs and work around it. Since there is also a possibility of missing the simplest aspects when using such a method, make sure to create a checklist for the basics to avoid any oversight.
We have already seen how exploratory testing helps you reduce the lead times before you start the testing process. The time gained here shouldn’t be lost elsewhere by being stagnant on a certain feature, scenario, or module. You must have an in-depth understanding of the software you are testing to create effective test charters. Likewise, that knowledge will also help you figure out how much time you’ll be needing for your tests and create test sessions. Once you start the tests, you will be able to assess the probability of finding bugs in that particular feature or module. Just because you are exploring the software doesn’t mean that you have all day. So if you are not finding any bugs, don’t spend too much time trying to find them. If you have unearthed a deep and unexpected issue that calls for more attention, modify your test session accordingly.
Such adaptability will not be available in scripted testing as you would have to go through with all the steps and tests even if there are no bugs. Yes, it will be very important to follow the scripted testing approach when you are testing critical modules or apps. But if you are in a position to test a module or software at its early stages of development, you can certainly not be able to do everything over and over again as there will be rapid changes in the code. Apart from that, as one of the most experienced Software Testing companies in USA that employ the agile methodology, we can assure you that exploratory testing is a key pillar of the agile development process.
In addition to saving time, the experience and understanding gained from exploratory testing will be instrumental in developing effective test scripts. So it is evident that you can get the best results when you combine both of these approaches in your project. Apart from time, be aware of the various metrics to gauge your performance during the process.
Divide and Conquer
Testing the application in its entirety is not a good option even if it is a basic application with a fewer number of modules. You’ll lose track of your goals and objectives when testing in such a random manner. So, add structure to your exploratory testing by dividing the software into various modules. So in terms of the approach, exploratory testing is not very much different from what happens with scripted testing in this case. Once you check each module off your list, you will have more insight into the bugs you may find in the application. Ensure you evaluate your original plan based on the results you have in your hand. If you identify any common issue across all the modules, change your plan accordingly. You would also have to look for the root cause of the bugs in each module and improve your test charters with better predictions.
You can use mind maps to easily identify the root cause and common issues across the various modules. Mind maps will provide you with a visual representation that will help you connect the unseen dots. In addition to that, exploratory testing does require proper documentation for it to be effective and mind maps will come in handy to easily record the issues and evaluate them later on. So for a better understanding of how effective mind maps can be for documentation during exploratory testing, visit our blog.
Exploratory Testing Techniques to Master
Though the individual skills of the software testers who perform both these types of software testing are important, the skills do play a more vital role when it comes to exploratory testing. So if you are focused on improving your exploratory testing skills, then make sure to read our blog about ‘The 5 Exploratory Testing Techniques to Master’. If not, here is the list of the 5 techniques we have explored in that blog.
- Exploring User Stories
- Being Bold Enough to Test New Waters
- Getting handy with Mind Maps
- Improving Your Integration Testing Skills
- Following an End-to-End Approach
By now you would have clearly understood that the experience of the QA performing the exploratory testing is very important. Experience alone isn’t enough as only dedicated work in those years of experience will equip you with the required expertise to do effective exploratory testing. Experience is something that you can’t get overnight, but the above-mentioned techniques will definitely help your cause.
So to sum things up in this Scripted Testing vs Exploratory Testing blog, exploratory testing is a great option when you want to test during the early stages of software development. Since exploratory testing is a context-driven approach, it will also be a great choice to use when following the agile method of software development as it helps keep up with the short scrum cycles. It is also a great way to identify usability issues in comparison to scripted testing methods. But exploratory testing alone is not enough by any means. As one of the best Automation Testing Companies, we also focus on scripted testing as automation is easier to implement in this approach. You can also avoid any oversight issues or bias issues by following the scripted testing approach. So we would highly recommend you to use both these methods for the best results.