I love test design and I think it is an essential part of good testing. I enjoy analysing complex data and functions and often create graphical models or tables of the design. But when it comes to actual test cases I start to hesitate.
What is the reason for me to create test cases? Well the answer must be that I or someone else can use them later as support for executing tests. Executing tests is often interpreted as following some detailed instructions and comparing predicted results with actual results. So what is the reality of test cases, let´s hear it! In most cases I do NOT need any test cases at all in order to do some really good testing! All of the tests I run at the moment are done without any test cases at all. I am doing a menu tour of the whole application, taking one part at a time and at the same time making notes. I am using the user guide as inspiration and am also updating that document with what I find. Every page has my comments, questions and bugs. I am setting up the basic functionality of the system and at the same time doing some software attacks. The most common are the input constraint attack, trying to make all error messages appear, OOPS - making mistakes and trying to correct them. All of these techniques help me find lots of problems, some already known but forgotten. Read How to Break Software by James Whittaker or get some info from James Bach on how to perform this kind of general attacks.
Next step for me will be to test the whle system flow. I have created a simple general process from creating a survey, asnwering, analysing and then presenting results. That is basically what the system does, helps users to collect data and get statistics from it. My plan is to create a number of test charters - high level test cases with test ideas - and collect data in excel from where I can analyse the results.
We are at the moment evaluating an administrative system for test cases, logs and bug report but so far I have only been using the bug reporting part. I find most test cases administrative systems to be really crappy and not supporting any reasonably good way of working. The reason they are built the way they are is that that was the easiest way to build them! They are all built like a file explorer with folders and subfolders and unnatural stepwise descriptions of testcases. Boring and ineffeicient.
SAY NO, when you think it is a bad idea to work a certain way or with certain systems. We testers need to lead the way. Who else is going to create a better way of working for us? And you WILL meet resistance, changing hurts. But befioe you give up, think about if you want to spend the rest of your career working like you are today. The choice should not be that hard when you look at the long term picture.
Let´s get better!