I'm trying to put a small definition for "End to End Testing" on a test aproach, but I just cannot stick it to words on paper cause it's such a large subject!! The best 3 sentence definition gets a gold star!!
end-to-end testing - similar to system testing; the 'macro' end of the test scale; involves testing of a complete application environment in a situation that mimics real-world use, such as interacting with a database, using network communications, or interacting with other hardware, applications, or systems if appropriate.
I think this makes sense. I just copied the definition and giving you. If you want to know more definitions like this go to http://www.softwareqatest.com
First you must define the "ends" of your system. Is the end the user on one end and then the database? Or perhaps the database information gets submitted as input to someone elses system within a company.
My definition of end to end testing is to sit at the front end of my application (be it web-based or fat client) and perform every possible functional scenario that the user would be able to perform through that same interface and recording what happens at each point along the way (i.e. what does the server do, how does the business logic react, how does the database handle everything.
Put the system together and test all possible flow paths through the complete system.
End to end testing starts with an idea that someone turns in to requirements. Developers take the requirements and turn them in to code. Meanwhile the QA people are forging ahead with test cases/plans based on the published requirements. Once a piece of the application (or build, etc) is done. The QA people exercise it for functionality, validation, etc. If there is a problem it is automatically sent back to dev via a defect tracker. Once everything has passed the functionality/validation, QA puts it through a stress test. Once that passes it is thrown over the wall into production where it is monitored for compatability, etc (using software of course). It just so happens that as soon as it is thrown into production, inevidibly someone comes up with a new idea for an enhancement where the whole cycle starts all over again.
It's a little more than 3 sentences, but it works.