May 4, 2015

Glossary of Testing Terms

This glossary of testing terms contains a large number of frequently used terms, and is an excerpt of the book Testing and quality assurance of IT systems, by ReQtest founder Ulf Eriksson.

The glossary is meant to help you get familiar with words and phrases commonly used in testing and requirements work. You can use the glossary as the basis for introducing these terms into your organization or standardizing their use.

Here is the list of software testing terms:


Acceptance testing
The final test level. Conducted by users with the purpose to accept or reject the system before release.

Actual result
The system status or behaviour after you conduct a test. An anomaly or deviation is when your actual results differ from the expected results.

Ad hoc testing
Testing carried out informally without test cases or other written test instructions.

Agile development
A development method that emphasizes working in short iterations. Automated testing is often used. Requirements and solutions evolve through close collaboration between team members that represent both the client and supplier. (Also read: Agile Software Development- 5 Trends to Watch Out For In 2019)

Alpha testing
Operational testing conducted by potential users, customers, or an independent test team at the vendor’s site. Alpha testers should not be from the group involved in the development of the system, in order to maintain their objectivity. Alpha testing is sometimes used as acceptance testing by the vendor.

Any condition that deviates from expectations based on requirements specifications, design documents, standards etc. A good way to find anomalies is by testing the software.


Beta testing
Test that comes after alpha tests, and is performed by people outside of the organization that built the system. Beta testing is especially valuable for finding usability flaws and configuration problems.

Big-bang integration
An integration testing strategy in which every component of a system is assembled and tested together; contrast with other integration testing strategies in which system components are integrated one at a time.

Black box testing
Testing in which the test object is seen as a “black box” and the tester has no knowledge of its internal structure. The opposite of white box testing.

Bottom-up integration
An integration testing strategy in which you start integrating components from the lowest level of the system architecture. Compare to big-bang integration and top-down integration.

Boundary value analysis
A black box test design technique that tests input or output values that are on the edge of what is allowed or at the smallest incremental distance on either side of an edge. For example, an input field that accepts text between 1 and 10 characters has six boundary values: 0, 1, 2, 9, 10 and 11 characters.

BS 7925-1
A testing standards document containing a glossary of testing terms. BS stands for ‘British Standard’.

BS 7925-2
A testing standards document that describes the testing process, primarily focusing on component testing. BS stands for ‘British Standard’.

A slang term for fault, defect, or error. Originally used to describe actual insects causing malfunctions in mechanical devices that predate computers. The International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) glossary explains that “a human being can make an error (mistake), which produces a defect (fault, bug) in the program code, or in a document. If a defect in code is executed, the system may fail to do what it should do (or do something it shouldn’t), causing a failure. Defects in software, systems or documents may result in failures, but not all defects do so.” See also debugging.


Capture/playback tool
See record and playback tool.

A general term for automated testing tools. Acronym for computer-aided software testing.

See change control board.

Change control board
A group responsible for evaluating, prioritizing, and approving/rejecting requested changes to an IT system.

Change request
A type of document describing a needed or desired change to the system.

A simpler form of test case, often merely a document with short test instructions (“one-liners”). An advantage of checklists is that they are easy to develop. A disadvantage is that they are less structured than test cases. Checklists can complement test cases well. In exploratory testing, checklists are often used instead of test cases.

The part of an organization that orders an IT system from the internal IT department or from an external supplier/vendor. See also supplier.

Capability Maturity Model Integration. A framework for improving process efficiency in systems development and maintenance.

Code coverage
A generic term for analysis methods that measure the proportion of code in a system that is executed by testing. Expressed as a percentage, for example, 90 % code coverage.

Code review
See Review.

Code standard
Description of how a programming language should be used within an organization. See also naming standard.

The activity of translating lines of code written in a human-readable programming language into machine code that can be executed by the computer.

The smallest element of the system, such as class or a DLL.

Component integration testing
Another term for integration test.

Component testing
Test level that evaluates the smallest elements of the system. See also component. Also known as unit test, program test and module test.

Configuration management
Routines for version control of documents and software/program code, as well as managing multiple system release versions.

