Testing vs. Debugging

Testing and Debugging, are two words which appear to share a similar meaning, but are extensively different from one another. They have quite an analogous function, however, they are diverse in their specifications, designs, execution and benefits. Both testing and debugging is used at different stages of software development and provide separate types of results. Hence, it is necessary for us to properly understand the differences between testing and debugging which will assist us in getting the best software development results. To ensure this, here is a detailed analysis and comparison of testing and debugging which will allow us differentiating both of them properly.

What is Testing?

Each and every software, application or a system needs to be tested before being delivered to the whole wide world. Executed by a group of testers, Testing refers to an activity carried out in order to find the defect in the software. The tester executes manual and automated test cases on the software and if they detect any defect or error, it is reported to the development team for correction. Along with the nature of the defect the tester also reports the point at which the defect occurred and its consequences. This information is used by developers to debug the defect and get error free results. Testing can furthermore be done at all stages of module development, like requirements analysis, interface design, algorithm design, implementation, and integration with other modules. In short,

  • Testing is conducted by testers in the testing phase of the software.
  • Helps in locating and identifying errors and bugs.
  • Performed by testers with the intent of finding bugs in an application.
  • Reports bugs to the development team.

Benefits of Software Testing:

Testing is extremely necessary for software or application development. It guarantees that the software is of supreme quality and that it provides results which do not consist any bugs or defects. Testing also makes sure that the software consist of all the intended and required functions and that they are performing properly. Apart from these software testing has several other benefits like:

  • It helps in identifying and fixing bugs before the software becomes operational, which considerably reduces the risk of failure.
  • Ensures that the performance of the software does not deteriorates when it has to integrate and function with other existing legacy systems.
  • Performs root cause analysis which increases the efficiency of the software.
  • It is specifically carried out while keeping the end user in mind.
  • Software testing provides reliability of software which further helps in creating healthy and flourishing business relationships.

Approaches used for Software Testing:

There are majorly two types of approaches used for software testing by the team of testers. Each of these approaches describe the point of view that a test engineer takes while designing test cases for software and applications. Moreover, these software testing methods have various distinctive feature and qualities that distinguish them from each other and which make the process of testing easier and faster for the testers. Hence, these approaches of software testing are:

  1. Black Box Testing: Also known as the functional testing, this is a data driven approach in which the tester views the program as a black box and is not concerned about the internal behaviour or structure of the program. The aim of the tester is to determine circumstances in which the program is incapable of performing according to the mentioned specifications.
  2. White Box Testing: White box or logic driven structural testing permits the tester to examine the internal structure and coding of the program. Through this approach the tester can derive test data from an examination of programs logic and structure effortlessly. The primary focus of this approach is to strengthen the security, the flow of inputs and outputs through the application and improving its design and usability.

The other types of software testing techniques used for software testing are:

  • Unit Testing: Testing of an individual unit or group of related units.
  • Integration Testing: Group of components are combined to produce output. Interaction between hardware and software is tested.
  • Functional Testing: Falls under the black box testing, is executed to ensure that the functionality demanded in the system requirements works properly and effectively.
  • System Testing: Validates that the software is capable of working in different environments.
  • Stress Testing: Evaluates how system behaves in unfavourable conditions. Testing is beyond limits of specifications.
  • Usability Testing: Performed to the perspective of the client to evaluate how the GUI is user friendly.
  • Performance Testing: Measures the speed and effectiveness of the system and ensures the results are generated according to performance requirement.
  • Acceptance Testing: Done by customer to make sure that the delivered product meets their requirements and works as expected.
  • Beta Testing: Aims at covering unexpected errors and is executed by the end users.
  • Regression Testing: Testing done after the modification of the system, component or a group of related units, to ensure that the modification is working correctly.

What is Debugging?

