Manual testing is, therefore, an important accompaniment to the software development process. It represents a form of testing where human testers test the software application to discover bugs without using any automated tools.

For any new tester, it is always imperative to know the essentials of manual testing because that will, in turn, form the core heart of all testing techniques.

This tutorial will help the beginners grasp the basic concepts, tools, and processes of manual testing to ensure that one prepares oneself with the necessary knowledge to start their journey in software testing.

By interacting with the test environment directly, a lot of valuable insights and first-hand experience come out, which is mostly lost in the case of automated testing methods.

Understanding Manual Testing

Manual Testing

What is Manual Testing?

Manual testing is a process whereby a tester manually operates and tests software to discover bugs without using any automation tool in software testing.

In other words, testers are simulating user activities to see that the application works as expected. That way, it allows the tester to run through more random testing and perceive the overall user experience of the application.

It will run a number of features through test cases and then provide feedback to the development team.

Importance of Manual Testing in Software Development

Even with immense growth in automation testing, there is still a significant place in software development for manual testing.

It proves helpful while testing user interfaces that understand user workflows and handling all those test cases which are complex in nature and require human judgment.

Manual testing makes sure that software is user-friendly and intuitive. Manual testing tests the software not at the technical level but looks through its aesthetic and experiential part.

It is also important that issues which automated tests might leave out are identified and contribute greatly to the quality of the final product.

Getting Started with Manualting Testing

Preparing Test Cases

First of all, test cases have to be developed in order to initiate manual testing. They are scenarios which will be executed by the testers in order to check specific details of the software.

Test cases should detail a clear test scenario, preconditions, test steps, expected results, and post-conditions. These documents will guide you through the process of manual testing and enable you to conduct detailed testing:

- Identify the functionality that needs to be tested.

- Write step-by-step procedures to test those functions.

- Predict the expected outcome of each test.

Setting up Test Environment

Setting up the test environment before the execution of test cases is therefore critical to expose any environment-specific behavior or bugs that may prevail by emulating end-user conditions.

This should replicate the hardware and software environment under which the software shall be deployed in production for instance, configuration of operating system, devices, network settings, and installation of application.

Executing Test Cases

The essence of manual testing is the execution of pre-written test cases. It is a step-by-step process where the tester checks the actual outcome against the expected result and remarks on the deviations.

In this stage, simulation of real-life scenarios is very important to see how software performs when used normally.

Recording and Reporting Bugs

When a tester finds a bug, it must be accurately recorded and reported using a bug-tracking tool. The report should include detailed information about the bug such as:

- Description of the bug

- Steps to reproduce

- Severity and priority levels

- Screenshots or videos, if applicable

Accurate and comprehensive bug reporting helps developers understand and resolve issues efficiently, ultimately improving the software's quality. This cycle continues until the software performs as expected and is stable enough for release.

Manual Testing Techniques

Manual Testing Techniques

Black Box Testing

Black Box Testing is a manual testing technique wherein the tester tests the software without knowing anything about its internal structure.

In this case, checking of input and output of software systems is the major approach rather than their internal operation.

The tester just ensures that the software does what is expected with different inputs, executing all functionalities and testing if they work as specified.

This method works especially well because it emulates real users, helping detect unexpected behaviors or failures more easily.

White Box Testing

In contrast to Black Box Testing, White Box Testing involves a detailed examination of the logical code of the software. Testers need to have knowledge of the coding language and structure.

This technique allows the tester to inspect output values by inputting values that test branch coverage, loops, and statements within the code.

White Box Testing is crucial for verifying the pathways and the data flow through the code, ensuring that all paths are utilized and tested, which can help in identifying hidden errors.

Smoke Testing

Smoke Testing, also recognized as "Build Verification Testing," is a type of manual testing that checks whether the main functions of the software work correctly after a new build or version is developed.

Typically, it focuses on the functionalities that are most important for the application's performance. If the test fails, the build is declared unstable and is not tested further until the major issues are fixed.

This ensures the stability of the application before it goes into deeper testing phases.

