A Beginner’s Guide to Software Testing

Last updated on April 26th, 2020 at 3:44 pm

Software testing is a crucial phase of software development where careful investigation, testing, and checks are performed on the software product to generate and provide information about its quality. Although each company has a different definition for software testing, the general aim is to:

  • Ensure that the software meets the standards and requirements
  • Check if the software works as expected
  • Verify that the application does not have any bugs

While software testing is a long and tedious process, it is actually a worthwhile investment. When incorporated into the software development process, it allows the early discovery of bugs and prevents last-minute code repairs.

2 Popular Software Testing Techniques

There are two popular software testing techniques: black box and white box testing. In black box testing, the test engineer is required to understand what the software is supposed to do. However, he or she is unable to see what’s inside the program.

White box testing, on the other hand, requires the test engineer to understand how the program or software works. But unlike in black box testing, one can see what’s inside as if it’s a clear glass box. He or she has to check the source code and run through it. That is one reason why most white box testers have to be developers as well, maintaining a deep understanding of codes or programming experience.

Black Box Testing Vs. White Box Testing

You cannot really compare which of these software testing techniques is better than the other because they both have pros and cons.

White Box Testing

white-box-testing

Pros:

  • It is highly systematic.
  • Every path can be tested.
  • It can be performed by the development team.
  • It does not require a completed Graphical User Interface (GUI).
  • It can detect bugs in the early development stage.
  • It gives developers a chance to reevaluate their designs and improve them.

Cons:

  • It demands time from the developers.
  • Any code update can invalidate the test cases.
  • It can be difficult to separate the testing environment from the program.

Black Box Testing

black-box-testing

Pros:

  • A test engineer does not necessarily need complex technical skills.
  • It’s easy to create black box testing test cases.
  • It can be automated.
  • It simulates the user experience of end users.
  • It values the perspectives of non-developers.
  • It is more efficient when done on a larger system.

Cons:

  • It usually does not test and capture all software paths.
  • The test results can be difficult to reproduce or document.
  • It is difficult to think of possible inputs given a limited testing time.
  • Test cases are often redundant.

The Essential Software Testing Steps

The main goal of performing software testing is to identify bugs and defects, and reduce the occurrence of both in the process. We’ll break down essential software testing steps below to understand what a test engineer really does:

1. Basic Functionality Testing

Here, test engineers need to check if every button or function works. They need to enter text into a field and make sure it does not crash the software. They need not try all possible character combinations. The goal is not to let other people use the software if it’s only going to crash when they enter their name.

If a certain function needs to be accessed by an API, series of tests have to be done to ensure it works. Once it passes the tests, it will be submitted for more intensive testing. Otherwise, it has to be returned to the software developers.

2. Code Review

In this step, test engineers will review the source code and try to uncover problems and bugs. This is often done if the coding methodology used by the developer or programmer requires peer review. At least one of the reviewers should be a non-author of the code, though. Before a code review, too, there should be basic functionality testing.

3. Static Code Analysis

Test engineers may use certain tools to analyze a source code so they don’t have to execute it manually. These tools will run through the code and look for any weaknesses and security vulnerabilities. Since these tools are only used to enforce coding standards, they need to be configured to run automatically as a part of the build.

4. Unit Testing

Developers need to write unit tests to ensure every unit – be it a class, component, or a method, is working properly and as expected. In a testing environment, unit tests must be run every time changes are made to the source code repository. They should be run on the development machine, too. If these unit tests are not extensive enough, it is likely that the software development team will fail a build.

5. Single-User Performance Testing

Load and performance tests are usually included in a software’s integration process. Once a code is checked in, these tests are immediately loaded. However, some developers fail to look at the single-user performance aspect of their code. That means they themselves cannot immediately verify if the software only responds when they are using the system.

Normally, if it will take more than a minute to display a web page loaded from a local host or an emulated web server, there are aspects in the single-user performance testing that have failed and need to be fixed.

Why Software Testing Is Important

There are certain points in the software development cycle where human error may arise. As a result, the quality of the software suffers. So as not to compromise quality, it’s a must to perform software testing.

The reputation of organizations and businesses depends on the quality of the products they create. In fact, product sales are often their main lifeline. Users may choose to buy the product of the competitor because of poor quality, which then obviously affects the overall revenue of an organization.

Having said that, it’s just safe to assume that in today’s fast-paced era, quality is a top priority of any organization. And to achieve the software quality that consumers require and deserve, software testing emerges as a critical undertaking.

Author Bio

A Computer Engineer by degree and a writer by profession, Cathy Trimidal writes for Software Tested. For years now, she has contributed articles focusing on the trends in IT, VPN, web apps, SEO, and digital marketing. Although she spends most of her days living in a virtual realm, she still finds time to satisfy her infinite list of interests.

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