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Software Testing Strategies and Approaches

Shreya Bose, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack -

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When venturing into a software testing project, there are two major categories that need to be considered: strategy and investment. Needless to say, strategy comes first. Without knowing what techniques and tools are needed to comprehensively test a website or app, it is not possible to determine how much investment the project will require.

The first step to determining strategy is to have a clear idea of the most effective and commonly employed software testing strategies. Certain tests require a close understanding of code and the relevant system being run, others don’t. Certain tests have to be executed manually, while others can be safely automated. Obviously, different software testing strategies require different levels of technical skill, knowledge, and tools.

This article will discuss a list of software testing strategies, attempting to help readers with deciding which ones best suit the needs of the software under test.

1. Static Testing Strategy

A static test evaluates the quality of a system without actually running the system. While that may seem impossible, it can be accomplished in a few ways.

The static test looks at portions of or elements related to the system in order to detect problems as early as possible. For example, developers review their code after writing and before pushing it. This is called desk-checking, a form of static testing. Another example of a static test would be a review meeting held for the purpose of evaluating requirements, design, and code.

Static tests offer a decided advantage: If a problem is detected in the requirements before it develops into a bug in the system, it will save time and money. If a preliminary code review leads to bug detection, it saves the trouble of building, installing, and running a system to find and fix the bug.

It is possible to perform automated static tests with the right tools. C programmers can use the lint program to identify potential bugs while Java users can utilize JTest to check their scripts against a coding standard.

Static tests must be performed at the right time. For example, if requirements are reviewed after developers have finished coding the entire software it can help testers design test cases. But testers cannot detect bugs in already written code without running the system, thus defeating the purpose of static tests. In this case, the code must be reviewed by individual developers as soon as it is created, and before it is integrated.

Also Read: 5 Types of Bugs in UI Testing

Additionally, static tests must be run not just by technical personnel, but other stakeholders. Business domain experts must review requirements, system architects must review design, and so on. Testers’ feedback is also imperative since they are trained to spot inconsistencies, missing details, vague functionality, etc.

2. Structural Testing Strategy

While static tests are quite useful, they are not adequate. The software needs to be operated on real devices, and the system has to be run in its entirety to find all bugs. Structural tests are among the most important of these tests.

Structural tests are designed on the basis of the software structure. They can also be called white-box tests because they are run by testers with thorough knowledge of the software as well as the devices and systems it is functioning on. Structural tests are most often run on individual components and interfaces in order to identify localized errors in data flows.

A good example of this would be using reusable, automated test harnesses for the system being tested. With this harness in place, coders can create structural test cases for components right after they have written the code for each component. Then, they register the tests into the source code repository along with the main component during integration. A well-crafted test harness will run the tests every time new code is added, thus serving as a regression test suite.

Since creating structural tests require a thorough understanding of the software being tested, it is best that they are executed by developers or highly skilled testers. In the best-case scenario, developers and testers work in tandem to set up test harnesses and run them at regular intervals. Testers are especially helpful when it comes to developing reusable and shareable test scripts and cases, which cut down on time and effort in the long run.

3. Behavioral Testing Strategy

Behavioral Testing focuses on how a system acts rather than the mechanism behind its functions. It focuses on workflows, configurations, performance, and all elements of the user journey. The point of these tests, often called “black box” tests, is to test a website or app from the perspective of an end-user.

Behavioral testing must cover multiple user profiles as well as usage scenarios. Most of these tests focus on fully integrated systems rather than individual components. This is because it is possible to effectively gauge system behavior from a user’s eyes, only after it has been assembled and integrated to a significant extent.

Behavioral tests are most frequently run manually, though some of them can be automated. Manual testing requires careful planning, design, and meticulous checking of results to detect what goes wrong. Skilled manual testers are known for being able to follow a trail of bugs and ascertain their effect on user experience.

Automation testing helps primarily to run repetitive actions, such as regression tests which check that new code has not disrupted already existing features that are working well. For example, a website needs to be tested by filling 50 fields in a form. Now this action needs to be repeated with multiple sets of values. Obviously, it is smarter to let a machine handle this rather than risk wasting time, human effort, and human error.

Behavioral testing does require some understanding of the system’s technicality. Testers need some measure of insight into the business side of the software, especially with regard to what target users want. In order to plan test scenarios, they must know what users are likely to do once they access a website or app.

What to consider when choosing a software testing strategy?

A strategic approach to software testing must take the following into account:

  • Risks: Consider the risks during testing. Is there a possibility that tests will disrupt software function? For example, if an app is already established in the digital market, tests for new features or updates can put the app at risk of a crash or scramble some features. In this case, testers may need to look into regression-averse strategies.
  • Objectives: Is the testing strategy satisfying all the requirements and needs of the stakeholders? Tests shouldn’t just gauge if all software features are functioning as expected, but also if they meet the business requirements and truly benefit the users.
  • Regulations: Does the software being tested meet all regulations related to its industry (and the digital sphere)? Usually, the same app or website will be subject to different regulations in different geographical regions. Testers must be knowledgeable about local regulations so that the software does not inadvertently end up breaking the law.

The role of Real Devices: An Accurate Software Testing Approach

The point of all software testing is to identify bugs. Testers must be perfectly clear on how frequently a bug occurs and how it affects the software.

The best way to detect all bugs is to run software through real devices and browsers. When it comes to a website, ensure that it is under the purview of both manual testing and automation testing. Automated Selenium testing should supplement manual tests so that testers do not miss any bugs in the Quality Assurance process.

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Websites must also be put through extensive cross browser testing so that they function consistently, regardless of the browser they are being accessed by. Using browsers installed on real devices is the only way to guarantee cross-browser compatibility and not alienate users of any browser.

The best option is to opt for a cloud-based testing service that provides real device browsers and operating systems. BrowserStack offers 2000+ real browsers and devices for manual and automated testing. Users can sign up for free, log in, choose desired device-browser-OS combinations and start testing.

The same applies to apps. BrowserStack offers real devices for mobile app testing and automated app testing. Simply upload the app to the required device-OS combination and check to see how it functions in the real world.

Additionally, BrowserStack offers a wide range of debugging tools that make it easy to share and resolve bugs. This includes text and video logs to identify exactly where and why a test failed, thus letting testers zero in on what issue to work on.

A clear comprehension of test automation strategy is essential to building test suites, scripts and timelines that offer fast and accurate results. This is equally true for manual tests. Don’t start testing without knowing what techniques to use, what approach to follow and how the software is expected to perform. The information in this article intends to provide a starting point for building constructive testing plans, by detailing what strategies exist for testers to explore in the first place.

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