Testcase Metadata

Editor's draft: Last edited $Date: 2011/12/16 02:59:23 $


  1. Introduction
  2. Metadata elements
  3. References

1. Introduction

This document defines a minimal set of metadata elements that can usefully be applied to test cases that are intended for publication within a conformance test suite. Defining and providing metadata has proved helpful in a variety of areas during the test development process. It also helps those who run the tests to verify the conformance of their implementations. For example, metadata can be used to:

If the use of standard metadata elements is adopted within the W3C it is likely that standardized tools will be developed to facilitate many of these tasks.

Please note that these metadata elements are simply suggestions. It is likely that additional metadata elements may be appropriate for your implementation. It may even make sense to define metadata about metadata (for example, the Dublin Core elements Date and Language may usefully be applied to several of the elements defined below.)

2. Metadata elements


Name Identifier
Description An unambiguous reference to the test case.
Rationale Enables the test case to be referenced and identified.
Required? Yes.
Syntax Freeform (URI recommended).
Example http://www.w3.org/Style/CSS/Test/CSS2.1/current/t0510-c25-pseudo-elmnt-00-c.htm
See Also Dublin Core: identifier
Testcase Metadata: Title
Comments Most W3C test suites use URIs as identifiers.


Name Title
Description The name by which the test case is formally known.
Rationale It may be advantageous to provide a more human-oriented alternative to the Identifier.
Required? No.
Syntax Text.
Example The CSS Test Suite uses the term Description for human readable names that more properly match this Title element. (For example, CSS 2.1 Test Suite: Co>.)
See Also Dublin Core: title
Testcase Metadata: Identifier
Comments This element is optional because the Identifier will often be sufficient. Note also that in very large test suites it may be impractical to define unambiguous Titles.


Name Purpose
Description A brief explanation of the reason the test case was developed.
Rationale Provides additional context for the test case.
Required? Yes.
Syntax Free-form (hypertext).
Example The CSS1 test suite provides such explanations. For example: "This page tests the 'text-transform' property of CSS1".
See Also Testcase Metadata: Description
Testcase Metadata: SpecRef
Comments The Purpose should typically be kept short enough (a "one liner") to be displayed in tablular format. More detailed explanation can be provided in a Description element.


Name Description
Description A representation in words of the nature and characteristics of the test case.
Rationale A detailed explanation can help reviewers to understand the purpose of a test and may also provide those executing the test with
information that will be helpful if the test fails.
Required? No.
Syntax Free-form (hypertext).
Example The WebCGM test suite incorporates detailed descriptions. For example: "Test basic CGM-to-HTML link, from a Application Structure with linkuri APS Attribute within the CGM, to a whole HTML document, with no behaviors or fragments associated with the link."
See Also Dublin Core: description
Testcase Metadata: Purpose
Comments This element can be used to provide more detailed information than can be provided in the relatively short Purpose element.


Name Status
Description One of an enumerated list of values that can be used to track the state of a test at a given time.
Rationale It can be helpful to track the status of a test case during the development process.
Required? No.
Syntax Constrained choice from an enumerated list
Example One of: unconfirmed, new, assigned, pending, accepted, rejected, holding (see Conformance Test Process For WCAG 2.0 and their Test Case Status document.).
See Also  
Comments This metadata element may also be useful after test suite publication, when it could be used to record the state of challenges to the validity of the test case.


Name SpecRef
Description Identification of the portion of the specification tested by this test case.
Rationale Traceability back to the specification.
Required? Yes.
Syntax Freeform hypertext or (ideally) an XPath expression.
Example The HTML 4.1 test suite provides a list of Testable Assertions that associates individual test cases with assertions in the specification.
See Also  
Comments The more specific this reference is the better. (Simply pointing to the beginning of a large sub-section of the spec is not helpful. Identifying the exact string containing the requirement to be tested is ideal.)


Name Preconditions
Description Conditions that must be met before this test is executed.
Rationale Any such conditions must be understood and met before the test case can be successfully executed.
Required? No.
Syntax Freeform (hypertext).


It might be necessary that a network connection be available or a server process be running before the test case is executed.
See Also Testcase Metadata: Inputs
Comments This element does not refer to parameters or data required for execution (see Inputs).


Name Inputs
Description Parameters or data that are needed for the test execution.
Rationale Must be understood and supplied for test execution.
Required? No.
Syntax Implementation dependent.
Example The XML Query Test Suite metadata defines an input_file element.
See Also Testcase Metadata: Preconditions


Name ExpectedResults

The results that a conformant implementation is expected to produce when this test case is executed.

Rationale If these are not defined, it will be impossible to determine whether the test case passed or failed.
Required? Yes.
Syntax Implementation dependent.
Example Test cases within the CSS Test Suite embed their expected results within the test's output. See this example. The XML Query Test Suite metadata defines an output_file element.
See Also  


Name Version
Description An identifier thatallows one to distinguish between different revisions of test case.
Rationale Test cases often evolve over time, and it is important to maintain a history and to be able to identify and distinguish between different revisions.
Required? Yes.

Implementation dependent.

Example This will often be generated by a source-code control system such as CVS.
See Also  


Name Contributor
Description The individual or organization that contributed this test case.
Rationale It may be necessary to contact the contributor to ask for information about the test case or to request an update.
Required? Yes.
Syntax Freeform.
Example The XML Conformance Test Suite encodes the contributor in the directory structure used to store the test cases.
See Also Dublin Core: contributor


Name Rights
Description Information about rights held in and over the test case.
Rationale Publishers and users of the test case need to understand the associated Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).
Required? Yes.
Syntax Ask your lawyer.
See Also Dublin Core: rights
Comments This will often be simply a pointer to a copyright notice contained within the source code.


Name Grouping
Description A mechanism for classifying test cases into groups.
Rationale To enable the selection of subsets of test cases that share certain characteristics.
Required? No.
Syntax Implementation dependent. Possibilities include naming conventions and enumerated lists.
Example Tests may be classified as interactive or automated, positive or negative, voice or dtmf.
See Also  

An important use of grouping techniques is to classify tests that belong to particular profiles, modules, or other discretionary groupings (see Variability in Specifications for a detailed discussion of these issues). The SVG test suite, for example, uses naming conventions to distinguish between test cases targeted at different profiles (full, basic, or tiny).


Name SeeAlso
Description A list of references to relevant materials.
Rationale Can help to clarify the intent or usefulness of the test case.
Required? No.
Syntax Freeform (hypertext).
Example A pointer to an item in an issue-tracking system such as Bugzilla or to a mailing list thread in which the justification for this test case is discussed.
See Also Dublin Core: relation

3. References

See the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative for an introduction to the use of metadata. (Note that this document re-uses Dublin Core elements where this seems appropriate.)

For background information on the test development process and additional rationale for the the use of metadata see the QA Working Group's Test FAQ.

For a practical implementation of some of these principles see the the XML Query and XSL Working Groups' use of metadata in the XML Query Test Suite. (Their Guidelines for Test Submission and Guidelines for Test Execution provide explanations and examples.)

Valid XHTML 1.0!

Last modified $Date: 2011/12/16 02:59:23 $ by $Author: gerald $

Copyright =C2=A9 2005 W3C=C2=AE (MIT, ERCIM, Keio), All Rights Reserved. W3C liability, trademark, document use and software licensing rules apply. Your interactions with this site are in accordance with our public and Member privacy statements.