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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How to choose a black box or a white box test?

White box testing is concerned only with testing the software product; it cannot guarantee that the complete specification has been implemented. Black box testing is concerned only with testing the specification; it cannot guarantee that all parts of the implementation have been tested. Thus, black box testing is testing against the specification and will discover faults of omission, indicating that part of the specification has not been fulfilled. White box testing is testing against the implementation and will discover faults of commission, indicating that part of the implementation is faulty. In order to completely test a software product both black and white box testing are required.

White box testing is much more expensive in terms of resources and time as compared to black box testing. It requires the source code to be produced before the tests can be planned and is much more laborious in the determination of suitable input data and the determination if the software is correct or incorrect. It is advised to start test planning with a black box testing approach as soon as the specification is available. White box tests are to be planned as soon as the low level design (LLD) is complete. The Low Level Design will address all the algorithms and coding style. The paths should then be checked against the black box test plan and any additional required test cases should be determined and applied.

The consequences of test failure at requirements stage are very expensive. A failure of a test case may result in a change, which requires all black box testing to be repeated and the re-determination of the white box paths. The cheaper option is to regard the process of testing as one of the quality assurance rather than quality control. The intention is that sufficient quality is put into all previous design and production stages so that it can be expected that testing being relied upon to discover any faults in the software, as in case of quality control.

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