Database Testing: What, Why and How to Test Database
The list of the most essential elements of software testing starts with Database testing. ‘Database’ in itself is the most essential constituent in any application development and to ensure that the data being used is accurate, sorted, free from errors and includes all the necessary elements that you may require throughout you application is essential for a developer to create a smooth functioning and effective application in future.
Today the complexity of applications has been increased to a great extent. Therefore, a stronger and more secure database is required for your applications to be successful.
Currently, there are a lot of Database Testing tools available in the market that can make this process of database testing easier and much faster by automating the entire process saving you a lot of time in testing. These tools include Oracle 10g, MS-Access2010, MS SQL Server 2008 r2, PostgreSQL, Oracle Financial, MySQL, DB2 etc.
In this blog we will primarily look into the basics of Database testing, its types, some tips and common misconceptions testers have with regards to including this process as a part of their regular application testing process.
All About Database Testing
Database testing is a layered process that includes a user interface, business layer, data access and the database layer itself. The User interface deals with the design of the database whereas the business layer includes the supporting business strategies. Each of these layers works collaboratively to provide complete and fully responsive applications. It’s a type of software testing that checks the schema, tables, triggers, etc. of the database being tested. It checks data integrity and consistency and involves creating complex queries to load/stress test the database and check its responsiveness to different scenarios.
Why should you opt for Database Testing?
Database testing ensures the validity of a data values and information received and stored in a database. It helps save data loss, saves aborted transaction data and no unauthorized access to the information is allowed with it. It is important for every software testing company therefore, testers must have good knowledge of SQL for database testing to start with.
- Database testing helps avoid hidden fault in an application. Identifying these faults is integral to testing as this ensures any possibilities of data loss, incomplete or incorrectly stored data before running it into your systems
- The GUI is the most critical part of an application. Proper database testing ensures that the database that’s incorporated within the app and appears on the GUI is validated for smooth user experience
- Proper database testing can help reduce the number of backend calls one may receive in case of queries from the end-user
- It also ensures that no harmful or incorrect data is saved at the backend of your application
Essential Questions you must ask before starting a Database Testing Routine for your Software
Questions you need to ask related to database structure:
- Is the data set organized logically?
- Is the database performing well?
- Are the objects related to your database like views, triggers, stored procedures, functions etc. working correctly?
- Are you facing issues in storing the correct form of data in your data system?
- Is your data secured from unauthorized success?
Questions you need to ask related to your data:
- Is your data complete?
- Is your data factually correct?
- Have you eliminated any unnecessary elements from your data?
Database Testing Categories
Database Testing can be divided into 7 major categories:
1. Metadata testing
Metadata testing is done to verify that the table definitions used in the case conform to the data model and application design specifications mentioned in the beginning.
2. Data Quality Testing
Data quality test helps verify the accuracy and quality of the data used. It’s mostly done by data profiling that helps identify any quality issues in the production system once the application has been made a life for a little while.
3. Reference Data Testing
There are instances when users come across fields containing values not found in the valid set. This happens when database fields contain a limited set of enumerated values. Reference data testing is used to verify such data tabs.
4. Database Procedure Unit Testing
You can always have database procedures with business logistics in an app. You must examine the database procedure structure and derive test data from the program logic as an included part of the white box testing process.
5. Database Regression Testing
Database regression testing is done to identify any issues that might occur due to changes in the database metadata, procedures or system upgrades in your application.
6. Database Integration Testing
The whole idea integration testing is to validate that the database tables and procedures are getting populated with the expected data based on input provided in the application while being tested from the UI.
7. Database Performance Testing
Database performance is the most essential element of application performance testing. Often, development environments lack the appropriate amount of data for performance testing of the database. It happens because mostly the project is very new and the database only has a small amount of test data or production data has PII information which cannot be loaded into the test database without scrubbing. The applications behave differently with different volumes of data. Setting up realistic test data using one of the following strategies is key to performance testing:
- Mask and refresh test data in the test environments from the production environment
- Generate a larger volume of test data using data generation tools
Database Testing Process
Below mentioned is the step-by-step process used for a smooth Database Testing:
1. Identify the Scope
Before starting any testing process the first step is to identify what all needs to be covered in the testing process. The primary thing to identify the data set that impacting the performance if your application the most. Based on these identifications, various aspects like data verification, schema verification, health checks, database guideline checks, security checks etc. are executed.
2. Set up the Testing Environment
Next step is to establish a functioning testing environment for the process to be carried out with ease.
3. Create a Test Scenario
This step includes creating test cases for conducting the test. It involves different inputs and different transactions related to the database.
4. Execute Test
In this step, the test codes defined in the testing process are executed.
Following the execution process, this process includes analyzing all the outputs received in an orderly manner that enables valuable conclusions that can be referred to in the decision-making process for the future.
6. Report defects and monitor
Next step is to identify any trends that can be picked from the analyses of your test results and making necessary tweaks and fixes to the scripts to be able to avoid making the same mistakes twice. Including this as a continuous practice in your test regime can result in identifying any particular pattern (if exists) in the testing process and address then in advance.
7. Test Script Reuse
Once the defects have been identified and a pattern has been discovered in your test script, the same script can be reused for regression test execution. You can use a previously tweaked test code and if possible, schedule the execution of the test at a stipulated period to run it as and when required.
8. Cross-checking with UI Test Report
Last but not the least, in this step the database testing results are crosschecked with the UI testing to match the results before moving further.
Important Guidelines and Tips for Database Testing
You need to keep the scope for testing and challenges in mind before devising a strategy for database testing in applications.
The important testing guidelines are mentioned below:
- List your requirements well in advance from all possible resources and map your requirements before proceeding with your test. This will help avoid chaos and any possible last-minute confusions
- Create proper text scenarios for each requirement and organize your data sets
- Ensure all the testing entities that you may require in your application is represented in the database. Also, ensure that unnecessary data elements are removed from your dataset
- Try focusing on response time to check your database performance accurately
- If you wish to test the database objects like stored procedures, make sure you design the test data in interesting ways and predict the output of the stored procedure
- Try designing invalid test data sets to check database constraints and update them in your database
- To do security testing for your database, try designing tests that mimic unauthorized access. This would show if you can view, modify or delete the restricted database for future use
- Design valid test data set for all application entity to test proper data integrity. Ensure each data in the test data set has been inserted/ updated in the database
- Try keeping your queries as simple as possible to prevent defects in your SQL queries
- Try getting your queries reviewed by someone other than the author of your test code to review the queries
Misconceptions related to Database Testing:
People have added a lot of misconceptions about database testing stating that it reduces efficiency, slows down processes and disrupts the testing cycle for tests. Well, below we have addressed some of these misconceptions that are ‘not true’.
- The process is too lengthy to be executed at a go: it’s super simple and easy to execute
- Database testing adds more bottles necks in the testing process: it clears down process makes a testing a lot smoother
- Testing slows down your overall development process: it adds efficiency in your work and reduces the chances of redundancy
- It adds cost to your IT testing budget: It’s anytime worth the investment
- It requires an in-depth knowledge of SQL that can be exhaustive: even the most basic awareness about SQL is enough
Here we have precisely talked about the basics of database testing and why you should be including it in your application testing process. It is essential to note that though some may see it as a tiresome process that increases bottlenecks into the application testing timeline, database testing can help avoid unnecessary errors in your data that can potentially hamper the overall user experience of a customer.