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Vernon Richards | Quality Coach

Vernon Richards | Quality Coach

October 22, 2022

Here Are 7 Ways Testers Can Compare Scripting And Exploring So They Can Choose The Appropriate Approach To Use

Scripting BAD! Exploring GOOD! Amirite!?

No. Not right! Although, I used to think that back in the day 😅. Then I realised that I was biased against scripting and wondered if that was sensible. I designed a workshop to help testers experience the difference between scripting and exploring.

Here are the conclusions that I came up with.

What are the characteristics of scripted work?

When I say “scripted”, I mean “the kind of testing that resolves to a pass or fail result”.

Here’s what I came up with:

  • Capture how to do essential tests

  • Tests specific objective facts about the system

  • May miss emergent behaviour of the system

  • Can be more easily turned into an automated test of some kind

  • Often contain lots of pre-designed steps that must be followed

  • Is easy to report on how many have been executed, passed and failed

  • Time focused on documenting test cases

While it’s not perfect, it’s not as useless as I’d come to believe!

What are the characteristics of exploratory work?

When I say “exploratory”, I mean “the kind of testing that starts with an open question to which we don’t know the answer”.

Here’s what I came up with:

  • Capture why to test important features

  • Can mitigate specific risks in the system

  • Is more able to spot emergent behaviour of the system

  • Difficult to easily turn into an automated test of some kind

  • Leave the performance of the test up to the tester

  • Is easy to report on what has been tested, what hasn’t and why

  • Time focused on doing testing

While it’s obviously useful, it’s not as flawless as I’d come to believe!

Scripting vs Exploring?

Can’t we do both?

I say yes. Leverage the scripted approach for things we can imagine beforehand and resolve to a pass/fail result. However, we should also leverage the exploratory approach when we have an open question, typically a risk, that we must research before answering. It’s less about doing one and ignoring the other.

It’s about using the right mix to complement each other!