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Test Data
The definition (usually formal) of a collection of test input values that are consumed during the execution of a test, and expected results referenced for comparative purposes during the execution of a test.
UML Representation: There is no UML representation for this artifact.
Role: Test Analyst 
Optionality/ Occurrence: Test Data should be maintained for at least some portion of the tests, ideally in a central data store.
Enclosed in: One or more data storage containers. In some cases the Test Data can be enclosed within the Test Script or the Test Suite artifacts.
More Information:  

Input to Activities:    Output from Activities:   

Purpose To top of page

Test Data provide both a layer of indirection and a central point of modification for the unique characteristics of a test. When managed separately from the procedural aspects of the test, this enables the unique characteristics of the test to be modified independently.

Brief Outline To top of page

Each Test-Data set should consider various aspects including the following:

  • The required preconditions of the Test Environment Configuration that are assumed to exist immediately prior to the Test Data being consumed.
  • The unique characteristics of the Test Data. These data may range in form; from standard alphanumeric textual values to sensory data such as auditory or visual information. Test Data may be specified as a valid range—rather than a single value—that should be used during a test.
  • Any dependencies between the Test-Data elements.
  • A descriptive explanation of the condition being tested, often defined in terms of what the failure is if the condition being tested is found to be false.

Properties To top of page

There are no UML representations for this artifact or its properties.

Property Name

Brief Description

Data-Set Name A unique name used to identify this Test-Data set as a whole.
Name A unique name or identifier for each individual data record, entry, or combination thereof.
Description A short description of the contents of the Test-Data record, typically giving some indication of scope.
Purpose An explanation of what this Test-Data record represents and why it is important.
Dependent Test and Evaluation Items Some form of traceability or dependency mapping to specific elements, such as individual Requirements, Test Cases or Test Scripts that need to be referenced.

Timing To top of page

You can normally begin gathering candidate Test Data as early as Inception phase. At this early stage, it can be useful to store the gathered data in a unrestricted format that enforces minimal rules. This allows ill-formed Test Data records to be partially captured. As the lifecycle progresses—especially as more test staff become involved—it is usually necessary to lock-down the restrictions thereby enforcing the integrity of the Test Data. By the end of the Elaboration phase, a broad selection of Test-Data types should exist, with a handful of representative data-record entries. A larger number of data records for specific focus areas should also be available; for example, the few key use cases, usage scenarios, system functions, transactions, and so on.

Responsibility To top of page

The Test Analyst role is primarily responsible for this artifact. The responsibilities are split into two main areas of concern:

The primary set of responsibilities covers the following identification and elicitation issues:

  • Identifying potential data sources.
  • Gathering basic candidate Test Data.
  • Verifying the completeness, fitness for purpose and accuracy of the Test Data.

The secondary set of responsibilities covers the following implementation and management issues:

  • Implementing the appropriate storage of gathered Test Data.
  • Implementing the backup and restoration mechanisms to enable effective use of the Test Data.

Tailoring To top of page

Both the contents and format of Test Data may require modification to meet the needs of each specific organization and project.

When Test Data are managed independently of procedural test concerns, there are a few different styles of storage used:

  • A simple form of ASCII Text file, either special character delimited or fixed-width columns.
  • A basic form of spreadsheet or database system, such as Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Access.
  • Some form of program generated calculation of the Test Data.
  • Some form of capture, extraction or conversion of the Test Data from an original source.
  • A complex relational (RDBMS) or object (ODBMS) database management system. Many test teams make use of the same database to manage Test Data as that used by the software being developed. This often proves advantageous in having ready access to skilled Database Administrators and Designers who can provide advice and support to the test team.

As mentioned, it is typical for multiple Test Data elements to be specified in a single storage container, usually grouped by the general purpose or objective of the tests.

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