Systematic Execution of Android Test Suites in Adverse Conditions

Christoffer Quist Adamsen, Gianluca Mezzetti, and Anders Møller

Event-driven applications, such as, mobile apps, are difficult to test thoroughly. The application programmers often put significant effort into writing end-to-end test suites. Even though such tests often have high coverage of the source code, we find that they often focus on the expected behavior, not on occurrences of unusual events. On the other hand, automated testing tools may be capable of exploring the state space more systematically, but this is mostly without knowledge of the intended behavior of the individual applications. As a consequence, many programming errors remain unnoticed until they are encountered by the users.

We propose a new methodology for testing by leveraging existing test suites such that each test case is systematically exposed to adverse conditions where certain unexpected events may interfere with the execution. In this way, we explore the interesting execution paths and take advantage of the assertions in the manually written test suite, while ensuring that the injected events do not affect the expected outcome. The main challenge that we address is how to accomplish this systematically and efficiently.

We have evaluated the approach by implementing a tool, Thor, working on Android. The results on four real-world apps with existing test suites demonstrate that apps are often fragile with respect to certain unexpected events and that our methodology effectively increases the testing quality: Of 507 individual tests, 429 fail when exposed to adverse conditions, which reveals 66 distinct problems that are not detected by ordinary execution of the tests.

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