Is regression testing a technique or a process?

(Mark Winteringham) #1

Hi all,

As I’ve been working on my list of testing topics I found myself asking the genuine question:

Is regression testing a technique or a process?

My take on it is that our products are at risk of regressing in quality and so, therefore, we carry out the activity of testing around the risk of regression (typically by covering areas that have been covered in the past). So in my head, it’s a technique.

I mentioned this question on Twitter and Twitter did not disappoint, with some disagreeing with me and saying it’s a process:

Some were more on the fence or felt I phrased the question incorrectly:

Reflecting on all this I wonder if it is an activity and not a technique as a technique would imply that specific skills are required for regression testing that other testing techniques don’t require).

I’d like to hear more thoughts on this and perhaps rephrase the question. Is regression testing a technique, process or activity?

Let me know!
- Mark

(João Farias) #2

I would agree with [GeirGulbrandsen)]( - it is like light’s dual nature.

I would just disagree on the point of blindly rerunning being silly. If such execution have low cost (good automated checks), then blindly rerunning it on every change can be a good strategy that would open space for deeper investigation around the nature of the changes.

(Kate) #3


Regression testing is both a technique and a process. It’s also an activity. The technique is in the choice of tests run (if you aren’t using automated regression) and because regression testing is part of a testers arsenal. The act of performing the tests and checking the results is part of the process of getting the application ready for customers. And of course the act of performing the tests is also an activity in itself.

Personally, I don’t care to quibble over definitions as long as what needs to happen gets done, but it can be fun to play word games with just what a particular type of testing is.

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(Joe) #4


I think of regression testing as an on-going activity to evaluate new and changed products, inspecting the existing tests for efficacy, and determining if new tests are needed. I want to run the regression test as often as needed, and I want the results to be valid, prompt, and valuable.


(Mark Winteringham) #5

To be clear, I’m not so bothered about a definition, just thoughts from the community to guide me in my work.

I like @joaofarias comment because it goes to the heart of this discussion (and perhaps other testing topics as well) the process, activity and technique are all very much intertwined with one another making it sometimes hard to reflect on them.

(Kate) #6

I figured as much. In all honesty, I doubt I could tell you when/where in my work I switch between treating regression testing as a technique and a process. I just do what I need to do when I need to do it.

(Sergio Freire) #7

Sometimes it’s hard do clearly distinguish some concepts as people use them interchangeably.
I also agree that it’s mainly a process but how it is actually done is a technique. Whenever you’re following a process, in the end you will apply one or more techniques in order to achieve/execute the steps and the decisions throughout your process.
When I was looking at some concepts some time ago, I found some examples that I think can give some better lighting to this.

  • examples of techniques: distillation, chromatography
  • examples of processes: billing process, drug approval process

I, and in my opinion, tend to see “technique” as the science, i.e. the pratical grounded thing to achieve a very well-defined goal. On the other hand, a process is another layer above it, a more formal one, sometimes without all the fine details.

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