What comes to your mind when your heard the word “exploratory testing”?
Some can say that this is a way of test software in a short period of time, others may think that this is a friendly way to run tests, once that it do not follow a formal documentation, or even there are some that might think that this is just a “walk through” on the software functionalities and then assure the product quality.
Besides that, there are other questions related, such as: How can I apply Exploratory Testing on my software? Who should run this tests ? Exploratory Testing really assure the quality of the product ? How can I report the results ?
This speech has as objective clarify this and other questions related to exploratory testing as well as present some case studies where exploratory testing were applied in real projects with different objectives and software’s.
Not different than others aspect, exploratory testing is one more thing that is not strictly defined yet. That’s why I am writing it, to explain the suitable concept about exploratory testing and help you to understand; although this can also been improved and changed further. =)
Some managers tend to not trust on exploratory method due to lack of formal documentation and in other hand, there are some managers that think the “poking around” on application is a exploratory method giving enough tests to guarantee product’s quality; Actually it is neither one nor the other, exploratory tests is just different way to executing tests but it doesn’t means that it is a messy, it is just different way to find bugs and it is a pretty effective method to do it.
At first we have to realize that “exploratory” is very embracing word and it is also applied on technical side; It means that you can use “exploratory” way on performing tests like ad hoc or other one, you are really “exploring” the software and you are able to call it as a exploratory testing, but you can’t say that exploratory testing are ad hoc tests because they are completely different. What I am saying is: the ad hoc tests are kind of exploratory tests but exploratory testing are not ad hoc tests. It will be clear on further.
There also a formal technique to perform exploratory testing created by James Bach, when you can document and get the steps traceability, it is Session Based Testing.
This work explains what is exploratory testing, the difference among ET and Ad hoc, some techniques to perform ET, positive & negative points as well as some case study where has been applied exploratory tests using the same techniques detailed here.
I prepared some phrases found on some books/links to define exploratory tests:
Ø “What’s the big deal? Exploratory testing is random pounding on the keys. Nothing to it. My toddler does it every day.”
Ø … “Oh, Exploratory Testing,” said one of the developers, “that’s where the tester does a bunch of wacky, random stuff, right?” … 
Ø Exploratory, or ad hoc testing, can be an especially useful testing strategy… 
Ø "Exploratory testing is an interactive process of concurrent product exploration, test design and test execution.” “To the extent that the next test we do is influenced by the result of the last test we did, we are doing exploratory testing.” James Bach, Satisfice (2001)
It is just to show up that different literature defines exploratory tests in a different concepts, people think different and defined their own perspective regarding topic. I am not trying to dictate the right concept, I am just telling you the most suitable concept to define exploratory test allowing for “exploratory” is pretty embracing word.
... to be continued in next posts...
... to be continued in next posts...