What is Specification Based Testing Technique in Software Testing?

August 2, 2023Aaron Thomas
What is Specification Based Testing Technique in Software Testing

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Specification-based testing, done as black-box testing, is a software testing strategy that evaluates the product based on its requirements and specifications without considering its internal structure or implementation details. This approach is based on understanding the software system’s functional and non-functional requirements. In this method, testers develop test cases that cover the many scenarios described in the specifications. Testers can use this approach to guarantee that the software satisfies the intended criteria, works as expected, and meets the demands of end users.

In this blog, we will discuss more details about specification-based testing.

What is Specification-Based Testing?

Specification-based Testing is a technique that guides testers to study the requirements and specifications of a software system. Instead of delving into the technical intricacies of the software’s internal workings, it concentrates on the system’s intended external behavior and functionality.

It is like putting on the hat of an end-user or client and exploring every nook and corner of the program to ensure it fulfills all the given criteria and functions flawlessly. It enables testers to stay faithful to the software’s intended goal while delivering a solution that works and functions well. The most important idea is to look at requirements and prepare for specification-based testing.

Why is Specification-Based Testing Important?

Specification-based testing is vital for several reasons. Firstly, it ensures that the software meets the intended requirements and specifications set by the stakeholders, including customers, business analysts, and product owners. Testers can validate that the software functions as expected by thoroughly examining these specifications. This reduces the risk of critical errors or functionality gaps.

Additionally, specification-based testing helps uncover potential ambiguities or inconsistencies in the requirements. By scrutinizing the specifications, testers can identify gaps or contradictions, allowing them to clarify and refine the requirements early in the development cycle. This leads to better collaboration between stakeholders and development teams, resulting in a more accurate and robust software product.

Moreover, specification-based testing contributes to a higher level of customer satisfaction. By thoroughly testing the software against the specified requirements, testers ensure that the end-user’s needs are met. This reduces the likelihood of post-release issues, enhances user experience, and builds trust in the software’s reliability and functionality.

Overall, specification-based testing is crucial for aligning the software development process with stakeholder expectations, enhancing collaboration, and delivering a high-quality product that meets the needs of end users.

Specification-based testing and Automation

Combining automation with specification-based testing can maximize efficiency in the development lifecycle, saving time and money. Automated testing speeds up the process, increases accuracy, and increases overall production. This allows developers to focus on more vital areas of software development, leading to more creativity and faster delivery.

Should specification-based testing be automated?

Specification-based testing can be automated, but you should depends on multiple factors, as discussed in the section below.

When to Automate Your specification-based test cases

Here are a few factors to consider:

1. If your tests are being executed repetitively and/or are Time-consuming:

Automate tests that involve executing the same steps repeatedly. This could include regression testing, smoke testing, or sanity testing. By automating these tests, you can save valuable time and resources.

2. The functionalities being tested are stable and mature:

Automate tests for features that have reached a stable state and are unlikely to undergo frequent changes. Automating unstable functionality may lead to constantly modifying test scripts, rendering them less effective and time-consuming.

3. Automate the business-critical scenarios:

Identify tests that cover critical business workflows or functionalities. Automating these scenarios ensures they are consistently validated, reducing the risk of potential failures and enhancing end-user satisfaction.

4. Automate tests that require extensive data input, such as large datasets or complex input combinations.:

Automation can generate and validate these inputs more efficiently than manual testing, reducing the chances of human error.

5. Automate performance and load testing to simulate real-world scenarios:

Automation enables the generation of high-volume traffic and concurrent user interactions, allowing you to uncover bottlenecks, assess system stability, and optimize performance.

Types of Specification-Based Testing Techniques

Specification-based testing procedures are critical for verifying that software satisfies the criteria given. The following are some examples of specification-based testing techniques:

Equivalence Partitioning

Equivalence Partitioning is a specification-based testing approach in which the input domain is divided into classes or partitions, with each partition expected to behave similarly. The goal is to choose sample test cases from each division, reducing redundancy and maximizing test coverage while minimizing effort. For example, when evaluating a login form, one equivalence class may be legitimate usernames and passwords, whereas another might be incorrect usernames and passwords.

