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  1. #1
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    For Beginners : Understanding Negative Testing

    A negative test is trying out a function on an application or program that should not be allowed and ensuring that it is indeed NOT allowed.

    It can be more confusing than it appears and can affect the 'bottom line' metrics if not defined correctly.
    When I was somewhat fresh to the concept of Negative Testing, I had this experience.

    I was testing a stand alone data entry application on an IE browser once. Part of my testing was to validate that the browser and the application were compatible. Here's what happened.
    TEST - Enter data -> select refresh
    EXPECTED Result - Screen redraws, entered data remains.
    ACTUAL RESULT - 404 IE error displays, data is not saved, application is exited.
    TEST = FAIL

    Right?

    I was told otherwise at the time. This was a COTS piece of software, so I reported my findings to the author company. They told me they did not expect to be able to change the IE Browser actions to match their software and I was "instructed" to change my test to the following.

    TEST - Enter data -> select refresh
    EXPECTED RESULT - 404 IE error displays, data is not saved, application is exited.
    ACTUAL RESULT - 404 IE error displays, data is not saved, application is exited.
    TEST = PASS

    This, they explained, was a good example of a "NEGATIVE" test.
    -------------------------------------------------

    Before I tell you what I did or did not do about this, I'd love to hear from some of you who have only just started testing and are working towards understanding the different ways of testing.

    Sometimes those of us with a lot of experience forget what it was like when we first started and how we went about learning how to write tests. So this post is a question just for beginners to start with. I think it might help those of us with more experience to understand and help those of us who are coming up through the ranks. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    So, "Newbies" and "Freshers" talk to me. [img]images/icons/cool.gif[/img]
    (actually, talk to this test example [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] )
    Would you accept the change?
    Change it a different way?
    What do you have to say about this and about negative testing?
    How would you handle this?
    Jean James
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    I deliver what I promise, and I only promise what I can deliver.
    ------------------------------------------------------------

  2. #2
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    Re: For Beginners : Understanding Negative Testing

    Nobody? [img]images/icons/confused.gif[/img]


    Ok, here's what I did.

    What the software house described was NOT a negative test. It was a cop out. Their specs said they had adapted their product to run under IE. I ran that test above and found a defect.

    I did not rewrite my test to be a "pass".
    I turned my test results and matrix matching requirements, specs, test objectives in to my manager.
    The software was not purchased. We went with another vendor. :|
    ================================================
    So what do you think would have been a good negative test, (or two) based solely on what I've told you so far? No right or wrong, just the start of a discussion. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]
    Jean James
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    I deliver what I promise, and I only promise what I can deliver.
    ------------------------------------------------------------

  3. #3
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    Re: For Beginners : Understanding Negative Testing

    Hi Jean,

    I remember that when I started my career as a software tester 2-3 yrs back I use to enter some special characters (ASCII) in the input fields and for getting the results for the Negative testing.
    So I consider the Negative tests as to validate the input for invalid data Like Maxlength checks, nagative numbers, special characters and a lot invalid combinations.

    So by checking the Functional specifications of the target software one can design Negative tests.

    And sometimes it becomes conflicting issue with developers as they have to generate proper error messages for every invalid value. Like validating each keystroke...

    Devender

  4. #4
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    Re: For Beginners : Understanding Negative Testing

    Devender - thanks, sounds familiar. I did a lot of similar things.

    I am a little surprised that we didn't get any questions or offerings from beginners here.

    I have, more than several times, run into testers who truly believe that a negative test is a test that fails.

