How good are my tests?

David Bowes, Tracy Hall, Jean Petrić, Thomas Shippey, Burak Turhan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Test quality is a prerequisite for achieving production system quality. While the concept of quality is multidimensional, most of the effort in testing context hasbeen channelled towards measuring test effectiveness. 

Objective: While effectiveness of tests is certainly important, we aim to identify a core list of testing principles that also address other quality facets of testing, and to discuss how they can be quantified as indicators of test quality. 

Method: We have conducted a two-day workshop with our industry partners to come up with a list of relevant principles and best practices expected to result in high quality tests. We then utilised our academic and industrial training materials together with recommendations in practitioner oriented testing books to refine the list. We surveyed existing literature for potential metrics to quantify identified principles. 

Results: We have identified a list of 15 testing principles to capture the essence of testing goals and best practices from quality perspective. Eight principles do not map toexisting test smells and we propose metrics for six of those. Further, we have identified additional potential metrics for the seven principles that partially map to test smells. 

Conclusion: We provide a core list of testing principles along with a discussion of possible ways to quantify them for assessing goodness of tests. We believe that our work would be useful for practitioners in assessing the quality of their tests from multiple perspectives including but not limited to maintainability, comprehension and simplicity.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2017 IEEE/ACM 8th Workshop on Emerging Trends in Software Metrics, WETSoM 2017
Subtitle of host publication23 May 2017 Buenos Aires, Argentina
EditorsRoberto Tonelli, Alessandro Murgia, Giuseppe Destefanis, Ewan Tempero, Steve Counsell
Place of PublicationPiscataway NJ USA
PublisherIEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781538628072
ISBN (Print)9781538628089
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
EventIEEE/ACM Workshop on Emerging Trends in Software Metrics 2017 - Buenos Aires, Argentina
Duration: 23 May 201723 May 2017
Conference number: 8th


ConferenceIEEE/ACM Workshop on Emerging Trends in Software Metrics 2017
Abbreviated titleWETSoM 2017
CityBuenos Aires
Internet address


  • metrics
  • test quality
  • unit testing

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