Code Coverage

Primary tabs

Code coverage

For main article, see Code coverage

Code coverage is inherently a white box testing activity. The target software is built with special options or libraries and/or run under a special environment such that every function that is exercised (executed) in the program(s) are mapped back to the function points in the source code. This process allows developers and quality assurance personnel to look for parts of a system that are rarely or never accessed under normal conditions (error handling and the like) and helps reassure test engineers that the most important conditions (function points) have been tested.

Test engineers can look at code coverage test results to help them devise test cases and input or configuration sets that will increase the code coverage over vital functions. Two common forms of code coverage used by testers are statement (or line) coverage, and path (or edge) coverage. Line coverage reports on the execution footprint of testing in terms of which lines of code were executed to complete the test. Edge coverage reports which branches, or code decision points were executed to complete the test. They both report a coverage metric, measured as a percentage.

Generally code coverage tools and libraries exact a performance and/or memory or other resource cost which is unacceptable to normal operations of the software. Thus they are only used in the lab. As one might expect there are classes of software that cannot be feasibly subjected to these coverage tests, though a degree of coverage mapping can be approximated through analysis rather than direct testing.

There are also some sorts of defects which are affected by such tools. In particular some race conditions or similar real time sensitive operations can be masked when run under code coverage environments; and conversely some of these defects may become easier to find as a result of the additional overhead of the testing code.