What is a Test Case? [Definition, Best Practices, and Tools]

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What is a Test Case? [Definition, Best Practices, and Tools]

Sameeksha Medewar
Last updated on June 25, 2022

    When it comes to delivering a high-quality software product, it becomes essential for the team of professional testers to test each aspect of the software product. Also, this helps to ensure that the software product complies with the specified requirements.

    Here, a requirement is a particular functionality or feature that the end-users wish to have in the final product. As a result, the testers carefully carry out testing by keeping every single requirement of the software product in mind. They make sure that each and every functionality of the product undergoes testing and functions as expected.

    To test each requirement, testers create a number of test cases. Now, you may be wondering what exactly a test case is?

    Well, a test case is a set of actions or instructions that testers perform to verify whether a particular aspect of the software product or its functionality works as intended.

    If you are not aware of test cases and want to explore more about them, you have landed at the right place.

    In this blog post, we will help you understand what exactly a test case is. Also, we will discuss some of the best practices for writing test cases and common test case management tools.

    So, let us start our discussion!

    What is a Test Case?

    It is a set of actions that the software testers perform to check whether a particular feature of the software product functions correctly. In other terms, we can define a test case as a document containing test data, test steps, preconditions, expected results, and postconditions for executing test cases.

    Also, a test case highlights the conditions that test engineers need to create while comparing the actual and expected results of the test cases. If the actual and expected results are the same, it indicates that a particular functionality works correctly.

    The primary purpose of test cases is to help the testing team to validate each and every functionality or feature of the software product for its correctness. Also, they ensure that the final product is defect-free and meets all the requirements and quality standards that the client or end-users specify.

    Furthermore, the testers or QA (Quality Assurance) professionals write test cases based on test scenarios. A test scenario is also a document containing a number of test cases that covers the end-to-end functionality of the software product.

    Objectives

    The following are the primary objectives of writing test cases:

    • Validate the features and functions of the software product.
    • Guide testers throughout the testing process.
    • Record the steps that testers take while testing so that they can revisit a specific step in case of a bug popping up.
    • Detect the usability issues and design gaps in the software product.
    • Help new testers to understand the testing process even if they join in the middle of the ongoing project.

    Test Cases vs Test Scenarios

    In general, test scenarios cover a wide range of possibilities and are vague. On the other hand, test cases are very specific.

    It is common for many individuals to get confused between test cases and test scenarios. However, let us try to understand the difference between test cases and test scenarios through an example.

    Let us consider the login page of the popular eCommerce website ‘Amazon’, which consists of a username, password, and the ‘Login’ button.

    The test scenario for the above example would be to check the Login functionality. For this test scenario, we can create a number of test cases, like the ones below:

    • Check the behavior of the system when the user enters:
      • A valid username and invalid password.
      • Invalid username and valid password.
      • A valid username and valid password.
      • Invalid username and invalid password.
    • Test the behavior of the system if the user keeps the username and password field empty and attempts to log in by pressing the ‘Login’ button.

    As the number of components on the login page increases, the number of test cases also increases.

    Who Writes Test Cases?

    A team of professional testers performs different types of software testing on the software product, such as unit testing , integration testing, system testing, and user acceptance testing. The person responsible for writing test cases depends on the type of software testing. Also, every organization consists of the development team and the testing team. As a result:

    • The development team writes unit test cases.
    • Both the developers and testers together write integration test cases.
    • The team of testers writes the system test cases.
    • A small group of end-users and product owners, along with business analysts and specialist testers write acceptance test cases.

    How to Write a Test Case? [Example]

    The following are the steps for writing test cases:

    1. Test Case ID

    Each test case has an ID through which it can be uniquely identified. In addition, it is always better to assign a name to a test case for better identification.

    2. Test Case Description

    Here, we need to refer to a particular test scenario and pick every test case one by one.

    Let us take the test scenarios of the Login functionality, as discussed above. We shall pick one of the test cases from this scenario:

    • Check the behavior of the system if the user enters a valid username and password.

    This serves as the test case description. Also, we shall assign it a unique ID as TC01.

    3. Test Data

    Then there comes test data to execute test cases. It becomes essential for testers to collect appropriate test data since the results of test cases depend on it. For our example, we shall take test data as

    • Username: techgeekbuzz@gmail.com
    • Password: Tech@1@3$5^7

    4. Test Step

    The core part of test cases is the test steps. It includes the set of actions you need to perform. Therefore, it is essential to write the test steps with the utmost care and in detail.

    For our example, the steps would be:

    • Enter a valid username.
    • Enter a valid password.
    • Click the Login button.

    In our example, we have simple test steps. But for the complex functionality of any software product, it might be not as easy as this. Therefore, there is a need to document detailed test steps.

    Moreover, if the author of the test cases leaves an organization and a new person comes in, it becomes easier for that person to understand the test cases and the steps to perform them.

    5. Preconditions

    All the test cases have preconditions that should be satisfied before the execution of test cases. In our example, the precondition would be:

    • Need a valid Amazon account to log in.

    6. Check the Behavior of the System Under Test

    This step involves the actual execution of the test cases. Here, testers check the behavior of the system under test after executing the test cases, i.e., they run the test cases and compare the actual results with the expected ones.

    In our example, the expected result would be

    • A successful login.

    7. Postconditions

    These are the conditions that should be met after the execution of the test cases.

    The post-condition for our example would be as follows:

    • Amazon's home page after successful login.

    8. Actual Result

    The actual result is the behavior of the system under test after executing the test cases. Testers capture the actual result of the software product upon the execution of a particular test case and assign the status of that test case accordingly.

