Software testing - what, why and how

Software testing - that's the buzz word in the IT industry today. I come across so many youngsters who are excited about career prospects in this field. They are excited about the number of job opportunities for skilled testers and more importantly, the high salaries. Many are willing to quit jobs in other fields

Software testing training institutes are flourishing in cities like Bangalore and Pune in India. They promise to teach Winrunner, Quicktest Pro (QTP) and Loadrunner in a month. These tools appeal to the youngsters as they are in demand and people with these skills are well paid.

What they fail to realise is that there is more to testing than the tools.

So, here's an attempt to break the hype and discuss real time situations and problems in software testing.

What is software testing

It means exactly that - testing the software before making it available for use. Compare that with what you would do before you buy a car. Do you test drive it? Do you go ahead and buy it if you think there is a problem?

No. You expect it to work to your satisfaction before you decide to buy. Same goes with software.

Why should software be tested

Software should be thoroughly tested because in some cases if the software malfunctions, it can be life threatening. Plane crashes to financial losses in millions of dollars - they have happenned when software misbehaved.

Check out the Software Hall of Shame to realise the importance of software testing.

How can software be tested

Just like when you go looking to buy a new car, you know exactly what you want which means you have made a list of requirements that the car you decide to buy should satisfy.

Similarly, the most important thing in software testing is the requirements that the software is expected to satisfy. A calculator application is expected to provide accurate calculations when you add, subtract, multiply or divide numbers.

Broadly, once the requirements are clear you can start testing. Depending on the size and complexity of the project or company, various methodologies, processes and strategies will be adopted. Fundamentally, software should be tested against well defined requirements.

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