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Understanding Boundary Value Analysis in Software Testing

Dhruvi Sachapara
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Dhruvi Sachapara
  • Mar 25, 2024
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    8 min read
Understanding Boundary Value Analysis in Software Testing
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Firstly, let’s get a brief overview of software testing. It is an integral part of the development process, ensuring that applications perform as expected and minimizing the chances of defects. It encompasses a variety of methodologies, each designed to uncover different types of errors under various conditions.

Importance of boundary value analysis (BVA)

BVA is a systematic testing method that targets the edges of input domains, where experience shows that most errors tend to occur. It is a cost-effective and time-efficient means of identifying bugs that might otherwise go unnoticed until later stages or after deployment.

In this blog, we will delve into the shades of BVA, its methodology, advantages, common challenges, and the variety of techniques that can facilitate its implementation.

The basics of Boundary Value Analysis

Definition of BVA

BVA is a type of black-box testing technique that focuses on the values at the edge of equivalence classes. It is predicated on the principle that errors are most prevalent at the extreme ends of input ranges.

Why is BVA crucial in testing?

BVA is essential because it systematically examines boundary conditions, which are often the source of system failures and, at times, cause big troubles for the business. It helps testers efficiently allocate their efforts where they are most likely to achieve significant results. Also, the BVA technique can save a lot of time and resources used for testing.

Examples of boundaries in software applications

There are multiple boundaries in software applications, such as:

  • Numeric input fields: Minimum and maximum values (e.g., age range, quantity selection).
  • Date pickers: Start and end dates for a calendar selection.
  • Dropdown menus: Testing the first and last options in the list.

How Boundary Value Analysis Works

We will divide the “How Boundary Value Analysis Works” section into 2 parts, first, we will show the step-by-step process for implementation of BVA and then we’ll look at the role of fusing equivalence partitioning in BVA.

Step-by-step process for implementing BVA

  1. Identify input variables
    List all software functionalities that require user input.
  2. Define input variables
    Determine the valid and invalid ranges for each input variable.
  3. Design test cases
    Create test cases that target the following boundary values:
    • Valid boundaries (minimum, maximum)
    • Values just inside the valid boundaries
    • Values just outside the valid boundaries (minimum -1 and maximum + 1)
    • Invalid values (e.g., negative numbers where only positives are allowed)
  4. Execute test cases
    Run the designed test cases and analyze the software’s behavior.

The role of equivalence partitioning in BVA

Equivalence partitioning is a complementary technique often used alongside BVA. It involves dividing the input values into classes (partitions), where all values within a partition are expected to behave similarly. BVA is then applied to test the boundaries of each equivalence partition for more comprehensive test coverage. The combination of ECP makes boundary testing effectiveness reach the maximum height of testing.

Advantages of boundary analysis testing

The BVA technique provides multiple advantages or benefits for software testing, such as improved test coverage, identifying potential errors, cost-saving, and time-effectiveness. Let's look at them in detail.

Advantages of boundary value analysis

Improved test coverage

Boundary value analysis optimizes test coverage by pinpointing pivotal and only needed input ranges, making sure that the testing efforts are concentrated where they matter the most.

Efficiency in identifying potential errors

BVA operates with surgical precision, validating boundaries where errors are most likely to be found. Directing attention to these crucial junctures, drastically increases the chances of identifying and rectifying defects associated with input validation.

Cost-effectiveness of BVA

Time is money, and boundary value analysis in software testing proves to be a great testing investment. Through its early intervention strategy, BVA speeds up error resolution and prevents costly fixes later on. It’s like stopping a leak before it floods the house.

Time-saver

Time is incredibly valuable in software engineering. By quickly identifying key areas to focus on, BVA helps teams work more efficiently, saving time for both testers and developers. This efficient approach means teams can use their time wisely, concentrating on improving the software instead of getting stuck fixing avoidable issues.

Common mistakes and How to avoid them

Now that you have knowledge about BVA and its benefits, let’s look at various mistakes that could be made by a tester while using BVA and also look at how we can avoid these mistakes via best practices.

Typical mistakes made during BVA

  • Overlooking invalid boundary values
    Testers sometimes ignore the invalid boundary values, which can lead to untested paths in the application, which can later be costly to fix or, worse, be found by a user.
  • Failing to test boundaries for all input fields
    It’s common to miss testing boundaries for some input fields, especially when the application has a large number of inputs, such as a FinTech back office platform.
  • Not considering user experience
    Selecting boundary values without considering how the end-user will interact with the application can result in a less effective test, and the product will be made without the user’s consideration.

