Top 10 Software Testing Best Practices
Software development has come a long way since the beginning of software engineering. It has been more than 40 years since the publication of “The Mythical Man-Month” which is considered as a seminal book on software engineering and project management. It is not surprising that the ideas presented in the book are as valid now as it was then.
As a result of the publication of the book, software development started to have more focus. Everything from languages to testing became more structured. During the past 40 years emphasis moved away from language and coding per se, and moved on to project management, definitions, documentation and testing.
Even today, code testing remains to be the final hurdle before an app or program is submitted to the user or the public. Even then, it is still expected that there would be errors which can only be found after the end-users have been using the software after more than six months.
Software testing is done as part of software development. In this light, the following are ten software testing best practices which a developer or a development should always keep in mind, and practice.
For software development to work properly, it must have a functional specification or a blueprint. This is basically the outline that itemizes what the computer program will be able to do once finished. This documentation also includes what it can do and what is not included in the scope of activities.
Sometimes, it is the software developer who prepares this document. But in some cases, it is the analyst who is tasked with preparing the functional specifications as well as the user manual. Ideally it should have a very clear outline of dependencies, outlines, and criteria for usability. This is considered as one of the best practices when it comes to applying standards in software development.
Determining Criteria For Entry And Exit
“You would need a criteria for entry and exit because software development is always done in stages. Your team must know exactly when and where to stop and what is required for each step, “explains Ignite CEO Aviram Eisenberg. These phases in development should have fail safes in place so that if there are mistakes or flaws, it can be corrected without having to back track from the very beginning.
For example, phase 1 must have all these criteria in order for it to be considered complete and fit for “exit”. Once everything checks out, the team can move on to entering or starting phase 2. The process is repeated until all the steps pass both the entry and exit criteria. This not only ensures that everything is followed to a T, but also helps project managers estimate time tables and plan deliverables.
Inspecting And Reviewing
This is a time-tested method used by software developers. The inspection process covers inspecting and reviewing the system for errors. Usually, other members of the team are tasked to inspect the software and look for problems or bugs. Their comments and inputs are then reviewed while the kinks are ironed out and weaknesses in the software are improved. This step is best done with a solid development and testing team.
Testing On Different Platforms
Software and apps are always tested on more than just one platform. Today's technological developments have allowed for people to use different gadgets with varied operating systems. If you are a game or app developer, it is important to test on as many platforms or systems as possible since each program may behave differently on a new platform. Some codes may be adjusted for a specific version, say Android or iOS in order to have it running as well as intended.
Nightly Or Latest Builds
Software’s programs can take months to build and develop. Whatever a programmer finishes at night should be used to track bugs and is considered as the most updated version. In some companies, it is not literally what is finished at the end of the day. It could be what was done after a week, or a shift. It all depends on what the team prefers. This is also good for backups since everyone will know which one to revert to in case something happens.
In the software and app world, beta testing can mean either of two things: a beta version released for testing by members of the team; or a version meant to be tried out by hand picked people who form the target audience. Both kinds of tests help developers and programmers identify problems and areas for improvement. Being tested by their peers means that they are speaking the same technical language; while the testing by members of their target audience means that they are being given feedback by the very people whom the product was intended for.
Is your software or app user friendly? The usability testing phase is crucial before a product can be launched in the market. In this stage, the interface, navigation, loading speed, and many other factors of an app or software is tested. These are the target market or people who will be buying or downloading the product for use. If they don't find it useful in their everyday lives, or entertaining, the there's some serious re-writing that needs to be done.
There are manual tests and there are automated tests. The automated tests are done for completeness, but bear the same weight as the manual tests or trials.
If this program or app is meant to perform an action or service, it is important to run all possible scenarios for it. The tests are run from the user's point of view, and the programmer imagines all kinds of problems or issues which a user might encounter. He will then try to create features that will address all of these problems in the best way possible.
No matter how good a piece of software is, if it doesn't serve the client's purpose or address his needs, then it isn't a very good product. If the program was meant to be file compression software, you cannot deliver a product that is better of as a video chat platform. This will not only leave your audience disappointed, but also affect the credibility of the company.
Programming and software development is a cut-throat industry. Following the ten tips outlined above will help you keep your edge over the competition.
Anna Garland is a technical writer and content manager at Ignite, an Israeli offshore development company. She loves to share her company's experience in software development, testing and outsourcing business. You can reach anna via email@example.com