Pair Testing: A Beginner’s Guide
Shreya Bose, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack - May 25, 2021
What is Pair Testing?
Pair Testing is exactly what it sounds like. Two people sit at a single machine and work together to complete and evaluate a single test. Essentially, a single task is divided between two individuals who exchange ideas, discuss test scenarios, take notes, and generally collaborate to test software functionality. It is a form of exploratory testing.
Generally, the pair in pair tests comprise a developer and a tester. However, in some instances, a customer, business analyst, solution designer, or technical writer can also form part of the pair if the situation calls for it.
A typical example of a pair testing scenario would be as follows:
One person uses the mouse and keyboard to run the test. The other directs the test process, asks questions, makes suggestions, notes down results, leaves comments, and more. They do this while going through the functionality, usability, and designs of the application module under test.
How to Conduct Pair Testing
Ideally, pair testing should proceed in the following steps:
- Partner Up the Right People: Find two people comfortable with collaborating. The two people should have a sense of each other’s working styles, be able to communicate adequately, and see eye-to-eye on project goals.
- Allocate Space: The duo should have access to a quiet room where they can talk (and not disturb anyone else) as well as the required machine for one or two hours.
- Establish Goals: Even though pair testing is a form of ad-hoc testing, testers shouldn’t be completely unstructured when approaching it. At the very least, formulate a list of software areas to cover. For example, let’s say a pair is testing a new feature with multiple components. Testers should come prepared with a list of components to cover, expected results for each, and what the test intends to accomplish.
- Decide on Roles: Before starting, decide which of the pair will operate the machine (the driver) and who will direct the session (the navigator). The navigator takes the driver through the steps of the tests, suggests scenarios, takes notes, and swaps ideas. However, both parties should equally contribute ideas, suggestions, and concepts to enrich the test cases.
- Log Bugs and Take Notes: Once the session ends, log bugs, if any. Additionally, make detailed bug reports and note any unexpected discrepancies and anomalies that might have popped up.
When to Conduct Pair Testing
There are a few situations in which pair testing comes in handy:
- Short pair tests between team members to quickly validate software components and further collaboration.
- As a learning opportunity, pair tests are ideal. Assigning a new member or junior tester with a senior tester can help the former quickly come up to speed on the development lifecycle.
- Pair tests are also helpful in supporting collaboration among different roles and expand the purview of QA operations. Testers can pair up with designers to get a sense of the software’s visual significance and design relevant test scenarios. Similarly, testers can pair with business analysts to ascertain how a customer-facing feature can be enhanced to boost revenue streams and brand credibility.
- When bugs are identified, pair tests are perfect for bringing objectivity into the debugging process. With the second set of (preferably fresh) eyes on the job, it became much less likely for incorrect code to go unnoticed.
Recommended Read: Effective tips for managing remote QA team
Benefits of Pair Testing
- Breaks down siloes for better collaboration: Since pair testing requires people from the same and different teams to collaborate. Hands-on knowledge sharing and test activities break the ice between teams or individuals, invites new perspectives into QA, and keeps everyone appraised of overall project progress. It also fosters better inter-team relationships.
- Provides greater accuracy: A tester may miss out on a bug if they know the feature too well from its initial development phases. Technical personnel can lose sight of how actual end-users may approach the software.In pair testing, testers can join forces with someone less technically oriented (business analysts, product owners) to not miss out on the obvious errors. A fresh pair of eyes can contrast their “curse of knowledge” and help keep them connected to end-users’ concerns.
Even if they pair up with a tester from another team, valuable feedback can come from the person not acquainted with the software. Basically, pair testing provides QAs with a pair of fresh eyes to examine software with, which tends to identify far more bugs than one tester working alone.
- Promotes Knowledge Sharing: This might not be a tangible benefit, but its importance should not be downplayed. With experts from different teams/roles working together, both individuals will better understand how diverse software development operations work.Naturally, this fosters easier communication and helps individuals gain a more comprehensive understanding of team dynamics. This results in people who work better together (always a good thing) in the long run.
- Creates Better Bug Reports: With two people examining software for bugs, bug reports tend to be more detailed, which helps developers address issues faster. Additionally, with insights from members from different teams, bugs are analyzed from not just technical perspectives but from customer-facing and financially relevant POVs.
The Role of Real Devices in Pair Testing
All pair tests have to be run on real browsers and devices. Emulators and simulators simply do not offer the real user conditions that software must run within, making the results of any tests run on them inaccurate. Consider testing websites and apps on a real device cloud, preferably one that offers the latest devices, browsers, and OS versions. This applies to both manual testing and automation testing.
BrowserStack’s real device cloud provides 2000+ real browsers and devices for instant, on-demand testing. It also provides a cloud Selenium grid for automated testing, which can be accelerated by 10X with parallel testing. The cloud also provides integrations with popular CI/CD tools such as Jira, Jenkins, TeamCity, Travis CI, and much more. Additionally, there are in-built debugging tools that let testers identify and resolve bugs immediately. BrowserStack also facilitates Cypress testing on 30+ browser versions with instant, hassle-free parallelization.
Pair Testing is a quick and easy way to examine software periodically through the software development lifecycle. It also furthers collaboration and creates healthy team dynamics, thus implementing central principles of Agile development.