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Monday, December 2, 2013

Some advantages and disadvantages of white box testing

White box testing can be applied at the following levels in software testing process:
- Unit testing
- Integration testing
- System testing

However, commonly it is carried out at the unit level. White box testing at this level is used for exploiting the paths through the program units, and for testing paths between different units, and on the system level for testing paths between the various sub-systems. In this article we discuss about the advantages and disadvantages of using this testing methodology.

Advantages: This testing methodology ranks among the widely used testing methodologies, with an increasing number of people using it, although it does require technical knowledge and capabilities. We have three major advantages from it.
First, in this technique it is beneficial to have knowledge about the source code unlike the other methodologies where the tester should not know much about the source code. This helps in thoroughly testing the application.
Second, this methodology has made it possible to optimize the code by helping in uncovering the hidden errors and removing them.
Third, it provides an opportunity for introspection.
Another plus point is that the testing can be started with just one developed unit at hand. We don’t have to wait for the whole program to be ready with GUI. Majority of the paths are covered in white box testing.

Disadvantages: Just as white box testing has advantages; it has its own minus points too.
The first major disadvantage is that it gets very complex once you start with it. This happens so because every path in the program has to be tested and so all the paths have to be identified which can become very time consuming and difficult indeed. For this the programmer as well as the tester must have a great deal of knowledge in this level of detail.
Second major disadvantage is that white box testing consumes too much time. In every project it is not possible to testing each and every single path. It is certain that some of the paths will go unnoticed. This is why the white box test cases are very complex and can only be implemented with a thorough knowledge of the application and code. Maintenance of the test scripts proves to be a burden as the complexity increases and changes have to be made in the implementation.

This testing methodology requires many testing tools which might not be available at hand instantly. The work of a mechanic is analogous to white box testing i.e., the programmer examines the source code as to see why it is not working.
First the tester or the programmer must analyze the source code with the help of comprehensive software documentation, code and the samples.
Second, the tester needs to think for the ways or methods by which he can disrupt the normal functioning of the application or what are the input factors that can cause the program to go awry? Now based up on these assessments, the white box testing techniques can be implemented. The assessments have to be made carefully for white box testing to be successful. In simple words white box testing is just a means for the verification of the source code.
The logic and the structure of the code must be known to the person who is testing it. Logical decisions are implemented. Each logical decision tests a different path. In white box testing programmers can only substitute for testers i.e., they only can test the application. If other testers are hired, they will take some time in understanding the source code of the program or need a high degree of technical knowledge.

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