1. Overview

In this tutorial, we’ll discuss an unstructured and quick-to-perform testing technique: ad hoc testing. We’ll present the motivation behind this type of testing along with the typical steps involved.

Finally, we’ll highlight some core advantages and disadvantages of ad hoc testing.

2. Introduction to Testing

In software engineering, testing is an evaluation of an existing software or system to make sure it functions as designed and according to the requirements. The goal of testing is to discover flaws with the software. Furthermore, it also ensures that software works correctly and reliably.

It generally consists of 4 typical steps. The testing starts with a request to add features or fix some errors in software:

Steps Software Testing

Additionally, the software development life cycle allows testing at several stages. Furthermore, each stage focuses on different aspects of the software and uses different testing techniques to verify its functionality, performance, and usability.

Depending on the complexity of the software and the resources available, we can perform testing manually or automate the process. Manual testing involves running test cases and checking the results manually. On the other hand, automated testing involves using tools and scripts to automate the testing process. Additionally, it reduces the time and effort required to test the software.

Effective testing is essential for delivering high-quality software meeting user requirements and expectations. Therefore, testing helps to reduce the risk of defects and errors. Additionally, it improves the performance and reliability of the software.

3. Ad Hoc Testing

Ad hoc testing is a kind of software testing approach that involves exploring the software application in an unstructured and informal manner. The core objective is to discover defects, bugs, or unexpected behavior that may not be apparent in the requirements or design documents.

Furthermore, experienced testers typically perform ad hoc testing. Hence, they use their domain knowledge, intuition, and creativity to identify defects that may be difficult to find using formal testing methods. Additionally, when there’s insufficient time or resources to perform structured testing, we can perform ad hoc testing. Furthermore, ad hoc testing is a good choice when we need to test specific scenarios or use cases not covered by formal test cases.

Ad hoc testing is not a formal testing technique and isn’t planned or documented in advance. Moreover, testers perform ad hoc testing by exploring the software application without following a predefined test plan or test cases.

While ad hoc testing can be helpful in identifying defects and improving the quality of the software application, it has some limitations. Ad hoc testing isn’t a substitute for structured testing. Furthermore, it can be challenging to reproduce defects found during ad hoc testing. Therefore, it’s important to use ad hoc testing as a complementary technique to structured testing and to document any defects found during ad hoc testing for future reference.

4. Why Is Ad Hoc Testing Needed?

We need ad hoc testing in software engineering for various reasons. Let’s discuss the need for ad hoc testing through an example.

Suppose we design a software application for a retail store chain to manage its inventory, orders, and sales. Moreover, the formal test cases have been executed, and the application has been deployed to the production environment. However, after a few days of usage, users report some issues. The formal test cases didn’t capture these issues, and the users are getting frustrated with the system’s performance.

In this scenario, the need for ad hoc testing arises to identify and reproduce the defects not detected by the formal testing methods. Therefore, the testers could explore the application in an unstructured and informal manner, focusing only on the areas where the users reported issues.

Ad hoc testing allows testers to get to the bottom of the main issues quickly and efficiently. Hence, they can quickly fix the production system, preventing any further inconvenience to the users. Therefore, ad hoc testing helps to improve software quality by discovering defects.

5. Steps in Ad Hoc Testing

Let’s look at the steps in ad hoc testing:

Steps Adhoc Testing

The first step is to understand the requirements of the software being tested. It includes understanding the functionality, features, and constraints of the software. Furthermore, based on the understanding of the requirements, the tester identifies potential test scenarios that can be used to test the software.

The tester executes the identified test scenarios, often with no predefined test cases or scripts. Additionally, the tester records defects and reports them to the development team when defects are found. Furthermore, we then analyze and fix the defects.

We can repeat the ad hoc testing process as necessary. Generally, we need to repeat the process in case we want to identify and execute new test scenarios. Additionally, it’s essential to document the results of the ad hoc testing, including the defects found, the steps taken to reproduce the defects, and the steps taken to fix them.

Overall, ad hoc testing is a flexible and exploratory approach that we can use in conjunction with other testing methods to help ensure that software is of high quality.

6. Advantages and Disadvantages

Let’s see some advantages and disadvantages of ad hoc testing:

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7. Conclusion

In this tutorial, we discussed an unstructured and quick-to-perform testing technique: ad hoc testing. We presented the motivation behind this type of testing along with the typical steps involved. Finally, we highlighted some core advantages and disadvantages of ad hoc testing.

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