tl;dr: When you have parameters that only have sensible values depending on certain conditions you should include a value like "N/A" or "Does not appear" for those parameters.

 

You can try this example out yourself using your Hexawise account. If you do not have an account yet you can create a demo account for free that lets you create effective test plans.

Let's take a simple, made up example from version 1 of a restaurant ordering system that has 3 parameters:

Entree: Steak, Chicken, Salmon
Salad: Caesar, House
Side: Fries, Green Beans, Carrots, Broccoli

Everything is just fine with our test plan for version 1, but then let's suppose the business decides that in version 2, people that order "Chicken" don't get a "Salad". Easy enough, we just make an invalid pair between "Chicken" and "Caesar" and "Chicken" and "House", correct? No, Hexawise won't let us. Why? Because then it has no value available for "Salad" to pair with "Chicken" as the "Entree".

But that's what we want! "Salad" will disappear from the order screen as soon as we select "Chicken". So there is no value. That's OK. We just need to add that as the value:

Entree: Steak, Chicken, Salmon
Salad: Caesar, House, Not Available
Side: Fries, Green Beans, Carrots, Broccoli

At this point we could create the invalid pairs between "Chicken" and "Caesar" and "Chicken" and "House", and Hexawise will allow it because there is still a parameter value, "Not Available", left to pair with "Chicken" in the "Salad" parameter.

 

If we do this though, we'll find that Hexawise will force a pairing between "Steak" and "Not Available" and "Salmon" and "Not Available". Not exactly what we wanted! So we can also add an invalid pair between "Steak" and "Not Available" and "Salmon" and "Not Available".

With these four invalid pairs, we have a working test plan for version 2, but rather than the four invalid pairs, this scenario is exactly why Hexawise has bi-directional married pairs. A bi-directional married pair between "Chicken" and "Not Available" tells Hexawise that every time "Entree" is "Chicken", "Salad" must be "Not Available" and every time "Salad" is "Not Available", "Entree" must be "Chicken". So it gives us precisely what we want for this scenario by creating just one bi-directional married pair rather than four invalid pairs.

Now let's suppose version 3 of the menu system comes out, and now there is a fourth Entree, "Pork". And "Pork", being the other white meat, also does not have a salad option:

Entree: Steak, Chicken, Salmon, Pork
Salad: Caesar, House, Not Available
Side: Fries, Green Beans, Carrots, Broccoli

When we go to connect "Entree" as "Pork" and "Salad" as "Not Available" with a bi-directional married pair, Hexawise will rightly stop us. While we can logically say that every time "Entree" is "Chicken", "Salad" is "Not Available" and every time "Entree is Pork", "Salad" is "Not Available", we can't say the reverse. It's nonsensical to say that every time "Salad" is "Not Available", "Entree" is "Chicken" and every time "Salad" is "Not Available", "Entree" is "Pork".

This is precisely why Hexawise has uni-directional married pairs. What we do in this case is create an uni-directional married pair between "Chicken" and "Not Available" which says that every time "Entree" is "Chicken", "Salad" is "Not Available", but it's not the case that every time "Salad" is "Not Available", "Entree" is "Chicken". This of course leaves us free to create a uni-directional married pair between "Pork" and "Not Available". With this design, we're back to Hexawise wanting to pair "Steak" and "Not Available" and "Salmon" and "Not Available" since our uni-directional married pairs don't prohibit that, so we need to add our invalid pairs for those two pairings.

So our final solution for version 3 looks like:

Entree: Steak, Chicken, Salmon, Pork
Salad: Caesar, House, Not Available
Side: Fries, Green Beans, Carrots, Broccoli

Uni-directional Married Pair - Entree:Chicken → Salad:Not Available Uni-directional Married Pair - Entree:Pork → Salad:Not Available Invalid Pair - Entree:Steak ↔ Salad:Not Available Invalid Pair - Entree:Salmon ↔ Salad:Not Available

Let's suppose the specifications for version 4 now hit our desks, and they specify that those that chose the "House" "Salad" get a choice of two dressings, "Ranch" or "Italian". We can then end up with a dependent value that's dependent on another dependent value. That's ok. We've got this!

Entree: Steak, Chicken, Salmon, Pork
Salad: Caesar, House, Not Available
Dressing: Ceasar, Ranch, Italian, Not Available
Side: Fries, Green Beans, Carrots, Broccoli

Uni-directional Married Pair - Entree:Chicken → Salad:Not Available
Uni-directional Married Pair - Entree:Pork → Salad:Not Available
Uni-directional Married Pair - Entree:Chicken → Dressing:Not Available
Uni-directional Married Pair - Entree:Pork → Dressing:Not Available
Bi-directional Married Pair - Salad:Caesar ↔ Dressing:Caesar
Bi-directional Married Pair - Salad:Not Available ↔ Dressing:Not Available
Invalid Pair - Entree:Steak ↔ Salad:Not Available
Invalid Pair - Entree:Salmon ↔ Salad:Not Available
Invalid Pair - Entree:Steak ↔ Dressing:Not Available
Invalid Pair - Entree:Salmon ↔ Dressing:Not Available

Hexawise tests can uncover any pair-wise defects in the identified parameters for version 4 of our hypothetical menu ordering system in just 20 tests out of a possible 192. We just saved ourselves from executing 172 extra tests or missing some defects!

 

Related: How do I create an "Invalid Pair" to prevent impossible to test for Values from appearing together? - How do I prevent certain combinations from appearing using the "Married Pair" feature? - Hexawise Tip: Using Value Expansions and Value Pairs to Handle Dependent Values

By: Sean Johnson on Sep 9, 2013

Categories: Hexawise tips, Testing Strategies