Breaking News – How to Break Microsoft Word 2000!

Ever tried to test Microsoft Word? Ever tried to break it or crash it! When I ask this, I am not talking about testers who work for Microsoft and might have had a chance to test it for Microsoft. Well, I have tested it before and there were times when I had found some minor glitches in the application. But I was never able to crash it or break it.

But this time around, I think I could crash (break!) it! So often we hear that "A tester should have a test to break attitude!" But I don't completely agree to this statement. Testers don't break software. In fact, the software is already broken (by the programmer!). Testers just find the place where it is broken and report it.

However, I got this test idea while I was testing an application from the suite of tools, which I test in my workplace! I got a crash there in that application while using this test idea. As that application is very much similar to Microsoft Word, I thought of testing Word with similar test ideas and see the result. While testing, I got at least 3 weird behaviours and a crash in Microsoft Word. I will try to document my findings (test results) in the paragraphs that follow.

Testing Mission: To try and crash (break!) Microsoft Word 2000, by using the following test ideas.

Procedures I followed while Testing:
A) Test Steps – I opened MS Word 2000. Then keyed in some text (my test data was: “This is a test.” You may use your own test data). I kept entering the text until the first line was about to get filled up! Then I tried to enter some spaces by using the spacebar. In fact, I held down the spacebar. Hey wait a minute! Where this freaky cursor is going?
Actual Result – The cursor went into the right-side margin area! Here is a screenshot of the weird behavior!

B) Test Steps – My first test observation gave me another test idea. This time, I typed 2 letters (A and Z) separated by a space. And tried to fill the in between space with lots of spaces. To do this, first I entered some spaces manually through spacebar. Then I copied the spaces and kept on pasting it over and over again (using Ctrl+V). While doing so the letter on the right side of the spaces (here ‘Z’) kept moving towards right until it reached the line end. Then it was pushed to the next line. But interestingly, after that it never moved to the right even if I continued entering more spaces. Still I am wondering where those spaces were going after being pasted! As the numbers of characters in the text were virtually not growing anymore (even if I was trying to paste more spaces in between), so I wanted to check the total word and character counts. So I manually copied the whole text (using mouse click-and-drag facility) and used MS Word’s inbuilt Word Count feature (Alt+T+W).
Actual Result – The result of word count was sufficient to drive me (for that matter any tester) nuts! It said the total number of pages and paragraphs as 0! And total number of words, characters (with and without spaces), and lines as 1! Look at the screenshot to have a better understanding of what I am trying to say here. Look at the Word Count window showing the weird statistics. Also look at the selection of text and see how the spaces have been selected even beyond the right-side margin area!

C) Test Steps – This time I selected all the text using Select All (Ctrl+A). And used Word Count (Alt+T+W) again!
Actual Result – I noticed that selecting all text (Ctrl+A), selected one extra space after the last letter of the whole text (i.e. Z). The result of word count was strikingly similar to my earlier one except for the fact that this time the total number of paragraphs was 1 instead of 0! Here is the screenshot showing the test result.

D) Test Steps – This time I typed in “ This is a test” just after the last letter of the text, i.e. ‘Z’. And now selected the whole text using mouse click-and-drag facility. And did a Word Count (Alt+T+W).
Actual Result – The total number of pages continues to say 0! But the word count said 5, characters (no spaces) 12, characters (with spaces) 16, paragraphs 0 and lines 1. This statistics was actually interesting. Before I could explain take a look at the screenshot first for a better understanding of the scenario. It looks like MS Word is not able to count the characters before the large number of spaces. To be specific Word is only able to count the characters starting from the second line! Apart from the total number of pages (which it shows as 0!), other statistics matches perfectly if we ignore the first line of the selected text.

E) Test Steps – After getting so much weird behaviours, now it was time for the final assault! I copied the space present between ‘A’ and ‘Z’ and started pasting it over and over again continuously by holding down the (Ctrl+V) key combination.
Actual Result – After a while the line that was stuck in the second line (“Z This is a test”) was moved to the third line! Then to the fourth, then to fifth and sixth… Wait a minute! Now the cursor had turned to hourglass shaped! Looking at the MS Word title bar showed “Microsoft Word (Not Responding)”! Here is a screenshot. Checking in the task manager confirmed that MS Word was not responding. I waited for as long as 20 minutes in a hope that it might recover from this bad state! But that never happened and I had to quit it from Window's Task Manager!

Try to test it yourself and see if you can get test results similar to mine. Feel free to contact me in case of any doubts or clarifications. Happy Testing…

Further Readings: Recently I have been testing few applications from some reputed software vendors like Google, Microsoft, Mozilla and Yahoo. You might be interested to take a look at them:
Testing Google – Boundary Value Exploration!
Yet another Bug in Google Suggest!
Bug in Yahoo Mail Beta!
Could this be a Bug with IE7 and Mozilla Firefox2?

Update: After getting “Microsoft Word (Not Responding)”, I kept inserting the spaces and oops. I could not see any text anymore! MS Word was blank without any text and was non-respondent. It could not recover from it and I had to close it from Window's Task Manager!
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About Debasis Pradhan

Debasis has over a decade worth of exclusive experience in the field of Software Quality Assurance, Software Development and Testing. He writes here to share some of his interesting experiences with fellow testers.

