Practitioners' views on good software testing practices

Pavneet Singh Kochhar, Xin Xia, David Lo

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

22 Citations (Scopus)


Software testing is an integral part of software development process. Unfortunately, for many projects, bugs are prevalent despite testing effort, and testing continues to cost significant amount of time and resources. This brings forward the issue of test case quality and prompts us to investigate what make good test cases. To answer this important question, we interview 21 and survey 261 practitioners, who come from many small to large companies and open source projects distributed in 27 countries, to create and validate 29 hypotheses that describe characteristics of good test cases and testing practices. These characteristics span multiple dimensions including test case contents, size and complexity, coverage, maintainability, and bug detection. We present highly rated characteristics and rationales why practitioners agree or disagree with them, which in turn highlight best practices and trade-offs that need to be considered in the creation of test cases. Our findings also highlight open problems and opportunities for software engineering researchers to improve practitioner activities and address their pain points.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2019 IEEE/ACM 41st International Conference on Software Engineering
Subtitle of host publicationSoftware Engineering in Practice, ICSE-SEIP 2019
EditorsHelen Sharp, Mike Whalen
Place of PublicationPiscataway NJ USA
PublisherIEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781728117607
ISBN (Print)9781728117614
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventInternational Conference on Software Engineering 2019: Software Engineering in Practice Track - Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Hotel, Montreal, Canada
Duration: 25 May 201931 May 2019
Conference number: 41st (Proceedings)


ConferenceInternational Conference on Software Engineering 2019
Abbreviated titleICSE-SEIP 2019
OtherTrack within the International Conference on Software Engineering
Internet address


  • Empirical Study
  • Practitioner Perception
  • Test Case

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