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Defining core software regression tests

Regression testing is defined through software purpose addressed, the common key strategy is to automate the test phase. according to software testing expert John Overbaugh.

There's no definitive term for 'core regression tests'. However, I can speak to regression tests and their purposes....

The goal of regression tests is to retest major components of an application. It's a known IT best-practice to limit the scope and 'breadth' of application changes for a given release – rather than changing each major functional area of an application, a better strategy is to focus on adding, enhancing, or modifying functionality in a few areas. Once that functional enhancement has been completed, it's critical to validate that nothing changed has a negative impact on the functionality and reliability of the untouched portions of the application. This is regression testing.

A key to good regression testing is to have a solid set of regression test cases. This set of cases, called a regression test suite (or a set of test suites, one for each functional area of the application) includes high-priority functional tests, deeper testing for functional areas prone to breaking under change or highly sensitive to change, and perhaps a suite of tests aimed at key show-stopping/break-fix bugs which have impacted customers in the past. This suite of tests should be reviewed frequently for completeness, precision, and usefulness.

A common strategy applied in regression testing is to automate the identified regression tests. I find this to be a critical aspect in my test strategy. A good automated test (which produces reliable, consistent, repeatable results as well as a minimum of false positives and false negatives) allows me to regression test my applications over and over again. Automated tests do not, however, replace a strong tester. I never release software which hasn't had a good manual test pass, because a human being can spot nuances an automated test will rarely find.

This was last published in September 2009

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