Exploratory testing is an approach to software testing that is concisely described as simultaneous learning, test design and test execution. Exploratory testing is a style of software testing that emphasizes the personal freedom and responsibility of the individual tester to continually optimize the quality of his/her work by treating test-related learning, test design, test execution, and test result interpretation as mutually supportive activities that run in parallel throughout the project.
While the software is being tested, the tester learns things that together with experience and creativity generates new good tests to run. Exploratory testing is often thought of as a black box testing technique. Instead, those who have studied it consider it a test approach that can be applied to any test technique, at any stage in the development process. The key is not the test technique nor the item being tested or reviewed; the key is the cognitive engagement of the tester, and the tester’s responsibility for managing his or her time.
Exploratory testing seeks to find out how the software actually works, and to ask questions about how it will handle difficult and easy cases. The quality of the testing is dependent on the tester’s skill of inventing test cases and finding defects. The more the tester knows about the product and different test methods, the better the testing will be.
In reality, testing almost always is a combination of exploratory and scripted testing, but with a tendency towards either one, depending on context.
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