Software Quality Assurance

We are in the era of perfection where the smallest quality lapse is not tolerated. Everyone believes in Total Quality Assurance in the IT industry. The most difficult part of any successful software launch is Software Quality Assurance.

 Software Quality Assurance
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Software Quality Assurance

Software Quality Assurance

Software Quality Assurance involves the entire software development process - monitoring and improving the process, making sure that any agreed-upon standards and procedures are followed, and ensuring that problems are found and dealt with. Testing involves an operation of a system or application under controlled conditions and evaluating the results.

Does every software project need testers?
While all projects will benefit from testing, some projects may not require independent test staff to succeed.

Which projects may not need independent test staff?
Depends on the size and context of the project, the risks, the development methodology, the skill and experience of the developers, and other factors.

Why does software have bugs?
miscommunication or no communication, software complexity , programming errors - programmers, like anyone else, can make mistakes, changing requirements, time pressures, software development tools.

What is verification and validation?
Verification typically involves reviews and meetings to evaluate documents, plans, code, requirements, and specifications. This can be done with checklists, issues lists, walkthroughs, and inspection meetings. Validation typically involves actual testing and takes place after verifications are completed.

What kinds of testing should be considered?

  • Black box testing - not based on any knowledge of internal design or code. Tests are based on requirements and functionality.
  • White box testing - based on knowledge of the internal logic of an application's code. Tests are based on coverage of code statements, branches, paths, conditions.
  • Unit testing - the most 'micro' scale of testing; to test particular functions or code modules. Typically done by the programmer and not by testers, as it requires detailed knowledge of the internal program design and code. Not always easily done unless the application has a well-designed architecture with tight code; may require developing test driver modules or test harnesses.
  • Incremental integration testing - continuous testing of an application as new functionality is added; requires that various aspects of an application's functionality be independent enough to work separately before all parts of the program are completed, or that test drivers be developed as needed; done by programmers or by testers.
  • Integration testing - testing of combined parts of an application to determine if they function together correctly. The 'parts' can be code modules, individual applications, client and server applications on a network, etc. This type of testing is especially relevant to client/server and distributed systems.
  • Functional testing - black-box type testing geared to functional requirements of an application; this type of testing should be done by testers. This doesn't mean that the programmers shouldn't check that their code works before releasing it (which of course applies to any stage of testing.)
  • System testing - black-box type testing that is based on overall requirements specifications; covers all combined parts of a system.
  • End-to-End testing - similar to system testing; the 'macro' end of the test scale; involves testing of a complete application environment in a situation that mimics real-world use, such as interacting with a database, using network communications, or interacting with other hardware, applications, or systems if appropriate.
  • Regression testing - re-testing after fixes or modifications of the software or its environment. It can be difficult to determine how much re-testing is needed, especially near the end of the development cycle. Automated testing approaches can be especially useful for this type of testing.
  • Sanity testing or smoke testing - typically an initial testing effort to determine if a new software version is performing well enough to accept it for a major testing effort. For example, if the new software is crashing systems every 5 minutes, bogging down systems to a crawl, or corrupting databases, the software may not be in a 'sane' enough condition to warrant further testing in its current state.
  • Acceptance testing - final testing based on specifications of the end-user or customer, or based on use by end-users/customers over some limited period of time.
  • Security testing - testing how well the system protects against unauthorized internal or external access, willful damage, etc; may require sophisticated testing techniques.
  • Ad-hoc testing - similar to exploratory testing, but often taken to mean that the testers have significant understanding of the software before testing it.
  • Stress testing - term often used interchangeably with 'load' and 'performance' testing. Also used to describe such tests as system functional testing while under unusually heavy loads, heavy repetition of certain actions or inputs, input of large numerical values, large complex queries to a database system, etc.
  • User acceptance testing - determining if software is satisfactory to an end-user or customer.
  • Beta testing - testing when development and testing are essentially completed and final bugs and problems need to be found before final release. Typically done by end-users or others, not by programmers or testers.

What are 5 common problems in the software development process?

  • Poor requirements - if requirements are unclear, incomplete, too general, and not testable, there may be problems.
  • Unrealistic schedule - if too much work is crammed in too little time, problems are inevitable.
  • Inadequate testing - no one will know whether or not the software is any good until customers complain or systems crash.
  • Featuritis - requests to add on new features after development goals are agreed on.
  • Miscommunication - if developers don't know what's needed or customer's have erroneous expectations, problems can be expected.

What are 5 common solutions to software development problems?

  • Solid requirements - clear, complete, detailed, cohesive, attainable, testable requirements that are agreed to by all players. In 'agile'-type environments, continuous close coordination with customers/end-users is necessary to ensure that changing/emerging requirements are understood.
  • Realistic schedules - allow adequate time for planning, design, testing, bug fixing, re-testing, changes, and documentation; personnel should be able to complete the project without burning out.
  • Adequate testing - start testing early on, re-test after fixes or changes, plan for adequate time for testing and bug-fixing. 'Early' testing could include static code analysis/testing, test-first development, unit testing by developers, built-in testing and diagnostic capabilities, automated post-build testing, etc.
  • Stick to initial requirements where feasible - requests to add on new features after development goals are agreed on.
  • Communication - require walkthroughs and inspections when appropriate; make extensive use of group communication tools - groupware, wiki's, bug-tracking tools and change management tools, intranet capabilities, etc.; ensure that information/documentation is available and up-to-date - preferably electronic, not paper; promote teamwork and cooperation; use prototypes and/or continuous communication with end-users if possible to clarify expectations.