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Scenario Testing

Overview

THIS MATERIAL HAS BEEN UPDATED AND INCORPORATED IN THE TEST DESIGN LECTURES AT http://www.testingeducation.org/BBST/testdesign/. WE WILL REMOVE THIS SECTION IN MID-2012.

This unit explores the basic practice of scenario testing, including Hans Buwalda's Soap Operas.

The scenario test involves a story about how the program is used, including information about the motivations of the people involved. The Soap Opera emphasizes the human issues, even beyond the traditional scenario.

A well-designed scenario has four additional characteristics:

  1. The story is motivating. A stakeholder with influence would push to fix a program that failed this test.
  2. The story is credible. It not only could happen in the real world; stakeholders would believe that something like it probably will happen.
  3. The story involves a complex use of the program or a complex environment or a complex set of data.
  4. The test results are easy to evaluate. This is valuable for all tests, but is especially important for scenarios because they are complex.

Collard's paper presents a clear introduction to the other common approach to scenario testing, basing the scenario on use cases. The key difference is that scenarios, as we describe them here, consider the human issues (why is the user doing this task, what is the impact of the problem on them, how unhappy should we expect this to make people) whereas use cases abstract out the human factor and focus on the operational sequences and their expected results. All of these approaches put the program through typically-realistic sequences of behavior, achieving high-meaning combination testing.

Slides

  • Scenario Testing Slides (PDF)
  • Videos

  • Scenario Testing, First Half (23 mins) (MOV)
  • Scenario Testing, Second Half (18 mins) (MOV)