Delivering an optimum quality software product that has unique and innovative features has always been the priority of software developers around the world. However, without evaluating these features and other important components of the software under various expected and unexpected conditions, the team cannot guarantee these aspects and offer client superior user experience. Therefore, to help software developers in developing a software that fulfils all these requirements, software testers are hired to test each and every, small and large, component of the software. So, to understand its importance, let's go through the concept of software testing
What does the terminology "software testing" refers to?
Software testing is the process of evaluating the software product, in order to assess the level of its quality. Moreover, this methodology is used to verify and validate the software product, against the functional and business requirements that were decided and specified prior to the software development process. It is one of the most significant phases of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) that ensures delivery of best quality software to the end users & customers, in line with matching their expectations.
There are large number of people who are being victimised by the myths associated with software testing and who consider testing to be inferior to the development process. However, the truth is entirely different. Testing phase is as important as the development phase. Similar to the development process, testing is an extremely wide and complex concept that encompasses numerous types of activities.
Purpose of Software Testing:
Before going through the mechanism of a process, it is vital for us to know its primary purpose. The main motive behind software testing is to attain maximum level of quality in a software product. The factor 'quality' is inversely proportional to the quantity of bugs or defects present in the software product. Higher the bugs, lower will be the quality and vice-versa.
Therefore, the goal of testing is to verify the quality of the software product by performing methodical elimination of bugs and defects. After all, testing is done with the vision of delivering the software product of maximum quality to the client or other stakeholders or customer in order to satisfy their needs and expectation.
Defining Software Testing Life Cycle:
Yes, you have read the valid term, Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC) exists and is very much similar to the software development life cycle (SDLC). To produce effective results, it is important to perform testing over the software product by implementing a process with a proper life-cycle. Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC) defines the complete process in an organized and planned manner, from start to finish, to carry out the various activities of testing. The numerous phases in the testing life cycle are:-
- Test Requirement Analysis: Involves gathering of the requirements such as functional or business requirements, against which, the testing will be performed.
- Planning: This phase deals with the analysis & feasibility study of the requirements, and accordingly, defining and preparing the plan and strategy, to carry out the testing activity.
- Test Development & Designing: During this phase, test cases are designed and prepared based on the gathered requirements. These test cases are then used for the actual execution of testing activities.
- Environment Setup: This phase requires the setting up of conditions or factors in order to replicate the circumstances which perfectly simulate the real world scenarios for testing the product.
- Execution: Actual testing activity is performed on the software product, with the help of the prepared test cases and testing tools.
- Result Analysis: During this stage, the output is evaluated by the team and compared with the expected results.
- Defect Retesting: Here, the software is again tested for defects to guarantee its accuracy and reliability.
- Reporting: Summary of the whole testing process, along with the defects, explored during the testing, are reported for the stakeholders involved i.e the client side.
- Test Closure: After meeting the exit criteria the team defines and reports the process, along with other important features and components for future use.
Methods of Testing:
The process of software testing consists of different types of testing methodologies, depending upon various aspects, such as:
- Verification and Validation: The former method of testing evaluates the software to make sure that it satisfies the conditions imposed on it before the commencement of the project. Whereas, the latter technique evaluates the software during or at the end of software development process to check whether it meets the specified requirements.
- Static Testing and Dynamic Testing: Static testing is executed manually to verify the quality of the software by finding defects in it. On the other hand, dynamic testing tests the functional behaviour and the overall performance of the software.
- Functional Testing and Non-functional Testing: A black box testing type, functional testing is executed against the business requirements of the client. While, non-functional testing is done against the non-functional requirements of the system.
- Positive Testing and Negative Testing: In positive testing the tester provides valid inputs in the software and then tests its behaviour, whereas in negative testing invalid inputs are provided for the same purpose.
- Black-Box Testing and White-Box Testing: The major difference between these two testing techniques is that, in the former internal structure and details are not known to the tester, while in the latter the tester has full knowledge of the software’s internal structure.
Software Testing Levels:
Usually, testing activity is performed at different levels of software development process, using different testing techniques, which may be detailed, as under:
- Unit Testing: Also known by the name of component testing, unit testing examines the proper functioning of each component belonging to the software product under development, before integrating them, to form the system.
