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QR Code Testing Made Easy: Tips and Tools

Today, we scan QR (Quick Response) codes for payments, URLs, locations, text information, images, videos, tickets, and other data forms. They are handy, easy to use, and weave the digital universe with human lives. These black-and-white square grids sprinkle magic in our day-to-day activities.

With ease of use comes the background task of testing these QR codes properly for a seamless application user experience, which can get complex due to many factors. This article mentions a QR code, how to test it, its challenges, and the role of AI and automation testing.

What is a QR Code?

When shopping, you get the product barcode scanned at the payment counter to have the product price, name, and other details. Similarly, QR codes are like two-dimensional barcodes that can be scanned using mobiles, tablets, etc., to get the required information quickly.

For example, you have started a brand new online apparel business and printed the flyers with a QR code with the app download URL. Happily, you have sent the flyers for distribution across physical and digital channels. There is only one issue: the QR code redirects to an incorrect app download URL. Big mistake! That is why QR code testing is essential to convey what is actually meant.

QR Code vs. Barcode

Barcode and QR codes differ in their design, information-holding capacity, and usage. Here are some main differences:

Area of Difference Barcode QR Code
Design The linear design consists of parallel lines and can be one or 2-dimensional. Mostly square 2D structure with black and white design.
Information Holding It can store less data, which is mostly made up of numeric or alphanumeric characters. It can store more information with numeric, alphanumeric, and binary data.
Devices Barcode scanners can scan the barcode and read the content. Mobile, tablets, and specialized QR scanners can read them.
Usage Used primarily in retail, inventory, and for product information storage. They can store videos, audio, URLs, locations, tickets, images, coupons, text, app downloads, wi-fi passwords, login information, etc.
Readability If there is some damage to the barcode, the readability may be impacted. Even if the QR code is damaged, its error correction allows successful readability. They can be read from any angle or direction.

Types of QR Codes

QR codes can be of two types:

Static QR Code

As the name implies, once the QR code is created and is live, you cannot change the information inside. If it is done, it is done. For example, if you misspell a word and want to modify it once the QR code is already live, you can not do that. They can be used to store URLs, phone numbers, email addresses, contact details, calendar events, and basically data that will not change.

Dynamic QR Code

The data is not present in the code here; instead, it redirects to a location that can be modified. Also, a dynamic QR code allows tracking the scans for analytics. A dynamic QR code can be used for redirection to a website, YouTube video, payment page, PDF download, etc.

How to Test QR Codes?

To test whether QR codes are working correctly across devices and as intended, below steps are required:

Understand the QR code specifications

  • Before you start testing, understand the QR code specifications. It includes understanding the type of data that is encoded into the QR code, such as image, URL, text, etc.
  • You can use many of the available online QR code generators to create a testing QR code, but make sure that you trust the website/tool.
  • Check the size and format of the QR code, which should be ideal for scanning through various devices.
  • Check that the QR code has no distortion or error, which can limit the readability during the scan.

Test case preparation

Once you are done with checking the prerequisites, you can start creating the test cases for testing:

  • Data accuracy: Write test cases to check that the intended data is present in the QR code and is correctly scanned and accessed.
  • Readability: Test cases should check the readability of the QR code, that is, the ease with which it is getting scanned across devices such as mobile phones, tablets, etc.
  • Error correction ability: Test cases should be written to check the error correction ability of the QR code. This means that even if there is some distortion in the QR code structure, there are error correction capabilities in place, and the relevant device is able to access the intended information from it.
  • Size and distance: Test cases should check that upto which size the QR code is in working state. For example, if the size is too small, can devices read the code? Also, the scanning should be performed from different angles and distances to verify the successful scanning and information gathering.

Test across devices

Test the QR code across various devices such as mobile phones, tablets, specialized QR scanners, etc. Make sure to add test cases for various devices, platforms (OS), and browser combinations. Read here about cross-browser and cross-platform testing.

