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Black box testing is a form of software testing during which the functionality of an application is tested without looking at the code or internal structure. Any test which examines the interface of the application is considered black box testing. There is a wide range of test types that fall under this category of testing, including functional testing, regression testing, integration testing and user acceptance testing.

How Does Black Box Testing Work?

Black box testing may be executed manually or with automation. Because one of the desired outcomes of black box testing is to confirm that end users will be able to use the product, one of the advantages of human-executed black box testing is emulating the user experience through testing. This process helps surface issues that users may encounter. Alternatively, automated black box testing provides a faster, potentially more scalable alternative method of execution. However, automated black box testing requires a greater amount of maintenance and technical knowledge than their manual counterparts.

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How is Black Box Testing Used?

Black box tests are generally used for functional verification of features for an application. Test cases are written with the intended requirements and specifications of the application in mind. Specific inputs for the test are designated, with a particular intended output.

Advantages

Because the goal of QA testing is ultimately to assure that the application meets the level of quality expected by users, black box testing is useful because it most closely emulates how users will experience the application. While other forms of testing, including unit testing and API testing, are essential to the QA process, black box testing ensures that all components of the application function at the UI layer.

One additional advantage of black box testing is that deep knowledge of the code is not required to execute the tests. As a result, testing can be completed by nontechnical contributors — such as QA testers or product managers. This also means that tests can be executed outside of the organization, whether by an outsourced contractor or via crowdsourced testing.

Disadvantages

Black box testing can be redundant, as it often tests the same functions that may also be tested during unit testing. This form of testing can also be time-consuming; trying to test every possible user path can lead to having a bloated test suite. In order to get the most out of black box testing, teams should focus on creating test cases that ensure that critical user flows are covered.

Rainforest QA and Black Box Testing

Rainforest QA provides a scalable method of managing and executing your black box testing strategy. Rainforest testers execute functional and regression tests against both staging and production environments, then provide deterministic results indicating whether the test passed or failed. Learn more about using Rainforest to drive your functional testing strategy by checking out our platform page.

Head of Content for the Marketing team @ Rainforest. Loves to find and share great QA and dev team stories!