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Graph based Testing | What it is & How to Automate?

June 6, 2024Ranjana Kodlekere
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Graph based Testing What it is & How to Automate
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Software testing is a process to check a software or an application for any defects, identify and rectify those defects to ensure the system meets its requirements. Software testing is  majorly categorised as Functional and Non functioning testing. These types are further divided into various types. Know more about Software testing types!

Let us consider an example of an online shopping application. Imagine this system to have different states like Empty cart, Adding items, Removing items and so on. The transition from these states can be represented with a graph. This takes us to the topic of this blog – Graph Based Testing.

What is State or Graph based Testing?

Graph based testing is a method to test a software or an application by representing it as a graph. The graph consists of nodes that represent different components or states and edges that represent the transitions or interactions between these nodes. The goal of this approach is to test different scenarios by traversing through this graph created for the software.

What are the different types of Graph based Testing?

There are different types of graph testing approaches based on different requirements. Let us discuss some of them here.

  1. State Transition Testing – This is used for testing transitions between different states in a software. This approach is used when a software has multiple states and the transitions between states should be represented.
  1. Data Flow Testing – This is to test the input, transition and output of data in a system. It ensures that the data is rightly being used and manipulated in a system.
  1. Control Flow Testing – This method is used to test the control within the software code. The control flow graph is designed to represent different branches of code that helps in designing different test cases.
  1. Interaction Flow Testing – This is used to test different interactions between components in a software. This graph is used to write different test cases that help in testing all possible scenarios.

Advantages of Graph based Testing

There are various advantages of graph based testing predominantly in systems with complex workflows. Let us know some of the advantages here.

  1. Graph based approach gives a visual representation of the workflow within a software. This helps the testers to understand better and also test different scenarios.
  1. Graph based testing approach helps the testers to test different scenarios at earlier stages of software development. This helps to reduce the cost and effort at a later stage of development.
  1. Systems where there are state based transitions and complex user interfaces benefit from graph based testing.
  1. Graph based models represent different states, their transitions and workflow within an application. This helps testers to design a large number of test scenarios which in turn makes the application more stable and efficient.
  1. Graph based testing helps in test automation. This testing follows certain paths and transitions that can be automated. Automation tools can navigate these paths, execute the test cases and check the system efficiency.

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Disadvantages of Graph based Testing

Every approach has its own advantages and disadvantages. Likewise, let us discuss some of the disadvantages of graph based testing in this section.

  1. Designing graph models can be complex and challenging. Also, designing test cases based on complex graphs can be a time consuming task.
  1. With increasing software complexity, the graph needs to change which can be time consuming, complex and difficult to understand.
  1. Designing these graphs needs expertise and dedication. The experts should design, maintain and write test cases for these graph models. This can be a barrier in some projects.
  1. Different softwares would have different workflow and hence require different graph models. This lacks in standardisation and hence testers need time to understand and test new projects.
  1. Graph models are to be designed such that it covers all the states and their transitions. Any deviation would result in missing some test cases. This in turn increases unidentified defects.

Steps for Graph based Testing

  1. Identify the test requirements – Understand the system for which the graph needs to be designed – its components , their transitions and the interactions between them. Define the goals and objectives of this method of testing. Choose the type of graph testing required. 
  1. Build the graph model – Design the graph model based on the type selected. Represent each state or component and their interactions using edges and nodes respectively. Make sure to include all the states and all possible interactions are covered so the test cases can be built efficiently.
  1. Select the path to cover the requirements – Once the model is ready, identify the test cases, paths and scenarios that need to be tested. Design the test cases based on these observations. The test cases are to be written such that all possible scenarios are covered.
  1. Select the data to be entered – Once the test cases are ready, specify the data input for each test case. Execute the test cases based on the input selected. Record these test results and analyse to make fixes if required.

How to automate Graph based Testing?

Test automation is the best way to achieve maximum results with minimum manual  effort and time. Automating the graph based testing, primarily requires you to understand the model thoroughly. Some of the basic things to be followed for automating are – 

  1. Selecting the right automation tool.
  2. Understanding the model and writing automated test scripts.
  3. Designing navigation logic to traverse through the graph. Also, handling decision points if there are branches in the graph.
  4. Parameterise the test data to achieve reusability and flexibility.

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What are the challenges for Graph based testing automation?

Although automation of graph based testing is possible, it can also be challenging. Let us see some of those challenges here.

  1. Complex applications require complex graph models. This can pose a problem for automation.
  1. Any changes to an application requires change in graph models. This in turn requires change in automation scripts. This can be a maintenance overhead and also time consuming.
  1. Some graph based testing may have some scenarios where the automation tool is not efficient enough. Tool flexibility is also a concern.
  1. Learning graph based testing is a task. In addition to this, learning a tool as well can be overwhelming for a team.

Conclusion

So far in this blog, we have tried to address the meaning, advantages, disadvantages , automation and the challenges for automation of graph based testing. Although there are challenges, graph based testing is the most effective way of testing for complex systems. It helps in early defect detection and covering more test cases. In conclusion, graph based testing is an effective and visual approach of testing by representing states and their transitions using graphs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is flow graph and path testing?

Flow graph is a graph that represents the control flow of a program. It is used to show how the statements and functions in a program are executed. Flow graph testing is a method of testing the flow graph in a program.

Path testing is an approach that is used to cover different scenarios or use cases in a program. It is used to make sure that all possible paths of a program are tested.

Would you like to know more about Software Testing? Follow the below links – 

  1. 6 Key Phases of Testing in Software Testing (testsigma.com)
  2. What Are the Ultimate Goals of Software Testing? (testsigma.com)

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