In 2019, the value of the global software testing market exceeded $40 billion, and the outbreak of a pandemic in 2020 has not reduced the demand for testers at all. On the contrary! According to Devire, the last two years have brought up to 15% more job offers and up to 30% higher salaries. All thanks to the accelerated digital transformation. Massively emerging systems and applications require testing, especially as they become more complex, with more functions and data that must remain under tight control.

What are software tests?

Software testing is the process by which we verify that the results we have assumed against the software we are developing are reflected in reality. In other words, we look for bugs, gaps, deficiencies, non-functioning features or other defects that can negatively affect the end result, as well as cause software security problems.

An additional advantage of testing is the ability to detect whether the implemented project conforms to the customer’s expectations – the process helps to discover inaccuracies against the assumed specification. In addition, not always the initially defined requirements for software, work out in reality. This also comes out during testing, making it possible to make changes even in the early stages of programming, so that the future user of the system can use it freely. In short: testing makes the developed software secure and functional.

Why is it important to test?

Businesses that first go for a dedicated software service sometimes don’t understand why testing is so important, so frequently, and how much of a difference it makes to an IT project. Testing is additional time and cost, but we can guarantee that without it, the project will ultimately be much more expensive and less effective. Errors always occur. It’s just that by forgoing the implementation of software testing, we will find out about them “live”.

The testers will become the users of the application (employees, contractors, customers) and we will pay double for all the shortcomings and their repair in the finished software. At the very least! Not to mention the losses due to customer dissatisfaction, resulting security incidents and loss of trust.

Any person with experience in software development realizes that testing is:

  • Detecting errors, mistakes and shortcomings of the software being developed, even before the software reaches its intended recipient;
  • Reducing application maintenance costs (fewer repairs and changes in the future);
  • Reducing the risk of failure, and therefore potential financial losses as a result of a software outage or security incident;
  • Cleaner application code, and thus simpler and more efficient downstream development;
  • High-quality end result in the form of an efficient and secure digital product, software or application.

Types of software testing

In the most basic terms, we can divide testing into manual testing and automated testing.

Manual tests

A specially trained employee, or tester, is responsible for testing software. He uses his knowledge, practice, experience and tools to effectively test the quality and performance of the software under test. He runs one test scenario at a time.

Automatic testing

Automated testing is carried out by a machine, although it executes commands according to a pre-developed script. Test scenarios are prepared by an automation tester in the programming language of choice, and then run using tools such as Catalon, Selenium or Protractor, for example.

Automated tests are faster and often more accurate than manual tests, but not completely devoid of human labor. They have many advantages over manual tests:

  • They save time and speed up the whole process. A machine, unlike a human, can work 24/7.
  • They detect errors that escape humans. Testing is largely an iterative process. Even the best specialist can feel fatigue performing the same testing scenario over and over again. Fatigue, coupled with the “bearing” of the code, is an easy way to miss many bugs.
  • Sometimes test automation is the only way out. Large applications designed for multi-user use (e.g., software for banks) are virtually impossible to test manually. The effort would overburden the project, and the risk of errors would be too high.

Test automation can also save money, provided we are talking about a larger project. All processes that lend themselves to automation begin to pay dividends in the long run. However, automation itself also costs money, so it won’t necessarily work in small and fast projects.

Automation does not answer all problems. Despite the increasing intelligence of machines, automated tests still have to be designed by humans first. The human factor also appears wherever new functionality, design, user-friendliness or intuitiveness of solutions must be evaluated.

Testing in the cloud

All the latest solutions and applications are moving to the cloud first, and owners of older systems are looking for ways to migrate successfully. The same is true for testing – increasingly, standard test benches are moving to the virtual world.

The vast capabilities of cloud computing bring many benefits to testers and the companies that employ them. These include not only convenient access to testing environments via a browser, but above all easier replication of client environments, more efficient load testing, server-level automation, lower infrastructure price (no need to maintain licenses), simpler environment configuration or resource scalability.

To test or not to test?

As you can see, software testing is a necessary thing. Without it, the created solutions are exposed to numerous errors and irregularities. Even the most experienced programmers can overlook something, and a standard custom software development project is a very complex process, with several or a dozen people working on it as standard. It is virtually impossible to predict all scenarios and user actions in advance, so testing (both manual and automatic) is an indispensable part of any IT project.

If you have liked the content of this article, do not forget to review the original sources for further documentation:

  • James A. Whittaker, What is software testing? And why is it so hard? IEEE Software (No. 1), 2000, 70–79.
  • James A. Whittaker, How To Break Software: A Practical Guide To Testing. Addison-Wesley, 2003 (ISBN 0-201-79619-8).

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