    In our example, let us consider that the actual result is:

    • Redirected to the home page of Amazon after successful login.

    9. Status

    Now that there are the actual and expected results, testers compare them and assign the status of the test case either Pass or Fail. If the actual and expected results are the same, the status is Pass; otherwise, Fail.

    Since the expected and actual results in our example are the same, our test case has the status ‘Pass’.

    That was all about creating test cases.

    Test Case Template

    Let us now create a test case template for the above example.

    Test Case ID

    Test Case Description

    Preconditions

    Test Steps

    Test Data

    Expected Results

    Postconditions

    Actual Result

    Status

    TC01

    Check the behavior of the system if the user enters a valid username and password.

    Need a valid Amazon account to log in.

    Enter a valid username.

    Enter a valid password.

    Click the Login button.

    Username: techgeekbuzz@gmail.com

    Password: Tech@1@3$5^7

    A successful log in

    An Amazon’s home page after successful login

    Directed to the home page of Amazon after successful login

    Pass

    This is the standard format for writing test cases. However, it may vary from organization to organization.

    The following are some other significant fields of a test case template:

    • Project Name: The name of the projects to which the test cases belong.
    • Module Name: The name of the software product’s module to which the test cases belong.
    • Reference Document: Mentions the path of the documents referred to create test cases, such as the Requirements document.
    • Created by: The name of the tester who created the test case.
    • The Date of Creation: The date of creation of the test case.
    • Reviewed by: The name of the person who reviewed the test case.
    • The Date of Review: The date when the reviewer reviewed the test case.
    • Executed By: The name of the tester who executed the test case.
    • The Date of Execution: The date of the execution of the test case.
    • Comments: Information that may help the entire development team.

    Moreover, you can create test cases simply in an Excel sheet or use other test case management software.

    Best Practices for Writing Test Cases

    The following are some best practices for writing effective test cases:

    • Simple and Transparent

    One of the best practices for creating test cases is to keep them simple and transparent, i.e., use a simple and easy language. It is the responsibility of the author to write clear test cases so that the other team members can understand and execute them effortlessly.

    • Keep End-Users in Mind

    It is important to create test cases by considering the end user’s perspective. This is because the ultimate objective of any software product is to meet the end users’ requirements.

    • Avoid Repeating Test Cases

    Never write test cases repeatedly. If you need a specific test case for executing another one, call that test case using its ID in the precondition column.

    • Do Not Assume

    Never assume the functionality or feature of the software product while creating test cases. The best practice is to always stick to the specification document.

    • Create Identifiable Test Cases

    Make sure to assign a unique ID and name to test cases so that you can easily identify them while tracking defects.

    • Create Reusable and Maintainable Test Cases

    Write test cases in such a way that you can reuse them as and when required. Also, they should be maintainable. Other developers or testers should be able to update your test cases.

    • Leverage Testing Techniques

    There are various software testing techniques that increase the possibility of identifying defects in the software product with a few test cases. These techniques include the following:

    • Boundary Value Analysis (BVA)
    • Equivalence Partitioning (EP)
    • State Transition Technique
    • Error Guessing Technique
    • Decision Table
    • Peer Review

    It is always a good practice to ask your colleagues to review the test cases created by you. This is so because they can discover defects in your test cases, which you may not notice.

    Test Case Management Tools

    A plethora of test case management tools are available out there that can help you create and maintain test cases. The following are some popular test case management tools that you should consider for creating test cases:

    1. PractiTest

    It is an end-to-end test management tool for manual and automated testing. Also, it is an all-in-one application life cycle management solution. It lets you track and visualize every aspect of your application development process, from requirements through tests to managing defects or errors, using dashboards and reports.

    Moreover, you can create any kind of test, whether it is scripted, automated, or exploratory. Once you create test cases, this tool lets you reuse them whenever required and thus saves time.

    2. Test Rail

    Test Rail is a comprehensive test case management tool that provides real-time insights into testing activities. It is web-based software and you can host it on your server or on TestRail’s server. Moreover, it allows you and your team to manage and track all the testing activities.

    With TestRail, you can create rich test cases to test an application’s features and functions. Also, it enables you to capture screenshots of the details of test cases, which includes test steps, expected results, pre and post-conditions, etc. It comes with interactive dashboards that help you measure the progress of testing activities.

    3. TestCollab

    TestCollab is a robust test management tool that helps teams to carry out testing effectively without any failures. It is a modern test management tool that caters to all the needs of quality assurance (QA) and has an easy-to-use interface.

    With TestCollab, you can create test cases and assign them to a group of testers. Such a distribution of test cases among different groups can save a significant amount of time. In addition, it lets you reuse the test cases in all your projects.

    Conclusion

    A test case refers to a series of actions that a tester needs to perform to verify the correctness of a particular functionality of the software product. For running tests successfully, it is essential to create well-thought-out and result-oriented test cases. Moreover, test cases provide testers with a complete plan to follow throughout the testing process.

    We hope you found this article enlightening and helpful. Still, if you have any doubts regarding test cases, you can post them in the comments section below.

    To learn writing and formatting effective test cases, you can purchase the course here.

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    FAQs


    A test scenario is any testable functionality or feature of the software product. It is a detailed document containing multiple test cases that cover the end-to-end functionality of the software product.

    A test scenario is any functionality of the software product that testers need to test. On the flip side, a test case is a series of actions the testers perform to validate a particular feature for its correctness.

    Test cases ensure that each and every functionality of the software product functions correctly and as expected. Also, they help testers ensure that the application under test is free from defects and works as intended.

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