Is all Testing Exploratory Testing?

Recently, some leaders in the testing field suggested that all testing is in fact, exploratory testing. Testing methodology was actually very informal beginning in the 1960s, and it was not until the 1970s that more formalized standards and test scripts came into vogue. But formalization does not always equal improvement, and with the growth of agile methodology, proponents of exploratory testing have high praise for a more flexible testing approach.

In exploratory testing, test planning, test design and test execution occur in unison. By not having to script out the test in advance, exploratory testing puts more discretion at the hands of the tester. By not limiting the tester’s thought process to pre-determined documentation, we can empower the tester to take a more fluid approach to finding problems quickly. The beauty of exploratory testing is that it is only limited by the testers’ imagination and insight into the application. As long as the tester has the skills to listen, read, think and report accurately and effectively, exploratory testing can be very productive and produce results not anticipated by a script.

This ability to react and adapt to change quickly makes exploratory testing a very strong player in agile. With the fast pace of an agile environment, there is rarely complete documentation that testers can rely on to write a scripted test scenario. By comparison, exploratory testing enables expert testers to go into the product unhindered and become dedicated advocates for the end user. Exploratory testing also enables test planning, test design, and test execution to happen in parallel. That means testing teams can keep pace with a driven and adaptive agile environment.

As exploratory testing becomes more common, scripted testing becomes a useful—yet outside element—to the testing process. That way, while scripts can still be a helpful tool, they will not get in the way of the agile method.

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