Home > Software Testing FAQ Part1 > Software Testing FAQ Part1

Software Testing FAQ Part1

Q: What is software quality assurance?

Software Quality Assurance (SWQA) it is oriented to *prevention*. It involves the entire software development process. Prevention is monitoring and improving the process, making sure any agreed-upon standards and procedures are followed and ensuring problems are found and dealt with. Software Testing, when performed by Rob Davis, is also oriented to *detection*. Testing involves the operation of a system or application under controlled conditions and evaluating the results. Organizations vary considerably in how they assign responsibility for QA and testing. Sometimes they are the combined responsibility of one group or individual. Also common are project teams, which include a mix of test engineers, testers and developers who work closely together, with overall QA processes monitored by project managers. It depends on what best fits your organization’s size and business structure. Rob Davis can provide QA and/or SWQA. This document details some aspects of how he can provide software testing/QA service.

Q: What is quality assurance?

Quality Assurance ensures all parties concerned with the project adhere to the process and procedures, standards and templates and test readiness reviews. Rob Davis’ QA service depends on the customers and projects. A lot will depend on team leads or managers, feedback to developers and communications among customers, managers, developers’ test engineers and testers.

Q: Processes and procedures – why follow them?

Detailed and well-written processes and procedures ensure the correct steps are being executed to facilitate a successful completion of a task. They also ensure a process is repeatable. Once Rob Davis has learned and reviewed customer’s business processes and procedures, he will follow them. He will also recommend improvements and/or additions.

Q: Standards and templates – what is supposed to be in a document?

All documents should be written to a certain standard and template. Standards and templates maintain document uniformity. It also helps in learning where information is located, making it easier for a user to find what they want. Lastly, with standards and templates, information will not be accidentally omitted from a document. Once Rob Davis has learned and reviewed your standards and templates, he will use them. He will also recommend improvements and/or additions.

Q: What are the different levels of testing?

Rob Davis has expertise in testing at all testing levels listed in the these FAQs. At each test level, he documents the results. Each level of testing is either considered black or white box testing.

Q: What is black box testing?

Black box testing is functional testing, not based on any knowledge of internal software design or code. Black box testing is based on requirements and functionality.

Q: What is white box testing?

White box testing is based on knowledge of the internal logic of an application’s code. Tests are based on coverage of code statements, branches, paths and conditions.

Q: What is unit testing?

Unit testing is the first level of dynamic testing and is first the responsibility of developers and then that of the test engineers. Unit testing is performed after the expected test results are met or differences are explainable/acceptable.

Q: What is parallel/audit testing?

Parallel/audit testing is testing where the user reconciles the output of the new system to the output of the current system to verify the new system performs the operations correctly.

Q: What is functional testing?

Functional testing is black-box type of testing geared to functional requirements of an application. Test engineers should perform functional testing.

Q: What is usability testing?

Usability testing is testing for ‘user-friendliness’. Clearly this is subjective and depends on the targeted end-user or customer. User interviews, surveys, video recording of user sessions and other techniques can be used. Test engineers are needed, because programmers and developers are usually not appropriate as usability testers.

Q: What is incremental integration testing?

Incremental integration testing is continuous testing of an application as new functionality is recommended. This may require that various aspects of an application’s functionality are independent enough to work separately, before all parts of the program are completed, or that test drivers are developed as needed. This type of testing may be performed by programmers, software engineers, or test engineers.

Q: What is integration testing?

Upon completion of unit testing, integration testing begins. Integration testing is black box testing. The purpose of integration testing is to ensure distinct components of the application still work in accordance to customer requirements. Test cases are developed with the express purpose of exercising the interfaces between the components. This activity is carried out by the test team. Integration testing is considered complete, when actual results and expected results are either in line or differences are explainable/acceptable based on client input.

Q: What is system testing?

