If someone is not familiar with computer science or software development, they may be unsure about the differences between a test scenario and test case.
In computing there are important, nuanced differences between a test scenario and a test case. By definition, a test scenario – otherwise known as ‘scenario testing’ – comprises detailed documentation of a use case. In essence, a test scenario ensures that software is functioning at a high level end-to-end. Contrastingly, a test case is composed of a set of individual steps that assess each feature of an application. As such, test cases isolate what to test and how to test it. In this short guide, we’ll examine these two notions in more detail.
Test scenarios versus test cases
Software engineers develop test scenarios in conversation with clients, stakeholders and developers. By fielding experiences, opinions, and feedback, software engineers can model scenarios that demonstrate optimum system functionality. As a result, management and employees can access evidence-based intelligence about operational efficiency. Furthermore, test scenarios assess the performance of the software from a user-centric perspective. Therefore, an engineer carrying out the test will occupy the role of an end user. By taking on this perspective, they can model real-world situations that the software is likely to encounter. For instance, a test scenario can verify all specified fields, buttons, and data transfers are working correctly.
Conversely, a test case has more clearly defined stages, conditions, and expected results. Often, a test case will be derived from test scenarios and have multiple relationships with these processes. Although a test case requires more resources for documentation and execution, it delivers less ambiguous results.
The relationship between a test scenario and test case
There are numerous reasons why a developer or engineer might use scenario testing. For example, a test scenario might appear to be rather useful when the release timeline does not allow an exhaustive testing. Other reasons include:
- Ensuring that software is suitable for each use case.
- Evaluating the end-to-end functioning of the program.
- Determining the use-value of the software.
- Locating discrepancies that could undermine performance.
- Improving user experience.
- Creating tools that ensure that features can be potentially re-tested.
- Saving resources in situations where comprehensive testing is not feasible.
However, despite the differences between a test scenario and a test case, they have an important relationship. Often, another function of a test scenario is to model better test cases. Derived from test scenarios, a test case can help developers to test a specific aspect of the program based on the more general test scenario findings. As such, a test case can comprise a set of steps that validate a test scenario. Often a test scenario will be a framework of multiple test cases consisting of various prerequisites and inputs alongside with expected results. In essence, engineers derive test scenarios from user experience, whilst test cases are often extracted from the test scenarios.
Scenario testing and test cases: brief summary
In the perfect world, a software developer would create an exhaustive sequence of test cases. However, in the face of short timelines and tight budgets, this is an untenable solution. Therefore, test scenarios allow high-end developers to gain an overview of software functionality with the end user in mind. Once any kinks in the programming have been identified, developers can run targeted test cases. In summary, perpetual digital transformation requires both test scenarios and test cases. Together, these methods will definitely ensure high-level test coverage. When deployed strategically, these two interlocking methods can facilitate product testing that is both agile and thorough.