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6 steps to write test cases using exploratory testing methods

Michael-Deady ‎06-26-2013 10:20 AM - edited ‎09-09-2015 04:29 PM

In this high velocity software development environment, time-to-market is measured in Sprints instead of iterations and the word “waterfall” is thought of as being slow and archaic. While the world has sped up, the job of a manual tester and his tools, methods and processes has changed very little.


“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.” Says Harrison Ford as Han Solo in one of my favorite movies, “Star Wars”.


By combining exploratory testing, automated documentation, simultaneous mirror, and single-click detailed defect generation has forced manual testers to compete in an agile development environment. What most people don’t realize is that an automated regression script typically starts out as a manual test case. It more than likely will go through several iterations before someone takes the time to automate said test case. More than likely that test case was only automated after a defect was found.


“This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster; an elegant weapon for a more civilized age.” Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan.


A lot of times I get asked to put strategies and methodologies aside. They want to know  what steps  I follow when creating test cases or components from cradle-to-grave:


Step 1.     More than likely most of my test cases start out as an ad-hoc or exploratory test; this is usually based off of either a deviation from a user story or functional requirement. Exploratory testing gives me two options rather than the single option available with traditional functional types of testing. First being, that I can start testing new functionality while the code is still “warm from the oven” metaphorically speaking. In other words, I can start a new functional test as soon as the code is compiled.


The second advantage is using HP Sprinter’s comprehension of the English language.  It also has the capability to document every action taken on a specific application as well as take a snapshot of the screen.  This process sometimes reminds me of watching directors making storyboards for upcoming scenes or movies and a major production- it is a great way to document your progress.


There is a third sometimes overlooked advantage to using HP Sprinter—its capability to do more than one thing at a time. HP Sprinter has the capability to scan a given application or website from something as a simple broken link all the way to validating color scheme of a given text box or header across multiple platforms and devices. Before you ask, yes you can simultaneously scan and test across multiple browsers even if they’re not in the same room or continent.


Step 2.     Once HP Sprinter has documented and recorded every step of given test case or component, I then begin the arduous process of creating single click defects or defect reminders. For something as complex as a100-step test case (heaven forbid) I simply review my notes that I created using the annotation tool built into HP Sprinter. I can also simply click on links that allow me to drill down into issues that were found during recording or even the differences across other platforms and browsers that were running simultaneously.


Step 3.     At this point I take a cursory view of the documented steps and make quick notations of the expected results that were simply creating parameters which will allow me to use the same test case or component with different data for each test run. This sounds pretty simple and to be honest with you it is.


Step 4.     Now that I’ve created a very detailed test case, several defects, parameterize the test for interchangeable data sets and made detailed notation directly to the screenshot I can finally save my test case. Once the test cases or component has been saved to the Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) tool I have three options: I can begin the automation process, start the process all over again for my next test case or simply figure out what I’ll do for the next seven hours and 45 minutes of my eight hour day.


Note: other than linking HP Sprinter to ALM I have only worked with in HP Sprinter to complete every step and task listed above.


Step 5.     If I choose to automate the test case, I can open Unified Functional Testing (UFT) (or in the case of components Business Process Testing BPT) and simply convert manual a test case to an automated test case. This again only requires a single click within UFT. After that I just simply follow the step-by-step instructions to create an automated test case (simply using the F7-Key for insert function and clicking the learn object icon.  Once I have completed the automation of the script I can begin inserting the parameters that were created using HP Sprinter. Because HP sprinter was developed in conjunction with ALM and UFT the automation framework’s has already been included. Again this was done without opening any other tool other than UFT.


Question: once a script has been converted to an automated script it can no longer be run as a manual test case.


  1. True
  2. False
  3. Only during a blue moon
  4. none of the above
  5. some of those above
  6. who cares


Step 6.     Now I have two options at this point: I can head to the links and work on my chip shot or I could take the time to set up test and data sets within ALM and execute my new automated/manual. To be honest, I have more luck with the latter.


Before closing out this post I realize that I have overlooked some of the key features of HP Sprinter. For example, macros, data insertion, video, etc. But my editor keeps reminding me how valuable your time is and that I shouldn’t infringe on your patronage. Plus it gives me additional topics to discuss in my next posting.  


This article, as well as all my articles, are a very poor attempt at humor and simplicity.  I don’t want to make light of all the different challenges that both manual and automated testers face every day, Remember that we are all dealing with more complicated applications than “hello world” or “angry birds”. That said, the steps above and the tools that I use allow me to design, document, automate and execute in high velocity environments at higher than normal volume. With them automating a new functional test is literally six steps away and is hours instead of days from being counted as one of my regression scripts.


After writing three articles on my three favorite subjects (exploratory testing, HP Sprinter, Star Wars) I think I’ll take a cue from another one of my heroes George Lucas and let this millennium falcon jump to light speed. Imagine the Star Wars theme playing in the background and the credits rolling; in other words, I’ll let this topic rest until it’s ready for a prequel. If you haven’t used this process before please do so now, and call it the Doc process if you like. If you can or if you have please help me tweak and refine the process maybe we can add your name to the process as well =).  


P.S.  I am always looking for good video using HP Sprinter or UFT being used on interesting or dynamic applications. 


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About the Author


Michael Deady is a Pr. Consultant & Solution Architect for Teksystems, center on quality, aimed at client's satisfaction, and long-term success. Perceived by clients, peers, and supervisors as a leader with the proven ability to lead development and quality assurance teams through software-development life cycle phases, to ensure quality of new products. He specializes in software development, testing, and security. He also loves science fiction movies and anything to do with Texas.

NaveenKumar N
on ‎06-28-2013 12:25 AM

Wow. Awesome Sprinter. I would like to work on Sprinter :)

on ‎06-28-2013 12:17 PM



I’m glad to see automated tools developer such as yourself taken interest in in the creation of test cases with speed in my without quality, and detail being left behind in the wake of progress. This article wasn’t just aimed to aid manual testers as much as it was to empower the team through communications and cooperation.


The great news is if you already have ALM/Quality Center 1X.X the HP sprinter tool has already been added to your add-on page; however only ALM/quality center 11.X has the capability for exploratory testing built-in. If you are currently on ALM/quality center 11.O you still have the option of downloading HP sprinter 11.52 which I highly recommend for its functionality.


If you currently using ALM, you simply have to click on Help>Add-in’s>HP Sprinter> 11.52 Or just Click Here


If you don’t have access to ALM HP software has provide a 30 day Trial at:


Again thank you for your patronage and your kind comments







on ‎07-12-2013 03:48 AM

After a survey was done by HP, one of Sprinter v11.0 new features (what HP calls "mirror testing") can increase productivity by up to 80%, which is great increase.


I don't know if this is the case really, but this feature is great because allows the tester to run the same tests on multiple platforms...manual testing keeps getting better :)

Mobile App Testing
on ‎04-21-2014 11:16 PM

Mobile app testing is an important phrase of any development cycle .Testers should be very careful at the time of testing and writing the test cases. Write a test case is not an easy task tester need to consider so many aspects and I must say you have clearly mention all the point which is helpful .  

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