Test Data Standards

In many companies, test data standards are overlooked or defined as almost useless generalities.  As a result, QA engineers often (with the best intentions) create inaccurate, unstable, and in the long term unusable test data because they do not adhere to reasonable standards.  Their test data may also violate security policies (i.e. using their own email address or credit card number). 

This page outlines some basic test data types and the standards I recommend applying.


random first name generator

Use a random name generator for first names.

last name creation

Color names occasionally merge with common last names, but the use is relatively safe.  A good resource for common color names is the Wikipedia page for Crayola crayons.

paragraphs of text

If paragraphs of text is needed Lorem ipsum is a great placeholder. There are lots of generators online or in Microsoft Word the following command can be used to generate text in a Word document

=lorem(Number of Paragraphs, Number of Lines)

movie/TV/literature businesses as fictional customer names

Avoid using real customer names and instead use fictional businesses from movies, TV, and literature.  Make a list and use it internally.  This can be a fun team activity as well.

telephone numbers

It’s commonly known that the area code 555 is used for fictional usage, but the number range is actually limited to 555-0100 through 555-0199.  This phone number range is the only one that should be used.

use ICANN approved test domains

ICANN has reserved some example domains for use in testing.  These can never be purchased and thus are safe.  This includes:

  • example.com
  • example.net
  • example.org
  • example.edu

These can be used for testing (and even documentation purposes).  They can also be used as domain extensions in email addresses.

social security numbers

The Social Security Administration (SSA) changed the way Social Security Numbers (SSNs) are issued in June of 2011.  Previously, numbers were issued based on reserved first three digits organized by geographic location (see this referenced here).  Currently, the SSA now has a “randomization” system in place to extend the longevity of the nine-digit SSN system.  Technically you can generate a nine-digit SSN and it could be associated with an actual account but this is usually acceptable when paired with fictional names, addresses, and phone numbers.  However, if requirements dictate it must be a fake number, currently numbers beginning with the following three digits are not being assigned:

  • 000
  • 666
  • 900-999

However, it is possible these numbers could join circulation.

data generator tools

These links will help you create good test data:

http://listofrandomnames.com/ – good for generating first names
https://www.mockaroo.com/ – good for generating somewhat complicated data