A Positive View of Negative Testing

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Summary:

Negative testing is open-ended and hard to plan granularly. It needs to be managed proactively rather than over planned. Although negative testing is a powerful and effective approach, it is also a hard-to-manage task that has the potential to produce unwelcome information. In this paper, James Lyndsay explains the value of using this testing method.

Negative testing is a core skill of experienced testers, and requires an opportunistic, exploratory approach to get the best value from the time spent. It can find significant failures and produce invaluable strategic information about the risk model underlying testing, and allow overall confidence in the quality of the system.

Negative testing is open-ended and hard to plan granularly. It needs to be managed proactively rather than over planned. Although negative testing is a powerful and effective approach, it is also a hard-to-manage task that has the potential to produce unwelcome information. In this paper, James Lyndsay explains the value of using this testing method.

About the author

James Lyndsay's picture James Lyndsay

James Lyndsay is an independent Test Strategist, based in London. He's spent well over ten years in software testing, and has been the principal consultant at Workroom Productions since its formation in 1994. As a consultant, he's worked in a variety of businesses and project styles; from retail to telecommunications, from rapidly-evolving internet start-ups to more traditional large-scale enterprise. He's worked to technical requirements for companies that make and sell software, to commercial requirements for companies that buy and use software, and to unexpected requirements everywhere. Aside from consulting work, James works with testtoolevaluation.com to independently evaluate test tools, runs a mentoring scheme for test managers, and continues to be an internal irritant to ISEB/ISTQB. James is becoming a regular speaker at international test conferences, delivering keynote talks at STAREAST and AsiaSTAR in 2003. He received "Best Paper" at STARWEST 2002 and at EuroSTAR 2002 for Adventures in Session-Based Testing. See www.workroom-productions.com for more details. James is also a director of The Manual, a not-for-profit organization whose aim is to gather and publish basic skills.

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