Test under different environmental conditions

QR code scanning can be impacted by different environmental conditions as well, such as:

  • Lighting: Test the QR code in dim, bright, and fluctuating lighting conditions. Sometimes, the QR code is present on a reflective surface; check whether the QR code is working or not, even with the reflection.
  • Angle: Try scanning with different angles and directions to make sure the QR code is accessible in every condition.
  • Contrast: The background and foreground of the QR code should have enough contrast to be scanned by the device. The test case should check that as well.

QR Code Test Automation Tools

You can very well manually test the QR code test cases by creating a test QR code, then using the device to scan it and check the actual results vs. expected. The test case can be marked as passed if the data is accessed correctly.

However, if you are using CI/CD pipelines in your testing environment, manually testing these test cases will defeat the whole idea of DevOps. You can use automation tools to execute the QR code test cases for that purpose.

Selenium

If you wish to automate the QR code testing using Selenium, you can do so by using third-party tools or image processing libraries and lots of coding and time! Read here 11 reasons why not to use Selenium for automation testing.

testRigor

Another easier option is to use intelligent, generative AI-backed tools such as testRigor. It provides easy, plain English commands to access and verify the QR codes. testRigor supports scanning QR codes, getting its value, and saving results as a stored value. You can use the Scan QR Code feature to read a QR code image saved as a variable or to read a QR code image from the screen. Here are the testRigor plain English commands:

  • Scan the QR code from a stored value
    This command reads the QR Code image stored as “saved-qr-code” and saves the result in the variable “code”:
    scan qr code value from stored value "saved-qr-code" and save as "code"
  • Scan the QR code from screen
    You can easily specify any element from the screen to scan as a QR Code. This command reads the QR Code image from the element “code-container” that is to the right of “QR Code 2” on the screen and saves the result in the “code” variable:
    scan qr code value from "code-container" on the right of "QR Code 2" and save as "code"

Challenges in QR Code Testing

Below are the main challenges that are faced while QR code testing:

  • Variety of data types: The QR codes encompass a variety of data types such as URLs, images, videos, files, app downloads, tickets, and many more. Verifying all such data types so that they are correctly encoded and decoded is challenging during testing.
  • Environment conditions: The QR code scanning depends on the lighting, internet connectivity, angles, and distances. All of these need to be tested thoroughly before release.
  • Checking cross-platform compatibility: A single QR code will pass through various types of devices and platforms, and covering such a huge test coverage area is cumbersome.
  • Error correction: QR codes have error correction levels as low, medium, high, and quartile, based on the degree of damage to the code. Testing all these levels with varied test data is quite complex.
  • Size constraints: QR codes can be of different physical sizes, affecting their scan-ability, especially from a distance. Testing that the QR codes are readable at different sizes and distances is challenging.
  • User experience: You need to test for the ease of scanning the QR code and the overall process speed.
  • Security threats: QR codes may contain sensitive financial information or any information that is vulnerable to security threats. This requires proper security testing to be executed for the QR codes where sensitive data is involved.
  • Performance and scalability: If the application has a high chance of scalability and performance degradation under a high load of QR code scanning, it must be tested.
  • Dynamic QR codes: In these cases, QR code content can change without any modification in the code itself. Testing that real-time updates are reflected for such dynamic QR codes is challenging.
  • Compliance issues: QR codes must comply with specific industry or regional standards for certain sensitive applications. This is going to add another layer of complexity to testing. Read here how to build an ADA-compliant app.

Conclusion

Scanning a QR code with a mobile phone is a complete human experience. Creating automated tests that accurately simulate human interaction with QR codes can be complex, especially if you use traditional automation testing tools. They have issues such as maintenance challenges, exceptions, and the need for programming expertise.

Achieve your testing goals quickly with minimum effort and time with modern tools such as testRigor which uses the latest AI technology to help you. You can use testRigor for testing mobile, web, API, or desktop; it manages your every testing need single-handedly within budget.

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