Configuration testing
A test to confirm that the system works under different configurations of hardware and software, such as testing a website using different browsers.

Context-driven testing
Testing which makes use of debugging techniques inspired by real-world usage conditions. It is a method of testing which encourages testers to develop testing opportunities based on the specific details of any given situation.

Commercial Off the Shelf. Software that can be bought on the open market. Also called “packaged” software.


Daily build
A process in which the test object is compiled every day in order to allow daily testing. While it ensures that defect reports are reported early and regularly, it requires automated testing support.

The process in which developers identify, diagnose, and fix errors found. See also bug and defect.

Decision table
A test design and requirements specification technique. A decision table describes the logical conditions and rules for a system. Testers use the table as the basis for creating test cases.

A flaw in a component or system that can cause the component or system to fail to perform its required function. A defect, if encountered during execution, may cause a failure of the component or system.

Defect report
A document used to report a defect in a component, system, or document. Also known as an incident report.

Any product that must be delivered to someone other than the author of the product. Examples of deliverables are documentation, code and the system.

Desk checking
A static testing technique in which the tester reads code or a specification and “executes” it in his mind.

Document review
See review.

See test driver.

Dynamic Systems Development Method. An iterative development approach.

Dynamic testing
Testing performed while the system is running. Execution of test cases is one example.


End-to-end testing
Testing used to test whether the performance of an application from start to finish conforms with the behaviour that is expected from it. This technique can be used to identify system dependencies and confirm the integrity of data transfer across different system components remains.

Entry criteria
Criteria that must be met before you can initiate testing, such as that the test cases and test plans are complete.

Equivalence partitioning
A test design technique based on the fact that data in a system is managed in classes, such as intervals. Because of this, you only need to test a single value in every equivalence class. For example, you can assume that a calculator performs all addition operations in the same way; so if you test one addition operation, you have tested the entire equivalence class.

A human action that produces an incorrect result.

Error description
The section of a defect report where the tester describes the test steps he/she performed, what the outcome was, what result he/she expected, and any additional information that will assist in troubleshooting.

Error guessing
Experience-based test design technique where the tester develops test cases based on his/her skill and intuition, and experience with similar systems and technologies.

Run, conduct. When a program is executing, it means that the program is running. When you execute or conduct a test case, you can also say that you are running the test case.

Exhaustive testing
A test approach in which you test all possible inputs and outputs.

Exit criteria
Criteria that must be fulfilled for testing to be considered complete, such as that all high-priority test cases are executed, and that no open high-priority defect remains. Also known as completion criteria.

Expected result
A description of the test object’s expected status or behaviour after the test steps are completed. Part of the test case.

Exploratory testing
A test design technique based on the tester’s experience; the tester creates the tests while he/she gets to know the system and executes the tests.

External supplier
A supplier/vendor that doesn’t belong to the same organization as the client/buyer. See also internal supplier.

Extreme programming
An agile development methodology that emphasizes the importance of pair programming, where two developers write program code together. The methodology also implies frequent deliveries and automated testing.


Factory acceptance test
Acceptance testing carried out at the supplier’s facility, as opposed to a site acceptance test, which is conducted at the client’s site.

Deviation of the component or system under test from its expected result.

See Factory Acceptance Test.

Fault Injection
A technique used to improve test coverage by deliberately inserting faults to test different code paths, especially those that handle errors and which would otherwise be impossible to observe.

Formal review
A review that proceeds according to a documented review process that may include, for example, review meetings, formal roles, required preparation steps, and goals. Inspection is an example of a formal review.

Functional integration
An integration testing strategy in which the system is integrated one function at a time. For example, all the components needed for the “search customer” function are put together and tested one by one.

Functional testing
Testing of the system’s functionality and behaviour; the opposite of non-functional testing.


Gray-box testing
Testing which uses a combination of white box and black box testing techniques to carry out software debugging on a system whose code the tester has limited knowledge of.


IEEE 829
An international standard for test documentation published by the IEEE organization. The full name of the standard is IEEE Standard for Software Test Documentation. It includes templates for the test plan, various test reports, and handover documents.

Impact analysis
Techniques that help assess the impact of a change. Used to determine the choice and extent of regression tests needed.

