This article is a work in progress.
This article covers:
Introduction to Relational Database Testing
I believe that the virtual absence of discussion about testing within the
data management community is the primary cause of the
$611 billion annual loss,
as reported by The Data Warehouse Institute, experienced by North American
organizations resulting from poor data quality.
Relational database management systems (RDBMSs) often
persist mission-critical data and implement mission-critical
functionality. We've known for years that effective testing
enables you to improve quality, and in particular testing often and early in the
lifecycle can do so dramatically. It seems to me that to improve database
quality an important activity, if not the most important one, is to test our
databases often (and better yet
Database testing is an important part of
testing and should be an important part of traditional approaches to testing
as well. Figure 1 indicates what you should
consider testing when it comes to relational databases. The diagram is drawn
from the point of view of a single database, the dashed lines indicate
boundaries, indicating that you need to consider threats both within the
database (clear box testing) and at the interface to the database (black box
Figure 1. What to test in a database.
Functionality Testing in Relational Databases
Stored procedures and triggers. Stored procedures and triggers
should be tested just like your application code would be.
Relationship Testing in Relational Databases
Referential integrity (RI). RI rules, in particular cascading
deletes in which highly coupled "child" rows are deleted when a parent row is
deleted, should also be validated. Existence rules, such as a customer row
corresponding to an account row, must exist before the row can be inserted into
the Account table, and can be easily tested, too.
Data Quality Testing in Relational Databases
Default values. Columns often have default values defined for
them. Are the default values actually being assigned. (Someone could have
accidentally removed this part of the table definition.)
Data invariants. Columns often have invariants, implemented in
the forms of constraints, defined for them. For example, a number column may be
restricted to containing the values 1 through 7. These invariants should be
Validate the attribute size. Is the field size defined in the application is matching with that in the db.
Performance Testing of Relational Databases
Access time to read/write/delete a single row.
Access time for common queries returning multiple rows.
Access time for queries involving several tables.
Existence test for an index. Does the expected index exist or not?
Structural Testing in Relational Databases
Table existence. We can check whether all the data from the application
is being inserted into the database properly, or not
View definitions. Views often implement interesting business
logic. Things to look out for include: Does the filtering/select logic work
properly? Do you get back the right number of rows? Are you returning the right
columns? Are the columns, and rows, in the right order?
The following terminology is used throughout this article:
- Database testing. The act of validating the contents, schema, and
functionality within a database. From the point of view of a relational
database this includes the actual data itself, the table structures and
relationships between tables, and the stored procedures/functions or
database classes respectively.
- Database interface testing. Database testing which
validates the database at the black-box level. See Figure 1.
- Internal database testing. Database testing which validates
the database at the white/clear-box level. See Figure 1.
- Database regression testing. The act of running the
database test suite on a regular basis, ideally whenever someone does
something which could potentially inject a defect into the database such as
change how they write data into a database or change some of the code within
the database itself.
- Test Driven Database Development (TDDD). Also known as "Behavior
Driven Database Development" (BDDD), this is the act of specifying the
design of a database by writing a single test then just enough database
code/schema to fulfill that test.