17 Comments:

  1. Good presence of mind :)

    Presence of mind coz the way you went on to get issues after the first bug was discovered, the space bar between "A" and "Z" and then then the journey till the end to find the last but not the least, cracking down the application (Not responding) which is the worst scenario for development team was something great and worth watching.

    Great Testing. And continue testing!!

    Regards,
    Prabhath Murthy

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great work Debasis!
    You might also be interested in link down or making note of
    How to find bugs in an application?

    Further on we can have a great community of bloggers an users under our niche. If you are interested we might work closely in future!

    ReplyDelete
  3. @Debasis,

    In case if I am unable to reproduce the bug, what information can you give me?

    [ It appeared to me that I did find an issue that might be similar to what you reported but I am interested to know what information would you supply if I am unable to reproduce it ]

    Also, if I were a developer from Microsoft saying, "This isn't an issue Debasis", could you let me know the analysis would you do?

    ReplyDelete
  4. @ Pradeep,

    In case if I am unable to reproduce the bug, what information can you give me?

    Before I could give you more information, I would like to know
    1. What did you do to reproduce the bug. Did you try to follow the test steps described by me?
    2. If yes, how exactly and how accurately did you follow them? Assuming that you had followed the test steps exactly as I have described, I would like to know your actual results. And how your results differed from mine.
    3. Did you try to explore the application? Did you try with other test ideas and other test data while trying to break the application? If yes, what were they and what were your results?

    Unless I know all these facts, I am afraid, I would not be able to give you accurate information to help you in reproducing the bug!

    Also, if I were a developer from Microsoft saying, "This isn't an issue Debasis", could you let me know the analysis would you do?

    In that case I would have liked to ask these questions to the developer:
    1. Why do you think that this is not an issue?
    2. Are you saying this because, I was the tester who had reported most (both in terms of severity and number) bugs in your modules in our last release cycle? :)
    3. Are you saying this because, you don't want to call it (a crash) an "issue" and would like to call it by some other name?
    4. Are you saying this because you could not get this in your machine?
    5. If you could not get this in your system, let me know the methods and steps you followed to get the crash. In that case, I might be able to provide you with more information to get the crash.
    6. If you could get the crash but still you don't think that it is an issue, then I think as a tester I have done my duty of reporting a problem. I am NOT a quality police. Whether this bug should be fixed or not, I think I am not the right person to decide it.

    Thanks for those questions,

    Regards,
    Debasis.

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Debasis,

    Also, if I were a developer from Microsoft saying, "This isn't an issue Debasis", could you let me know the analysis would you do?

    In that case I would have liked to ask these questions to the developer:
    1. Why do you think that this is not an issue?
    2. Are you saying this because, I was the tester who had reported most (both in terms of severity and number) bugs in your modules in our last release cycle? :)
    3. Are you saying this because, you don't want to call it (a crash) an "issue" and would like to call it by some other name?
    4. Are you saying this because you could not get this in your machine?
    5. If you could not get this in your system, let me know the methods and steps you followed to get the crash. In that case, I might be able to provide you with more information to get the crash.
    6. If you could get the crash but still you don't think that it is an issue, then I think as a tester I have done my duty of reporting a problem. I am NOT a quality police. Whether this bug should be fixed or not, I think I am not the right person to decide it.


    I was curious to know if you might do an analysis on thinking of scenarios where this behavior is not a bug and elucidate the risks, if any, associated with the story of this behavior not being a bug.

    ReplyDelete
  6. @pradeep

    For me, following could be looked on broader aspect

    1) My steps executed
    2) My configuration
    3) For web application > View source provides most of the information which the developers might be looking for
    4) The timing (like session dependency)
    5) The scenario like what major application that is running on your pc like an heavly loaded applications like your Anti-Virus
    6) Your CPU performance (roughly)
    7) Number of users that are logged in to the system/application from same or different browsers on same PC
    8) Both Admin and user areas that are accessed thru' same pc etc etc

    Above things are just on broader aspect of information which could be provided to developer.

    Inputs are always welcomed.

    Please note, those comments of mine are based on general information which I provide while testing and is no not related to just the above post.

    Thanks and Regards,
    Prabhath Murthy

    ReplyDelete
  7. @ Pradeep,

    My above questions were aimed at getting a clearer picture of the context in which the developer might say "This isn't an issue Debasis"!

    As you were curious about some scenarios where this behaviour might not be a bug I will try to list them here.

    1. Imagine a person using a decade old Pentium II system with 64 MB RAM! (I am not sure if MS Office 2000 can be installed on such a system though). In such a scenario, hanging of the application might have more to do with the system (hardware) configuration and the above behaviour might not be a bug!

    2. Imagine a scenario when the MS Word document that you are testing is located on a remote network. In such case, a slow network connection might result in such a behaviour.

    3. Imagine a scenario where the MS Word document was corrupted due to improper saving during your last usage! Here the above behaviour might apprear due to the corrupt MS Word file!

