What is Software Testing? Everything you need to know

For any software company, putting a priority on software testing has become standard practice across the community. However, for too many teams are still behind when it comes to modern software testing best practices, leading to far more problems and inefficiencies than should be accepted.

For any team wanting to maximize their software testing efforts, the most important starting point is ensuring the team knows the fundamentals of software testing. Without knowing the fundamentals, many teams can easily fail to consider all of the options available to them to find the best software testing fit for their team.

To help your team ensure you have a solid foundation for your software testing efforts, our team of software testing experts has put together this quick and convenient overview.

What is software testing?

Software testing is the process used by teams to evaluate the functionality of a software application with the aim of checking to see whether or not it meets user and business requirements and to find bugs or defects to help ensure the quality of the software product.

There are many types and methods related to software testing that can be implemented at various levels and with various tools like those developed by testRigor. For many teams, software testing is often not limited to just a single software application, and much of the time also includes multiple systems and interactions between software applications, databases, and systems.

Why is software testing important?

Software testing is both an art and a science, blending empirical measurements with an understanding of human behavior and goals, which has traditionally been harder to scientifically assess.

Without a strong software testing process in place, not only can bugs go undetected, but the software project loses a layer of protection against failure to meet user and business requirements.

Most people are readily familiar with the consequences of undetected bugs, which are also often referred to as a type of software defect. They can end up released in the software project and persist until discovered and fixed. Some bugs are minor, but others can be serious and even catastrophic. In the worst cases, bugs can lead to irreversible damage like data loss, security exploits, or prolonged downtime.

Software testing aims to find these bugs, with a priority on the most severe cases, to limit the damage that can be caused to the software project and team due to such bugs.

Aside from bugs, failure to meet user or business requirements within the software application can also be a serious and costly problem. While failure to meet requirements can be the result of the bug, it can also be the result of the software simply not producing the expected outcome that the users or business need to achieve via the software.

Having a layer of testing to ensure the released functionality meets user and business requirements ensures the product is useful and of value to the people who depend on it, and prevents rolling out problematic functionality to end-users.

What are the consequences of not taking software testing seriously?

The consequence of not taking software testing seriously is introducing unnecessary risks and costs into your software project and for your software team.

While many software bugs and defects may ultimately not have a significant impact on many users, your team may be rolling the dice with every undetected bug that is introduced into your software, if the bugs can end up affecting critical functionality within the software.

For end-users of the software in the real world, the consequences of severe software problems can have very serious impacts on product quality, like medical systems malfunctioning, financial records being exposed to the public, and severe business losses.

When real-world users are negatively affected by problems with product quality, customer satisfaction can also decline, and the reputation of your team may become damaged. Severe or frequent issues within a software project can often lead customers to stop trusting your team, and question how seriously your team values their business and the quality of the product or service you’re providing your customers with.

Furthermore, another consequence of not taking software testing seriously is the costs associated with the proliferation of bugs and the growing complexity of fixing bugs that can ensue.

Some projects lose track of software design issues and bugs to the point that subsequent bugs of higher importance emerge and it becomes harder to identify the dependencies across the issues.

This level of complexity makes it both harder to find the underlying problem and fix the issue, and can also increase the risk of introducing new bugs during the process of implementing a fix.

Finally, security is one of the most important aspects of software testing in the modern software world. These days, software applications are often connected to other applications and systems, which may, in turn, be connected to yet other applications and systems. The mesh of integrated technologies means there are more ways in and out of systems and for retrieving data, which can be exploited if not tested and protected properly.

Most people these days are familiar with the costs and consequences of undetected security exploits. Stolen intellectual property, private data exposure, and blackmail to restore locked systems or functionality are just some of the most frequent examples of problems that can arise through security vulnerabilities that are undetected due to gaps in software testing.

Types of testing: Manual software testing

Manual software testing is the process of testing the software application by hand, using a manual effort from a human interacting with the software.

Manual software testing usually involves revisiting the original goals of software change requests, such as the desired outcome of introducing a new feature, to confirm whether or not the change in the software resulted in the needed outcome.

Good manual software testers will also keep in mind the perspective of their end-users to evaluate the overall experience with the software, such as the level of technical proficiency of the end-user, their personal or professional needs, the devices they tend to use, their preferred methods of interacting with the software, and so forth.

Manual software testing can range from highly scripted, step-by-step testing instructions, to high-level direction on evaluating general functional outcomes or exploratory testing sessions.

Types of testing: Automation testing in software projects

Another common type of software testing is automation testing, which is the process of using automated tools and methods to find bugs or defects.

Usually, the process of automation testing involves using test scripts to generate results automatically, and these scripts can be run ad hoc, during software project deployment, or upon other triggers. Sometimes all tests are run, but at other times it may be more preferable to only run a targeted subset of tests.

Selenium and Katalon Studio are just a couple of the most commonly used tools for automation testing. Tools and services provided by teams like testRigor are at the forefront of the software testing world, leveraging artificial intelligence to streamline software testing automation.

Methods of testing: Static testing and dynamic testing

Static testing, also known as verification, involves checking to make sure the product is being built to meet the requirements effectively. This usually involves checking over requirements documents or files as part of planning the testing process, and can include inspections, reviews and walkthroughs, all with the aim of verifying the planned work will truly achieve the outcome needed.

On the other hand, dynamic testing is often considered the validation process of software testing, where testing checks the actually built product functionality to validate that it has indeed been developed to achieve the required outcome.

Approaches to testing: White box, black box, gray box

There are three common approaches to software testing: white box testing, black-box testing, and gray box testing.

In white-box testing, test cases are designed based on internal knowledge of the system and utilizing programming skills, as well as the internal code structure of the application. White box testing is usually performed at the unit level and is often also known as glass box testing, clear box testing, and structural testing.

Black box testing is essentially the opposite and involves testing the software without looking at the internal code. Black box testing can also be referred to as behavioral-based or specification-based input/output testing.

Gray box testing is a combination of white-box testing and black-box testing, usually using design documents as a guide while planning tests.

Levels of testing: Unit testing, integration testing, system testing, acceptance testing

Unit testing checks individual modules of the source code to see if they are working correctly and is also referred to as module testing or component testing.

Integration testing tests the connectivity or exchange of data between two modules that are unit tested. Integration testing can be implemented in a top-down approach, bottom-up approach, or sandwich approach that combines both top-down and bottom-up approaches.

System testing is also often called end-to-end testing and is black-box testing of the fully integrated application to ensure the software works in all intended target systems.

Acceptance testing is the customer or stakeholder testing of the delivered software to confirm their needs are met by the software functionality.

Black box testing: Functional testing and non-functional testing

Within black box testing, there is functional testing and non-functional testing.

Functional testing involves testing what the software system actually does, and is often done to verify that each function of the software application produces the required outcomes per the requirements originally defined.

Non-functional testing is more focused on user experience and how the system performs, such as with regards to speed, security, performance, load, stress, scalability, compatibility, and so forth.

What are software testing artifacts?

Software test artifacts are deliverables that are provided to software project stakeholders, and can occur at various phases within a software development lifecycle. Some common examples include a test plan, test cases, release notes, test data, and so forth.

How to get help with software testing

If your team needs help with software testing, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at testRigor. We’ve made software testing our speciality, developing cutting edge tools and methodologies that are at the forefront of the software testing world.

We can help make your software testing as efficient and fully covered as possible, using smart automation technology that studies real user behavior on the fly. Send us an email or give us a call today and our friendly team will be happy to help you out.