What are the best practices of data-driven testing?

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data driven testing

Data is at the heart of modern software applications. As development teams build more data-intensive programs, effective testing methodologies are needed to ensure quality. Data-driven testing has emerged as a popular technique for handling the growing complexity of validation. By separating test data from scripts, this approach brings enhanced flexibility, better test coverage, and improved maintenance. In this article, you’ll explore five best practices for leveraging data driven testing based on industry experience and academic research. Mastering these methods will equip teams to reap the rewards of robust, automated checks.

1. Carefully Plan Parameters and Outputs

Carefully planning parameters and outputs is crucial for effective data-driven testing. Start by analysing the product requirements and design documents to fully understand the features to be tested. Catalogue all input parameters and UI elements, whether that is API endpoints, web form fields, database tables, mobile app screens, or desktop application menus. The parameter list should be comprehensive, including data types, ranges, formatting rules, optional versus required settings, etc.

Next, define the expected outputs and behaviours triggered by different combinations of input parameters and UI actions. Outline ideal results, allowable variations, and unacceptable outputs based on the product specifications. Expand test cases to cover usual usage patterns and important edge cases. Involving product experts and developers in scoping these test data needs helps prevent oversights that could lead to escaped defects.

2. Build Modular, Generic Test Scripts

Instead of hardcoding values, scripts should reference externalized data sets. This way test code stays small and reusable across test cases. Construct scripts in a modular, building block manner focused on exercise features, not values. The emphasis should be on generic procedures isolated from specific data permutations.

3. Externalize Test Data in Secure Repositories

Extracting data outside scripts has multiple advantages. Most importantly, it avoids mixing up programs and test data definitions. This separation of concerns results in streamlined code and simplified test data updates. Store data securely in source control systems, databases, spreadsheets, or CSV files. Give careful attention to access controls and validation checks.

4. Automate Data Generation and Script Execution

Driving a large battery of tests manually is inefficient and error-prone. The best practice is pairing data files with automated test runners and frameworks. For additional productivity, integrate tools that auto-generate data sets to expand coverage. Parameters can be randomly combined or select high-risk values based on models. Configuring these hands-off processes reduces effort and oversight.

5. Analyse Results Using Available Metrics

Data-driven approaches unlock insightful reporting on test pass rates, code coverage, defeats by data subset, and more. Dig into these metrics to guide ongoing improvement and focus testing where it matters most. Customize reports to incorporate project-specific quality indicators based on critical performance thresholds. Enlist data to inform testing priorities.

Conclusion

Leveraging data is key to scaling test coverage and staying on top of growing product complexity. By externalizing and automating data driven frameworks, teams gain an advantage in validating modern software applications. Adopting these best practices positions organizations to thrive in our increasingly data-driven world. Though it requires strategic planning, the diligence pays off with more robust automation and error-free experiences.

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