What is Black Box Testing: Types, Tools & Examples
By Sourojit Das, Community Contributor - July 31, 2023
Software testing is a crucial and mandatory part of the software development process. It is essential to ensure that the software being developed meets the required quality standards and functions as intended.
Black box testing and white box testing are two fundamental testing approaches used by software testers to assess the quality and functionality of the software. As you mentioned, black box testing focuses on checking the accuracy of the system without delving into the internal code or implementation details. Testers perform black box testing by examining the software’s external behaviour and evaluating its functionality against specified requirements.
By using black box testing in the software development process, organisations can enhance the software’s reliability, user experience, and overall quality by uncovering issues from a user’s perspective.
- What is Black Box Testing?
- Different Types of Black Box Testing
- Example of Black Box Testing
- Features of Black Box Testing
- Advantages and Limitations of Black Box Testing
- Tools and Frameworks used to perform Black Box Testing
- Difference between Blackbox and Whitebox Testing
- What is Whitebox Testing?
What is Black Box Testing?
Black box testing is a software testing technique where the internal workings or code structure of the system being tested are not known to the tester.
In other words, the tester focuses solely on the external behaviour of the software, without having access to its internal source code. The name “black box” comes from the idea that the internal workings are hidden or “boxed” from the tester’s view.
Key characteristics of black box testing include:
- Independent Testing: Black box testing is typically performed by testers who are independent of the development team. This ensures a fresh perspective and helps identify issues that developers might overlook.
- Requirements-Based Testing: Testers design test cases based on the software’s requirements and specifications, without being concerned about how the code is implemented.
- Functional Testing: The main goal of black box testing is to assess the functionality of the software, checking if it meets the expected behaviour and delivers the desired outputs for various inputs.
- No Knowledge of Internal Code: Testers do not have access to the source code, architecture, or design details of the software. They interact with the system through its user interfaces or APIs.
Different Types of Black Box Testing
Black box testing encompasses several types of testing techniques, each with a specific focus and objective. Some of the main types of black box testing include:
- Functional Testing: This type of black box testing verifies that the software’s functions and features work as expected and adhere to the specified requirements. Testers use functional test cases to validate the application’s inputs, outputs, and interactions, without being concerned about the internal code.
- Non-Functional Testing: Unlike functional testing, non-functional testing evaluates aspects of the software that are not related to its specific functions. It includes tests for performance, usability, security, scalability, reliability, and other quality attributes.
- Regression Testing: Regression testing is performed to ensure that recent changes or updates to the software do not adversely affect existing functionality. Testers use a set of predefined test cases to verify that new features or bug fixes have not introduced new issues.
- User Interface (UI) Testing: UI testing focuses on validating the user interface elements of the software, such as buttons, menus, forms, and layout. The goal is to ensure that the UI is user-friendly, consistent, and functions correctly.
- Usability Testing: Usability testing assesses the software’s user-friendliness and how easily users can interact with it. Testers evaluate factors like navigation, visual appeal, ease of learning, and overall user experience.
- Boundary Value Analysis (BVA): BVA is a technique used to identify defects around the boundaries of input values. Test cases are designed with values at the edges of input ranges to assess how the software handles minimum and maximum limits.
- Equivalence Partitioning: In this technique, the input domain is divided into groups of data that are expected to behave similarly. Test cases are then derived from these partitions to minimise redundant testing.
- Ad-hoc Testing: Ad-hoc testing is an informal and unstructured testing approach where testers explore the software freely, executing test scenarios based on their intuition and experience. It helps identify defects that might be missed by formal test cases.
- Compatibility Testing: Compatibility testing assesses how well the software performs across different environments, such as various browsers, operating systems, devices, and network configurations.
Read More : Cross Browser Compatibility Testing Checklist
- Security Testing: Security testing aims to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the software’s security measures. Testers simulate attacks and check for potential security breaches.
- Localization and Internationalization Testing: These types of testing ensure that the software is adapted to different languages, cultures, and regional settings, and it functions correctly in various international environments.
Pro Tip : The real device cloud from BrowserStack provides more than 3000 real devices and browsers for manual and automated testing, including localization testing. This allows users to test on multiple actual devices and browsers by registering, logging in, and selecting the necessary combinations. They can change the IP Location of a device to the desired country or GPS location, and then perform tests to determine how the software appears and functions in those locations.
