Understanding the scope of Smoke testing and Sanity testing

By-Manu Kanwar
The terms sanity testing and smoke testing are used interchangeably in many instances, despite the fact that they do not mean the same. There may be some similarities between the two testing methods, but there are also differences that set them apart from each other.

Smoke Testing:

Smoke testing usually means testing that a program launches and its interfaces are available.  If the smoke test fails, you can’t do the sanity test. When a program has many external dependencies, smoke testing may find problems with them.

In Smoke testing, just the basic functionalities are tested, without going in for the detailed functional testing. Thus, it is shallow and wide. With smoke testing, requirement specification documents are rarely taken into consideration. The objective of Smoke testing is to check the application stability before starting the thorough testing.

Sanity Testing:

Sanity testing is ordinarily the next level after smoke testing. In sanity testing you test that the application is generally working, without going into great detail.
Sanity testing is mostly done after a product has already seen a few releases or versions. In some cases, a few basic test cases in a specific area are combined into a single sanity test case that will test working of functionality in that specific area of the product.
Sanity testing will be deep and narrow and the tester will need to refer to specific requirements. The objective of Sanity testing is to check the application rationality before starting the thorough testing.

Are smoke and sanity testing different?

In some organizations smoke testing is also known as Build Verification Test (BVT) as this ensures that the new build is not broken before starting the actual testing phase.
When there are some minor issues with software and a new build is obtained after fixing the issues then instead of doing complete regression testing, sanity is performed on that build. You can say that sanity testing is a subset of regression testing.

Important Points:

  1. Both smoke and sanity tests can be executed manually or using an automation tool.  When automated tools are used, the tests are often initiated by the same process that generates the build itself.
  2. As per the needs of testing, you may have to execute both Sanity and Smoke Tests on the software build. In such cases you will first execute Smoke tests and then go ahead with Sanity Testing. In industry, test cases for Sanity Testing are commonly combined with that for smoke tests, to speed up test execution. Hence it’s a common that the terms are often confused and used interchangeably.

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