System testing is black box testing, performed by the Test Team, and at the start of the system testing the complete system is configured in a controlled environment. The purpose of system testing is to validate an application’s accuracy and completeness in performing the functions as designed. System testing simulates real life scenarios that occur in a “simulated real life” test environment and test all functions of the system that are required in real life. System testing is deemed complete when actual results and expected results are either in line or differences are explainable or acceptable, based on client input. Upon completion of integration testing, system testing is started. Before system testing, all unit and integration test results are reviewed by SWQA to ensure all problems have been resolved. For a higher level of testing it is important to understand unresolved problems that originate at unit and integration test levels.

Q: What is end-to-end testing?

End-to-end testing is similar to system testing, the *macro* end of the test scale; it is the testing a complete application in a situation that mimics real life use, such as interacting with a database, using network communication, or interacting with other hardware, application, or system.

Q: What is regression testing?

The objective of regression testing is to ensure the software remains intact. A baseline set of data and scripts is maintained and executed to verify that changes introduced during the release have not “undone” any previous code. Expected results from the baseline are compared to results of the software under test. All discrepancies are highlighted and accounted for, before testing proceeds to the next level.

Q: What is sanity testing?

Sanity testing is a cursory testing; it is performed whenever a cursory testing is sufficient to prove the application is functioning according to specifications. This level of testing is a subset of regression testing. It normally includes a set of core tests of basic GUI functionality to demonstrate connectivity to the database, application servers, printers, etc.

Q: What is performance testing?

Performance testing verifies loads, volumes and response times, as defined by requirements. Although performance testing is a part of system testing, it can be regarded as a distinct level of testing.

Q: What is load testing?

Load testing is testing an application under heavy loads, such as the testing of a web site under a range of loads to determine at what point the system response time will degrade or fail.

Q: What is installation testing?

Installation testing is the testing of a full, partial, or upgrade install/uninstall process. The installation test is conducted with the objective of demonstrating production readiness. This test includes the inventory of configuration items, performed by the application’s System Administration, the evaluation of data readiness, and dynamic tests focused on basic system functionality. Following installation testing, a sanity test is performed when necessary.

Q: What is security/penetration testing?

Security/penetration testing is testing how well the system is protected against unauthorized internal or external access, or willful damage. This type of testing usually requires sophisticated testing techniques.

Q: What is recovery/error testing?

Recovery/error testing is testing how well a system recovers from crashes, hardware failures, or other catastrophic problems.

Q: What is compatibility testing?

Compatibility testing is testing how well software performs in a particular hardware, software, operating system, or network environment.

Q: What is comparison testing?

Comparison testing is testing that compares software weaknesses and strengths to those of competitors’ products.

Q: What is acceptance testing?

Acceptance testing is black box testing that gives the client/customer/project manager the opportunity to verify the system functionality and usability prior to the system being released to production. The acceptance test is the responsibility of the client/customer or project manager, however, it is conducted with the full support of the project team. The test team also works with the client/customer/project manager to develop the acceptance criteria.

Q: What is alpha testing?

Alpha testing is testing of an application when development is nearing completion. Minor design changes can still be made as a result of alpha testing. Alpha testing is typically performed by end-users or others, not programmers, software engineers, or test engineers.

Q: What is beta testing?

Beta testing is testing an application when development and testing are essentially completed and final bugs and problems need to be found before the final release. Beta testing is typically performed by end-users or others, not programmers, software engineers, or test engineers.

Q: What testing roles are standard on most testing projects?

Depending on the organization, the following roles are more or less standard on most testing projects: Testers, Test Engineers, Test/QA Team Lead, Test/QA Manager, System Administrator, Database Administrator, Technical Analyst, Test Build Manager and Test Configuration Manager. Depending on the project, one person may wear more than one hat. For instance, Test Engineers may also wear the hat of Technical Analyst, Test Build Manager and Test Configuration Manager.

Q: What is a Test/QA Team Lead?

The Test/QA Team Lead coordinates the testing activity, communicates testing status to management and manages the test team.

Q: What is a Test Engineer?

