Gray box testing

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Gray-box testing (International English spelling: grey-box testing) is a combination of white-box testing and black-box testing. The aim of this testing is to search for the defects, if any, due to improper structure or improper usage of applications.[1][2]


A black-box tester is unaware of the internal structure of the application to be tested, while a white-box tester has access to the internal structure of the application. A gray-box tester partially knows the internal structure, which includes access to the documentation of internal data structures as well as the algorithms used.[3]

Gray-box testers require both high-level and detailed documents describing the application, which they collect in order to define test cases.[4]

Need for gray-box testing[edit]

Gray-box testing is beneficial because it takes the straightforward technique of black-box testing and combines it with the code-targeted systems in white-box testing.

Gray-box testing is based on requirement test case generation because it presents all the conditions before the program is tested by using the assertion method. A requirement specification language is used to make it easy to understand the requirements and verify its correctness.[5]

Gray-box testing assumptions for object-oriented software[edit]

Object-oriented software consists primarily of objects; where objects are single indivisible units having executable code and/or data. Some assumptions are stated below which are needed for the application of use gray-box testing.

  • Activation of Methods[6]
  • State Reporting in Class Under Test (CUT).
  • Report Testing is inherent in Class Under Test.[5]



Cem Kaner defines "gray-box testing as involving inputs and outputs, but test design is educated by information about the code or the program operation of a kind that would normally be out of view of the tester".[9] Gray-box testing techniques are:

  • Matrix Testing: states the status report of the project.
  • Regression testing: it implies rerunning of the test cases if new changes are made.
  • Pattern Testing: verify the good application for its design or architecture and patterns.
  • Orthogonal array testing: used as subset of all possible combination.[10]


Positive Effects[edit]

  • Offers combined benefits: As Gray-box testing is combination of white-box and black-box testing, it serves advantages from both the testings.
  • Non Intrusive: It is based on functional specification, architectural view whereas not on source code or binaries which makes it invasive too.
  • Intelligent Test Authoring: Gray-box tester handles intelligent test scenario, for example, data type handling, communication protocol, exception handling.
  • Unbiased Testing: In spite of all above advantages and functionalities, Gray-box testing maintains boundary for testing between tester and developer.[11]

Negative Effects[edit]

  • Partial code coverage: In gray-box testing, source code or binaries are missing because of limited access to internal or structure of the applications which results in limited access for code path traversal.
  • Defect Identification: In distributed applications, it is difficult to associate defect identification. Still, Gray-box testing is a boon to find how appropriate these systems throw exceptions and how fine are these exceptions handled in distributed systems having web services environment.[11][12]


  • Gray-box testing is well suited for web applications. Web applications have distributed network or systems; due to absence of source code or binaries it is not possible to use white-box testing. Black-box testing is also not used due to just contract between customer and developer, so it is more efficient to use gray-box testing as significant information is available in Web Services Description Language (WSDL).[13]
  • Gray-box testing is suited for functional or business domain testing. Functional testing is done basically a test of user interactions with may be external systems. Gray-box testing is well-suited for functional testing due to its characteristics; it also helps to confirm that software meets the requirements defined for the software.[14][15][16][17]

Future scope[edit]

The distributed nature of Web services allows gray-box testing to detect defects within a service-oriented architecture (SOA). As we know, white-box testing is not suitable for Web services as it deals directly with the internal structures. White-box testing can be used for state art methods; for example, message mutation which generates the automatic tests for large arrays to help exception handling states, flow without source code or binaries. Such a strategy is useful to push gray-box testing nearer to the outcomes of white-box testing.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Microsoft Research – Emerging Technology, Computer, and Software Research" (PDF).
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 March 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Gray Box Testing". Software Testing Fundamentals. 4 November 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  4. ^ "Example of grey box testing with definition". Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  5. ^ a b Jake Rogers (8 August 2016). "Common Questions Regarding Grey-Box Testing". Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  6. ^ "Object-Oriented Extensions to Pascal". Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  7. ^ Patton, Ron (26 July 2005). Software Testing. Sams. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-672-32798-8.
  8. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 April 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ Nguyen, Hung Q (2001). Testing Applications on the Web: Test Planning for Internet-Based Systems. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9780471437642.
  10. ^ "Explore the World of Gray Box Testing". Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  11. ^ a b "SOA Testing Tools for Black, White and Gray Box SOA Testing Techniques". Archived from the original on 1 October 2018. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  12. ^ "E33 Gray Box Testing.PDF" (PDF).
  13. ^ Ramdeo, Anand (5 May 2011). "Gray Box Testing - Software". Testing Geek. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  14. ^ Bach, James. Lessons Learned in Software Testing. Wiley Computer Publishing.
  15. ^ Falk, Jack. Testing Computer Software, 2nd Edition. Wiley Computer Publishing.
  16. ^[bare URL PDF]
  17. ^ Li, Z. J.; Tan, H. F.; Liu, H. H.; Zhu, J.; Mitsumori, N. M. (6 April 2010). "Business-process-driven gray-box SOA testing". IBM Systems Journal. 47 (3): 457–472. doi:10.1147/sj.473.0457.