A condition that is different from what is expected, such a deviation from requirements or test cases.

Incident report
See defect report.

Independent testing
A type of testing in which testers’ responsibilities are divided up in order to maintain their objectivity. One way to do this is by giving different roles the responsibility for various tests. You can use different sets of test cases to test the system from different points of view.

Informal review
A review that isn’t based on a formal procedure.

An example of a formal review technique.

Installation test
A type of test meant to assess whether the system meets the requirements for installation and uninstallation. This could include verifying that the correct files are copied to the machine and that a shortcut is created in the application menu.

Instrumentation code
Code that makes it possible to monitor information about the system’s behaviour during execution. Used when measuring code coverage, for example.

Integration testing
A test level meant to show that the system’s components work with one another. The goal is to find problems in interfaces and communication between components.

Internal supplier
Developer that belongs to the same organization as the client. The IT department is usually the internal supplier. See also external supplier.

International Software Testing Qualifications Board. ISTQB is responsible for international programs for testing certification.

A development cycle consisting of a number of phases, from formulation of requirements to delivery of part of an IT system. Common phases are analysis, design, development, and testing. The practice of working in iterations is called iterative development.


A framework for testing Java applications, specifically designed for automated testing of Java components.


Load testing
A type of performance testing conducted to evaluate the behaviour of a component or system with increasing load, e.g. numbers of concurrent users and/or numbers of transactions. Used to determine what load can be handled by the component or system. See also performance testing and stress testing.


A measure of how easy a given piece of software code is to modify in order to correct defects, improve or add functionality.

Activities for managing a system after it has been released in order to correct defects or to improve or add functionality. Maintenance activities include requirements management, testing, development amongst others.

Module testing
See component testing.

Mean time between failures. The average time between failures of a system.


Naming standard
The standard for creating names for variables, functions, and other parts of a program. For example, strName, sName and Name are all technically valid names for a variable, but if you don’t adhere to one structure as the standard, maintenance will be very difficult.

Negative testing
A type of testing intended to show that the system works well even if it is not used correctly. For example, if a user enters text in a numeric field, the system should not crash.

Non-functional testing
Testing of non-functional aspects of the system, such as usability, reliability, maintainability, and performance.

An open source framework for automated testing of components in Microsoft .Net applications.


Open source
A form of licensing in which software is offered free of charge. Open source software is frequently available via download from the internet, from for example.

Operational testing
Tests carried out when the system has been installed in the operational environment (or simulated operational environment) and is otherwise ready to go live. Intended to test operational aspects of the system, e.g. recoverability, co-existence with other systems and resource consumption.

The result after a test case has been executed.


Pair programming
A software development approach where two developers sit together at one computer while programming a new system. While one developer codes, the other makes comments and observations, and acts as a sounding board. The technique has been shown to lead to higher quality thanks to the de facto continuous code review – bugs and errors are avoided because the team catches them as the code is written.

Pair testing
Test approach where two persons, e.g. two testers, a developer and a tester, or an end-user and a tester, work together to find defects. Typically, they share one computer and trade control of it while testing. One tester can act as observer when the other performs tests.

Performance testing
A test to evaluate whether the system meets performance requirements such as response time or transaction frequency.

Positive testing
A test aimed to show that the test object works correctly in normal situations. For example, a test to show that the process of registering a new customer functions correctly when using valid test data.

Environmental and state conditions that must be fulfilled after a test case or test run has been executed.

Environmental and state conditions that must be fulfilled before the component or system can be tested. May relate to the technical environment or the status of the test object. Also known as prerequisites or preparations.

See preconditions.

The level of importance assigned to e.g. a defect.

Professional tester
A person whose sole job is testing.

Program testing
See component testing.


The degree to which a component, system or process meets specified requirements and/or user/customer needs and expectations.

Quality assurance (QA)
Systematic monitoring and evaluation of various aspects of a component or system to maximize the probability that minimum standards of quality are being attained.


Record and playback tool
Test execution tool for recording and playback of test cases often used to support automation of regression testing. Also known as capture/playback.

