02: Management, preserving and organization of manual test cases within VSTS 2010.

  • Part 00: Agile Testing with VSTS 2010 and TMap
  • Part 01: User Stories
  • [current post, removed the Agile Testing blablabla and part pre-fix]

This post belongs to the series of “Agile Testing with VSTS 2010 and TMap” although this topic has a wider scope, in used software delivery methodology you have to think about test case management.

A small introduction.

First a small introduction to give some direction on the needs of test case management.
The drawing below I made during a discussion with several TMap experts and explains how test cases are created and executed in a simple situation.

From top to bottom and left to right.

1 Teams start brainstorm over user needs, create stories and write these down on cards together with acceptance criteria.
Within VSTS 2010 this can be done in the work item type ‘user story’ [see previous post].
2 After prioritizing the stories, teams start the iterations by brainstorm on implementation tasks and test tasks.
Again, within VSTS 2010 this can be done in the work item type ‘user story’ [see previous post]. 
 3   4 Next, the sources and test case are going to be created, developed. Within VSTS 2010 source files in the IDE and than added to version control. Test cases are added as work item to TFS.
5 The source files are build, unit tested, labeled, packaged and finally deployed on a test environment where the manual test cases are executed against this deployment

All the artifacts created by tasks are under version control, except test cases. 

All the sources and corresponding automated tests like, unit tests, load tests, web tests and codedui tests are under version control. Getting the latest version of the sources also gets the latest version of these tests. But, also when using the more sophisticated capabilities of version control, like branching and merging, the tests also have this characteristics.

Manual test cases different, they are work items and aren’t under version control they have a history. Belong [often] to a user story. So, it gets interesting when making the above scenario more real live with sources and automated tests under version control with branching and merging. See drawing below…


  • User stories, sources and test case are created [top left].
  • [red line] A branch is made from the first version to start the development of an other version.
  • User story 2 [center] is added to this branch [new/ added user needs], also sources are added to this branch and test cases are created.
  • Finally version 2 is build and the test case of user story 2 are executed [bottom right].

Dotted red line; while there was a branch created from the sources, no branch was created from the test cases of user story 1 [top left], resulting in a version 2 with only partial tested functionality.

This branching scenario is very simple, there are some more complicated ones as you can read in Microsoft Team Foundation Server Branching. This 2006 MSDN story has also some nice branching and merging strategies.


The need for test case management within VSTS 2010.

This branching, merging and the decoupled characteristic of test cases is one of the reasons why we need test case management. We manually need to organize and manage our test cases in such a way that every iteration, version, service pack, hot fix and release is sufficient tested and to prove that its well tested.

As described in the paper Test Cube principle [pdf]:

A good test set (= collection of test cases) is of priceless value. During the realization of an application it is the basis for the reporting concerning test coverage and progress. In a maintenance situation it is a source of knowledge concerning the application and a source of ready-made test cases for regression tests.

In the next post we will have a look / deep dive in the capabilities of TFS 2010, MTLM [Test and Lab manager] how they fulfil the needs of test case management and in what way the TMap process template helps this process.

One part of the solution and even an agile one: automate the manual test cases as quick as possible and put them under version control. Next post more…

Comments (16) -

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