    4. Imagine a scenario where you are testing a MS Word file that was saved on the "bad sector" of your hard drive. In such a case the above behaviour might not be due to a bug in MS Word 2000!

    5. Imagine a scenario, where another "memory eating" program (e.g. a 3D computer graphics and 3D modeling software package like Maya) is simultaneously running along with MS Word 2000.

    These are few scenarios where the above behaviour (non-responding MS Word 2000) might not be due to a bug in Microsoft Word!

    But while testing, I had non of the above scenarios; and still I got the above crash. So I belive it was due to a bug (Memory Overflow!) in MS Word 2000.

    Regards,
    Debasis.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks Debsis.

    Those were the points which I liked to point at when I said hardware config.

    The list is endless.....

    Thanks and Regards,
    Prabhath Murthy

    ReplyDelete
  9. @ Debasis and Prabhat,

    It's important that we as testers want be the smartest ones and hence we try defeating our own ideas and first instincts before someone else points it out.

    I am sure on practicing you guys can do well. Keep going!

    ReplyDelete
  10. An application was running in Ms-Access 2000 which has been converted from Access 2000 to Access 2003 for some reasons.
    Developer requestd me to execute the test cases that they have written which covers the major functionality. Is it ok to jus execute those test cases?
    else
    What sort of testing is required for this scenario?

    ReplyDelete
  11. @ Kalpana,

    An application was running in Ms-Access 2000 which has been converted from Access 2000 to Access 2003 for some reasons.

    1. What kind of application it was? Was it some kind of addon, some graph analysis tool, some Gantt chart preparing widget...?
    2. Was it working fine in Access 2000?
    3. Is there any known issue of this application with Access 2000?
    4. When you say that Access 2000 was upgraded to Access 2003, does that mean that you are trying to test the compatibility of your application with Access 2003?
    5. Was there any recent upgradation/enhancement/bug-fix in your application?

    Developer requested me to execute the test cases that they have written which covers the major functionality.

    1. What kind of test cases are they? In my knowledge, developers mostly write unit test scripts to test the application under development.
    2. If you are talking about functional test cases (blackbox!), I am wondering why the developers had to develop the test cases, when there is probably a separate test team to take care of it!

    Is it ok to just execute those test cases?

    1. Will you feel comfortable after executing ONLY the test cases, prepared by your developers?
    2. How much time do you have to test the functionalities?
    3. What is the complexity of the application and the technology involved?

    What sort of testing is required for this scenario?

    Well, I guess there is not any BEST PRACTICE that might apply here. It is not like one-size-fits-all kind of thing. The test strategy will differ based upon your context. Anyway, if I were in place of you, I would have liked to ask some questions like the above ones (that I have asked to you) before accepting this testing mission. For your information, I DO NOT trust much on the test cases written by the testing team (that includes me too!). I refer them just as a reference. But never as words from bible! Test cases might be helpful in finding bugs. But they themselves can not find bugs. It is the tester who has to design, follow/execute those test cases in order to find bugs. Furthermore, a tester need not write down his/her test ideas into test cases in order to find bugs. (S)he can still find the same bug by formulating the test case in his/her brain and then executing it. This is called Exploratory Testing [Simultaneous learning, test design and test execution - By James Bach].

    Well, I think I am drifting from your original question. Think over your scenario, ask yourself some context-based questions (like the above) that might help you in deciding a better approach to test the scenario in hand.

    Happy Testing...
    -Debasis

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Debasis,

    Im new to this blog and feels excited while reading each post. While reading this post i thought doing this cases again for B - test step in MS-word 2007 i got the result as pages 1,words 2,Chracters(no spaces) 2,Characters(with spaces) 420, Pragraphs 1,Lines 2.

    Let me know your views.

    ReplyDelete
  13. @ Lakshmi,

    First of all Welcome to Software Testing Zone. I am glad that you are liking what you are reading here.

    How many times had you used (Ctrl+V) to fill the in between area with spaces? I would suggest you to try pasting some more empty spaces and see if you could get to a point any similar to the screenshot that I have attached in the post! Happy Testing..

    ReplyDelete
  14. yeh hi Debasis,

    Thanks for posting my comment and replying me im really very much happy i have did the same as per the screenshot :-)

    ReplyDelete
  15. @ Lakshmi,

    I am sorry, but I am not quite sure if I follow you! If you followed my test steps and reached a point that was similar to my screenshot, then I think that's fine. But in case, you tried to follow my steps but reached a different situation/anomaly then feel free to upload a screenshot to any free image hosting sites (e.g. photobucket) and drop me the URL. I will take a look at it. At any rate, please leave a detailed description of what you did, what you were expecting and what you got! Happy Testing...

    ReplyDelete
  16. I often work with doc files. Some days ago I converted doc file into docx and my data was was lost. I didn't know what to do next,and entered in the Google and began searching the tool which could be restore the file. I throve and discovered like software - recovery for word. It determined my trouble quite quickly and free of charge as far as I remembered.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hello,
    Thanks for sharing such information with everyone. Your writing gives an overall idea about the software testing. Good to see such type of posting. I really like to read it. Keep on posting some new information…!

    ReplyDelete

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