Unlike Testing, Debugging is the activity carried out by the development team or a developer after getting the test report about the defects in the software from the testing team. The work of the developer is to find the cause of this defect or error, which is accomplished by checking the coding thoroughly. Once the bug or error is detected, developer modifies the portion of code and then rechecks whether the defect has been finally removed. Once the debugging is successfully culminated, the software is again sent to the tester who then continues the process of testing. Therefore, debugging is the process:

  • Executed in the development phase by the developers.
  • The developer aims at fixing the bug.
  • Fixes bugs reported/identified by the testers or end user.
  • Performed under tremendous amount of pressure to get correct results in a limited period of time.

Benefits of Debugging:

In software development, debugging involves locating and correcting code errors in a computer program. Majorly performed while the software testing process, debugging is an integral part of the entire software development cycle. The process of debugging starts as soon as the code of the software is written and continues in successive stages as code is combined with other units of programming to form a software product. Some of the other benefits of debugging are mentioned below:

  • Reports error condition immediately, which allows earlier detection of an error and makes the process of software development stress-free and unproblematic.
  • It provides maximum useful information of data structures and allows its easy interpretation.
  • Assists the developer in minimizing useless and distracting information.
  • Through debugging the developer can avoid complex one-use testing code, which helps the developer save time and energy in software development.

Approaches used for Debugging in Software Applications:

Debugging is considered to be a complex and time-consuming process since it attempts to remove errors at all the levels of testing. Debugging approaches performs numerous functions like, reproducing the conditions in which failure has occurred, examining the program state, and locating the cause of error and failure. With the help of these approaches, programmers trace the program execution step by step and halt the execution wherever it is required to reset the program variables. Few of the approaches that are being practised in the industry for debugging software under test are:

  1. Brute Force: The most common approach used for debugging a software program is the brute force method. It is extremely popular among developers as it requires little thought process and is the least mentally taxing of all the other approaches. However, the biggest disadvantage of using this approach is that it is inefficient and is generally unsuccessful.
  2. Brute force method of debugging is further divided into three categories:

    1. Debugging with storage dump.
    2. Debugging by scattering print statements throughout the program.
    3. Debugging with automated debugging tools.

    This method of debugging is usually recommended when no other method is able to identify or detect the error in the software.

  3. Induction: It is a known fact that careful and disciplined thought process allows a developer to discover most errors in the design and code of the software without going near the computer. One such thought process that makes this possible is Induction. In this method a team of developer proceeds from particulars to the whole, that is, it checks the symptoms of the errors in the software which are possibly the result of one or more test cases and looks for connection among them. Debugging by induction is therefore completed through the following steps:
    1. First, the pertinent data is located.
    2. Data is organised, which allows proper observation of all the errors and its symptoms.
    3. A hypothesis is planned wherein the relationship between the clues and device can be studied without any hassle.
    4. Proving the hypothesis is extremely essential, as a failure to do this can result in the fixing of only few symptoms or a portion of the problem.
  4. Deduction: Deduction, just like induction, is an alternate thought process that goes through some of the general theories and properties of the errors while using the method of elimination and refinement to arrive at the conclusion. The process involves various steps that allow the developer to find errors in the code of the software with ease. Mentioned below are the steps followed in the process of deduction:
    1. The first step of deduction is to enumerate the possible causes or hypothesis of errors which help in analysing the available data.
    2. The analysed data is used to eliminate the possible causes of errors and bugs in the software program.
    3. The remaining hypothesis refined by using the available clues and symptoms.
    4. At the end, the remaining hypothesis is proved to ensure that all bugs are effectively detected and removed.


Testing and debugging are two most essential parts of the software testing cycle and both of them play a crucial role in detecting bugs and errors in the software. Testing and debugging, both are interdependent and one cannot be executed without the presence of other, as it is only after the successful culmination of testing that debugging can be executed by the team of developers. Testing helps in finding the error or bug in the software, however it is through debugging that a developer not only identifies but also analyses and removes the bug from the software.