Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Statement Coverage

Statement coverage identifies which statements in a method or class have been executed. It is a simple metric to calculate, and a number of open source products exist that measure this level of coverage.

Ultimately, the benefit of statement coverage is its ability to identify which blocks of code have not been executed. The problem with statement coverage, however, is that it does not identify bugs that arise from the control flow constructs in your source code, such as compound conditions or consecutive switch labels. This means that you easily can get 100 percent coverage and still have glaring, uncaught bugs.

The following example demonstrates this. Here, the returnInput() method is made up of seven statements and has a simple requirement: its output should equal its input.There's an obvious bug in returnInput(). If the first or second decision evaluates true and the other evaluates false, the return value will not equal the method's input.

An astute software developer will notice this right away, but the statement coverage report shows 100 percent coverage. If a manager sees 100 percent coverage, he or she may get a false sense of security, decide that testing is complete, and release the buggy code into production.Recognizing that statement coverage may not fit the bill, the developer decides to move on to a better testing technique: branch coverage

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