Regression testing
A test activity generally conducted in conjunction with each new release of the system, in order to detect defects that were introduced (or discovered) when prior defects were fixed. Compare to Re-testing.

A new version of the system under test. The release can be either an internal release from developers to testers, or release of the system to the client. See also release management.

Release management
A set of activities geared to create new versions of the complete system. Each release is identified by a distinct version number. See also versioning and release.

Release testing
A type of non-exhaustive test performed when the system is installed in a new target environment, using a small set of test cases to validate critical functions without going into depth on any one of them. Also called smoke testing – a funny way to say that, as long as the system does not actually catch on fire and start smoking, it has passed the test.

Requirements management
A set of activities covering gathering, elicitation, documentation, prioritization, quality assurance and management of requirements for an IT system.

Requirements manager
The person responsible for requirements management Also known as Requirements Lead or Business Analyst.

A test to verify that a previously-reported defect has been corrected.

Retrospective meeting
A meeting at the end of a project/a sprint during which the team members evaluate the work and learn lessons that can be applied to the next project or sprint.

A static test technique in which the reviewer reads a text in a structured way in order to find defects and suggest improvements. Reviews may cover requirements documents, test documents, code, and other materials, and can range from informal to formal.

A person involved in the review process that identifies and documents discrepancies in the item being reviewed. Reviewers are selected in order to represent different areas of expertise, stakeholder groups and types of analysis.

A factor that could result in future negative consequences. Is usually expressed in terms of impact and likelihood.

Risk-based testing
A structured approach in which test cases are chosen based on risks. Test design techniques like boundary value analysis and equivalence partitioning are risk-based. All testing ought to be risk-based.

The Rational Unified Process; a development methodology from IBM’s Rational software division.


Sandwich integration
An integration testing strategy in which the system is integrated both top-down and bottom-up simultaneously. Can save time, but is complex.

Scalability testing
A component of non-functional testing, used to measure the capability of software to scale up or down in terms of its non-functional characteristics.

A sequence of activities performed in a system, such as logging in, signing up a customer, ordering products, and printing an invoice. You can combine test cases to form a scenario especially at higher test levels.

An iterative, incremental framework for project management commonly used with agile software development.

Session-based testing
An approach to testing in which test activities are planned as uninterrupted, quite short, sessions of test design and execution, often used in conjunction with exploratory testing.

The degree of impact that a defect has on the development or operation of a component or system.

Site acceptance testing (SAT)
Acceptance testing carried out onsite at the client’s location, as opposed to the developer’s location. Testing at the developer’s site is called factory acceptance testing (FAT).

Smoke testing
See release testing.

State transition testing
A test design technique in which a system is viewed as a series of states, valid and invalid transitions between those states, and inputs and events that cause changes in state.

Static testing
Testing performed without running the system. Document review is an example of a static test.

Stress testing
Testing meant to assess how the system reacts to workloads (network, processing, data volume) that exceed the system’s specified requirements. Stress testing shows which system resource (e.g. memory or bandwidth) is first to fail.

Structural testing
See white box testing.

See test stub

The organization that supplies an IT system to a client. Can be internal or external. Also called vendor. Contrast with Client.

The integrated combination of hardware, software, and documentation.

System integration testing
A test level designed to evaluate whether a system can be successfully integrated with other systems (e.g. that the tested system works well with the finance system). May be included as part of system-level testing, or be conducted as its own test level in between system testing and acceptance testing.

System testing
Test level aimed at testing the complete integrated system. Both functional and non-functional tests are conducted.


Test automation
The process of writing programs that perform test steps and verify the result.

Test basis
The documentation on which test cases are based.

Test case
A structured test script that describes how a function or feature should be tested, including test steps, expected results preconditions and postconditions.

Test data
Information that completes the test steps in a test case with e.g. what values to input. In a test case where you add a customer to the system the test data might be customer name and address. Test data might exist in a separate test data file or in a database.

Test driven development
A development approach in which developers writes test cases before writing any code.

Test driver
A software component (driver) used during integration testing in order to emulate (i.e. to stand in for) higher-level components of the architecture. For example, a test driver can emulate the user interface during tests.

