If we compare the various activities performed to develop a defectless software, we will find the importance of software testing similar to that of software development process. Testing, is one of those activities that ensures the accuracy of the development process, while validating its functionality and performance. Beta testing, which is a type of User Acceptance Testing is among the most crucial software testing, performed before the release of the software. Considered to be a type of field test, beta testing is performed by a group of end users.
Hence, to gather more knowledge about this type of testing, let us have a detailed discussion on beta testing.
What is Beta Testing?
Though performed at the end of software testing life cycle (STLC), beta testing is a salient testing type, executed after the culmination of alpha testing. This type of testing can be considered a form of external user acceptance testing, during which a version of the software, known as beta version, is released to a limited audience to be tested for accessibility, usability, reliability, functionality, and more.
Carried out at client's or customer's site by the end-users or stakeholders, this is the last testing phase, before software's entry in the market. Beta testing can be seen as the second phase of testing after the completion of first phase comprising of unit testing, integration testing, and system testing.
Features of Beta Testing:
The main goal behind beta testing is to place the developed software application in the hands of the intended users under real-world environment & conditions, in order to evaluate and assess product from users-perspective, which may prove to be useful in exploring defects. that are not desirable in final release of the software product. Other features of beta testing are:
- Beta testing is carried out in real-environment at user's site, thereby helps in providing a factual position of the quality.
- It is generally done for testing software products like utilities', applications, operating systems, etc.
- Beta testing is also called as field testing and pre-release testing.
- Testing is performed by the client, the stakeholder and the end-users.
- It is done after alpha testing and before the actual market release of the software product.
- Unlike alpha testing, which is a type of white box testing, beta testing is always black box testing.
- Beta Testing is preceded by Alpha testing and followed by the release of the final product.
- Performed in the absence of testers and presence of users, just opposite to alpha.
- Unlike alpha testers who are highly skilled, beta testers may involve the participation of naïve personnel like end-users.
- Generally, reliability, robustness and security of the software application are being evaluated by the intended users.
- Most of the suggestion and improvement gets due for getting implemented in the next future version of the software.
What is a Beta Version of Software?
You all must be aware of beta versions of the software that are released to restricted numbers of user to accept their feedback and suggestion on the quality improvement. Therefore, given below are the two types of beta version releases:
- Closed Beta Version:
Closed beta version, which is also known as private beta, is released to a group of selected and invited people, who test the software and evaluate its numerous features and specifications. This beta version represents a software that is capable to deliver value, but is not ready to be used by everyone because of issues like lack of documentation or missing vital features.
- Open Beta Version:
Open beta or public beta is opened to public. Any user as a tester can evaluate and assess the beta version to provide relevant feedback and reviews, in addition to detection of flaws(if any) to improve the quality of the final release. Additionally, this version serves the dual purpose of demonstrating a product to potential customers and testing the software with the assistance of wide user based, which can help the team find various undetected errors and issues.
This releasing of beta version is oriented by the beta testing process.
How is Beta Testing Performed?
As stated earlier, the process of beta testing is performed by a group of end-users. However, this process is not executed without any specific test strategy or plan. Before the testers- in this case the end users -execute the process of testing, a set of steps are followed by the test team to ensure the accuracy of as well as the effectiveness of the testing. Hence, the process of beta testing involves:
- Planning: Like any other testing process, beta testing also begins with proper planning. During this stage, the team prepares a testing strategy and defines the goal of testing. Moreover, the team defines the users required for testing, the duration, as well as other necessary details related to the process.
- Participant Recruitment: In the second stage of the process, the team recruits participants- a group of selected end users -for the purpose of testing. This group can vary as per the requirement of the organization and the product.
- Product Launch: Once a team of testers (users) is recruited, a beta version of the product is launched or installed at the client or user side, which is then tested by the team for quality assurance.
- Collect & Evaluate Feedback: After the culmination of the testing phase, the developers collect the feedback provided by the testers and evaluate it. Finally, based on the feedback, issues and bugs are fixed and resolved by the responsible individual.