Best practices for those mistakes

  • Review test cases
    • Conduct a thorough analysis of the input domain.
    • Get your test cases reviewed, and make sure that the test cases cover both valid and invalid boundary values.
  • Use checklists and automation
    • Use checklists and automated tools to ensure no input field is overlooked.
    • Develop a comprehensive test case design that includes all input fields.
  • End-user perspective
    • Incorporate the end-user perspective into test planning.
    • Simulate real-world usage scenarios to determine practical boundary values.

Various techniques for Boundary Testing

Boundary analysis testing can be implemented with multiple techniques that will boost its effectiveness and result

Automated boundary value generation

  • Utilize tools that support the automated generation of boundary values based on predefined rules.
  • Integrate these tools into the testing framework to create an effective testing process.
  • Run automated tests for boundary values and assess the system’s response to ensure it meets the expected outcomes.

Here’s the code implementation of automated boundary value generation:

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Single fault assumption technique

  1. When multiple variables are involved, hold all but one variable at their extreme values.
  2. Allow the remaining variables to take on their extreme values one at a time.
  3. This approach reduces the number of test cases needed by assuming that a single fault will most likely cause a failure.

Let’s take a look at the code snippet for the single fault assumption technique:

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Involve Equivalence Partitioning

  1. Divide the input data into equivalent partitions, where each partition represents a set of values that should be treated the same.
  2. Determine representative values within each partition. These values should encapsulate the behavior of the entire partition.
  3. Create test cases for each boundary value, as well as values just above and below the boundaries.
  4. Execute the test cases.

Code snippet for involving ECP in BVA:

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Conclusion

Quick recap: In the blog, we covered the concept of BVA, its importance in quality assurance, the methodologies for its implementation, its benefits, common mistakes while using BVA, and various techniques that will help you boost your results from using this amazing testing technique.

Final thoughts: Boundary testing plays a crucial role in enhancing your testing approach for any platform in any domain. Alphabin is the best testing services provider company in the global digital world and that helps to ensure your software is bug-free. By focusing on the most likely areas for defects to occur, this helps testers cover more tests in the limited testing time they get.

Read the next chapter

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you give an example of how BVA is applied in real-world testing?
FAQ Arrow

Image You’re testing a new social media platform that requires users to be between 13 and 18 years old. Using BVA, you’d test the system’s response to ages just outside this range (12 and 19), as well as the exact boundary values (13 and 18). This ensures that the platform accurately enforces age restrictions, allowing only the appropriate age group to sign up.

Why is BVA considered a powerful testing technique?
FAQ Arrow

BVA testing is considered a powerful testing technique due to the following outcomes:

  • Efficiency: BVA allows testers to zero in on the most likely areas where bugs occur, saving time and resources.
  • Effectiveness: It has a high likelihood of finding errors since boundaries are common places for bugs.
  • Cost-saver: Identifying and fixing bugs at boundary conditions early in the development cycle can save costs associated with late fixes.
Can BVA be automated?
FAQ Arrow

Absolutely! BVA can be automated using testing frameworks and tools that support scripting and parameterization. Automation can increase the efficiency and accuracy of boundary tests, especially when dealing with a large number of input fields or complex input domains.

How does BVA differ from other testing techniques?
FAQ Arrow

BVA is unique in its focus on the extremes of input ranges, unlike other techniques that might test random or all possible values. It’s often used in conjunction with equivalent partitioning, which divides input data into partitions that can be tested with a single representative value. BVA then tests the edges of these partitions.

About the author

Dhruvi Sachapara

Dhruvi Sachapara

Dhruvi Sachapara works at Alphabin as a highly qualified Quality Assurance Engineer. She has a strong sense of problem-solving and an excellent eye for detecting problems. Her areas of expertise are JavaScript, Node.js, and React.js. She efficiently handles a variety of projects, guaranteeing flawless software quality at every turn. Dhruvi is well known for her meticulous approach and her ability to produce consistently excellent results.

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Join 1,241 readers who are obsessed with testing.
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Join 1,241 readers who are obsessed with testing.
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