- Integration Testing: This is done to ensure the proper interaction, compatibility, reliability and functioning of all the modules in aggregate or combinatorial form.
- Component Interface Testing: The aim of this testing is to check the handling of data passed between various units or subsystem components. It uses real data from the interface to test the contents and behaviour of the software.
- System Testing: It is done, to validate the functioning of the fully integrated system or software product, against the specified business requirements.
- Acceptance Testing: The purpose of acceptance testing is to check the compliance of the software product with its business specifications and meeting various user requirements.
Types of Software Testing Techniques:
Did you know that there are more than 100 testing types, existing in the field of software testing, for various purposes. Given below are some of the most commonly used testing techniques:
- Acceptance Testing: The aim of this testing is to test the compliance of the software with client’s and business requirements and to assess its acceptability for delivery.
- Agile Testing: Important testing technique, wherein testing & development activities happen concurrently. Is also known as release or delivery driven approach.
- Accessibility Testing: Subset of usability testing, accessibility testing ensures that the application can be used by people with disabilities easily. Includes testing compliance with various accessibility standards.
- Adhoc Testing: This testing does not follow any structured way of testing and requires no documentation and planning. Here, testing is performed randomly by the testers.
- Alpha Testing: A type of acceptance testing, it stimulates real users with the assistance of black box and white box testing.
- Beta Testing: Here, software is tested in the real environment by real users. It can be termed as an external form of acceptance testing that reduces product failure risks and provides increased product quality.
- Functional Testing: Functional testing validates that the software has all the required functionalities.
- Non-Functional Testing: The aim of testing here is to ensure the non-functional requirements of the software, such as the way the system operates.
- Black Box Testing: During this testing, knowledge of software’s internal structure, code, design, etc. is not required.
- White Box Testing: Here, the testers are aware of the internal structure and design of the software. It is applicable to unit testing, integration testing, etc.
- Gray Box Testing: A combination of white box and black box testing, in gray box testing testers have a limited knowledge of software’s internal structure. It is considered to be non-intrusive and unbiased.
- Compatibility Testing: It helps in determining the compatibility of the software product with various devices, environment, OS, networks, platforms, and more.
- Installation Testing: A crucial testing technique, installation testing ensures successful installation of the application, before it is made available for the use of the end users.
- Endurance Testing: This is a type of non-functional testing, which is also known as soak testing. It involves testing a software under a significant load to validate its behaviour.
- Exploratory Testing: It tests the functionality, performance, features, and all the other components of the software, when the specifications and requirements are not defined.
- Integration Testing: Executed after unit testing & before validation testing, here individual software modules are combined and tested as a group.
- Component Testing: Also known as program & module testing, it tests the various components of the software in isolation to evaluate their quality and accuracy.
- System Testing: This testing is executed on a complete and integrated system to evaluate its compliance with its specified requirements.
- Load Testing: A type of performance testing technique, which is used to determine the performance of the system under real life load conditions.
- Localization Testing: Tests the software to make it suitable for a particular region, country, or language. Makes the software culturally and linguistically appropriate.
- Globalization Testing: Ensure the adaptability, flexibility, and functionality of the software components, while making sure it is geographically, culturally, and linguistically acceptable all over the world.
- Regression Testing: Helps verify the performance of the software after it is changed or interfaced with other software systems.
- Smoke Testing: Also referred as build verification testing, smoke testing is performed to ensure software system’s critical functionalities are working as intended.
- Sanity Testing: Performed, after minor changes are executed in the software build, to make sure its functionality is not hindered by the executed changes.
- Security Testing: This type of testing is performed to protect the software and application from unforeseen threats and various security breaches.
- Scalability Testing: Measures the capability of a software, network, or process to continue working properly even after changes are implemented in its size and volume.
- Performance Testing: Determines the performance, stability, responsiveness of the software under expected worldload.
- Stress Testing: Tests the software and its performance, functionality, and effectiveness under unfavourable and unexpected conditions.
- Usability Testing: Also known as user experience testing, here the software product is tested by user representatives.
