FIrst of all, what is exploratory testing? And why you should consider exploratory testing? There are different approaches for software testing. Some are more rigorous, while some others enable the freedom and creativity of the tester. Cem Kaner is the first one who came with the concept of exploratory testing, in the year 1984.
He described exploratory testing as: “a style of software testing that emphasizes the personal freedom and responsibility of the individual tester to continually optimize the quality of his/her work by treating test-related learning, test design, test execution, and test result interpretation as mutually supportive activities that run in parallel throughout the project.”
Exploratory testing has one important role: to find out how a software actually works and ask the right questions to handle difficult and easy cases. One of the challenges of this type of testing is that it relies a lot on the tester’s skills of inventing test cases and finding defects.
Many testers did in their life “exploratory testing”, without even realizing. More than a practice, exploratory testing is a type of approach to test software.
But why you should consider exploratory testing? And what does make it so different?
First of all, it focuses on the tester’s autonomy, skills and creativity. Secondly, you can run it in various test-related activities (test design , execution etc) in an interleaved manner. Thirdly,
Cem Kaner & James Marcus Bach define exploratory testing more as a mindset than a methodology. This type of testing is suitable especially when requirements and specifications are incomplete, because it focuses mostly on discovery and learning, giving freedom and responsibility to the individual tester.
There are many things to think about while you consider exploratory testing. The main difference between scripted testing and exploratory ones is the fact that in the first case, you first design the test cases and then proceed with test execution. In the exploratory testing, you process test designs and execution in the same time. Explporatory testing is an activity that requires cognitive skills and can’t be automated, because it does not compare the actual results with the expected results. There aren’t simply any expected results.
The moment when you find a defect in a product, you usually try to reproduce it by looking at the condition that may have caused it.
On the other side, an exploratory tester doesn’t look only at the known condition. It also looks at the alternatives conditions and scenarios that caused that defect to appear in first place.
It is recommended to use exploratory testing when the testers of the team are experiences or when they are new ones, in order to on board them easily. Also, it helps when the process is done at the beginning of the development of the software.
Some other benefits of exploratory testing are:
- Help to improve the imagination, creativity and intuition of the testers
- Exploratory testing covers different types of testing, but enables to spot bugs that other techniques usually ignore
- You are able to cover different scenarios and cases
- You can get new ideas during the execution of the test
- It requires minimum preparation for the testers
- It gives rapid feedback and the opportunity to move faster forward with the feature.
Overall exploratory testing is critical in determining the quality of an application. The tester has a lot of freedom in the exploratory testing. It also enables you to define the “usability” of the software, because it replicates really good the user experience for certain activities.
How to run Exploratory Testing?
This type of testing is a manual one, where the tester usually determine how and what to test. Exploratory testing can be more freestyle or it can run strategy-based or scenario-based. Usually the tester focuses on specific areas or user flows of the app. Nevertheless, the testers need to be able to think like the application’s users, anticipate every single behavior or action they will take.
One of the best ways to run exploratory testing is by using RIMGEA. This is a mnemonic that stands for Replicate, Isolate, Maximize, Generalize, Externalize And say it clearty and dispassionately.
Unfortunately, exploratory testing has also some bottlenecks. One of the main challenges might be the fact that it’s hard to anticipate how long it will take. Also, because of the limited development resources of the organization, exploratory testing can represent a significant time investment
Overall, exploratory testing has many benefits for the organization and the quality of the product. It is extremely effective and brings out also the creative side of the testers. There are many reasons why you should really consider exploratory testing. Anyhow, we recommend to have a healthy balance between exploratory testing and regular one.
Do you still have doubts of questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us.