I’m a written-test-case hater.  That is to say, in general, I think writing detailed test cases is not a good use of tester time.  A better use is interacting with the product-under-test.

But something occurred to me today:

The value of a detailed test case increases if you don’t perform it and decreases when you do perform it.

  • The increased value comes from mentally walking through the test, which forces you to consider as many details as you can without interacting with the product-under-test.  This is more valuable than doing nothing.
  • The decreased value comes from interacting with the product-under-test, which helps you learn more than the test case itself taught you.

What’s the takeaway?  If an important test is too complicated to perform, we should at least consider writing a detailed test case for it.  If you think you can perform the test, you should consider not writing a detailed test case and instead focusing on the performance and taking notes to capture your learning as it occurs.


  1. Maurus said...

    In my opinion it depends when the test is used. Writing down every test step for exploratory testing will actually stop it. Not having a well written test case in regression testing will lead to no regression at all.
    So let testers interact with the product under test when their main goal is to find bugs. However if the target of the test is to show that everything still works as it should prepare a script and use it.

  2. Eric Jacobson said...

    Nicely said, Maurus!

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