What are different aspects of exploratory testing?

Exploratory testing is a usual approach to software testing and can be defined as a test designing, test execution and simultaneously learning process.

It was named by Cem Kaner in 1983. "He stated exploratory testing as a kind of software testing that is emphasized and focused up on the responsibility and the personal freedom of the software tester to optimize the quality and effectiveness of his /her work continually by taking in to consideration mutually supportive activities like test designing, test related learning, test result interpretation and test execution".

These activities run in parallel to each other.

- Exploratory testing basically heeds to exploiting the creativity of the tester or the programmer.
- During the testing of the software, the tester comes across various new things to learn together with experiencing them.
- The tester or the developer with his /her creativity can generate new and better test cases to run.
- Exploratory can be thought of as a black box testing methodology or technique instead of thinking of it as an approach to testing that can be used for any type of testing methodology and also at any phase of development of the software system or application.

According to some misconceptions, the testing technique or the object is considered to be the key here but, it is not so.
- In actual, the key is the cognitive engagement of the software tester and his /her responsibility of managing time.
- The effectiveness of the exploratory testing depends basically on how it is performed.
- Exploratory testing should always be performed by skilled testers or developers.
- Exploratory testing can also be thought of as an intellectual activity.
- Exploratory testing is all about discovering how the software system or application actually works and how it handles both the easy and difficult cases.

The effectiveness or the quality of the testing is largely dependent on the skills for developing test cases by the tester.
- It also depends on his/ her ability to find defects in the software code.
- We can say that the quality of the testing is directly proportional to the knowledge of the tester about the software product and different test methods.
- The more he/ she know about the software system under test and testing methodologies, the better will be the exploratory testing.
- While carrying out the exploratory testing, the expectations should be kept open.
- Only some results can be expected or predicted but not all.
- The tester is responsible for configuring, operating, observing and evaluating the product itself and its behavior, investigating the result and reporting information. - If we see practically the actual testing is a combination of both scripted testing and exploratory testing but, depending on the context of the testing the tendency is towards either one.
- Exploratory testing is more about thinking how the testing should be done more than a testing technique.

The documentation part of the exploratory testing includes:

- Documentation of all the test cases used.
- Documentation of the bugs.

Exploratory testers use tools like:
- Screen capture
- Video tools

These tools are used to generate situations of interest or as a record of the exploratory session. For exploratory testing less before hand testing is needed. Bugs are discovered quickly and the approach tends to be more intellectual. Deductive reasoning based on the results of the previous tests can also be used in the exploratory testing. This leads to increased bug detection when used properly. The main disadvantage is that the tests can’t be reviewed before hand.


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