Example of Black Box Testing
A simple black box testing example for a login functionality of a web application. In this scenario, we will test the login page without having access to the internal code or implementation details.
Test Case Name: Verify successful login with valid credentials.
- Open the web browser.
- Enter the URL of the application’s login page.
- Enter a valid username in the username field.
- Enter a valid password in the password field.
- Click on the “Login” button.
- Wait for the application to process the login request.
Expected Result: The user should be successfully logged into the application’s dashboard/homepage.
Test Case Status: PASS (if the user is redirected to the dashboard/homepage)
Test Case Name: Verify unsuccessful login with invalid credentials.
- Open the web browser.
- Enter the URL of the application’s login page.
- Enter an invalid username (e.g., “invaliduser”) in the username field.
- Enter an invalid password (e.g., “wrongpassword”) in the password field.
- Click on the “Login” button.
Wait for the application to process the login request.
Expected Result: The login attempt should fail, and an appropriate error message (e.g., “Invalid username or password”) should be displayed on the login page.
Test Case Status: PASS (if the error message is displayed)
Features of Black Box Testing
Black box testing, as a software testing approach, offers several features and benefits that make it an essential part of the software development process. Some key features of black box testing include:
- Focus on External Behavior: Black box testing emphasises evaluating the software’s functionality from an end-user perspective, focusing on how the system behaves with different inputs and usage scenarios.
- Independence from Internal Code: Testers conducting black box testing do not require knowledge of the internal code or implementation details, making it suitable for testers who may not have programming expertise.
- Requirement-Based Testing: Test cases in black box testing are designed based on the software’s requirements and specifications. This ensures that the application meets the intended functionality and business objectives.
- Real-World Scenario Testing: Black box testing helps simulate real-user conditions, allowing testers to identify defects that might arise during actual usage of the software.
- Validation of Interfaces: It is effective in verifying the accuracy of the software’s interfaces, ensuring that inputs and outputs are correctly handled.
- Identification of Interface-Level Bugs: Black box testing is particularly useful for detecting interface-level bugs, such as incorrect error messages, incorrect data handling, or missing functionality.
- User-Centric Testing: By focusing on the end-user perspective, black box testing ensures that the application meets user expectations and delivers a satisfactory user experience.
- Test Case Design Techniques: Black box testing employs various test case design techniques, such as equivalence partitioning, boundary value analysis, decision table testing, and state transition testing, to ensure comprehensive test coverage.
- Compatibility Testing: It helps assess the software’s compatibility with different environments, browsers, operating systems, and devices.
- Test Automation Support: Many black box testing tools support test automation, enabling the execution of repetitive test cases efficiently and reducing the testing cycle time.
By leveraging these features, black box testing helps organizations deliver high-quality software that meets user expectations and complies with the specified requirements. When combined with other testing approaches, such as white box testing and gray box testing, it provides a comprehensive testing strategy for software development projects.
Advantages and Limitations of Black Box Testing
Advantages of Black Box Testing
- Independence from Internal Implementation: Testers do not need to have access to the source code or knowledge of the internal implementation, making it suitable for non-technical team members.
- User-Centric Testing: Black box testing focuses on the software’s external behavior, ensuring that it meets user requirements and expectations.
- Testing from End-User Perspective: It simulates real user scenarios, helping to identify usability issues and ensuring the software meets user needs.
- Early Detection of Interface Issues: Black box testing can uncover interface-related defects, such as input validation errors and output discrepancies.
- Effective at Integration Testing: It verifies the interactions between different system components, making it valuable for integration testing.
- Test Case Design Flexibility: Various test case design techniques, such as equivalence partitioning and boundary value analysis, allow for effective test coverage.
- Effective for Requirement Validation: Black box testing helps validate that the software meets the specified requirements.
- Suitable for Large Projects: It can be applied at different testing levels, from unit testing to acceptance testing, making it scalable for large projects.
Limitations of Black Box Testing
- Limited Code Coverage: Black box testing may not explore all possible code paths or internal logic, potentially leaving certain defects undetected.
- Inability to Test Complex Algorithms: It may not be effective at validating complex algorithms or intricate business logic that requires knowledge of the internal code.
- Redundant Testing: Some test cases may overlap, leading to redundant testing efforts and less optimal test coverage.
