The Flavors of Software Testing

Recently I took a final in my Software Quality and Assurance class. While I think the final went relatively well there was one question that has been haunting my dreams, hiding in every dark corner of every dark room I find myself in. The question was one so simple yet for reasons unbeknownst to me, I froze. A concept that, at a former point in my life in the not so distant past had been second nature to me. The question was “What is the difference between static and dynamic testing?” Since I failed myself and my professor on that test I felt like I should use this blog as a way to freshen up my understanding of both types of software testing.

I found myself seeking elder guidance on the matter and landed at the doorstep of Lakshay Sharma on the ToolsQA blog. A very short and simple read later I felt the rush of knowledge come back to me and I feel comfortable that I can talk on the matter of static vs dynamic, white vs black box testing. The blog made it very easy to understand the concept because it is laid out in a simple format: the first section explains static testing, and the second black box. After both sections there is a small graphic that shows the differences between the two. So, what is static testing anyways?

Static testing refers to software testing that is done without running the program. This testing is also called white box testing and is done prior to running the code and can help sort out a multitude of issues within the program. Things such as code structure, and code pathing can be tested at this stage and without the use of unit tests. This type of testing is beneficial because it forces developers to take a step back and review the code they are writing. If you’ve ever gotten into a groove while programming and then taken a step back to see the mess you just created you would know why static testing is such a good tool to have in your software testing tool belt. Static testing is full about preventing errors in the first place, and as the age old saying goes: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. While that prevention is great, in the event that you do get sick, you are going to want that cure as fast as possible and as strong as possible to get you back on your feet. This is where dynamic testing comes in.

Dynamic testing is the act of testing code while its running. Although while creating dynamic tests you may be able to see the code, dynamic testing falls under the umbrella of black box testing because the tests themselves do not care about the inner workings of a program. Dynamic testing tests behavior such as input/output. The good thing about black box testing is that tests can be written prior to developing code and give programmers an easy way to determine if a program is working as intended. Dynamic testing requires more time to set up than static since it involves actually creating test cases.

Just as life is made up of thesis and antithesis and one cannot exist without the other, static testing and dynamic testing go hand in hand and to use only one is to cheat yourself of the best possible work you could be producing.


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