What can you learn from software testing?
Software testing is a crucial part of any software development project and it should not be overlooked.
In this blog, I’ll detail some of the key findings from my research and practice as a software tester, in hopes of giving you some real insight into the pros and cons of software testing.
I don’t think the word “test” accurately reflects what testers do. I prefer to use the word “insurance”.
Testing seems to be something that happens at the end of a project when you have nothing else to do (or when you’re desperate).
Assurance sounds like something that should happen all the time during software development.
Cem Kaner: “Testing is any activity aimed at evaluating an attribute or capability of a program or system and determining that it meets the required results.”
I don’t like the word “assessment” either. Maybe it’s because for too long I’ve been involved in formal inspections and evaluations where the goal was to find faults.
We often found them, but rarely found solutions to fix them. A better word might be “investigation”. And maybe I don’t like “requirements” either, because it’s so open (and vague). The definition might be better if it said “expected results”.
My goal is not to nitpick, but to make a point: most people understand testing as a verification activity – it’s about finding bugs and reporting them.
As a QA professional, I am constantly learning new things. But there are a few lessons that I consider my favorites. These are the lessons I find myself repeating to other people over and over again.
Reading code is more important than writing code for a tester in an established product development environment because it helps you understand what the program is supposed to do and how it is supposed to do it.
This is especially important when testing a feature that the programmers wrote before they started testing.
And reading code written by other team members can help you learn their style and anticipate problems they may have encountered while writing the feature you’re about to test.
Track bugs faster
The hardest part of software testing is knowing when you’re done. If you ask people to find bugs in your software, they will. They will never stop finding bugs.
The only way to stop them from finding bugs is to stop asking them to find bugs. So how could it be decided?
Obviously, there is no fixed rule. But there is a good guideline, which is when the marginal cost of finding another bug exceeds the expected benefit, you should probably stop testing.
Another way to say this is to make sure you know where to look for bugs before you start testing.
Wherever that place is, focus there first because that’s where the biggest bugs are likely to be.
This is what Microsoft did with Windows Vista; they started by looking for security flaws in the code they had rewritten, and fixing them first.
This made sense because security vulnerabilities are the worst kind of bug; if an attacker can exploit one, they can crash your entire system or take control of all your data, no matter how many other bugs there are in the system. So get rid of those first, then worry about everything else.
The tests are based on a model
All tests are based on a model of the product, and all tests are only valid against that model. The model can be explicit or implicit; it can be documented or in people’s heads.
A specification is a common type of model. For example, you may have a written specification for the product and test cases that were developed before the software was written that reference that specification.
It would be an explicit model, in a document (which could be an electronic document).
But sometimes there are no such specifications. In this case, the only documentation of what the system is supposed to do might be the code itself (and even that’s not always true).
In this case, your model is the picture of how things are supposed to work that you got from reading the code.
It is not necessarily less explicit than a written specification; it’s just on a different medium: your head instead of a document.
Either way, whether the model is explicit or implicit, you need to have some idea of what you expect things to be before you can test them.
Your test scripts define you
When we think about what it means to write software, we tend to imagine ourselves sitting in front of a keyboard, typing code.
And most of the time, we type code. But a lot of what we do as programmers involves writing other things: comments, documentation, tests, specs, and so on.
A program is not just the code it contains. It’s also the documentation, comments, and test cases that go with it – anything you write to understand and communicate what the code is supposed to do.
The code itself isn’t very helpful; you have to know how it works. And as Knuth points out, what we write for human consumption is often harder than the code itself.
I don’t know how many programmers realize how much they write in their work. I certainly didn’t when I started.
Writing specs and testing software was something you only did after you finished the programming itself, as a kind of afterthought.
Now I consider them inseparable from her; not only because specifications and testing play an important role in writing good software, but also because they define what good software is.
Rotation of testers between projects
The best software testing is a combination of static and dynamic analysis. Static analysis reads the code and looks for problems, while dynamic analysis tries to run the program and see if it breaks.
But even when it’s working fine, you can’t read code indefinitely without getting tired, so you have to switch between these two modes.
A good software tester reads code until bored, then runs the program until bored, then starts reading code again. If you do this all day, you may find a lot more bugs than doing either.
It’s also good to rotate testers between projects. I don’t know why but it works.
When you’re working on a project for a long time, all kinds of little decisions are made that make sense at the time but can be hard to explain later.
New testers are better able to spot these kinds of things and ask questions about them.
Use cloud-based platforms
There are different types of software testing like manual testing, automation testing etc The best way to do software testing is to test all the time, and by that I mean involve your whole company in testing. Yes, your business!
If you want to start doing this now, I recommend using cloud-based tools. These tools are easy enough for non-techies to use and they also provide access to a large number of devices (real phones and tablets) so you can see how your product looks on different screen sizes/resolutions.
These days, there are plenty of tools that allow businesses of all sizes to automate their mobile testing efforts.
If you are testing a software product such as a website or an application, you can use the cloud-based platform called LambdaTest.
To test your websites and applications using LambdaTest, you write a single test that runs on LambdaTest’s servers.
Then you indicate that you want to run the same test on all of LambdaTest’s thousands of virtual machines, each running a different operating system and browser.
When the test is complete, you’ve automatically tested your app on every conceivable operating system and browser combination.
LambdaTest offers Selenium automation testing, Cypress Test Automation and Appium tests for automation tasks.
If you did this yourself, it would take forever. But LambdaTest has thousands of machines running on the cloud, so it can run thousands of tests in the time it would take you to run one.
The benefit isn’t just that it’s faster and easier. It’s also that by running your tests in the cloud, you can ensure that they work on all browsers, even those that don’t yet exist.
For example, let’s say a new operating system or browser comes out tomorrow with a bug. You will be able to run your test immediately to see if it detects the problem.
In conclusion, it can be said that software testing is of vital importance. This is key because it improves consistency and performance by identifying and then removing errors.
Without testing, software production could be pointless or sometimes vicious for customers. So, as a tester, you should always protect the reliability of the software and make it free from any harm to use in real scenarios.