- Volume Testing: A non-functional testing type, where software is tested by increasing the volume of data in the database. The aim is to analyze the performance of the software.
- A/B Testing: A statistical hypothesis testing or split testing, wherein two variants of the web page are tested to determine the better performing variant.
Software Testing Methodologies:
Software testing, whether performed separately or during any software development process, has always been a beneficial activity. It has always helped the development team to develop a software that is best in quality, performance, and functionality. Likewise, the importance of testing during software development models is as high as the development process.
- Waterfall Development Model:
Waterfall development model is a sequential software development model, wherein each and every development and testing activity is performed after the culmination of the earlier activities, which inhibits overlapping of various tasks and activities. The importance of testing during this process is immense and testers play an extremely vital role in assuring the development team about the quality of the product.
- In the waterfall model, testing is executed after development of software functionality is completed and before the software is prepared for delivery.
- It is performed by an independent group of software testers.
- Helps validate the quality of the software.
- Ensures software’s accessibility, maintenance, and
- Tests the system, its design and performs debugging.
Though, the majority of testing activities performed here are executed by the testing team, but the responsibility of performing unit testing lies with the development team.
Agile or Extreme Programming Development Model:
Another important development model, where testing serves a crucial purpose, is agile development model. This model adheres to test driven software development, which is executed in increments and rapid cycles. This process promotes continuous iteration of development and testing throughout the software development life cycle.
- In this process testing and development are concurrent, i.e., the testers and developers work together.
- Every iteration has its own testing phase.
- It promotes regression testing whenever new functions and logics are released or introduced in the software.
- Each release of the
- Includes unit testing, system testing, coding, etc.
How to Perform Software Testing?
Testing of the software product may be carried out, either manually or with the aid of automation, which are defined in detail below:
- Manual testing: It is a form of software testing, which does not depend on the use of automation for the detection of bugs or errors in the software product. In the manual execution, test plan documentation acts as a tool or manual, to guide and direct the testing process, in order to ensure complete test coverage. Testing types covered under manual testing are:
- Black Box Testing.
- White Box Testing.
- Unit Testing.
- System Testing.
- Integration Testing.
- Acceptance Testing.
- Automated Testing: It is an effective and alternative approach to manual testing, which is well suited for performing testing, repeatedly, over a longer period of time. This testing approach makes use of pre-defined test scripts and automation tools, to carry out testing. Regression testing may be considered in the category of automated testing.
Both manual and automation have pros and cons. It is always recommended to perform testing using a mixed blend of these two forms, which help generate effective and efficient test results.
The informative attributes, formed during the phase-wise course of software testing, related to documentation work are called test artifacts. They comprises of the following:
- Test Plan: It is the most basic plan of action, enlisting the different tasks and objectives, related to the execution of testing.
- Test Case: A test case is a set of conditions, data and expected results, built to validate compliance of a software product functionality against the requirements for which it is developed.
- Traceability Matrix: It is a method, to collect and represent the test-case based requirements, in a tabular document format.
- Test Report: The observation made and the conclusions derived from the execution of test cases, are recorded, to form a useful document called test report.
- Test Suite: These are a collection of various test cases that are used to test the software and to specify its expected behaviour.
- Test Script: Set of instructions performed on the software to validate its functionality. It is executed either manually or with the assistance of automated tools.
- Test Harness: Test harness automates the testing process, executes test suites, and helps generate test reports associated with them.
- Test Data: Signifies the data that is identified to be used in test. Moreover, these are the inputs given to a software program.
Advantages of Software Testing:
Software testing, without any doubt, is the most important process executed to ensure the effectiveness and accuracy of the software. With the assistance of various testing techniques and methodologies available, testers can easily create a software that meets the specifications stated by the client and that offers them best results. Moreover, they can remove various risks, which further enhance the quality of the software. Therefore, the advantages offered by this process are:
- Helps detect defect, bugs, and other discrepancies and incidents in the software.
- Ensures client’s and user’s reliability and satisfaction with the software product and its performance.
- Validates the quality as well as the effectiveness of the product.
- Helps deliver a quality product that requires lower maintenance cost and offers accurate, precise, and reliable results.
