Testing is an integral part of software development. It describes the set of procedures used to determine that a software product is meeting a desirable standard of quality, completeness, security.
In the context of software testing, you will sometimes hear the phrases “black box testing” and “white box testing”.
But what do these terms mean, and how do they differ from one another?
Black Box Testing vs White Box Testing
These two terms refer to two common means of testing software.
The primary distinction between the two is that in black box testing, the internal structure and design of the software is not known to the person conducting the test. Hence the name “black box”; the workings of the software are obscured.
White box testing is much the opposite. The internal structures of the software known to the person conducting the test.
Both types of testing have their own distinct uses.
Characteristics of Black Box Testing
Black box testing is sometimes called functional testing. The idea is to test the software interfaces to make sure that they work as intended.
It’s the most common type of testing used by large, traditional organizations. A lot of these groups maintain a department of testers separate from developers.
Black box testing is efficient for testing large sections of code. It also doesn’t require access to the code or knowledge of how it works. This allows testers to have a perspective on how users would experience the software that is distinct from the perspective of the developers that worked on it.
Black box testing is prone to blind spots, however, owing to the fact that only a limited range of test functions can be performed. And since testers don’t have access to the code, they can only identify issues, and not what causes them.
Characteristics of White Box Testing
White box testing is sometimes called structural testing, as the tester is able to look inside the software and use that knowledge as part of the process. It requires knowledge of programming and the specific software being worked on and needs to be performed by developers.
The benefit of white box testing is its comprehensiveness. Hidden errors that would otherwise be overlooked can be identified and fixed through white box testing. The programmer’s knowledge of the code also allows also helps in optimizing the code and providing the maximum level of coverage possible.
The downsides of the white box testing are primarily the code access and familiarity with the product required to conduct it. It is also possible for white box testing to miss features that are unimplemented or otherwise missing.
Which is Right for Your Project?
The difference between white and black box testing is the difference between quality assurance and quality testing.
Quality assurance procedures attempt to prevent defects by making sure that all processes are being done the right way. Quality testing identifies any errors that do make it into the finished project.
For this reason, black box and white box testing are complimentary. You need developers who are able to work within the structure of the product, and testers who can view the product from the perspective of potential users.
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