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Learning the Basics of Software Testing

Learning the Basics of Software Testing

Software testing is one of the most important parts of the overall software development cycle, that contributes to the creation of a perfected final product. In this article, you will find an overview of how to go about learning the basics of software testing, as a new entrant to this field.
Omkar Phatak
To meet the real world requirements that it's designed for, any product needs to be thoroughly tested for functionality and performance, before it's launched. Be it any field of industry, 'Testing' is the most important part of any product development life cycle. In the software development industry, testing of a developed program is one of the most crucial steps that provide quality assurance and produces a finished product that is ready for real world application.

There are companies that specialize in purely providing testing services and other major software companies have a major testing arm devoted for the purpose. This requirement has created big opportunities for people who are interested in being a part of the IT industry. If you aspire to enter this field, it's essential that you have a road map for learning the basics of software testing, that is provided in the following lines.

What is Software Testing all About?

Before the finished software product like a computer game or a stock market analysis software reaches the end user, it goes through many rounds of testing, which is aimed at determining deviations from expected functionality and performance problems or bugs that went unnoticed in the development phase. It is similar to test driving a car in an industrial setting, before it is launched for sale through distributors.

The software testing department must ensure that the program meets all the functionality requirements that it is expected to deliver. Since there are various types of software programs, no single testing methodology can work for all. There are a range of different testing methods used to determine bugs left over after development. Let me provide you with an idea of what all you would be expected to learn, to become a software tester.

Learning the Basics of Software Testing

In a way, a tester must think from the point of view of a user to see if the software can accomplish the objectives for which it was created. It's not necessary that a tester be from a computer science background, but he needs to have knowledge of the software testing techniques. Here are the most important things which you need to know about, that constitute the basics of software testing.

Know Computer Programming Basics
It's essential that you have a basic knowledge of computer science and programming. You need to know what it means to 'code', 'compile' and 'execute' a program. A basic knowledge of computer programming can be very helpful as that way, a tester can be more specific in pointing out programming errors.

You need to understand the programmer's lingo and have rudimentary knowledge of programming, which means that you can at least understand what 'variables' and 'programming loops' are. As a tester, you are more concerned with executing the program and checking functionality under various input conditions.

Understand Different Software Testing Types
There are various types of software testing methods, which are broadly classified into two types - manual and automated testing. There are various sub-types of each, which you need to know about, to have a thorough knowledge of testing methodology.

Refer to this software testing tutorial for more details. You also need to understand how the testing phase gels into various software development methodologies like Waterfall and Agile models.

Understand the Software Testing Process
Most importantly, you need to know about the process of testing, which involves a study of program functionality requirements, designing of a testing plan accordingly, executing it, reviewing the results and determining the bugs by identifying deviations from expected functionality.

Learn to Use Automated Software Testing Tools
You will need to master using standard software testing tools used in automated testing like Quick Test Professional (QTP), LoadRunner, Winrunner and Rational Robot. Use of these tools and learning manual testing techniques are most essential skills for a software tester.

Understanding Software Performance Metrics
Besides pointing out the bugs in a program that lead to functionality failure, you need to understand how to measure the performance according to efficiency metrics. This includes the evaluation of the speed, cost and output efficiency of the program.

Get Certified as a Software Tester
While it's true that you can teach yourself testing through hands on experience and study through books, a certification as a professional tester can be very helpful in finding employment. There are many training institutes like the 'International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB)', which provide certification and conduct exams for the same. I suggest that you refer to the institute website for more information.

Equipped with a certification as a qualified software tester, you have multitude of opportunities in the information technology field which you can pursue. Study the various methodologies of software testing in detail and get a hang of computer programming process basics, learn to use the automated software testing tools and apply what you learn to spot the functionality bugs in software programs. Testing is all about fault finding and tracing the fault to make sure that the delivered product is doing what is expected of it. Get hold of some good training books on software testing which can provide you with a thorough overview of the field. With the right training and certification anybody from a non computer science background can take up a career in the software testing field. I wish you all the best in your fault finding endeavors!