Regression Testing

Regression testing is any type of software testing that seeks to uncover software errors by partially retesting a modified program. The intent of regression testing is to provide a general assurance that no additional errors were introduced in the process of fixing other problems. Regression testing is commonly used to efficiently test the system by systematically selecting the appropriate minimum suite of tests needed to adequately cover the affected change. Common methods of regression testing include rerunning previously run tests and checking whether previously fixed faults have re-emerged. "One of the main reasons for regression testing is that it's often extremely difficult for a programmer to figure out how a change in one part of the software will echo in other parts of the software."[1]
Contents
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* 1 Background
* 2 Uses
* 3 See also
* 4 References
* 5 External links

[edit] Background

Experience has shown that as software is fixed, emergence of new and/or reemergence of old faults is quite common. Sometimes reemergence occurs because a fix gets lost through poor revision control practices (or simple human error in revision control). Often, a fix for a problem will be "fragile" in that it fixes the problem in the narrow case where it was first observed but not in more general cases which may arise over the lifetime of the software. Frequently, a fix for a problem in one area inadvertently causes a software bug in another area. Finally, it has often been the case that when some feature is redesigned, the same mistakes that were made in the original implementation of the feature were made in the redesign.

Therefore, in most software development situations it is considered good practice that when a bug is located and fixed, a test that exposes the bug is recorded and regularly retested after subsequent changes to the program. Although this may be done through manual testing procedures using programming techniques, it is often done using automated testing tools. Such a test suite contains software tools that allow the testing environment to execute all the regression test cases automatically; some projects even set up automated systems to automatically re-run all regression tests at specified intervals and report any failures (which could imply a regression or an out-of-date test). Common strategies are to run such a system after every successful compile (for small projects), every night, or once a week. Those strategies can be automated by an external tool, such as BuildBot.

Regression testing is an integral part of the extreme programming software development method. In this method, design documents are replaced by extensive, repeatable, and automated testing of the entire software package at every stage in the software development cycle.

Traditionally, in the corporate world, regression testing has been performed by a software quality assurance team after the development team has completed work. However, defects found at this stage are the most costly to fix. This problem is being addressed by the rise of unit testing. Although developers have always written test cases as part of the development cycle, these test cases have generally been either functional tests or unit tests that verify only intended outcomes. Developer testing compels a developer to focus on unit testing and to include both positive and negative test cases.[2]
[edit] Uses

Regression testing can be used not only for testing the correctness of a program, but often also for tracking the quality of its output. For instance, in the design of a compiler, regression testing should track the code size, simulation time and time of the test suite cases.[citation needed]

Regression testing should be part of a test plan.[citation needed] Regression testing can be automated.

"Also as a consequence of the introduction of new bugs, program maintenance requires far more system testing per statement written than any other programming. Theoretically, after each fix one must run the entire batch of test cases previously run against the system, to ensure that it has not been damaged in an obscure way. In practice, such regression testing must indeed approximate this theoretical idea, and it is very costly."

– Fred Brooks, The Mythical Man Month, p 122

Regression tests can be broadly categorized as functional tests or unit tests. Functional tests exercise the complete program with various inputs. Unit tests exercise individual functions, subroutines, or object methods. Both functional testing tools and unit testing tools tend to be third party products that are not part of the compiler suite, and both tend to be automated. Functional tests may be a scripted series of program inputs, possibly even an automated mechanism for controlling mouse movements. Unit tests may be separate functions within the code itself, or driver layer that links to the code without altering the code being tested. Unit testing tools include open source tools like CppUnit and CppTest as well as commercial products like Sword.
[edit] See also
Software Testing portal

* Characterization test
* Quality control
* Software development process
* Software testing
* Smoke testing
* Unit testing

[edit] References
Text document with red question mark.svg
This article includes a list of references or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations where appropriate. (July 2009)

1. ^ Savenkov, Roman (2008). How to Become a Software Tester. Roman Savenkov Consulting. p. 386. ISBN 978-0-615-23372-7.
2. ^ Dudney, Bill (2004-12-08). "Developer Testing Is 'In': An interview with Alberto Savoia and Kent Beck". http://www.sys-con.com/read/47359.htm. Retrieved 2007-11-29.

[edit] External links

* Automate Regression Tests When Feasible, Automated Testing: Selected Best Practices, Elfriede Dustin, Safari Books Online.
* Change Code Without Fear: Utilize a Regression Safety Net by Nada daVeiga DDJ, February, 2008
* Regression Testing, Programmer to Programmer by Adam Kolawa
* Regression testing of database applications, by Ramzi A. Haraty. Journal of Database Management, April 1, 2002, Volume 13, Issue 2
* Software QA Testing Glossary
* Using XSLT to Assist Regression Testing, Sal Mangano, xml.com
* Microsoft regression testing recommendations

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