    Hey, Maybe I'll create a small 'quiz' in poll format. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] Let me think about that.
    Jean James
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    I deliver what I promise, and I only promise what I can deliver.
    ------------------------------------------------------------

  5. #5
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    Re: For Beginners : Understanding Negative Testing

    hi jeanj,

    if you're looking for a newbie's perspective on this issue, then perhaps i can give it a go. I've only just stepped into the QA arena a week ago, and have been feverishly researching on testing/QA methods.

    well, as you said initially, a negative test is one which tests that a user really cannot do what they aren't supposed to do....

    then as devender suggested, stuff such as negative values in a quantity/price textbox - would be a 'good' negative test, or something like making sure that users of a invoicing system cannot save an empty invoice, or perhaps issue an invoice with a negative price.

    back to your IE 404 case, how can one say that "they did not expect to be able to change the IE Browser actions to match their software", is the user NOT SUPPOSED to use IE as their web browser just because it isnt compatible with their application? i definitely wouldnt change my test result to suit such a 'definition' of a negative test.

    ok, people, now bear in mind that i probably dont know what im talking about AT ALL =) the only testing ive ever done is back at university, by manually plugging in values to crash my assignments.
    - Mephist

    There is no heavier burden than an unfulfilled potential.....

  6. #6
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    Re: For Beginners : Understanding Negative Testing

    I am a (1 month old) novice in this field. In my perception, a negative test is just another test that checks either of the functionality/requirements/validitation etc. But this leads to the following question...
    1: If a test such as non acceptance of negative input in a text field falls is called a negative test, then what is (if there is anything such as a ) positive test?
    Moreover, as jeanj has quoted:
    "They told me they did not expect to be able to change the IE Browser actions to match their software". Doesnt this imply that this was just aother test to check/validate a piece's conformance to the requirements?
    In the end I would like to quote the exact same words as Mephist..."bear in mind that i probably dont know what im talking about AT ALL" [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]
    Guide me please.
    [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]
    ...but I still haven't found what I'm looking for.

  7. #7
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    Re: For Beginners : Understanding Negative Testing

    back to your IE 404 case, how can one say that "they did not expect to be able to change the IE Browser actions to match their software", is the user NOT SUPPOSED to use IE as their web browser just because it isnt compatible with their application? i definitely wouldnt change my test result to suit such a 'definition' of a negative test.

    ok, people, now bear in mind that i probably dont know what im talking about AT ALL =) the only testing ive ever done is back at university, by manually plugging in values to crash my assignments.
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">Actually, you've got a good handle on from what I see.
    Now, the 404 case that I mentioned.
    The Design stated that the application is to run under IE. The coder is the one who stated that he didn't really attach anything to IE.
    Is there a standard for "running under IE"? Probably not, but user expectation is that IE doesn't hurt the AUT. And it did.

    Where was the problem? I think it was probably in the requirements. It was not fully understood between their business, their coders and me the client as to the expectations of the connection and activity between the AUT and IE.
    Jean James
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    I deliver what I promise, and I only promise what I can deliver.
    ------------------------------------------------------------

  8. #8
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    Re: For Beginners : Understanding Negative Testing

    "They told me they did not expect to be able to change the IE Browser actions to match their software". Doesnt this imply that this was just aother test to check/validate a piece's conformance to the requirements?
    In the end I would like to quote the exact same words as Mephist..."bear in mind that i probably dont know what im talking about AT ALL"
    Guide me please.
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">Not bad. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] You've got pretty good reasoning here. And that was the reason why they wanted me to create a negative test. BUT, my expectation as a user was that IE and the AUT would be seamless and not damage each other in any way.
    One of the answers to "What is Quality" in the CBOK for the CSTE by QAI (Don't you just LOVE acronyms! [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img] ) is perception. "I'll know it when I see it." I was the user in this case, and I expected that when I pushed the Refresh button, that I would not lose my data. No where in the specs or documentation for the AUT did it state that IE buttons should not be used.
    Jean James
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    I deliver what I promise, and I only promise what I can deliver.
    ------------------------------------------------------------

  9. #9
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    Re: For Beginners : Understanding Negative Testing

    CBOK: Common Body of Knowledge.
    CSTE: Certified Software Test Engineer.
    QAI: Quality Assurance Institute.
    [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] Yes, I am learning ( thanks to google ).
    ...but I still haven't found what I'm looking for.

  10. #10
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    Re: For Beginners : Understanding Negative Testing

    Veddy good! [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]
    And AUT: Application under test
    Jean James
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    I deliver what I promise, and I only promise what I can deliver.
    ------------------------------------------------------------

 

 
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