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Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need the Testcover.com service? As we all become increasingly dependent on software, networks and distributed applications, expectations are continually raised for software testers to increase their capacity and accuracy. As computers, smart phones and tablets touch more parts of our lives, there is more to test, and the stakes for "getting it right" continue to go up.

How does the service help testers? Testcover.com improves test efficiency with a unique test case generator service. The generator suggests a minimal set of test cases to cover each test area. The tester chooses which factors are required for the test job. Then the test case generator produces the test cases which will cover all pairs of factor values. The generator works to minimize the number of test cases so as to maximize the test efficiency. The Tutorial - Need for the Service section provides a real-world example of the test design need and how the service meets it.

Does the Testcover.com service support agile development? The service is ideally suited to the incremental development and frequent releases of agile development. As new configurations or new features are proposed, corresponding test configurations and test cases are quickly and easily generated. Pairwise testing also is used in more formal processes (e.g. using Six Sigma or CMMI). But the ease of use and rapid response of the Testcover.com service make it practical for a broad range of development processes.

Can I design test database records that conform to our business rules and have pairwise coverage? Yes. The tutorial gives an example of a designing a test database table for a reservation system.

Can the service generate tests for a state machine? Yes. Testers can generate pairwise designs for the behavior of a system, including its states and data values. The tutorial shows how to design tests for state machine diagrams with one or more regions. A variety of test models can be used to meet the needs of your test program.

Is the service compatible with my development/test environment? Yes. Because the service is based in the cloud, it is accessible virtually anywhere. There is no need for installation and updates: You just submit a request where and when you need to. Whether you want to specify physical test configurations, manual test cases, or automated test cases, the Testcover.com service is ready to support your need.

How can my test tools connect to the test case generator? Testcover.com provides a WSDL interface for client programs to use the test case generator service over the web. Using this interface, your test tools can take advantage of the test design improvements our test case generator offers.

How do I sign up for the service? Currently Testcover.com is offering a Risk-Free Trial. New subscribers can sign up here and then try the service without charge. We are pleased to offer the convenience of credit card payments through Visa and MasterCard. Invoices are emailed to subscribers who prefer to pay by check. Please contact us for group subscription prices.

How do I use the test case generator? You submit a request with an HTML form and receive the results in one or more tables. The test case generator provides a simple yet versatile interface - in DPB notation, which enables the test designer to handle error cases and constraints among test factor values easily. The online Tutorial and Instructions describe how to use the generator in these situations. The Tutorial introduces the basic concepts for understanding what the service does and how to use it. The Instructions (available to trial users and subscribers) specify DPB notation and provide details on the preferences and options offered by the service. Numerous examples clearly show how to get what you need from the service.

What is DPB notation? Requests are entered into the form with our exclusive Direct Product Block (DPB) notation. DPB notation allows the generator to adapt to real-world constraints which often prevent testing with certain combinations of test factor values. Each block consists of lines of factor values with one line for each factor. Each block is set up so that any combination of one value from each line is allowed. (Taken together these values are a possible test case.) Usually a small number of blocks can be used to describe all the required combinations while excluding any that are not to be tested. DPB notation is a simple, flexible way to define the constraints and dependencies which characterize the system under test.

How long does it take to get the results? Engineers familiar with other pairwise test case generators often are surprised by the quick responses of the Testcover.com service. The test case generator has been designed to provide prompt responses, usually in just a few seconds. Extremely large requests may take up to a minute or two. See our Performance page for specific examples.

How can I print the results? Results may be printed from the browser (Ctrl+P). Alternatively, results saved as an HTML file may be opened with a spreadsheet for printing. Using a spreadsheet can be convenient when the results have many factors.

Are my company's test designs private? Absolutely. Communications with the Testcover.com web site are secured by data encryption (TLS/SSL) with user names and passwords. Choices are available for the secure management of test designs, according to subscriber needs. See our Privacy Policy also.

How can I revise my test design? The request always is included in the results, so subsequent work can be based on earlier requests. To use an earlier request, highlight the request (in the yellow background) and copy it (Ctrl+C). Then go to the Test Case Generator Form, click in the request field, and paste the request into the field (Ctrl+V).

What is a test factor value? A test factor value is a specific value taken by one of the test factors during the test. For example, a browser test factor value could be IE or Firefox; a data string could be 'yes' or 'no'. A test case is a set of test factor values in which one value is associated with each of the test factors. Each set of test factor values represents one test case from a sequence to be performed. The Tutorial - Definitions of Terms section provides more detail on the meanings of these words.

Are spaces allowed in test factor values? By default the space character is used in a request to separate the values of a test factor. An alternate separator character can be chosen to allow spaces in test factor values.

What is a Combo Countdown, and why didn't mine go to zero? The Combo Countdown is a sequence of numbers displayed in the results with the test cases. The numbers indicate how many test value pairs remain to be covered after each test case is run. If all the pairs are covered, the Combo Countdown will end at zero. If your request has a partition with multiple blocks (to avoid disallowed combinations), then the Combo Countdown ends with the number of those disallowed pairs. The Combo Countdown is a useful metric to show how many pairs are to be covered in a test job.

What is an orthogonal array? An orthogonal array has the property that pairs of elements in the same row and from different columns occur an equal number of times in the array. Orthogonal arrays have been used for several years as templates in experimental design, including system testing. For information on engineering using orthogonal arrays, see Chapter 3 of Quality Engineering Using Robust Design, M. S. Phadke, 1989, Prentice Hall. Orthogonal Arrays Theory and Applications by A. S. Hedayat, N. J. A. Sloane, and John Stufken, 1999 Springer-Verlag is a graduate level text and reference devoted to orthogonal arrays.

What is a covering array? A covering array is a generalization of an orthogonal array. A covering array has the property that pairs of elements in the same row and from different columns occur at least once in the array. Basing test designs on covering arrays can lead to fewer test cases than some orthogonal array designs. The Testcover.com service uses proprietary technologies to generate test cases based on covering arrays.

How many test cases should I get? That is a complicated question. Of course you want the fewest test cases possible. There can be no fewer test cases than the product of the numbers of values for the two largest factors. (For example, a test area with 1 factor with 6 values, 1 factor with 5 values, and 7 factors with 3 values must have at least 6 • 5 = 30 test cases.) But as the number of factors increases, this minimum number of test cases is not always possible. Examples on our Performance page illustrate this point. There are many ways to find arrays, and the different methods find different sized arrays in different situations. In addition, finding new methods for smaller arrays is an active area of research. Testcover.com has addressed this situation by designing its service for continual integration of research advances. We aim to provide the state of the art in test case generation, with ongoing improvements to reduce the numbers of test cases.

What is WSDL? The Web Services Description Language (WSDL) is an XML language for describing network services. Testcover.com provides a WSDL interface for client programs to use the test case generator service over the web. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has endorsed WSDL to promote its widespread deployment for enhanced functionality and interoperability. The WSDL Primer provides a good introduction to the language's concepts and applications.
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