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Test coverage matrix vs. traceability matrix

What is the difference between a test coverage matrix and a traceability matrix?

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In common use, the terms test coverage matrix and traceability matrix are interchangeable. RTVM (Requirements Traceability Verification Matrix) is the concept of tying requirements to test cases, ensuring that each requirement has one or more test cases associated with it. Generally, when referring to "test coverage," this is what is being discussed. Based on the percentage of test cases executed, a project team can estimate the test coverage provided (some tools which provide an automated traceability relationship between test cases and requirements can, in fact, analyze actual requirements coverage to provide a more business-oriented perspective into the project status.

Another less common use of the term coverage matrix refers to the coverage a suite of tests provides on a given application (automated or manually executed). Typically this is measured by instrumenting a build for code coverage, exercising the tests, then analyzing the results of the code coverage tool. There are a number of code coverage tools available, from Visual Studio's built-in code coverage functionality to Clover, a commonly used tool for Java code coverage analysis.

Also see Karen Johnson's advice on using the trace matrix as an indicator of test coverage.

This was first published in January 2009

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