Test environment
The technical environment in which the tests are conducted, including hardware, software, and test tools. Documented in the test plan and/or test strategy.

Test execution
The process of running test cases on the test object.

Test level
A group of test activities organized and carried out together in order to meet stated goals. Examples of levels of testing are component, integration, system, and acceptance test.

Test log
A document that describes testing activities in chronological order.

Test manager
The person responsible for planning the test activities at a specific test level. Usually responsible for writing the test plan and test report. Often involved in writing test cases.

Test object
The part or aspects of the system to be tested. Might be a component, subsystem, or the system as a whole.

Test plan
A document describing what should be tested by whom, when, how, and why. The test plan is bounded in time, describing system testing for a particular version of a system, for example. The test plan is to the test leader what the project plan is to the project manager.

Test policy
A document that describes how an organization runs its testing processes at a high level. It may contain a description of test levels according to the chosen life cycle model, roles and responsibilities, required/expected documents, etc.

Test process
The complete set of testing activities, from planning through to completion. The test process is usually described in the test policy.

Test report
A document that summarizes the process and outcome of testing activities at the conclusion of a test period. Contains the test manager’s recommendations, which in turn are based on the degree to which the test activities attained its objectives. Also called test summary report.

Test run
A group of test cases e.g. all the test cases for system testing with owner and end-date.

Tests on one test level are often grouped into a series of tests, i.e. two-week cycles consisting of testing, re-testing, and regression testing. Each series can be a test run.

Test script
Automated test case that the team creates with the help of a test automation tool. Sometimes also used to refer to a manual test case, or to a series of interlinked test cases.

Test specification
A document containing a number of test cases that include steps for preparing and resetting the system. In a larger system you might have one test specification for each subsystem.

Test strategy
Document describing how a system is usually tested.

Test stub
A test program used during integration testing in order to emulate lower-level components. For example, you can replace a database with a test stub that provides a hard-coded answer when it is called.

Test suite
A group of test cases e.g. all the test cases for system testing.

A set of activities intended to evaluate software and other deliverables to determine if that they meet requirements, to demonstrate that they are fit for purpose and to find defects.

Third-party component
A part of an IT system that is purchased as a packaged/complete product instead of being developed by the supplier/vendor.

Top-down integration
An integration test strategy, in which the team starts to integrate components at the top level of the system architecture.

Test Process Improvement. A method of measuring and improving the organization’s maturity with regard to testing.

Analysis of a prior chain of events, as well as the ability to follow an object such as a document or a program through various versions. Traceability enables you to determine the impact of a change in requirements, assuming you also develop a traceability matrix.

Traceability matrix
A table showing the relationship between two or more baselined documents, such as requirements and test cases, or test cases and defect reports. Used to assess what impact a change will have across the documentation and software, for example, which test cases will need to be run when given requirements change.


Unified Modeling Language. A technique for describing the system in the form of use cases. See also use case.

Unit test
See component test.

Unit test framework
Software or class libraries that enable developers to write test code in their regular programming language. Used to automate component and integration testing.

The capability of the software to be understood, learned, used and attractive to the user.

Usability testing
A test technique for evaluating a system’s usability. Frequently conducted by users performing tasks in the system while they describe their thought process out loud.

Use case
A type of requirements document in which the requirements are written in the form of sequences that describe how various actors in the system interact with the system.


A software development lifecycle model that describes requirements management, development, and testing on a number of different levels.

Tests designed to demonstrate that the developers have built the correct system. Contrast with verification, which means testing that the system has been built correctly. A large number of validation activities take place during acceptance testing.

Tests designed to demonstrate that the developers have built the system correctly. Contrast with validation, which means testing that the correct system has been built. A large number of verification activities take place during component testing.

Various methods for uniquely identifying documents and source files, e.g. with a unique version number. Each time the object changes, it should receive a new version number. See also release management.


Waterfall model
A sequential development approach consisting of a series of phases carried out one by one. This approach is not recommended due to a number of inherent problems.

White box testing
A type of testing in which the tester has knowledge of the internal structure of the test object. White box testers may familiarize themselves with the system by reading the program code, studying the database model, or going through the technical specifications. Contrast with black box testing.

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