7 Testing Principles Every Software Engineer Must Know


Software testing today takes on a more important role as businesses are under pressure to create more applications in faster time frames.

People say that machines have dominated the world of technology. That sounds evil, just as they show in movies like Terminator, where machines take over the world. But if we speak affirmatively, then machines play an important role in our personal as well as professional lives. The behavior or working of such machines is controlled by the software. Hence, the principle of testing software can offer the solutions to all our worries from where those fiction movies are born.

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There are various types of software testing methodologies that allow us to build software and make them work exactly in the way we want them to. Hence, it is necessary for the factors to be considered in software testing strategies. This blog will take you through the nitty-gritty of software testing.

So, let us do that by first starting with what is software testing? Software testing is the process of assessing the functionality of software to find any kind of bug. It is used to check whether the finished software product meets all the specific business requirements of the client. And it also identifies the defects in the software that could become a hindrance in building a quality product.

Apart from verifying and validating the software products, software testing is used to meet the business and technical requirements that guided its design and development. It also helps ensure the software works as per its requirements.

Why do we need software testing?

The growth of the business depends on the success rate of a software application. And software testing plays an important role in the development of software applications and other products. We can get many advantages from software testing. They are as mentioned below:

Cost-effective: Testing the product is important but testing the product at the right time is more important. A software development cycle includes many stages, and if you become successful in finding the defects or bugs at the early stages, then it will cost you much less to fix them than the money you would have to spend if you knew about it after the product was finished. So, testing can save you a lot more money in the long run. 

Security: The most sensitive and vulnerable part of business, as well as software, is security. Users want to use the products that they can place their trust on. Software testing can help you remove all kinds of risks and problems beforehand.

Product quality: The only thing that makes your dream a reality is that it works perfectly the same as you have thought or planned for it. So, a product must meet all the requirements. Then and only then will the product perform to get the desired results.

Customer satisfaction: The most important work of a business or a product owner is to give their customer the best user experience and get the best customer satisfaction rate. If you test software, you will come to know about the glitches or possible problems a user might face. And now that you know of them, you can steer them off immediately and deliver a software product that works seamlessly.

Now, after discussing the benefits of software testing, let us move on and have a look at the seven principles of software testing.

The seven principles of software testing

There are seven fundamental testing principles. These principles are used by software developers to make their development and testing process more efficient. Before we discuss them in detail, let us have a quick look at the seven testing principles. 

1) Exhaustive testing is not possible

Yes, we need to stretch the software to find the defects, but we don’t do exhaustive testing. It’s not even possible. We just have to test software based on their requirements. These requirements will determine which kind of risk assessments will be needed and to what length testing must be done.

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But then again, how can you define the risk? To answer it, let us take an example:

Which would be the most likely operation that causes your system to fail? Well, it’s easy, and we all experience it more often – opening ten different types of operations at a time. Yes, the simplest example is to open ten apps at a time on your mobile and see what happens. It would hang – aka system failure.

So, when you test your operating system, you should know that most defects are caused when multitasking activity is in progress. This needs to be tested thoroughly.

2) Defect Clustering

Defect clustering shows how a small number of modules consists of most of the defects that are detected during software testing. It is an equivalent of the Pareto principle in software testing, which states that 80% of productivity comes from 20% of important work.

After gaining enough experience and expertise, you will easily be able to identify the risky modules in a software application. But there is a problem associated with this kind of test. If you do the same test repeatedly on the same software, then, as a result, the test case will no longer be able to find new bugs in the system.

3) Pesticide Paradox

When the same pesticide is used over and over again on the farm to eradicate the pests, eventually, the pests or insects develop resistance to that pesticide mix. Therefore the pesticide won’t work on the insects anymore. We also talked about the above principle of defect clustering that if you do the same test on the same software again and again, then you would not be able to find any new bugs after a certain time. 

So, this proves that the rule of pesticide applies to software testing too. We can state it as – if the same test or set of tests are conducted repeatedly, then eventually those tests or methods will become useless for discovering new defects. But how can you overcome this?

You can do that by simply reviewing and revising your methods and test cases regularly. You can also add some new and different test cases that could help you find more bugs or defects in your software.

Neither a developer nor a tester should depend completely on the existing set of test techniques and development practices. They must be continuously on the look for new and improved sets of techniques to make their processes more and more effective.

Always keep one thing in mind that even after all this sweat and hard work, you can’t claim your software product to be completely bug-free. Not even a tech giant like Microsoft can achieve that feat.

4) Testing shows a presence of defects

Yes, that’s what tests are for. They are done to find the defects. This principle simply says that the aspect of testing is purely about the presence of defects in software or an application and not about the absence of defects.

As a result, testing your app or software decreases the chances of the presence of undetected defects in them. And even if your test does not find any defect in the software app, then it does not prove that your app is bug-free.

But what if you work so hard on making your software product almost close to completely bug-free, say like 99%, but it does not fulfill the expectations of your client? What if you work so hard to remove all the defects to give your client a seamless user experience, but the software does not meet the needs of a client?

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Well, we would get an answer for that from the next principle.

5) Absence of Error – a fallacy

It is quite possible that the software you create is almost non-defective software, but still, it can be completely useless for a client. This could happen if you test the system or software for the wrong requirements. Hence, it is important to have clarity about customer’s business requirements because software testing is not only about finding the bugs but is about testing the software for whether it meets the customer requirements or not.

The absence of error is a fallacy. For example, finding and fixing the bugs or defects neither help in building a useful product nor does it fulfill the user’s needs. Then how can we solve this problem?

We will talk about it in the next principle.

6) Early Testing

Developers and QA experts should conduct testing as early as possible in a software development life cycle. Because if a defect occurs in any phase like design and development, then they could be identified easily at an early stage.

Some software development companies have a software development process where testing is conducted after the completion of each phase. After rectifying the known errors only, they proceed to the next phase. This makes the development process as well as fixing the bugs much cheaper than when done once the product is finished.

But how early should you start testing? It is largely recommended that you should start finding bugs once you gain clarity about the client requirements.

7) Testing is context-dependent

Testing always depends on the type of product you want to develop. The requirements of an eCommerce website will always be different than an off-the-shelf app. Hence the methods of testing will also be different because the testing techniques and standards are created based on the requirements of a customer.

An app developer would use different kinds of approaches, methodologies, and techniques of testing depending on the types of applications. For example, testing an ATM will vary than testing any POS system at a retail shop.

Myth: Principles are just for reference. I will not use them in practice

A developer should never even think about taking this approach. If you want to build efficient software and provide customers a seamless user experience, then you must develop some effective strategies to test your software apps.

Learning these testing principles is similar to learning how to drive a car. Initially, you give attention to every aspect of driving, like gear shifts, speed, clutch handling, and more. But as you gain experience, you start focusing just on the driving while everything else comes naturally to you.

The same is true for the testing principles we talked about above in this post. Expert testers have adapted these principles at such a level that they could apply them all even without thinking. Hence, the myth that the software testing principles are not implied in practice is not true.

Now, in the end, I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog and understood the importance of various test principles. If you have any suggestions or queries, then feel free to share them with us in the comments section below.

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About Maverick Jones

Maverick Jones is a full-time geek and tech enthusiast. He likes to share his bylines and loves to gain audience attention.

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