- Verifies the performance and functionality of the software.
- Helps develop a software that meets the specifications and requirements of the client.
- Prevents excessive expenditure of time and money used in re-testing the software.
- Monitor every process and ensures their accuracy.
- Tests the software under various expected and unexpected conditions, which guarantees its effectiveness after implementation.
Challenges in Software Testing:
The process of software testing is a complex one and while implementing its miscellaneous techniques, methodologies, and types the team of testers can come across numerous challenges, limitations, and issues, which make the process of testing time consuming, difficult, and challenging. Few of these challenges encountered by the team during software testing life cycle are:
- Complete Testing is Impossible: As stated above testing is a complicated process and as the software is made of heterogeneous components, testing it thoroughly is quite impossible. Even after rigorous and in-depth testing there can be issues in software implementation, among other things.
- Use of Tools: Software testing can be implemented manually or with the assistance of automated tools. However, due to the availability of several effective tools in the market, deciding when and which tool to use during the process can be challenging for the team.
- Setting the Right Process: This is an extremely important and challenging aspect of the process. The organization responsible for testing the software should set-up an effective testing process that can accurately detect all the bugs and defects in the software.
- Lack of Proper Communication: Lack of communication between software developers and testers makes the process of testing more challenging as issues and defects cannot be shared with the development team effectively, which delays their rectification.
- Incomplete Resources: Knowledgeable and skilful testers cannot perform their best if the resources for testing, such as requirements specification documents, tools, defect reports, etc., are not missing or incomplete. Moreover, it delays the process and makes testing a component of the software difficult.
- Test Coverage: To ensure that the software product performs uniformly everywhere, it is important for the team to develop an effective and efficient testing strategy that can offer them full coverage. However, covering different geographies and configurations becomes somewhat challenging for the team.
- Insufficient Knowledge or Skills: Insufficient or inaccurate knowledge of the testers makes the process of testing extremely challenging and time consuming. Moreover, this prevents them from developing a software product that has impeccable performance, quality, and functionality.
- Incomplete or No Reporting/Documentation: Creating detailed logs and reports is a vital part of software testing life cycle that is usually overlooked by testers to save time and efforts. However, this later becomes a hurdle, as it prohibits the testers from communicating important details about the process to the development team.
Other challenges encountered by the team during software testing life cycle are listed here.
Best Practices for Software Testing:
Any process, whether complicated or simple, can be performed accurately by adopting their best practises. Similarly, the effectiveness and accuracy of software testing can also be enhanced with the help of the following tips:
- Analyze: Analyze and evaluate the testing process and their results thoroughly as it helps validate efficiency of the software.
- Prioritize: Critical bugs and defects should be prioritized and tested before others, as they can have a greater impact on the software.
- Validate Effective Communication: Communication, whether written or verbal, should be encouraged throughout the process. This helps avoid confusion among team members and promotes smooth functioning of the whole process.
- Automate Tasks: Tasks and processes that do not require constant attention of the testers can be automated to get better results as well as to increase the speed of the process.
- Ensure Proper Test Documentation: If testers want to ensure the accuracy of testing, it is vital for them to prepare proper reports and documents throughout the process. This helps them monitor all the testing activities thoroughly and ensure their efficiency.
- Re-test & Verify: The quality of the software increases tenfold by retesting it again for defects. Hence, testers should re-test each test case to verify their quality.
- Go Beyond Required Testing: Testers shouldn’t be limited to the requested or required testing, as a some change in one component of the software can impact the harmony of the whole software. So, it is best to test the software thoroughly to validate its accuracy.
Software Testing Tools:
The biggest advantage of software testing process is that it can be executed manually as well as with the assistance of heterogeneous software testing tools available in the market. These simplify the process immensely and help the team get accurate results.
To find a list of all the important software testing tools, visit our link.
Nowadays, when the demand of high quality software and applications is soaring rapidly, it is important for software developers to take all necessary actions to improve the effectiveness, quality, functionality, and other aspects of the software. And the best way to achieve this is with the assistance of software testing, which not only tests the major functionality and quality of the software but also verifies other heterogeneous components of the software.