A Test Engineer is an engineer who specializes in testing. Test engineers create test cases, procedures, scripts and generate data. They execute test procedures and scripts, analyze standards of measurements, evaluate results of system/integration/regression testing. They also… Speed up the work of your development staff; Reduce your risk of legal liability; Give you the evidence that your software is correct and operates properly; Improve problem tracking and reporting; Maximize the value of your software; Maximize the value of the devices that use it; Assure the successful launch of your product by discovering bugs and design flaws, before users get discouraged, before shareholders loose their cool and before employees get bogged down; Help the work of your development staff, so the development team can devote its time to build up your product; Promote continual improvement; Provide documentation required by FDA, FAA, other regulatory agencies and your customers; Save money by discovering defects ‘early’ in the design process, before failures occur in production, or in the field; Save the reputation of your company by discovering bugs and design flaws; before bugs and design flaws damage the reputation of your company.

Q: What is a Test Build Manager?

Test Build Managers deliver current software versions to the test environment, install the application’s software and apply software patches, to both the application and the operating system, set-up, maintain and back up test environment hardware. Depending on the project, one person may wear more than one hat. For instance, a Test Engineer may also wear the hat of a Test Build Manager.

Q: What is a System Administrator?

Test Build Managers, System Administrators, Database Administrators deliver current software versions to the test environment, install the application’s software and apply software patches, to both the application and the operating system, set-up, maintain and back up test environment hardware. Depending on the project, one person may wear more than one hat. For instance, a Test Engineer may also wear the hat of a System Administrator.

Q: What is a Database Administrator?

Database Administrators, Test Build Managers, and System Administrators deliver current software versions to the test environment, install the application’s software and apply software patches, to both the application and the operating system, set-up, maintain and back up test environment hardware. Depending on the project, one person may wear more than one hat. For instance, a Test Engineer may also wear the hat of a Database Administrator.

Q: What is a Technical Analyst?

Technical Analysts perform test assessments and validate system/functional test requirements. Depending on the project, one person may wear more than one hat. For instance, Test Engineers may also wear the hat of a Technical Analyst.

Q: What is a Test Configuration Manager?

Test Configuration Managers maintain test environments, scripts, software and test data. Depending on the project, one person may wear more than one hat. For instance, Test Engineers may also wear the hat of a Test Configuration Manager.

Q: What is a test schedule?

The test schedule is a schedule that identifies all tasks required for a successful testing effort, a schedule of all test activities and resource requirements.

Q: What is software testing methodology?

One software testing methodology is a three step process of… 1.      Creating a test strategy; 2.      Creating a test plan/design; and 3.      Executing tests. This methodology can be used and molded to your organization’s needs. Rob Davis believes that using this methodology is important in the development and ongoing maintenance of his customers’ applications.

Q: What is the general testing process?

The general testing process is the creation of a test strategy (which sometimes includes the creation of test cases), creation of a test plan/design (which usually includes test cases and test procedures) and the execution of tests.

Q: How do you create a test strategy?

The test strategy is a formal description of how a software product will be tested. A test strategy is developed for all levels of testing, as required. The test team analyzes the requirements, writes the test strategy and reviews the plan with the project team. The test plan may include test cases, conditions, the test environment, a list of related tasks, pass/fail criteria and risk assessment. Inputs for this process: A description of the required hardware and software components, including test tools. This information comes from the test environment, including test tool data. A description of roles and responsibilities of the resources required for the test and schedule constraints. This information comes from man-hours and schedules. Testing methodology. This is based on known standards. Functional and technical requirements of the application. This information comes from requirements, change request, technical and functional design documents. Requirements that the system can not provide, e.g. system limitations. Outputs for this process:  An approved and signed off test strategy document, test plan, including test cases. Testing issues requiring resolution. Usually this requires additional negotiation at the project management level.

Q: How do you create a test plan/design?

