What is software testing?

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By RevDeBug

When cars are made, they go through a quality assurance process. This is where they are subjected to multiple tests to see how well they function, how safe they are, and a lot more. The same goes for many other products like kitchen appliances, and you guessed it, software.

Software testing is one of the most crucial exercises in the production of software. Let’s dive deeper into this process, its importance, the numerous types of tests, and how to get it right.

What is software testing?

Software testing is the process of running software (partially or wholly) to determine whether it is performing as expected and discover any defects that might be causing it to malfunction or leaving it vulnerable. The ultimate goal is to ensure that the final product released to consumers meets the quality they demand.

What makes software testing so important?

Some of the top reasons why software testing is crucial include:

Boosting product quality

The quality of a software product can be lessened by any number of issues both minor and major. It could be something as simple as a user interface that gets choppy from time to time, or something more serious like the software crashing entirely when you try to load multiple heavy files.

Through software testing, the product can be put under unusual loads and used in varying ways to ensure that you know the scenarios under which it will crack, and rectify these issues. The result will be a product that withstands all the challenges that users give it, and more. You also won’t have to keep releasing several updates to improve the product.

Strengthening security

Sometimes developers focus more on how to efficiently execute a function when writing code and neglect the other factors to consider. The result is a software product that runs smoothly, but underneath the hood, the code is littered with vulnerabilities.

This means that with a little ingenuity, some prying eyes can see what they aren’t supposed to see, and control what they shouldn’t be able to control. And it is not uncommon for some cunning coders to intentionally leave these loopholes seated quietly in there so they can later sell these backdoors to hackers.

Testing aspects such as the way a software calls upon certain resources, transmits data, interacts with other software, and grants or denies access to users, can help reveal lapses in security. This in turn saves you from fines and lawsuits arising from negligence in handling people’s data.

Confirming compatibility and responsiveness

For software products that are to be used by a large customer base, people may want to run them on an assortment of setups and platforms. There is a need to ensure that the software functions as it should on all the devices, operating systems and browsers it was made for.

This part is particularly crucial for web applications and others that connect to the internet and cloud resources. Testing helps to ensure that user interfaces display properly on various device screens, synchronization works perfectly, and the state of data and configurations aren’t jumbled up.

Testing can also benefit organizations in many other ways such as cutting costs, especially when glitches are discovered early and fixed, shortening delivery time, improving customer satisfaction, and more.

Types of testing

There are two main types of testing namely:

Manual testing

Like the name says, this type of testing is carried out by actual human beings. It can be good when trying out lengthy and complex actions, but it is hard to scale and remains at the mercy of human error. Manual testing is ideal for very simple and lean software that doesn’t do too many things and isn’t linked to multiple parts.

Automated testing

Here, the testing is done by a machine, with human beings writing the guidelines on what is to be tested and how the process will unfold. It is quite advantageous since it frees up time, reduces labor costs, and can be easily scaled. However, it is much better suited to shorter and simpler actions since writing tests for more elaborate actions can easily result in failed automation.

Testing patterns

When it comes to software testing, there are a number of major facets that have to be covered, with different technical goals for each of them. These are:

Unit testing

The tests here are all about zooming in on every component, however small, that can be viewed as an individual and distinct component. These parts are tested to make sure that each is doing all of its own work properly.

Integration testing

This testing focuses on the way different modules that often need each other communicate. It is the time when you get to see how fast data is moved back and forth between different parts, whether it remains coherent once received and processed, the toll this takes on every part involved, and more.

System (End-to-end) testing

System testing involves running the entire software and seeing how it performs as a whole. It is the part where you get to know if it can carry out a specific function or set of functions from start to end. You also finally ascertain whether it behaves as intended in all the relevant target systems.

Acceptance testing

These tests are done in such a way that would-be end-users or clients are the ones who interact with the software. The tests help you to know whether the software has met the client’s requests and if customers will find it to be one that meets their expectations once it’s out on the market.

So as you go about testing, you have to keep all these in mind, particularly how much resources to dedicate to each, especially when automation is involved. There’ll be patterns such as the pyramid, ice cream cone, and cupcake, each with its own merits and drawbacks.

Noteworthy tips on approaches to testing

It is also important to note that the software development model being used can significantly impact the ROI on testing. For example, in a waterfall model where you test after everything is finished, you may rush to deliver and miss crucial errors or stumble upon them so late that you have to alter dates and spend more to get people correcting them quickly.

But in an agile or DevOps setting, you can develop and test concurrently, making sure you catch every defect as early as possible before you have a whole pile of them to sort through. In this case, even the smallest of development additions can be tested, for as long as they have a full goal to achieve.

  • Additionally, some testing can be done without running the software (static), in which case you can rely on documentation. The opposite of this, where the software is actually run on a system is known as dynamic testing.
  • Testing can be based on internal code structure (white box), functionality without considering code (black box), or a mix of both (grey box).

Tester qualities

Good testers should be:

  • Value-driven – Always thinking about how their contribution ultimately benefits the customer.
  • Exploratory – Having the ability to carry out a fruitful exercise without always having a script, and still being able to think outside the box and deliver unique results.
  • Good at managing feedback.
  • Able to harmonize business needs with tech needs where necessary, regardless of their position.
  • Flexible/good at adapting.

In conclusion, if you’re trying to make the best of your testing exercise and the resources deployed, it helps to get some tools in the mix. For instance, RevDeBug is a robust observability platform that can revolutionize the way you detect and solve errors, and you can learn more about it here.

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