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Testing process

Traditional waterfall development model

A common practice of software testing is that testing is performed by an independent group of testers after the functionality is developed, before it is shipped to the customer. This practice often results in the testing phase being used as a project buffer to compensate for project delays, thereby compromising the time devoted to testing.

Another practice is to start software testing at the same moment the project starts and it is a continuous process until the project finishes

Agile or Extreme development model

In contrast, some emerging software disciplines such as extreme programming and the agile software development movement, adhere to a “test-driven software development” model. In this process, unit tests are written first, by the software engineers (often with pair programming in the extreme programming methodology). Of course these tests fail initially; as they are expected to. Then as code is written it passes incrementally larger portions of the test suites. The test suites are continuously updated as new failure conditions and corner cases are discovered, and they are integrated with any regression tests that are developed. Unit tests are maintained along with the rest of the software source code and generally integrated into the build process (with inherently interactive tests being relegated to a partially manual build acceptance process). The ultimate goal of this test process is to achieve continuous integration where software updates can be published to the public frequently. 

This methodology increases the testing effort done by development, before reaching any formal testing team. In some other development models, most of the test execution occurs after the requirements have been defined and the coding process has been completed.

Top-down and bottom-up

Bottom Up Testing is an approach to integrated testing where the lowest level components (modules, procedures, and functions) are tested first, then integrated and used to facilitate the testing of higher level components. After the integration testing of lower level integrated modules, the next level of modules will be formed and can be used for integration testing. The process is repeated until the components at the top of the hierarchy are tested. This approach is helpful only when all or most of the modules of the same development level are ready.This method also helps to determine the levels of software developed and makes it easier to report testing progress in the form of a percentage.

Top Down Testing is an approach to integrated testing where the top integrated modules are tested and the branch of the module is tested step by step until the end of the related module.

In both, method stubs and drivers are used to stand-in for missing components and are replaced as the levels are completed.

A sample testing cycle

Although variations exist between organizations, there is a typical cycle for testing. The sample below is common among organizations employing the Waterfall development model. The same practices are commonly found in other development models, but might not be as clear or explicit.

  • Requirements analysis: Testing should begin in the requirements phase of the software development life cycle. During the design phase, testers work to determine what aspects of a design are testable and with what parameters those tests work.
  • Test planning: Test strategy, test plan, testbed creation. Since many activities will be carried out during testing, a plan is needed.
  • Test development: Test procedures, test scenarios, test cases, test datasets, test scripts to use in testing software.
  • Test execution: Testers execute the software based on the plans and test documents then report any errors found to the development team.
  • Test reporting: Once testing is completed, testers generate metrics and make final reports on their test effort and whether or not the software tested is ready for release.
  • Test result analysis: Or Defect Analysis, is done by the development team usually along with the client, in order to decide what defects should be assigned, fixed, rejected (i.e. found software working properly) or deferred to be dealt with later.
  • Defect Retesting: Once a defect has been dealt with by the development team, it is retested by the testing team. AKA Resolution testing.
  • Regression testing: It is common to have a small test program built of a subset of tests, for each integration of new, modified, or fixed software, in order to ensure that the latest delivery has not ruined anything, and that the software product as a whole is still working correctly.
  • Test Closure: Once the test meets the exit criteria, the activities such as capturing the key outputs, lessons learned, results, logs, documents related to the project are archived and used as a reference for future projects.
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