Boundary Value Analysis

Boundary value analysis is a specification-based testing approach that evaluates the software’s behavior at input ranges’ lower and upper bounds. It is intended to detect mistakes or problems near the boundaries of input ranges, where software behavior may alter or become unstable. Developers can discover and fix potential issues by testing these crucial boundary points. For example, if a function accepts input values ranging from 1 to 100, boundary value analysis would examine values such as 1, 2, 99, and 100 to verify the system processes them effectively.

Decision Table Testing

Decision Table Testing is a technique for managing complex business logic or rules-based systems. It generates a matrix of circumstances and actions representing all potential input/output combinations. This method identifies missing or conflicting rules and unexpected behaviors, improving test coverage and guaranteeing full validation of software decision-making processes. For example, it can be used in an insurance application to determine different premium rates based on criteria such as age, occupation, and health issues.

State Transition Testing

State Transition Testing is an effective approach for software that behaves differently depending on its internal states or modes. It entails identifying potential states, establishing triggering events, and mapping valid transitions. It also aids in the discovery of flaws with state management, synchronization, or sequencing, ensuring that the program performs as intended across its multiple states. For example, would validate the right behavior while adding products, adjusting numbers, or going to check out in an e-commerce shopping cart

Error Guessing

Error guessing is an informal testing approach that relies on the tester’s experience, knowledge, and intuition to find probable software mistakes or flaws. It is especially effective when knowledge regarding the system’s specs is limited or inadequate. Error guessing supplements other formal methodologies and allows for discovering unforeseen flaws through a creative and exploratory approach. For example, in testing file upload features, a tester may estimate likely issues relating to file size, file type, or concurrent uploads.

Use Case Testing

Use case testing is the process of finding and confirming the behavior of software based on real-world scenarios or use cases. It evaluates software functionality from the end user’s perspective, ensuring it meets the required criteria and provides the expected value. By modeling genuine user interactions, this method reveals functionality, user experience, and system integration issues. For example, use case testing an online banking system might include scenarios such as logging in, moving cash, and producing account statements.

By combining these strategies, software engineers can ensure complete testing coverage, discover possible issues early on, and provide high-quality software that meets user expectations.

How to do Specification Based Testing (along with Test Automation example)

To perform specification-based testing with test automation, follow these steps:

  1. Understand the Specifications: Review the software’s specification documents thoroughly to understand the expected behavior and functionality. Identify the key features, inputs, outputs, and any constraints or business rules that must be tested.
  2. Identify Test Scenarios: Based on the specifications, create a set of test scenarios that cover different aspects of the software’s functionality. Each scenario should represent a specific use case or interaction with the software.
  3. Define Test Cases: For each test scenario, define the corresponding test cases that outline the inputs, expected outputs, and any specific conditions or preconditions required for the scenario. Ensure that the test cases cover positive and negative scenarios to validate the software’s behavior under different conditions.
  4. Automate Test Cases: Once the test cases are defined, automate them using a suitable test automation tool or framework. This involves writing scripts or test code that replicate the steps and inputs outlined in the test cases. Test automation allows for efficient execution and repeatability of the tests, saving time and effort in the long run.
  5. Execute and Analyze Results: Run the automated test cases and monitor the results. Analyze any discrepancies between the actual outputs and the expected outcomes. Any failures or issues detected should be reported and tracked for further investigation and resolution.

Here’s an example scenario to illustrate specification-based testing with test automation:

To create a test case for the example scenarios using Testsigma’s step recorder, follow these steps:

