Regression Testing is one of the most common words in the software testing world. In the current testing scenario no release is assumed to be complete without Regression Testing. We create Regression suite to determine whether or not modifications or additions in each new build of a product cause previous functionality to revert to a non-functioning state or error condition. It is important to note that the purpose of a regression test suite is not necessarily to expose new defects.
IEEE 610 documentation states that regression testing is selective retesting. Thus, the key to an effective regression testing strategy is to design a test suite that provides a high degree of confidence without retesting everything.
Weakness of commonly used Regression test suites:
The need for effective strategies for regression testing increases with the increasing use of iterative development strategies and systematic reuse in software projects.
Studies indicate that 80% of testing cost is regression testing and more than 50% of software maintenance cost is related to testing.
Generally we create an extremely appealing (but lazy) standard regression tests and reuse that at the end of every release, without doing any modification in that. These types of test suites are not very productive, they don’t add any value addition in quality and also burn up a lot of time, effort and budget. This also gives an adverse impact on the resources, as they take it for granted because they are aware that there is very less chance to get any issue.
Now we need to be more careful and smarter about the regression tests, in order to gain the maximum value from the work we put into creating, running, and analyzing their results.
We should concentrate on the changes in the application along with the area which is most impacted by these changes. Also, we should do a proper tailoring of our regression suite to precisely address any changes applied to the application.
Here are the few areas to optimize regression test suite maintenance and ensure effective regression testing:
Selection of Regression Test Cases
Selection of test cases for the regression test suite is a challenge. We should ensure that all changes in application are incorporated in our regression suite. At the same time, we can’t overload our regression test suite with a lot of test cases, as at times we would get very limited time to execute it. As a result, we need to choose the test cases wisely.
We should encourage the periodic cleanup of old test set to maintain the effectiveness of our regression test suite. This will help us to keep their priorities correct and spend our time on executing the required test cases only e.g. we can delete test cases of outdated requirements. Otherwise, there can arise a conflict between original and updated requirements. Thus, periodical cleanup will ensure robustness of the regression test suite for a long period of time.
Regular review of the test suites is also a way to ensure accuracy and efficiency of test suites. Regular checking will help identify problems and issues in the existing test suites, which otherwise can reduce the effectiveness of tests in the long run. Also, reviewing of tests on release-to-release basis can help take appropriate actions, if any test suites are found faulty.
Use of Metrics
We can evaluate the effectiveness of our regression suite through different metrics, there are several kinds of metrics that can be considered such as the percentage of defects found by the regression test suite their importance, how effectively regression tests catch some discrepancies in the application and so on.
We can optimize our regression test suite by monitoring the changes in the functionality and the application. We need to closely monitor the changes in the requirements and their corresponding impact on the functionality of the application. Accordingly, we will have to modify the test cases in our regression test suite i.e. add new test cases, delete the obsolete test cases, modify any expected result or test step.
Identify Problematic Areas
During the preparation of regression test suite we need to focus more on the problematic areas i.e. the areas where we found the maximum bugs.
In the same manner we can take extra care of those areas which are been frequently used by end users.
In a nutshell, Regression testing plays a very vital role when it comes to delivering a Quality product to our esteemed clientele. So we must ensure that our regression test suite includes all the necessary tests that would enable us to give a smooth delivery.
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