What is Test design tools in software testing?

Test design tools help to create test cases, or at least test inputs (which is part of a test case). If an automated oracle is available, then the tool can also make the expected result, so in point of fact it can generate test cases (rather than just test inputs).

For an example, if the requirements are kept in a requirements management or test management tool, or in a Computer Aided Software Engineering (CASE) tool used by developers, then it is possible to identify the input fields, including the range of valid values. This range information can be used to make out boundary values and equivalence partitions.

If the valid range is stored, the tool can distinguish between values that should be accepted and those that should not be accepted and generates an error message. If the error messages are stored, then the expected result can be checked in detail. If the expected result of the input of a valid value is known, then that expected result can also be included in the test case constructed by the test design tool.

Another type of test design tool is one that helps in selecting the combinations of possible factors to be used in testing, to ensure that all pairs of combinations of operating system and browser are tested, for example. Some of these tools may use orthogonal arrays. See [Copeland, 2003] for a description of these combination techniques.

Note that the test design tool may not have a complete solution – that is, it may know which input values are to be accepted and rejected, but it may not know the exact error message or resulting calculation for the expected result of the test. Thus the test design tool can help us to get started with test design and will identify all of the fields, but it will not do the whole job of test design for us – there will be more verification that may need to be done.

Another type of test design tool is sometimes called a ‘screen scraper’, a structured template or a test frame. The tool looks at a window of the graphical user interface and identifies all of the buttons, lists and input fields, and can set up a test for each thing that it finds. This means that every button will be clicked for example and every list box will be selected. This is a good start for a thorough set of tests and it can quickly and easily identify non-working buttons. But if the tool does not have access to an oracle, it may not know what should actually happen as a result of the button click.

Yet another type of test design tool may be bundled with a coverage tool. If a coverage tool has identified which branches have been covered by a set of existing tests for example, it can also identify the path that needs to be taken in order to cover the untested branches. By identifying which of the previous decision outcomes need to be True or False, the tool can calculate an input value that will cause execution to take a particular path in order to increase coverage.

Here the test is being designed from the code itself. In this case the presence of an oracle is less likely, so it may only be the test inputs that are constructed by the test design tool.

Features or characteristics of test design tools are:

  • To generate test input values from:

— requirements;
— design models (state, data or object);
— code;
— graphical user interfaces;
— test conditions;

  • To generate expected results, if an oracle is available to the tool.

The benefit of this type of tool is that it can easily and quickly identify the tests (or test inputs) that will exercise all of elements, e.g. input fields, buttons, branches. This helps the testing to be more thorough (if that is an objective of the test!)