  1. Launch Testsigma: Log in to your Testsigma account and navigate to the Test development section where you want to create the test case.
  2. Create a New Test Case: Click the “New Test Case” button to create a new one.
  3. Name the Test Case: Give a descriptive name to your test case, such as “User Registration Form – Successful Registration.”
  4. Start the Step Recorder: In Testsigma, you can use the Step Recorder to capture the test steps while performing them manually. Click the “Start Step Recorder” button to initiate the recording process.
  5. Perform the Test Steps: Perform the steps for the specific scenario you want to automate. For example, in the “User Registration Form” scenario, you would fill in the registration form fields (name, email, password), click the registration button, and validate the expected outcomes.
  6. Stop the Step Recorder: After completing the test steps, click the “Stop Step Recorder” button to finish recording.
  7. Verify the Recorded Steps: Review the Testsigma test case editor steps. Ensure that all the relevant actions, inputs, and verifications are captured accurately.
  8. Edit and Enhance the Test Case: Edit the recorded steps to make the test case more readable and maintainable. You can add comments, modify step descriptions, and update verification points to align with your requirements.
  9. Parameterize the Test Data: To make the test case reusable with different data sets, you can parameterize the test data. For example, you can replace specific values like the name, email, and password with test data variables.
  10. Add Assertions and Verifications: Enhance the test case by adding assertions and verifications to validate the expected outcomes. For example, you can verify the presence of success/error messages or validate the registration status in the system.
  11. Save and Execute the Test Case: Save and execute the test case to validate the end-to-end scenario. You can execute the test case on different browsers, devices, or environments Testsigma supports.


  1. Ambiguous or incomplete specifications can lead to insufficient test coverage or erroneous assumptions, making specification-based testing difficult.
  2. Testing software that changes often or has dynamic behavior is difficult, as testers must constantly update test cases to ensure compliance, which can be time-consuming and error-prone.
  3. Testing complex systems requires extensive planning and analysis to cover and test all conceivable interactions thoroughly.
  4. Testers must choose relevant test cases strategically to cover all potential combinations when dealing with large input domains, as it is difficult to design test cases that cover all combinations.


  1. Specification-based testing ensures that the program meets the requirements, helping to confirm the software’s functioning and behavior as intended.
  2. Specification testing improves test coverage by concentrating on representative test cases that cover various circumstances, minimizing duplicated testing and increasing performance.
  3. Specification-based testing allows for the early detection of flaws and inconsistencies, preventing them from spreading to later stages of production.
  4. Focusing on specs improves documentation and traceability, as test cases are connected to written requirements, making it easier to manage and analyze test coverage.
  5. Specification-based testing ensures that a program meets user expectations and contributes to delivering a product that meets user wants and expectations by operating as expected based on written specifications.
  6. Specific-based testing is essential for ensuring compliance in regulated businesses by testing software against specified criteria and laws.

Limitations of

  1. Specification-based testing is limited in investigating unexpected circumstances, as it only tests against established criteria.
  2. Specification-based testing relies on accurate and comprehensive specifications, which can lead to inadequate testing or the discovery of inappropriate behavior.
  3. This testing can stifle creativity and limit exploratory testing, making testers too reliant on specified requirements and missing opportunities for innovative and unconventional testing methodologies.
  4. This testing can be time-consuming and resource-intensive, making it difficult to test against all possible combinations or validate complex systems due to project deadlines or resource restrictions.
  5. Specification-based testing may struggle to handle sophisticated business logic or rules-based systems, leading to additional testing approaches to achieve full validation.
  6. This testing focuses on functional requirements but may overlook usability and user experience. Additional testing methodologies, such as usability testing and user acceptability testing, are needed to analyze the program holistically.


Specification-based testing procedures are critical for verifying software against its specifications, assuring functioning, and increasing overall quality. Effective testing procedures include equivalence partitioning, boundary value analysis, decision table testing, state transition testing, error guessing, and use case testing. While specification-based testing has limitations and issues, it may be a strong tool for delivering high-quality software that satisfies user expectations when combined with other testing methodologies.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the key characteristic of specification-based testing techniques?

Specification-based testing methodologies focus on testing software based on defined requirements, ensuring it meets the required functionality and behavior. It improves quality assurance and user satisfaction by aligning testing efforts with requirements.

Which is an example of specification-based testing?

To ensure faultless search functionality, e-commerce website developers evaluate their applications according to specifications. Test cases must be developed using predetermined criteria and anticipated results to do this. For instance, evaluating brand filtering, category relevancy, and the search tool against a certain price range.

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