Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Introduction to Software Testing

Testing is a process used to help identify the correctness, completeness and quality of developed computer software. With that in mind, testing can never completely establish the correctness of computer software.

There are many approaches to software testing, but effective testing of complex products is essentially a process of investigation, not merely a matter of creating and following rote procedure. One definition of testing is "the process of questioning a product in order to evaluate it", where the "questions" are things the tester tries to do with the product, and the product answers with its behavior in reaction to the probing of the tester. Although most of the intellectual processes of testing are nearly identical to that of review or inspection, the word testing is connoted to mean the dynamic analysis of the product—putting the product through its paces.

The quality of the application can and normally does vary widely from system to system but some of the common quality attributes include reliability, stability, portability, maintainability and usability. Refer to the ISO standard ISO 9126 for a more complete list of attributes and criteria.

Testing helps is Verifying and Validating if the Software is working as it is intended to be working. Thins involves using Static and Dynamic methodologies to Test the application.

Because of the fallibility of its human designers and its own abstract, complex nature, software development must be accompanied by quality assurance activities. It is not unusual for developers to spend 40% of the total project time on testing. For life-critical software (e.g. flight control, reactor monitoring), testing can cost 3 to 5 times as much as all other activities combined. The destructive nature of testing requires that the developer discard preconceived notions of the correctness of his/her developed software.
Software Testing Fundamentals

Testing objectives include

1. Testing is a process of executing a program with the intent of finding an error.
2. A good test case is one that has a high probability of finding an as yet undiscovered error.
3. A successful test is one that uncovers an as yet undiscovered error.

Testing should systematically uncover different classes of errors in a minimum amount of time and with a minimum amount of effort. A secondary benefit of testing is that it demonstrates that the software appears to be working as stated in the specifications. The data collected through testing can also provide an indication of the software's reliability and quality. But, testing cannot show the absence of defect -- it can only show that software defects are present.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Black Box Testing

Also known as functional testing. Asoftware testing technique whereby the internal workings of the item being tested are not known by the tester. For example, in a black box test on a software design the tester only knows the inputs and what the expected outcomes should be and not how the program arrives at those outputs. The tester does not ever examine the programming code and does not need any further knowledge of the program other than its specifications.

The advantages of this type of testing include:
The test is unbiased because the designer and the tester are independent of each other.
The tester does not need knowledge of any specific programming languages.
The test is done from the point of view of the user, not the designer.
Test cases can be designed as soon as the specifications are complete.

The disadvantages of this type of testing include:
The test can be redundant if the software designer has already run a test case.
The test cases are difficult to design.
Testing every possible input stream is unrealistic because it would take a inordinate amount of time; therefore, many program paths will go untested.

For a complete software examination, both white box and black box tests are required.

Monday, January 28, 2008

White Box Testing

Also known as glass box, structural, clear box and open box testing. A software testing technique whereby explicit knowledge of the internal workings of the item being tested are used to select the test data. Unlike black box testing, white box testing uses specific knowledge of programming code to examine outputs. The test is accurate only if the tester knows what the program is supposed to do. He or she can then see if the program diverges from its intended goal. White box testing does not account for errors caused by omission, and all visible code must also be readable.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Beta testing

Beta testing comes after alpha testing. Versions of the software, known as beta versions, are released to a limited audience outside of the company. The software is released to groups of people so that further testing can ensure the product has few faults or bugs. Sometimes, beta versions are made available to the open public to increase the feedback field to a maximal number of future users.

Alpha testing

Alpha testing is simulated or actual operational testing by potential users/customers or an independent test team at the developers' site. Alpha testing is often employed for off-the-shelf software as a form of internal acceptance testing, before the software goes to beta testing.