Alpha Testing Vs. Beta Testing

Alpha Testing Vs. Beta Testing

Alpha testing and beta testing are types of user acceptance testing, and there is a major difference between them. This article discusses alpha testing vs. beta testing, in detail.
Before a software is released in the market, it has to pass through many quality control checks. The software should work as the user had desired it, and there should be no errors and risks involved in the developed software. Software testing is an indirect integral part of the software development process. It is a sort of investigation done to guarantee the working of developed software model. A software is developed using computer programming languages, and has huge amount of source code involved while developing it.

The 'release' of software integrates the following three phases - pre-alpha, alpha and beta. Pre-alpha phase involves activities like requirement analysis, designing, and development of the software. These activities are conducted by the developers prior to actual testing. Then comes alpha testing, alpha means one in Greek language and this is the first phase of the acceptance testing phase. After alpha testing comes beta testing, and in beta testing, the functionality of the software is evaluated by end users. What follows next is a detailed discussion on the difference between alpha testing and beta testing. But before that let's discuss in brief the testing procedure.

Overview of Software Testing

Software testing is a complex and lengthy process considering the fact that the software should be delivered to the user without any errors. Before it is released, a software undergoes various tests which are conducted by the expert testing team. The levels of software testing in progression are, unit testing, which is the most basic level of testing, then comes integration testing, which tests if the software components are properly integrated, after that comes acceptance testing. In all the prior phases of acceptance testing there is no end-user involvement in the testing procedure. Acceptance testing involves the users in the testing process, and alpha and beta testing come under acceptance testing; they are a type of acceptance testing. The aim of all these testing phases is finding errors/defects in the programmed software, and also reducing the occurrence of risks. These were the chief phases of testing that a software passes through, apart from these phases there are many other types of software testing techniques that can be used.

Alpha Testing Vs. Beta Testing

Alpha testing and beta testing, both involve users in the testing procedure. The user of the software is never interested in knowing how the software was developed or how the source code works. What matters to the user is functionality of the software. Thus in both alpha and beta testing techniques the source code is not tested, and the focus is on functionality of the software, as per user requirements. Let's now understand what is alpha and beta testing.

Alpha Testing: is conducted after all the basic testing procedures like unit testing and integration testing are completed, and it comes after system testing. It generally employs any of white box testing techniques or black box testing techniques to test the software. The system is tested for functionality by the company employees only, and it involves testing navigation, input and output mechanisms of the software, etc. Feedback is given by the users after the testing is done and the system is rectified accordingly by the developers. This is not the final version of software and certain functionality may be added to the software even after this testing.

Key points:
  • Conducted at the developer site, and the developers are present.
  • Uses white box or black box testing techniques are used for testing.
  • Does not involve outside users in the testing process.
Beta Testing: is the last phase of testing, and is conducted using black box techniques. The testing involves users and they check it for the required functionality. Sometimes the beta version is also released in the market, and based on the user feedback modifications are made or if there are no changes the software is released.

Key points:
  • Conducted at the user environment, and may or may not involve the developers of software.
  • Generally, black box techniques are used.
  • Involves external users and is sometimes released as beta version in the market.
Both alpha and beta testing are types of acceptance testing, and involve users that were not a part of the software development team. Both these techniques of testing demand accuracy on part of the tester..