Regression Testing

Regression Testing is essential every time a new feature is introduced or an existing feature is modified. This technique involves re-running functional and non-functional tests to ensure that previously developed and tested software still performs after a change.

The primary goal is to catch bugs that may have been inadvertently introduced into existing components, ensuring the integrity and functionality of the software remains intact.

Best Practices in Manual Testing

Clear and Concise Test Cases

Writing clear and concise test cases is paramount in manual testing. Each test case should have a defined purpose, expected input, and an anticipated outcome.

This clarity helps in reducing misunderstandings or ambiguities during the testing process. Test cases should be straightforward enough to be replicated and should strictly adhere to meeting the test objectives.

They also serve as documentation which can be useful for future reference or in cases where tests need to be repeated.

Thorough Testing Coverage

Achieving thorough testing coverage means ensuring that every part of the application is tested and not just the major functionalities. This can involve testing various data combinations, different paths through the application, and handling unusual or extreme cases.

Thorough testing helps in identifying less obvious defects and ensures that the software functions correctly under all expected conditions.

This can often require imagination and an in-depth understanding of the potential ways an end-user can interact with the application.

Collaboration with Developers

A collaborative approach between testers and developers can significantly enhance the quality of the software. Regular interactions help both teams understand the challenges better and address them proactively.

Sharing insights and regular feedback not to only detect issues but also to understand their source helps in fixing these issues more efficiently.

Moreover, collaboration facilitates a deeper understanding of the application’s objectives, which can improve the testing effectiveness and efficiency.

Documentation and Reporting

All tests conducted must be well documented. This is important for following up on defects and will also turn out to be useful for the next cycle of testing and audits.

This will help in knowing what was tested, how it was tested, and what the results were. Good reporting ensures that all test findings are full and concise in communication.

This means explaining bugs, errors, gaps in functionality, and issues that can affect user experience. Proper documentation and reporting are the keypoints to accountability and continuous improvement in the quality of software.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid in Manual Testing

Inadequate Test Coverage

Most common fault seen in manual testing is inadequate test Coverage. This happens when testers do not test all the application functionalities or elements.

The tester must plan for a test plan that should include complete coverage based on aspects and must discuss with the development team on a timely basis to prevent this fault.

Coverage tools can also be used to detect whether any part of the application is left untested.

Lack of Communication with Stakeholders

Testing done manually needs proper communication with all stakeholders. If communication is not proper or up to the mark, then there may be chances of missing the requirements or misunderstanding them.

Sometimes it may also result in testing insufficient functionality of the product. Update regularly and follow up with all stakeholders to discuss expectations and solicit constructive feedback at every stage of testing.

Ignoring Edge Cases

Edge cases represent uncommon or extreme scenarios that are usually not obvious but can cause significant problems if not tested.

Testers often overlook these cases, focusing only on the typical use cases. Always include edge cases in your testing scenarios to ensure the application can handle unexpected conditions smoothly.

Not Prioritizing Test Cases

When time is limited, prioritizing test cases becomes essential. Failure to prioritize can lead to important tests being overlooked.

Test cases should be ranked based on the impact of defects, the likelihood of a defect occurring, and areas of the application that are critical to the business.

This strategy helps testers focus on high-risk areas effectively during tight deadlines or limited testing phases.

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This manual testing tutorial for beginners has tried to introduce the most basic concepts and techniques at the core of software testing.

It covers from an explanation of what manual testing is, types of tests, to tools that can help in performing these tests. It shall be used to present the minimum knowledge and skills one would need if seeking to start a career in software testing.

Well, the key to absolutely acing manual testing is through constant practice and continuous learning. With technology evolvement goes the evolution of testing methodologies; hence, it became vital to keep apace with the latest trends and techniques in manual testing.

Take the initiative to increase your engagement in more complex projects and grow your knowledge with further resources and community involvement.

This will be your inadvertent foray into manual testing, but the career path ahead will give you continuous learning and growth in the ever-evolving discipline of software testing.

Also Read - What is Black Box Testing: Types, Tools & Examples

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