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June 18, 2020

Software Testing Options That Will Improve Your Product

Testing is an essential step in software development. Every function of your app must be perfectly polished, or it might crash on your users during a sudden huge load or after your latest update. How to test your app to keep this from happening? Well, we’ll help you figure that out.

Despite the fact that software testing is as crucial as the development itself, a lot of people haven’t a clue about how it is done. Moreover, it’s easy to give up even learning about testing when you realize how many types of testing REALLY exist: manual, automated, integrated, smoke, unit, functional, agile. And all of them have their subtypes!

Well, here’s the good news. You don’t need to know everything about every type of test. Testing methods depend mostly on the product type and its main functionality. However, there are some testing options that are hard to ignore if you want your product to succeed. 

Unit tests

A unit test is a way of testing the smallest piece of code that can be isolated as an entire system – a unit – independent from the other code. In most programming languages, a unit is a function, a method, or a property. 

To some extent, a unit test is a piece of code that tests another piece of code. One of the main advantages of this method is how fast and agile it makes the development process. Since unit tests check out separate bits of code, you can easily detect and fix bugs in the new code that break the old one. Unit tests make the app more stable, facilitate changes, and simplify integrations.

On the other hand, when planning unit testing, you must be absolutely clear about the amount of unit testing required for your project. Why? Because unit tests are actually another level of code that covers the main one. So, to test all your app’s code, you would have to spend the same amount of time writing the unit tests as you spent writing the main code. 

So, do you need to create unit tests for every line of your code? It depends. Unit tests must change with the main code: If you update the code, you should rewrite unit tests too, since the old tests simply won’t work with your new functions. That creates a double load on the developers, which is not really a good thing. If you're sure your product won’t change much and your code will stay the same for a fairly long time, then covering all of it with unit tests could be truly useful. But if your code is meant to change a lot, a better way to implement unit testing would be to cover the only most important parts of the code.

Another factor that determines the necessity of unit tests is your project’s size. The smaller the scale, the fewer tests you need. For example, if you are a startup that is just entering the market or you’re writing an MVP (minimum viable product) to validate an idea, you don’t need so many unit tests and they need only cover the most crucial parts. But if you’re talking  about a huge enterprise system for internal communication that would involve a lot of users, then full coverage would truly be efficient.  

Load tests

We’ve already covered load testing and its importance for a product’s success in detail in other articles, but this type of testing is really worth mentioning one more time. 

Load testing is a type of performance testing that checks the reaction of an app to user actions under various loads. It includes several testing options, such as:

  • Stress testing that checks whether an app can deal with sudden increases in load intensity and operate beyond its normal capacity. For example, this testing would be useful for e-commerce apps that are hit by traffic peaks during sales events. 
  • Volume testing that checks an app’s ability to handle huge inputs of data or to generate and put out large amounts of data.
  • Scalability testing that tests the ability of an app to scale up or down depending on user requests. 
  • Recovery testing for checking the ability to recover when the load goes back to normal.

And many more!

Why use them? To understand whether your app can function properly beyond its everyday capacity. It may not be obvious to everyone, but even the slightest increase in the number of users can significantly slow down an app. For example, an app that can support tens of QA engineers simultaneously under testing conditions might easily crash and burn if a lot of people swarm to it after launching. That’s why the environment where your load tests take place should imitate the production environment as closely as possible. This lets you see whether your product can handle real-life situations.

Our team had a situation like this once: Our CTO had to travel to China to help test and launch software that required a high one-time load (up to 1000 users simultaneously). All those users had to perform the same action at the same time, which created the load. Our team was able to discover the bottlenecks and simplify the code so that the software worked as smoothly as possible.

Other common reasons to introduce load testing into the development process include:

  • Discovering if the app can meet its required performance rates
  • Identifying bottlenecks that may later disrupt the app’s performance
  • Ensuring the safety of user data during peak traffic and other stressors

Typically, load tests start after functional tests are finished and all the bugs are fixed, which means that the code should be working properly. Before starting with load testing, it’s a good idea to first define the performance and stability requirements. These may include the maximum response time, the number of requests the app should be able to process under the expected load, and other relevant metrics.

Load testing is a great tool to put your product in real-life situations that let you identify its performance limits and see if those limits can be pushed even further. To find out if your app lives up to the performance rates you’ve set and can withstand any future peak loads it might encounter, load testing is the way to go.

Manual tests

Even though automated testing has progressed so far that it can resolve nearly any problem that can happen with code, 100 percent automation is just not possible. Some situations still require manual intervention. Manual testing is a process where a special person – a QA engineer – plays the role of the end-user, using most of the app’s features and trying to understand whether all aspects of the product work correctly. It’s best for developers not to test their own code, since they might miss something important or unintentionally ignore alternative ways a user might implement a function.

Testers typically follow a written test plan that leads them through a set of important test cases. Each case is a scenario for one test of an individual process that has its own specifications and expected results. 

Manual tests also have several types, such as:

  • Regression testing - These tests are executed to confirm that a recent code change has not affected any existing features. Basically, it’s a battery of already executed test cases which are re-executed to ensure everything still works fine.
  • Smoke testing, or Build Verification testing – This type of testing aims to ensure that key parts of the code work flawlessly. The results here will decide if a build is stable enough to proceed with further testing.
  • Integration testing – This level of testing combines individual units and tests them as a group. The purpose here is to find errors in the interaction between integrated units.

To sum up

Software testing is an absolutely essential step in your product development. A well-built strategy employing tests like those above will make your app work as flawlessly as it can. The app won’t crash and your users will be completely satisfied.

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