- Closure: Once all the issues are rectified and the exit criteria is met by the team, the beta testing is concluded and the promised incentives or rewards are offered to the participants.
Types of Beta Testing:
Beta testing can be categorized into six types, each of which caters to different aspects of the software. These, together, help developers improve the quality of the software and allow them to deliver a product that offer superior user experience. The various types of beta testing are:
- Open Beta Testing: Open beta testing generally involves the testing of the software product by the large number of the people or target audience, before the final release. Organization decides to make software product open to public on any specific date before its release announcing that specific date. This witnesses the large participation of the public to use and evaluate the software product and accordingly, report the bugs (if any found) to the organization, along with the suggestions in order to improve the software quality.
This witnesses the large participation of the public to use and evaluate the software product and accordingly, report the bugs (if any found) to the organization, along with the suggestions in order to improve the software quality.
- Closed Beta Testing: Contrary to open beta testing, closed beta testing is carried out by the selective and limited number of persons, which are being invited by the organization. The software product is not opened to the public.
- Traditional Beta Testing:
In this type of testing, the software product is delivered to the target market and feedback of the users is collected from all aspects. With the assistance of this type of testing the quality of the software is improved and the developers are able to make necessary changes.
- Public Beta Testing:
Similar to open beta testing, in this type of testing also, the product is delivered to the end users worldwide, with the aid of various online channels available in the world. Moreover, the feedback and evaluated data is also collected through this means, based on which required changes and modifications are implemented by the development team.
- Technical Beta Testing:
Another important type of beta testing, technical beta testing involves delivering the software product to the internal groups of an organization, wherein the data and feedback is provided by the employees of the organization.
- Focused Beta Testing:
As suggested by the name, this type of testing is focused on evaluating and monitoring a specific feature or component of the software. Hence, in focused beta testing, the software is delivered to the market and user’s experience is collected and evaluated to make required changes.
- Post Release Beta Testing:
In post release beta testing, the product is delivered to the market for the use of the end users and their reactions, experience, and feedback is collected for the future release of the software.
When to Perform Beta Testing?
Acceptance Testing is the last level of testing that comprises of alpha testing and beta testing to ensure the market release of flawless product. Alpha testing is done at production site by the professional tester itself, whereas beta testing is performed at user's site (in Real world environment) by the group of intended users (Beta Testers).
After performing the in-house testing of the application in the form of alpha testing, system is handed over to the users to carry out the beta testing of the system, i.e. as soon as alpha testing of the application gets over, beta testing phase starts.
To gain more insight to the differences between these two testing types, read our related article on Alpha Testing Vs Beta Testing.
Advantages of Beta Testing:
Though performed at the end of software development and software testing life cycle, beta testing offers numerous benefits to software developers, testers, as well as the users. It is with the assistance of this type of testing, that the team of developers and testers are able to test the software product before its final release in the market. Therefore, the advantages offered by beta testing are:
- With beta testing, the software developers can get their product/application tested prior to its release.
- It enables the user to install, test, and send feedback regarding the developed software, which helps the team improve its quality.
- Helps discover defects and issues in the system that were overlooked or left undetected by the team of software testers.
- With the assistance of beta testing, the effectiveness and impact of a product, on the users, can be examined.
- Enhances the quality, performance, and functionality of the software.
- Helps get direct feedback from the users.
- Reduces risk of product failure via user validations.
Disadvantages of Beta Testing:
Being informed about the disadvantages offered by a testing technique is always a sensible thing to do. It helps the team take necessary precautions and enables them to increase its effectiveness. Some of the disadvantages of beta testing are:
- During this type of testing, the software engineers have no control over the process of testing, as it is performed by the users in the the real world environment.
- Another disadvantage of beta testing is that, it can be difficult to find end users willing to test the software.
- It can be a time consuming process and can delay the final release of the product.
Keeping in account the characteristics of beta testing, it can be concluded that the beta testing may be considered desirable for the organizations as it provides feedback of the real-users, which is useful in improving the software quality, just before its final release.
Explore some of the notable points to be considered while performing beta testing of the system in our related article beta testing checklist.
beta testing check-list.