Software testing is important
Though we do try and keep an eye out for any mistakes, some might be able to pass through from blind spots and bad assumptions. In an ideal situation, you’d have someone else check through your work, in order to ensure that all potential flaws get spotted.
For those that are new to software development, software testing might seem like an insignificant task. However, you’ll be quick to realize that it’s actually an integral part of planning and development.
Before we can fully get into why it’s important, we should also talk about what software testing is.
What Is Software Testing?
Software Testing is the activity of checking whether the expected results match the actual results. It helps to ensure that the software system is defect free. It helps to identify missing requirements, gaps, or errors that might be contrary to the requirements.
To help you further understand, imagine a banking system with a defect which causes Bank B to not receive the correct amount of money that is being transferred from Bank A.
It can also be situations where there are incorrect transfer fees applied to the transfer or the money is not converted into the right currency. Regardless of what it is, the issue is critical and can only have been avoided by proper software testing.
Different Types of Software Testing
There are four categories of software testing, which include functional testing, non-functional testing, change related type of testing and automated testing. Though there are over 150 types of testing, we’ll only be naming a few for the various categories of software testing.
- Functional Testing – involves Graphical User Interface (GUI) testing, User Acceptance Tests (UAT), security and access control testing, interoperability testing and more.
- Non-Functional Testing– involves performance testing, installation testing, usability testing, failover and recovery testing, configuration testing.
- Change Related Type of Testing– involves smoke testing, regression testing, build verification test, sanity testing.
- Automated Testing– based on programming ability. Quality Assurance specialist prepares automatic tests that are performed much faster than manual ones.
Examples of critical situations due to a software failure
There have been various events that have occurred through the years, which have cemented the belief that software testing is critical to the success of any business. We don’t just mean any sort of situations; we’re talking about situations, which could have been avoided if software development, as well as software testing had been performed properly and at the appropriate time.
- In 1996, a major U.S. bank (First National Bank of Chicago) experienced a software bug, which caused 823 customers to be credited with $920 million USD.
- In 2015, Bloomberg’s terminal in London crashed because of a software glitch, which affected a surplus of 300,000 financial market traders. It forced a postpone of a £3bn GBP debt sale.
- Nissan faced a software failure in their airbag sensory detectors, which caused them to have to recall over one million vehicles from the market.
- Starbucks faced a software failure in their POS system, which caused them to close 60% of their stores in Canada and the U.S.
The importance of software testing
After all that information, we can really get to why software testing really is important. Though you might already have an idea from the points we’ve made above, we’ll make a quick list of reasons as to why you need software testing.
- It is essential for ensuring the customers’ satisfaction and reliability in the application.
- It helps to pinpoint errors and defects right from the developmental phases.
- It enables the business to provide facilities to the customers, including high-quality software applications and products. This, in turn, helps to lower maintenance costs and provides more reliable, consistent, and accurate results.
- It helps to ensure the quality of the product, which then helps the customer to gain confidence in your organization.
- It avoids any future failures, which can also help the company to save money as repairing or maintaining can be more expensive towards the later development stages.
- It allows you to have a product or software application, which performs effectively.
- It simply is required in order for you to stay in business.
Software Testing Services
There are various software testing services which help you to reach the highest potential that software testing can give you. These services are great for giving you the confidence of ensuring that there are no errors in the code, resulting in a high-quality final product. You can perform in-house software testing or outsourcing it to professionals.
In-House Software Testing
Though in-house software testing has its fair share of advantages, the main one is the ability for business owners to control the whole software testing process as well as being able to address the issues promptly.
Its main disadvantage is that it can be rather costly in comparison to outsourcing it. There are also additional hidden expenses. Including those associated with hiring people, training, and supporting a full team, even when they are not needed.
Outsource Software Testing
There are various companies, which offer independent software testing services, which give businesses the possibility of outsourcing their software testing. Outsourcing software testing can end up being the option that helps to reduce your costs.
It helps you to continue being focused on the core activity by allowing you to dedicate the majority of your time to customer services, marketing campaigns, and more. External testing offers you to have experienced, trained, and certified consultants around the clock.
Outsourcing testing is also great with flexibility as the team size can be adjusted according to the needs of each individual client. Smaller businesses tend to go towards outsourcing due to external testing companies having more adaptability, flexible businesses models, and reasonable prices.
And so, with all the information provided above, you’ll be able to clearly see how and why software testing is so important to any and all businesses. Just as testing electronic products, electronic appliances, and hardware products is important, software testing is just as, if not more so regardless of what industry your business is in.
Software testing basics
Nowadays, software systems and applications are an integral part of our lives in every area – from medical and banking systems to products such as smartphones or cars. For each user, it is crucial that the software they utilize works properly, quickly and intuitively.
Testing is an important part of the software development life cycle
Malfunctioning software not only causes the user stress, but also generates many problems for the provider, such as additional costs or damage to their reputation. To prevent such a scenario, software developers are increasingly often deciding to implement testing during the process of its creation. Some industries even require software testing when, for example, human life depends on the correct functioning of the program.
