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How to find the maximum number of bugs in software

Shreya Bose, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack -

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At its core, all software testing boils down to finding as many bugs as fast as possible. A successful tester knows how to find bugs without missing out on any major ones or causing any delays. Quick, flawless releases are the norm in the current digital world. Consequently, testers must find and establish processes that comprehensively answer the question: “How to find more bugs in software testing?”

This article takes readers through a few tactics that allow for detecting the maximum number of bugs within the smallest possible timelines.

Quick Attacks

Imagine that a tester has to quality check a system without having any requirements at hand. In the absence of formal requirements, it is challenging to create structured test scenarios. In this case, the best bet is to “attack” the system AKA causing the software to “panic” by feeding it wrong input values.

For example, leave a couple of required fields blank, disrupt UI workflows, enter numbers when users are supposed to enter words, exceed character limits, use disallowed characters, enter too many incorrect passwords – the works.

The logic behind these attacks is to perform quick analyses of software within a limited duration. They allow the tester to rapidly evaluate the nature of the software based on the error messages and bugs showing up. If multiple bugs show up, assume that there are defects in the main functionalities. Conversely, the lack of bugs with this method usually means that the happy path functionality is in decent shape.

Bear in mind that these quick attacks must be imposed in real user conditions. That means when someone is testing their software with unpredictable input and actions, they’ll have to do it in an environment that completely matches end-user conditions.

In other words, they need to run quick attacks on real browsers and devices. Otherwise, the emulator or simulator may throw up bugs that won’t show up on a real device, or not detect bugs at all, even though they appear when using the site/app on a real device-browser combination.

Run Quick Attacks on Real Devices

Set Goals for Software Quality

When a tester knows the standards to which software needs to be held, they will have a better idea of what bugs to look for. If a tester is wondering how to find bugs in websites, a good place to start is to gain clarity on what the website is expected to provide in terms of user experience. Consider the following to begin with:

  1. Just ask the QA manager if a goals document exists
  2. Do a little research to find any statements published by the organization or senior personnel on what they prioritize

Clarity on goals helps QAs device test scenarios and cases accordingly. All features and functions do not require the same measure of focus. Start by testing features that affect or matter to the largest number of users.

Test on Real Devices

The tester’s primary job is to execute tests faster without compromising on the accuracy of results. That is impossible to achieve without using real browsers and devices for testing. Whether manual testing or automated Selenium testing, real devices are non-negotiable in the testing equation. The device pool for testing must include not just the latest devices, but also older devices still active in the market. Since one can’t know which device will be used to access a website or app in a highly fragmented landscape, the more devices one can run tests on, the better.

Remember that emulators and simulators cannot provide real-world conditions for comprehensive software tests. Without real devices, it is not possible to monitor how a website or app fares in line with geolocation testing, low battery life, incoming calls, and multiple other features.

Run manual and automated tests on real browsers and devices. Start running tests on 3000+ real browsers and devices on BrowserStack’s real device cloud.

Run parallel tests on a Cloud Selenium Grid to get faster results without compromising on accuracy. Use multiple essential features – geolocation testing, accessibility testing, testing in dev environments, real-time debugging, and more – to ferret out any bugs and ensure users do not find them in the real world.

Pay attention to the test environment

Usually, testers have some time to prepare scenarios, determine timelines, and establish procedures. This time should also include an evaluation of the test infrastructure AKA the test environment. This is because flaws in the environment will cause unnecessary and entirely avoidable delays in generating test results. It can also lead to the emergence of bugs that aren’t actually caused by the software itself.

There are few things more annoying than having to deal with setup-related defects that cannot be fixed from a code perspective. Usually, the actual source of the bug is not identified immediately, thus the aforementioned delay.

Imagine the plight of a tester who finds and files a bug, but when the developer examines it, no issues can be found in the code. So, while the dev is googling “how to find bugs in code” in utter frustration, the test cannot progress, because the apparent “bug” cannot be fixed.

In the event of setup anomalies, the same test can generate different results every time. This makes it difficult to replicate the defect, which is the very definition of a developer’s nightmare.

Take the time to stabilize the test infrastructure as it goes a long way in preventing these woes.

Consider testing a website on real browsers and devices while it is still running on a development or staging environment. This is easily possible with BrowserStack’s Local Testing feature, which allows QAs to test work-in-progress mobile and web and mobile apps at scale without hosting them on public staging environments.

Use the Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle states that 20% of efforts generate 80% results and that 80% of efforts outside the necessary 20% bring much lower results. The principle was put forth by Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist who concluded that 80% of all Italian property belonged to 20% of the population. He also suggested that this statistic can be applied to multiple other areas.

In software testing, Pareto Principle can be translated to – 80% of all bugs can be found in 20% of program modules. Don’t take those numbers literally; what it means is that bugs are not distributed equally throughout the software. In fact, they tend to cluster in certain sections of the code, especially the serious defects.

To apply the Pareto Principle, try the following:

  1. Sort out bugs by causes, not effects. Instead of categorizing bugs by how they are causing the software to malfunction, categorize them by what causes them to occur. This is a cleaner method because it will highlight which module is the proverbial 20%.
  2. Communicate with developers to create new categories for bugs. Since they created the software, they would have a better understanding of its various components.
  3. Look for problem areas in the code rather than singular bugs.
  4. Take account of user feedback as they would best know which parts of the website or app are most error-prone and disruptive.

Do your Research

  1. QAs need to be familiar with the software they are testing. With adequate knowledge of how a feature is supposed to work and how it is expected to behave, it is difficult to decide what constitutes a defect.
  2. If testers are not part of technical HLD review meetings, they can still interact with developers and seek a copy of relevant documents to study particular features. Additionally, try to meet with developers to discuss product technicalities.
  3. Focus on the customers’ perspective. Think of what a customer would expect out of the software when wondering how to find bugs in apps.

Like every other aspect of software development, there are best practices that accelerate the QA process and make it more effective. So, before wondering how to find bugs in software in the middle of a test cycle, try implementing the steps detailed here.

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