A Planning-Based Approach to GUI Testing

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“A Planning-Based Approach to GUI Testing” by Atif M. Memon, Martha E. Pollack, and Mary Lou Soffa. In Proceedings of The 13th International Software/Internet Quality Week, May 2000.


Graphical user interfaces (GUIs) have become nearly ubiquitous as a means of interacting with software systems. The widespread use of GUIs is leading to the construction of more and more complex GUIs. With the growing complexity comes challenges in testing the correctness of GUIs and the underlying software. Some of the important challenges include test-case generation, test-oracle creation, and regression testing. In this paper, we present the design of Planning Assisted Tester for grapHical user interface Systems (PATHS) - a research project designed with the primary goal of facilitating the automation of GUI testing. PATHS uses a new GUI testing technique based on user event interaction sequences. The key idea is to test the GUI software using interactions most likely to be exercised in actual use. A novel feature of PATHS is its reliance on AI plan generation techniques to generate testing information. Given a set of operators, an initial state and a goal state, a planning system produces a sequence of operators that transforms the initial state to the goal state. Using PATHS, GUI test designers can generate likely user interaction sequences by specifying typical goals that users of the GUI software might have. PATHS first analyzes the GUI and derives hierarchical planning operators from the actions in the GUI. The test designer determines the preconditions and effects of the hierarchical operators, which are then input into a planning system. With the knowledge of the GUI and the way in which the user will interact with the GUI, the test designer creates sets of initial and goal states. Given these initial and final states of the GUI, a hierarchical planner produces plans, or a set of test cases, that enable the goal state to be reached. Our technique has the additional benefit of associating oracle information with the test cases automatically. We implemented our technique by developing the GUI analyzer and extending a planner. We generated test cases for Microsoft's WordPad to demonstrate the viability and practicality of the approach.

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BibTeX entry:

   author = {Atif M. Memon and Martha E. Pollack and Mary Lou Soffa},
   title = {A Planning-Based Approach to {GUI} Testing},
   booktitle = {Proceedings of The 13th International Software/Internet
	Quality Week},
   month = may,
   year = {2000}

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