Testing in software engineering
Testing means putting something to the test while expecting a specific result. Tests at school check whether the student has specific knowledge of a given subject. Vehicle tests can check, for example, the performance of a vehicle or verify safety levels for drivers and passengers during a collision. Conducting software tests allows us to check if the software works properly and is implemented in compliance with the assumed requirements. Tests will also determine to what extent the application is comprehensible and useful for its future users. How many times have you encountered a bug on WWW pages?
Something went wrong, or maybe it wasn’t possible to make a medical appointment due to an error at the very end of the booking process? Or perhaps you were upset when a page on your smartphone screen failed to load properly, which made it difficult, or even impossible, to see all of the content? Software testing is to ensure the highest quality of the product and prevent malfunctions. Quality Control activities allow you to assess the quality of the software, but most importantly it reduces the risk of failure.
“Testing is the process consisting of all lifecycle activities, both static and dynamic, concerned with planning, preparation and evaluation of software products and related work products to determine that they satisfy specified requirements, to demonstrate that they are fit for purpose and to detect defects.”ISTQB syllabus software testing definition
The size and complexity of software development is growing rapidly. According to the definition in the ISTQB syllabus, software testing is a rather complex process that goes with the creation of a product as well as its development. Apart from searching for bugs in the software, the tester helps to prevent them from occurring, reports the results of work and assesses the quality of the tested solution.
Searching for defects, as mentioned above, includes dynamic testing which requires the commissioning of the tested system or system components.
There is also a static testing technique to help detect defects and increase the consistency and internal quality of software – for example: reviewing documentation or system code without running it.
What are the levels of software testing?
At various stages of software development, the scope and number of tests are determined by a test pyramid model.
This model is based on quick tests that are performed at minimal cost, allowing you to detect defects in the initial phase of the project.
At the top of the pyramid, in turn, are tests checking the entire functionality of the software. They are time-consuming and therefore expensive, and are performed during the final phase of the project.
- Unit testing
Unit tests are performed by developers. Unit testing consists of testing individual pieces of software (e.g. a single class, method or function in the code). These tests focus on verifying whether the unit requirements are met, as well as checking all paths in the code and boundary values. Such tests detect logical errors in the implementation phase and do not take much time. What is more, starting the entire system is not required – running a small, isolated fragment is sufficient. As a result, unit testing is really effective, which is why the detection and repair of a bug doesn’t take much time.
- Integration testing
Integration tests are also the realm of developers. Tests at this level are performed after unit tests and are aimed at checking the integration between given components. Integration tests detect communication errors between cooperating system components (given that the individual components work properly on their own). Integration tests between individual modules are more advanced than unit tests; they are also more time-consuming, and any detected defects may pertain to a bigger area of the system. An example of such tests may be cooperation between the web application and the database, as well as communication between two classes inside the code.
- End-to-End testing
End-to-End testing (system testing) is carried out by testers in the final phase of the project in an integrated system. They check the functioning of the software product as a whole. E2E tests are performed slowly, it is difficult to fully automate them, and they require frequent modification, which makes them expensive and difficult to maintain. However, system tests are necessary as they check the overall behavior of an application.
- Acceptance testing
Beyond the testing pyramid, there is also the level of acceptance testing. These tests are performed to ensure that the application meets the expectations of the customer and users – and they are responsible for performing them. Examples of acceptance testing are User Acceptance Tests (UATs), which allow you to detect any inconsistencies with the business specification, and Operational Acceptance Tests (OAT), which check e.g. system behavior during a failure.
Types of software tests
We can test applications in many ways, and the tests performed may have different purposes. These purposes define the types of tests – e.g. we can check the functionality, the performance of the system, or make sure that the system works properly after implementing improvements.
We can distinguish four basic types of tests, which are further divided into many kinds.
Functional testing is also called black box testing. These tests define the activities performed by software. Functional tests do not require knowledge of what is inside the system and are typically described in the specification of requirements in the form of use cases, which are defined as the external behavior of the system and treated as a “black box”. The tester is able to test the application in the context of functional requirements, usually without requiring complex theoretical knowledge.
Non-functional tests are also referred to as qualitative tests. Put simply, they check “how the system works”.
Some non-functional tests include:
- Usability testing
That is, how useful and intuitive the application is (or in other words: “Will the user be satisfied?”). They also relate to aspects such as aesthetics and User Experience when using the application, and often also check if the application is adapted to the needs of people with disabilities.
- Security testing
These tests help us to ensure that the system data is safe and to what extent it is protected against third-party attacks. This type of test includes, for example, penetration tests, which simulate a real attack, as well as allowing for risk assessment – the major security threats are analyzed and identified.
- Reliability testing
Checks whether the system can work properly for a specified time and under specified conditions. The software is also checked for tolerance – we check the ability of the system to continue operation during a failure and its capability to restore (recover data after a failure measured in time and losses).
- Performance testing
Checking the endurance of the system. Will it be stable under different load conditions? How fast will it respond to commands? How fast will the calculations be performed and how quickly can it communicate with other systems? Performance tests are usually based on the determination of production profiles based on predictions or experience with similar systems.