- Dependency on Requirements: Test cases are heavily dependent on the accuracy and completeness of the provided requirements. Incomplete or ambiguous requirements can result in incomplete testing.
- Inefficiency with Repetitive Tasks: Manual black box testing can be time-consuming and inefficient for repetitive tasks, making test automation essential for large-scale projects.
- Inability to Assess Performance and Scalability: Performance-related issues and scalability problems may not be effectively identified through black box testing alone.
- Difficulty in Error Localization: Identifying the root cause of defects detected in black box testing can be challenging, as testers lack access to internal code.
- Limited Security Testing: While black box testing can identify certain security vulnerabilities, it may not comprehensively address all potential security issues.
To overcome some of these limitations, organisations often use a combination of black box testing with other testing approaches like white box testing (to assess internal code and logic) and gray box testing (to combine elements of both black and white box testing).
This mixed approach allows for better test coverage and increased software quality assurance.
Tools and Frameworks used to perform Black Box Testing
There are several black box testing tools available that can assist testers in automating and managing the testing process for software applications. These tools help with creating and executing test cases, capturing test results, and generating reports.
Some popular black box testing tools include:
Selenium is commonly used for black box testing, particularly for web applications. Selenium is an open-source testing framework that allows testers to automate the testing of web browsers, making it a valuable tool for performing black box testing on web-based systems. It interacts with web elements on the user interface, simulating real user interactions and validating the functionality of the application without accessing its internal code.
Appium is another popular tool that is often used for black box testing, particularly for mobile applications. Appium is an open-source test automation framework that allows testers to automate the testing of native, hybrid, and mobile web applications on both Android and iOS devices. It enables black box testing of mobile apps without accessing the internal code.
Pro Tip :It is advised to perform Selenium and Appium Tests on real device cloud to obtain more accurate test results.
The Cloud Selenium Grid of BrowserStack provides access to over 3000 browser device combinations, enabling QAs to test under actual user conditions for improved performance.
It is simple to test your native and hybrid mobile applications with BrowserStack App Automate and the Appium automation framework. Test on a large number of actual Android and iOS devices.
Cypress is a powerful test automation framework primarily used for front-end testing, including end-to-end (E2E) testing and user interface (UI) testing. While Cypress is more commonly associated with white box testing due to its ability to access and control the application’s internal code, it can also be used for black box testing to some extent.
While Cypress may provide some black box testing capabilities, its real strength lies in the combination of white box and black box testing. For instance, testers can use Cypress to conduct E2E tests and then complement it with other black box testing techniques like exploratory testing or usability testing.
4. Load Runner
LoadRunner is primarily known as a performance testing tool, and its core focus is on testing the performance, scalability, and reliability of applications under different load conditions. While LoadRunner is not typically used as a dedicated black box testing tool, it can still be employed to perform some aspects of black box testing in specific scenarios, for e.g.
- Load Testing with Real User Scenarios: LoadRunner can simulate real user scenarios and interactions with the application. In this sense, it acts as a black box, not having direct access to the application’s internal code.
- User Experience Testing: By conducting load tests with multiple virtual users, LoadRunner can help assess the overall user experience. It measures the application’s response times, resource utilization, and other performance metrics, simulating real-world scenarios from the end-user perspective.
SoapUI is primarily known as an API testing tool, and its main focus is on testing the functionality and behavior of APIs (Web services). As such, SoapUI is well-suited for black box testing of APIs, ensuring that they meet the specified requirements without needing access to the underlying code.
Here’s how SoapUI can be used for black box testing of APIs:
- Functional Testing: SoapUI allows testers to create test cases that simulate API requests and responses. Testers can validate if the API functions correctly based on the expected results without knowing the internal implementation.
- Input Validation: Testers can use SoapUI to check how the API handles different types of inputs and whether it provides the appropriate responses, such as error messages for invalid data.
- Boundary Value Analysis: SoapUI allows testers to test API responses with boundary values to verify if the API behaves correctly at the edges of the input range.
For comprehensive black box testing, especially when dealing with end-to-end testing of web applications, it is recommended to use dedicated black box testing tools like Selenium or Cypress in combination with SoapUI for API testing. This combination allows for a more complete testing approach, covering both the functionality of the APIs and the user interface interactions of the application.
