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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Programming languages considered harmful in writing automated software tests


Although programming languages are widely used for writing automated software test code, we argue that this is a harmful practice for software quality assurance. Programming languages are designed to implement complex algorithms and do not provide a natural mechanism for describing software tests. Software tests consist of sequences of test actions - such as, inputting test input data, checking test outcomes, and recording test results - and not only executing the application-under-test. We dissect a sample software test written in C++ and identify several harmful effects of writing software tests in programming languages.

We believe that the problems we identify are overcome by using a language specifically designed for describing software tests. We briefly describe TestTalk, a test description language under development, and provide a sample software test written in TestTalk.

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