- Sustainability testing
It measures the extent to which the system can be modified in the future, in order to minimize the necessary downtime for maintenance, as well as reducing maintenance-related costs. For this reason, it is important to maintain the transparency of the code and keep records.
- Portability testing
Determines how complex moving applications between different environments is. It examines the adaptability of the app – for example, whether it is possible to install it on all target systems.
- Compatibility testing
Checks if the program can coexist with other programs in the same environment and if it is possible for it to operate with different parameters – for example, whether the software works the same on different devices, systems or web browsers.
Awareness of non-functional tests is growing, as they check very important system functions. Reality has repeatedly verified how significant they are. A lack of non-functional testing in the process can pose threats such as confidential customer data leaks, blocked ransom pages, nonfunctioning payments in online stores, or simply the non-intuitiveness of the application or design which discourages users from using it
Structural testing (aka white box testing)
These tests can be run at all levels. Simply put, they consist of code testing. These tests are performed as a double check for the accuracy of code coverage assessment, which is measured by code execution through a series of tests, presented in percentage terms for the elements covered.
Tests related to changes
These are divided into regression tests and confirmation tests. Both types can be performed at all test levels.
- Confirmation testing consists of repeated tests once the detected bug has been repaired and the goal is to ensure that the defect has been removed.
- Regression testing aims to verify that no other defects have occurred in the module or in the unchanged part of the software during fixes or changes in the application.
In addition to the specified types of tests, let me also mention those that allow you to avoid wasting time when changing or repairing software, namely smoke tests and sanity tests. Smoke tests check whether the application can be started and whether its basic functions work, while sanity tests check the new functionality without checking the rest.
Software testing methods
The profession of a tester includes various specializations. You can test manually or write automatic tests. This first path does not require advanced technical knowledge, which is why many people choose it at the beginning of their careers. An automation tester, in turn, should fulfil a higher level of requirements, as discussed below.
The tester manually checks all software features which are relevant in the context of quality and specification, performs test cases and creates test reports. An example of manual tests are exploratory tests. Exploratory testing is carried out without knowing the application beforehand, and the tester learns it while verifying its functioning based on a specification, whereas test cases are created on the basis of functional requirements.
Manual testing does not require programming skills, but you need intuition, inquisitiveness and a willingness to learn. However, keep in mind that working in IT means the need for continuous progress due to the rapid development of technology.
Automation testing allows you to perform repetitive tasks and regression tests in a short time, with an option to repeat them multiple times. Of course, first you have to prepare such tests.
The automation tester already faces somewhat higher requirements. In this case, you need to know the programming language for creating tests. Test cases in test automation are performed using automation tools, libraries and scripts prepared by the tester for a given scenario, which allows them to automate some of the test scenarios. The test script returns a comparison of the actual result with the expected one, so that you can quickly and unmistakably determine whether the software is working as intended.
Who can become a software tester?
The profession of a tester requires basic soft skills and technical skills at the start. Whether we are talking about manual or automatic tests, the tester should be watchful, inquisitive, communicative, assertive, a patient team player, and not afraid to report errors.
Software testing – where to start?
The profession of software tester is currently one of the “top of the pops” in the IT industry; thanks to this, those who are interested have much greater access to various types of training, courses or even free webinars than was the case several years ago. Reading a book about testing or taking an interest in the ISTQB Syllabus will also be a good way to start. Some companies also offer training with an option of paid internships.
A software tester is constantly looking for opportunities to develop
Acquiring knowledge of testing is just the beginning. As a tester, you need to be strongly focused on continuous learning – this applies not only to a beginner tester, but even to those who have years of experience in the industry. The technologies and software which the tester works with are constantly evolving. The person responsible for software testing is therefore also responsible for continuous learning (including how and from what the application is built and what problems may result from it, and what technologies and tools may be used to track and eliminate them).
IT is not just about knowing programming languages…
Knowledge of foreign languages (English, German, French) is also very important in the IT industry. Many testers do well without this skill, but sooner or later, especially as tech skills develop, the market demands that a tester has language skills. Testers who communicate in English at B2-C1 level are more successful in international projects and have greater opportunities to find solutions to problems, e.g. in English knowledge bases or on testers’ community forums. Knowledge of this language also translates into greater prospects on the labor market.
To sum up…
Software testing is a complex process and is not – as commonly believed – only about checking that the program is working properly and identifying software bugs. Testing software also means preventing future defects, looking for the unwanted effects of changes, reporting the results of your work and assessing the quality of the tested software.
Tests increase the consistency, internal quality and intuitiveness of the software. They also help to maintain the aesthetic interface of the application. Different levels and types of tests performed at individual stages – and sometimes at all stages – of system development help to ensure the highest quality of applications. And because more and more software is developed, such an interest in tests is not surprising. Today, it is hard to imagine the software development cycle without an inquisitive, patient, communicative, assertive and thorough software tester who is keen on picking holes in the process.