 Test scenarios and/or cases are prepared by reviewing functional requirements of the release and preparing logical groups of functions that can be further broken into test procedures. Test procedures define test conditions, data to be used for testing and expected results, including database updates, file outputs, report results. Generally speaking… Test cases and scenarios are designed to represent both typical and unusual situations that may occur in the application. Test engineers define unit test requirements and unit test cases. Test engineers also execute unit test cases. It is the test team who, with assistance of developers and clients, develops test cases and scenarios for integration and system testing. Test scenarios are executed through the use of test procedures or scripts. Test procedures or scripts define a series of steps necessary to perform one or more test scenarios. Test procedures or scripts include the specific data that will be used for testing the process or transaction. Test procedures or scripts may cover multiple test scenarios. Test scripts are mapped back to the requirements and traceability matrices are used to ensure each test is within scope. Test data is captured and base lined, prior to testing. This data serves as the foundation for unit and system testing and used to exercise system functionality in a controlled environment. Some output data is also base-lined for future comparison. Base-lined data is used to support future application maintenance via regression testing. A pre-test meeting is held to assess the readiness of the application and the environment and data to be tested. A test readiness document is created to indicate the status of the entrance criteria of the release. Inputs for this process: Approved Test Strategy Document. Test tools, or automated test tools, if applicable. Previously developed scripts, if applicable. Test documentation problems uncovered as a result of testing. A good understanding of software complexity and module path coverage, derived from general and detailed design documents, e.g. software design document, source code and software complexity data Outputs for this process:  Approved documents of test scenarios, test cases, test conditions and test data. Reports of software design issues, given to software developers for correction.

Q: How do you execute tests?

 Execution of tests is completed by following the test documents in a methodical manner. As each test procedure is performed, an entry is recorded in a test execution log to note the execution of the procedure and whether or not the test procedure uncovered any defects. Checkpoint meetings are held throughout the execution phase. Checkpoint meetings are held daily, if required, to address and discuss testing issues, status and activities. The output from the execution of test procedures is known as test results. Test results are evaluated by test engineers to determine whether the expected results have been obtained. All discrepancies/anomalies are logged and discussed with the software team lead, hardware test lead, programmers, software engineers and documented for further investigation and resolution. Every company has a different process for logging and reporting bugs/defects uncovered during testing. A pass/fail criteria is used to determine the severity of a problem, and results are recorded in a test summary report. The severity of a problem, found during system testing, is defined in accordance to the customer’s risk assessment and recorded in their selected tracking tool. Proposed fixes are delivered to the testing environment, based on the severity of the problem. Fixes are regression tested and flawless fixes are migrated to a new baseline. Following completion of the test, members of the test team prepare a summary report. The summary report is reviewed by the Project Manager, Software QA (SWQA) Manager and/or Test Team Lead. After a particular level of testing has been certified, it is the responsibility of the Configuration Manager to coordinate the migration of the release software components to the next test level, as documented in the Configuration Management Plan. The software is only migrated to the production environment after the Project Manager’s formal acceptance. The test team reviews test document problems identified during testing, and update documents where appropriate. Inputs for this process:  Approved test documents, e.g. Test Plan, Test Cases, Test Procedures. Test tools, including automated test tools, if applicable. Developed scripts. Changes to the design, i.e. Change Request Documents. Test data. Availability of the test team and project team. General and Detailed Design Documents, i.e. Requirements Document, Software Design Document. A software that has been migrated to the test environment, i.e. unit tested code, via the Configuration/Build Manager. Test Readiness Document. Document Updates. Outputs for this process:  Log and summary of the test results. Usually this is part of the Test Report. This needs to be approved and signed-off with revised testing deliverables. Changes to the code, also known as test fixes. Test document problems uncovered as a result of testing. Examples are Requirements document and Design Document problems. Reports on software design issues, given to software developers for correction. Examples are bug reports on code issues. Formal record of test incidents, usually part of problem tracking. Base-lined package, also known as tested source and object code, ready for migration to the next level.  

  1. March 29, 2010 at 4:37 am

    Chunking out a project can help you focus on certain areas to be completed and organize the tasks and activities into workgroups. These workgroups or phases can be a more effective approach in managing the entire project.

    Some of the standard project phases can include:

    1. Kickoff
    2. Discovery
    3. Scope definition
    4. Development
    5. Unit Testing
    6. QA Testing
    7. User Testing
    8. Migration to Production

    The phases listed above represent standard project phases that can be used for different implementations.The list can be expanded or broken down even further, depending on the type of project and the type of project you are managing. Slicing up a project into phases is a sound approach that keeps the overall project running smoothly.


  2. November 19, 2010 at 8:21 am


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