August 26, 2010

Limitations of White Box Testing

Skills Required

Talking theoretically, all we need to do in WBT is to define all logical paths, develop test cases to exercise them and evaluate results i.e. generate test cases to exercise the program logic exhaustively.
For this we need to know the program well i.e. We should know the specification and the code to be tested; related documents should be available too us .We must be able to tell the expected status of the program versus the actual status found at any point during the testing process.
Unfortunately in WBT, exhaustive testing of a code presents certain logistical proble
ms. Even for small programs, the number of possible logical paths can be very large. For instance, a 100 line C Language program that contains two nested loops executing 1 to 20 times depending upon some initial input after some basic data declaration. Inside the interior loop four if-then-else constructs are required. Then there are approximately 1014 logical paths that are to be exercised to test the program exhaustively. Which means that a magic test processor developing a single test case, execute it and evaluate results in one millisecond would require 3170 years working continuously for this exhaustive testing which is certainly impractical. Exhaustive WBT is impossible for large software systems. But that doesn't mean WBT should be considered as impractical. Limited WBT in which a limited no. of important logical paths are selected and exercised and important data structures are probed for validity, is both practical and WBT. It is suggested that white and black box testing techniques can be coupled to provide an approach that that validates the software interface selectively ensuring the correction of internal working of the software.

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