Difference between Blackbox and Whitebox Testing
Before we discuss the difference between Black Box and White Box testing, it is important to understand what Black Box and White Box testing actually is.
What is Whitebox Testing?
White box testing, also known as clear box testing or structural testing, is a software testing approach that involves examining and validating the internal code and logic of a software application.
Testers who perform white box testing have access to the application’s source code and use their knowledge of the code’s structure to design and execute test cases. The goal is to verify the correctness of the code, identify logical errors, and ensure that all code paths and conditions are thoroughly tested.
|Whitebox Testing||Blackbox Testing|
|White box testing (also known as clear box testing or structural testing) focuses on examining the internal code and logic of the software. Testers have access to the source code and use this knowledge to design test cases that target specific code paths and conditions.||Black box testing, on the other hand, focuses on the external behavior of the software without having access to the internal code. Testers design test cases based on the software’s requirements and specifications, testing how the system responds to various inputs.|
|White box testing requires testers to have an understanding of the internal code and the software’s architecture. This knowledge is essential to identify potential code issues and design tests to exercise specific code branches.||Black box testing does not require knowledge of the internal code, making it suitable for non-technical testers or those who do not have access to the source code.|
|White box testing uses techniques such as code coverage analysis, statement coverage, branch coverage, and path coverage to design test cases that ensure maximum code coverage and exercise all possible code paths.||Black box testing uses techniques like equivalence partitioning, boundary value analysis, decision tables, and state transition testing to design test cases based on the software’s requirements, input ranges, and expected behavior.|
|White box testing is typically performed at the unit testing and integration testing levels, where the internal code can be accessed and tested.||Black box testing can be applied at various testing levels, including unit testing, integration testing, system testing, and acceptance testing, focusing on the external functionality of the software.|
|White box testing aims to verify the correctness of the internal code, identify logical errors, and ensure that all code paths are tested.||Black box testing aims to validate the software’s functionality, ensure it meets the specified requirements, and assess how it behaves from an end-user perspective.|
|In white box testing, testers need to have programming skills and an understanding of the codebase to design and execute effective tests.||In black box testing, testers do not need programming knowledge, and it can be performed by non-technical team members.|
Best Practices for Black Box Testing
Effective black box testing requires careful planning, thorough test case design, and meticulous execution. Here are some best practices to ensure successful black box testing:
- Requirement Analysis: Start by thoroughly understanding the software’s requirements and specifications. Clear and well-defined requirements will guide the creation of meaningful test cases.
- Test Planning: Develop a comprehensive test plan that outlines the testing scope, objectives, testing levels, resources, and timelines. This will serve as a roadmap for the testing process.
- Test Case Design Techniques: Utilize various test case design techniques like equivalence partitioning, boundary value analysis, decision tables, and state transition testing to ensure comprehensive test coverage.
- Test Data Management: Prepare relevant and diverse test data to cover various scenarios. Validate both valid and invalid inputs to assess the software’s response.
- Positive and Negative Testing: Include test cases for both positive scenarios (valid inputs with expected outcomes) and negative scenarios (invalid inputs with appropriate error handling).
- Usability Testing: Focus on testing the user interface and overall user experience. Verify that the application is user-friendly, consistent, and easy to navigate.
- Regression Testing: As changes are made to the software, perform regression testing to ensure that new updates or fixes do not introduce new defects or impact existing functionality.
- Boundary Value Analysis: Test the software’s behavior around the boundaries of input ranges to identify potential issues with boundary conditions.
- Error Localization and Reporting: Clearly document and report any defects or issues discovered during testing, including detailed steps to reproduce the problem and information on the test environment.
- Test Automation: Automate repetitive and time-consuming test cases to improve testing efficiency and repeatability. Automation helps in running tests more frequently and consistently.
By following these best practices, testers can conduct thorough and effective black box testing, identifying and resolving defects, and ensuring that the software meets the desired quality standards and user requirements.
White box testing follows the structural testing strategy, while black box testing follows the behavioural testing strategy.
You need appropriate planning, test case design, execution, and result verification for the behavioural approach. It examines the system’s behaviour from the perspective of its consumers. Manual testing is required to adopt this approach.
The structural approach verifies the implementation of every software module. After creating the tests, the test cases must be committed to the source code repository. Automation testing is the most appropriate method for this.